Thursday, December 30, 2010

Law School Buddies: Mid-Week Dinner

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

What could be a better way to end the year and escape the office than a three-hour mid- week dinner with my law school buddies at Gerry's Grill,Trinoma Mall Quezon City.

In fact, with the high level of conversation on law and work stuff with Fiscal Jon Roque, Clerk of Court Atty. Liza, Mayor Joel Ruma and Comelec buddy Aizel Jagmis, we could even write off the dinner as a business expense hahaha.

Despite our crazy schedule, it is always good to bond over a sumptuous dinner once in a while, just like the good old days in law school. The only difference is that we can now afford the meal (i.e. scallops) out of our own pockets (and not from our parents scholarship).

Monday, December 27, 2010

High School Friends Date: Wensha Spa Day

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

I have always wanted to meet my high school friends for a good 21 years now. So when my bff (read as best friend forever) Lanie Montano texted me sometime in November when she stumbled upon this blog, I was so excited to see her. After several failed attempts to meet earlier, we finally met today with two more high school girlfriends - Angie Banal and Alice Perez.(My Kuya Mike who is also our high school batchmate has to leave after meeting at Walmart,Munoz)

With only four girls meeting, our idea of catching up on all the latest is indulging in a spa treatment,the Wensha style.

Wensha is about comfort,relaxation,being pampered by strangers,a package of services meant for relaxing,catching up and getting fed!

Like what Wensha is all about, the more than six (6) hours with my high school friends is like a therapy. It felt so good to be myself (like a high school kid) and still be accepted and shared some memorable moments with the women who meant most to me! My time though not a billable hours is a time well spent!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Pangasinan: Home To Antique Cars Show

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

Pangasinan (meaning "land of salt") has been described as a gateway to northern Luzon and the heartland of the Philippines. Today, I will remember it as a home to "antique / vintage cars show" because this is where I had my first taste of antique cars display!

An antique car is generally defined as a car over 45 years of age. When the car is built between the start of 1919 and the end of 1930,it is known as a "vintage car".

I love this classic bridal car(between 20 and 45 years old), but not sure I want it (or can afford it) for my wedding haha. I learned that classic cars are a bit smaller than a limo and are likely only be able to accommodate the groom and bride with the driver just a few meters away!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Jojo and AA's Wedding: Unforgettably Unique, Fun Reception

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

Talk of one unforgettably unique, very personal and fun wedding reception I attended, the run away winner would be yesterday's musical themed ring ceremony reception of my friends' theater actors couple Jojo and AA Riguera !

The fun and creativity of the couple started even before the day of the wedding! Their wedding invitation is theatrical and attention - getting! I felt like an A-list star when I got hold of the "movie ticket" invite, announcing the curtain call to their Wedding Premieres dubbed as “For Time and All Eternity”.

The couple was also a little less-conventional with their color motif of pink and chocolate brown, AA and Jojo's respective fave colors. I have never seen those colors more stunningly prettier than being worn as belt for the all-white do of AA's beautiful sisters who act as bridemaids/made of honor!

At the actual wedding, the get - up of the venue complements the theme and motif!

As the guests arrive, we are ushered at a photo booth, where I and other guests had a fun moment being captured in that photographs which became the wedding favors. I love how my photos with the cute theater styled hair clips - pink and brown (Don't I just love it?!!)

After the fun photo session, guests proceeded to the cultural hall where this cute theater ticket counter box welcomed guests in style (well it is for your cash gift if you're giving one and have not brought an envelope (get the point!!hahaha!).

A reception seating cards of different musicals on the tables, a stage prepped with masks,a chocolate fountain (not cake) constituting the mouth watering centerpiece, theme songs of our favorite Musicals played all through the program and the bride and groom wearing only their couple shirts marked "bride' and "groom", all made me anticipate a trendy, non-traditional, fun celebration.

And I wasn't disappointed!

The curtain opened with an AVP (audio-visual presentation),highlighting the couple's love story, produced,directed and starred in by the couples themselves. I totally enjoyed it! I know that Jojo and AA are not theater actors for no reason and what a cute way to tell their love story!

When asked why they thought of doing a musical? Jojo and AA said they want to give a gift to their families and friend. And I thought what a beautiful thing it is to give a gift from their hearts during the auspicious event in their lives!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Now Showing: Jojo and AA's No Cliche's Ring Ceremony and Temple Sealing

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

If there's one wedding reception that I hope to see more with Latter Day Saints (LDS) couples,it will be the wedding today of Alexis Aubrey Fernandez and Joselito Riguera or simply known to me and their friends as Jojo and AA.

