Sunday, December 28, 2008

12 Great Blessings in 2008

New Year for me is a time of reflection, looking back and counting my blessings. As New Year’s day approaches, I looked back to remember the blessings I received in 2008, which comes in terms of new places visited, new-found friends, healthy lifestyles, new groups organized,strengthened family relationships,re-uniting friends and friends successes. Here in capsule form the blessings that I received each month and for which I am thankful for Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ:

With Mark atop the Great Wall Of China!

1.January 2008 – Conquering the Great Wall (literally and otherwise!)

While the whole family is welcoming the New Year at their respective houses in the Philippines with the usual bang (fire crackers at neighbors, that is!), I welcomed it in a much different, quieter way inside the train with my prince. Mark and I decided to take the overnight soft sleeper train from Shanghai to Beijing  (China), so I would wake up and begin the New Year feeling a great sense of accomplishment – conquering the Great Wall! 
Literally, it was a dream - come true for me to see the Great Wall, as it seemed inconceivable for anyone like me to imagine seeing the Great Wall knowing it would cost me much. But I did! 

Another sense of accomplishment in that, however, is to conquer the barrier of communication (like a Great Wall that divides) between me and my prince. Since Mark and I were then on our six – month together as sweethearts (January 5), the experience taught me that open communication is the key and the only way to resolve any conflict. I also learned that if I want something, “hinting” doesn’t always work. And if my hinting is ignored, I should not interpret it as lack of love. Since it was my first time to be missing the usual loud celebration of New Year with family, I was hoping that Mark would make up for it by surprising me with flowers and kisses at exactly 12midnight (I saw that on fairy tales hahaha). I was hinting him of that by telling him how my family does it, and all that. But at 10 minutes before midnight, Mark was sound asleep. I was disappointed. Looking at him, I knew he wouldn’t be awake to greet me a ‘happy new year’. I cried. And when he heard it, he came to me and he coaxed me to tell him what was wrong. For the first time, I found myself pouring out my sentiments to him in an honest, outspoken manner. It was a great way to start the year (and my prince will know how I worked my way to overcoming that weakness in communication through out the year!)

My boss Jim and Bonnie Pollock at my house

2.February 2008 – Jim and Bonnie Pollock’s visit and Healthy Living.

To be healthy is a great blessing. And for me, my road to a healthy living started in August 2005 when I met Jim and Bonnie Pollock. Jim was my former boss at the Office of General Counsel - Asia and his wife Bonnie Pollock is a USANA distributor. USANA HEALTH SCIENCES is a world leader in cellular nutrition and skin care, and the quality of its supplements has helped me with my vertigo, IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), MVP (Mitral Valve Prolapse),among other health concerns. Since then, being in a hospital has been a thing of the past. 

Last February, Jim and Bonnie came back to the Philippines for two reasons - go around the Philippines and try "the Farm" in Batangas, a place synonymous to "health" and "vege diet". Secondly, to introduce my family and friends to USANA, which is expected to open market in the Philippines later. And they are right. Come January 19, 2009, USANA will open in the Philippines for the enrollment of Distributors and Preferred Customers, and for the sale of products. A grand-opening ceremony is scheduled for Sunday, May 24, 2009. The official Philippine business name is UHS Essential Health Philippines. This is a fabulous opportunity for me and for all those who will decide to build a remarkable business with me.

Bridal Shower for Leily in Makati 

3. March 2008 – Leily’s Wedding

Since the adversary’s battle rages against family, it is always a joy to know that a friend is getting married coz that means she has won against Satan who undermines young people’s attempts to marry. So when I learned that Leily is marrying Phil in the Georgia, USA temple, we couldn’t be happier. I know that they will be able to mutually strengthen and bless each other as they make higher covenants in the temple. There is nothing more fulfilling than a successful relationship!

Kids as McDOnald Kiddie Crew at McDonalds, Robinsons - Novaliches 
4. April 2008 – Strengthening Family Relationships 

Everything revolves around the family and efforts were put in to strengthen family ties this month. The whole month is a celebration with loved ones starting off with the kids becoming a McDonald Kiddie crew for a week at Robinson’s Novaliches, James birthday, Scrapbooking workshop at National bookstore and my father’s 56th birthday celebration.

GIRLFRIENDS Reunion at the Mall of Asia 
5. May 2008 – Friend’s Reunions (Renewing ties with Old Friends)

This month is all about friends and renewing the bonds with them through reunions. I am blessed with lots of friends I’ve known in the - elementary, high school, college, law school, mission, offices and church (former ward). I am truly blessed to have wonderful friends. After fifteen (15) long years, the Girlfriends (Erma, Aileen, Rose, Rhola and Millett)finally rekindled the bond we had at the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM). I am also privileged to meet another school mate at PLM, Erwin Heger, who is now working at the US Embassy. In the same month, I had a reunion with the JURIS (an organization of students I helped organized while in law school), a sleep-over with Rose Vallestero (my friend from Fairview Stake), meeting my bestfriend Dearie’s mom, mommy Diola who was visiting from the US, a visit to my former ward Don Antonio to watch the Stake Road show, to bond with the young women I used to lead, and met and enjoyed some time with my mission friends (Jean Marcaida, Karen Villarmino, Arlene Quirante, Judith Mayocyoc and later in the year, my trainee Rogelyn Naraja – Espiritu). Since friends are wealth, I consider myself as one of the wealthiest person and I want to keep the wealth through regular contacts with them via facebook and Friendster.