Jojo and AA's wedding celebration is very intimate, meaningful, heartfelt, uniquely theirs and truly standout as an LDS one, with the absence of cliche'-ish Filipino wedding traditions.

A Ring Ceremony Before The Temple Wedding

Since there is no so-called LDS Wedding tradition, many Filipino LDS couples choose to celebrate their weddings following a Filipino tradition, but they are married in a Latter-Day Saints temple in a ceremony called Temple Sealing.

And since only very few guests can witness the wedding ceremony inside the temple, Filipino LDS couples hold wedding receptions after the Temple Sealing, so that their families and friends can share in the couples joy and celebration.

For Jojo and AA,they held a Ring Ceremony reception before their temple sealing instead of the usual "after - temple sealing receptions".

With the reverse set up, I was able to witness both a unique, very personal Ring Ceremony reception (minus the cliche's of throwing bouquet and garter or kissing couples while people strike their glasses with the spoon haha) and a truly meaningful Temple Sealing afterwards, where the couples were focused on the eternal nature of their marriage covenants with sanctity and reverence rather than on the reception that will take place after!

There are many aspects of Jojo and AA's wedding reception where I felt the couple's touch of personalization which deserves another blog entry.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

CHRISTmas Countdown 12: Christmas Message

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

Annually, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints broadcast a Christmas Devotional by the First Presidency from the Conference Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. This year it happened last December 5, 2010 but I was able to watch it tonight at the Quirino Meetinghouse in Aurora.,Cubao as we have a choir practice for the Jubilee Celebration.

I heard wonderful messages from President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, President Henry B. Eyring, and President Thomas S. Monson and enjoyed beautiful music from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the Orchestra .

Excerpts of President Monsoon's talk is copied:

"Brothers and sisters, this joyful season brings to all of us a measure of happiness that corresponds to the degree to which we have turned our minds, feelings and actions to the Savior, whose birth we celebrate.

There is no better time than now, this very Christmas season, for all of us to rededicate ourselves to the principles taught by Jesus the Christ. Let it be a time that lights the eyes of children and puts laughter on their lips. Let it be a time for lifting the lives of those who live in loneliness. Let it be a time for calling our families together, for feeling a closeness to those who are near to us and a closeness also to those who are absent.

Let it be a time of prayers for peace, for the preservation of free principles, and for the protection of those who are far from us. Let it be a time of forgetting self and finding time for others. Let it be a time for discarding the meaningless and for stressing the true values. Let it be a time of peace because we have found peace in His teachings.

Most of all, let it be a time to remember the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, that we may share in the song of the angels, the gladness of the shepherds, and the worship of the wise men.

My brothers and sisters, may the spirit of love which comes at Christmas time fill our homes and our lives and linger there long after the tree is down and the lights are put away for another year. This is my prayer, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen."

Saturday, December 11, 2010

CHRISTmas Countdown 11: Christmas Movies

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

For my family, Christmas Eve is almost synonymous with Christmas movies since watching a movie that relates to Christmas is always a part of our celebration before the Noche Buena.

So today,I bought a DVD entitled "Stories of Christmas" from the LDS Manila Distribution Center. It has four stories which relates to Christmas namely Mr. Krueger's Christmas, Nora's Christmas Gift, The Nativity and the "The Story of the Other Wise Man".

Because we have lots of kids during the Christmas Family Home Evening, I think that the "The Story of the Other Wise Man" would be great since it is animated. After my preview though, I knew that not only the kids will learn from the less than 24 minutes clip, but adults will love this as well because it is a story of pursuing success and finding a life full of purpose.

"Based on a story by Henry Van Dyke, there was a fourth wise man named Artaban, a Magi from Persia who forsees the birth of Jesus and wants to meet his friends, the other three wise men, and seek Jesus.

Artaban has sold all his riches to purchase a few fine jewels to present to the new king to be born - sapphire,ruby and pearl. None of the other magi from his group will journey with him to meet the other three.

Artaban, is distracted during a rest stop by a beggar who needs help. After the delay, he arrives at the meeting point only to realize the others have left without him. He has run out of money and sells a jewel to buy the means to follow them across the desert.

While in Bethlehem, Artaban bribes with yet another jewel to spare a baby from Herod’s killing spree. Then he travels from Bethlehem to Egypt and back to Israel in search of Jesus for his lifetime helping people on his way.

Finally, after decades of search, Artaban has one last chance to see Jesus before he dies. Again, he is too late as Jesus has been arrested before he arrives. He’s down to his last pearl but a woman begs for help to save her from slavery as payment for her father's debt. He gave his pearl to her.

After years of searching, Artaban finds Jesus Christ, but he has no gifts left to give Him. He is comforted to learn that "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren,ye have done it unto me" (Matthew 25:40)".

Friday, December 10, 2010

CHRISTmas Countdown 10: The Spirit of Christmas

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

I am preparing for a lesson for our Family Home Evening and got text messages from friends mostly wishing me to feel the Christmas Spirit. I thought for awhile what really is this feeling of beneficence that we feel during Christmas?

I found the answer through the article of Pres.Thomas Monson in the Liahona, December 2008 issue. He said: "To catch the real meaning of the “spirit of Christmas,” we need only drop the last syllable, and it becomes the “Spirit of Christ.
True happiness comes only by making others happy—the practical application of the Savior’s doctrine of losing one’s life to gain it. In short, the Christmas spirit is the Christ spirit, that makes our hearts glow in brotherly love and friendship and prompts us to kind deeds of service
(President David O. McKay (1873–1970))

In sum, Pres.Monson made me realized that it is in giving, not getting, that brings to full bloom the Christmas spirit. Enemies are forgiven, friends remembered, and God obeyed.

It is my goal to feel the Christmas Spirit in the coming days by finding opportunities to give, to forgive, to remember friends and to obey God's commandments.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

CHRISTmas Countdown 09: Christmas Parties

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

Christmas is a season for parties organized by a school, a company, an organization, a church, or a family. As a law professor, an in-house counsel, a law society officer, a church member, a homeowner, a friend, a member of a wonderful family,I have so many fond recollections of these Christmas Parties which usually means a lot of singing, dancing, games and gift giving. I made my Christmas Party List here!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

CHRISTmas Countdown 08: Parol

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

Today, I saw my sister -in-law Bhebe busy with making paper parol (or star lantern) for my nephew James' school project.

The parol represents the guiding light, the star of Bethlehem that led the wise men in finding baby Jesus. It is unique to the Philippines and bright in color and made festive with lights. Parols of all sizes and materials hang in Philippines homes, schools/public buildings, along the streets, on the trees and everywhere you look as early as September,making it the iconic symbol of the Filipino Christmas.

I love parols and make sure I have one hanging as early as December. This was the parol I bought from Las Pinas last year.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

CHRISTmas Countdown 07: Gift -Giving & Monito Monita

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

The Christmas nativity showcased the three wise men bearing gifts to the baby Jesus - gold,myrrh and frankincense. Like the wise men of the East who spread gifts to Jesus Christ on His birth, we are the wise men of today who should also spread gifts to Jesus everyday but particularly on Christmas Day.

So how do we give gifts to Jesus Christ?

He said in Matthew 25:40
"And the King shall answer and say unto them,Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me".

In keeping with this tradition of giving to the less fortunate, our family has an annual caroling where we are the ones who give a little something (like box of cookies, basket of fruits, chocolates and pamphlets) to the families we visit. We started this tradition last December 2006 and have so far chosen our neighbors (not in need of any goodies but spiritual message), families outside the village chosen by each family member as a recipient, and last year new members of the LDS Church and two special families in need. It really feel good when we can share and give to those who have less in life.

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For the gift - giving within the family, we hold "Monito Monita" so that we do not need to buy gifts for everyone and yet carry on with the tradition of gift giving.

The Monito / Monita rule is simple. On December 1, we put all adults name in a box and on a separate box are the names of the kids. Adults and kids each draw a name from the respective box and whoever he/she gets will be his/her Monito/Monita and he/she has to buy a Christmas present for him/her based on the agreed amount. We cannot reveal our Monito/Monita's name- until the Christmas Eve dinner,the revelation day.

During our weekly Family Home Evening in December, we give our Monito/Monita a small gift that matches the category - like something sweet, etc. The weekly gift gives us a hint of who is our Monito/Monita but the funny thing is, our guess is still proven wrong during revelation day.

As part of our gift giving tradition, my god sons and god daughters are not to be missed. I get them something they can wear (provided I know their size haha).

Monday, December 6, 2010

CHRISTmas Countdown 06: Noche Buena

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

Christmas is the most anticipated feast celebrations in the Philippines and so each homes usually have buffet table with as many as 15-20 food items for the Christmas dinner or Noche Buena at 12 midnight of December 24.