My nephew Kenneth's Family

6. June 2008 –Pagudpud & the Gift of Serenity and Peace

It is enough blessing to enjoy the serenity and calmness offered by the beautiful waters of Pagudpud, which I am privileged to see upon invitation of Kenneth’s family. Kenneth is the 10 year old son of my brother Joel with his then estranged girlfriend Juries. Because of immaturity and differences, Joel and Juries' relationship has not ripen into marriage and years back, the Ojeda and Agullana families are ripped apart. But this year, everyone’s hearts have softened and bound the wounds and forego the stubborn grievances with each other. Anyway, both Juries and Joel are happily married now, and it would be for the best interest of Kenneth that they are at peace with each other. On my part, it is a greater blessing than the beautiful Pagudpud is the sweet peace that comes from forgiveness and reconciliation.

With Mark in Kamayan in Tayabas, Quezon

7. July 2008 – Our Fairy Tale Romance on its First Year

My prince and I celebrated our first year anniversary as sweethearts. I consider this a blessing, coz even though the road to our fairy tale romance will still be a long way, my hope for a happy ending has increased as we overcome the dirt roads and thorns on the way on our first year. I am so lucky to have this wonderful relationship with Mark whose intelligence, ingenious ideas, generosity, sense of humor and worthy character are truly admirable. He makes me feel like a real princess in every way.

JRCLS -Philippines Chapter with Mike Jensen

8. August 2008 – Grand Launching of J. Reuben Clark Law Society

To be happy is a blessing and the way to be happy is to be involved in something worthwhile. This was my main reason for organizing and serving as the Secretary General of the Philippines Chapter of the J. Reuben Clark Law Society last May 21, 2008. The responses of the handful Latter Day Saints lawyers I contacted through email was overwhelming that at exactly three months later (August 21, 2008) we were ready for the grand launch – with Executive Officers (Chair, Chair - Elect, Secretary General & Treasurer) and Committee chairs & officers (Membership – Luzon, Membership – Visayas & Mindanao, Legal Aid, Ways and Means, Government Relations & MCLE) being completely filled – up and functioning. During the launch, it was a joy to behold the thirty-three (33) founding members to commit to strive through public service and professional exercise the promotion of fairness and virtue founded upon the rule of law, pursuant to the law society mission statement.

Water Show at the Wynn, Macau 
9. September 2008 – Rediscovering Great Pleasures in Macau and Hongkong

One of the great blessings I received this month is the opportunity to see Macau and Hongkong again and enjoy the pleasures of just being with the one I truly love, who out of his generous spirit and love for me has planned a week-long rendezvous as a birthday gift (September 27 to October 3). Since I wasn’t able to get my visa to see him in Beijing, he suggested that we meet up in Macau and cross Hongkong, just so we could still spend time together. I appreciated every bit of this experience. With my prince planning the trip, nothing could go wrong. And I was right! I found great pleasures in watching the water show, prosperity show, sceneries inside the Venetian, picture at the Grand Prix while in Macau and enjoyed the country side, uncharted path in the New Territories and the luxury of steam bath and sauna while in Hongkong.

"Lucky Me" Winning Essay in Philippine Star

10. October 2008- Creative Work & Winning “Lucky Me” Photo and Essay Contest

Being able to create something of real worth gives me satisfaction and happiness and this is the blessing I received on my birth month. I joined the FaMEALy Values: What I learned from the Dinner Table, Lucky Me Photo Essay Contest. My article got published in the October 26, 2008 (Sunday) issue of the Philippines Star as an exceptional story for the week. At the conclusion of the contest in October 31, 2008, two of my entries: Family Dining Tradition and Raising Healthy, Happy kids at the Dinner Table (based on story of my sister –in-law Belenda), were chosen as two of the only five runners-up winners.
Speaking of creative work, it is in October that I started this blog and enjoy sharing my thoughts and my life’s journey to friends and families since then.

Mami Cristy Blowing Her Cake

11. November 2008 – Mama’s 60th Birthday

My mom turned 60 years old last November 14, and still very strong and beautiful. To me that is a great blessing from above that she is preserved and her days are long. For the last forty years, my mom has been a great mother to me and my three brothers, and now to her 11 grand children. She is an excellent homemaker, she cooks delicious meal, she washes our clothes, sew beautiful piece of clothing, and always willing to give up her own comfort for our benefit. It is my joy to be able to give back the comfort she has unselfishly given to me, in the ways I know how.

Choco Chip Oat Cookies I Baked

12. December 2008 –Domestic Goddess

Becoming expert in baking and cooking is a worthy achievement for the year. My prince remarked that my improvement is from zero to a hundred percent! I do not know anything about “cooking” before I met my prince in July 2007, but now I baked delicious cookies, great desserts, and prepare main dishes. For Christmas, I baked choco chip oat cookies to give away to neighbors during our family caroling and I prepared the Mango Jubilee dessert and breaded prawns for our Noche Buena. Everyone who tasted my cooking said “it was good”! Now I can say that cooking is fun and the most rewarding work in the world!!

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