Our Christmas table does not have so many items, but we normally have the usual Christmas foods such as ham, cheese, roast chicken, pasta and fruit salad. What really made the food taste especially delicious is the togetherness of the whole family which reflects the familial unity of the first Family!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

CHRISTmas Countdown 05: Christmas Music

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

One of the reasons Philippines' Christmas celebration is said to be the longest and merriest in the world is the playing and singing of Christmas carols and songs in homes, church and malls as early as the ber-months (September - December). Personally though, I sing Christmas carols and songs in December and today, at Church ,I was glad to hear the classic Christmas carols from the Church hymns. Basically, the Christmas hymns reflect the joyful spirit of Christmas and relates mainly to The Nativity.

As a family tradition, we sing Christmas carols when we visit our neighbors for our family Christmas caroling on the week nights before Christmas day, where we give out a little something to the families we visit. So when December comes,we practice the carols during our family home evening on Monday nights.

Today, I have discovered another song I am adding to my list of favorites Christmas songs. It is the Grown - Up Christmas List by Amy Grant. I love the video posted by a friend on Facebook and sharing it here with lyrics below.

Amy Grant - Grown-Up Christmas List Music Video with Lyrics

Do you remember me
I sat upon your knee
I wrote to you
With childhood fantasies

Well, I'm all grown up now
And still need help somehow
I'm not a child
But my heart still can dream

So here's my lifelong wish
My grown up christmas list
Not for myself
But for a world in need

No more lives torn apart
That wars would never start
and wars would never start
And time would heal all hearts
And everyone would have a friend
And right would always win
And love would never end
This is my grown up christmas list

As children we believed
The grandest sight to see
Was something lovely
Wrapped beneath our tree

Well heaven surely knows
That packages and bows
Can never heal
A hurting human soul

No more lives torn apart
That wars would never start
And time would heal all hearts
And everyone would have a friend
And right would always win
And love would never end
This is my grown up christmas list

What is this illusion called the innocence of youth
Maybe only in our blind belief can we ever find the truth
(there'd be)

No more lives torn apart
That wars would never start
And time would heal all hearts
And everyone would have a friend
And right would always win
And love would never end, oh
This is my grown up christmas list

This is my grown up christmas list

Saturday, December 4, 2010

CHRISTmas Countdown 04: Christmas Tree

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

Many homes and commercial buildings in the Philippines put up a Christmas tree soon after the All Saints Day/Halloween celebrations (around November 3), and leave it up until the 6th of January. I usually do so,but this time of the year,I was a little late. We have just put up our barely decorated Christmas tree today, so our living room will have a touch of Christmas during the visit of my friends Tess, Raffy and Ate Margo.

Decorating a Christmas tree (an evergreen coniferous artificial tree we have for years ) is part of our family Christmas traditions. We make sure that having the Christmas tree in our living room will help us feel the true meaning of Christmas by just looking at it. We hope that the Christmas lights and the Star(from the Nativity) atop of the Christmas tree will make us remember that the lights and star represent Jesus Christ,the Light that will brighten our home.

This year, I added another decoration which I didn't have to buy - the holiday cards I have received and kept in drawers over the years! Well,not only was I able to make a good use of the holiday cards in a whole new way,but I also was able to make the Christmas tree more centered in Jesus Christ!

Friday, December 3, 2010

CHRISTmas Countdown 03: Christmas Stockings

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

Today, I saw my brother Allan's four kids living with me (Ian, James, Shane and Shanara) hang their Christmas stockings in the stairways in our living room. I also learned that Kuya Mike kids - Mitch, JM, Jay- A, & Mikaellah and Joel's children, Kyle and Frannie also hanged their Christmas stockings in their respective homes.

As Western tradition dictates, our little ones hang Christmas stockings (an empty sock or sock-shaped bag) with the expectation that Santa Claus (actually their father or mother) can fill it with small toys, candy, fruit, coins or other small gifts when he arrives, if they are well behave. But if they behave badly during the year they will receive only a piece of coal (or just nothing at all).

With this in mind, the hanging of Christmas stockings could be good or bad. Good if the expectation of gifts help our children behave goodly, but bad if the focus of the tradition becomes Santa Claus and not Jesus Christ,who is the reason for the whole celebration called after his name - CHRISTmas.

A friend send this poem "Jesus is Better than Santa" last Christmas of 2008.

Santa lives at the North Pole. JESUS is everywhere.
Santa rides in a sleigh. JESUS rides on the wind and walks on the water.
Santa comes but once a year.JESUS is an ever present help.
Santa fills your stockings with goodies.JESUS supplies all your needs.
Santa comes down your chimney uninvited.JESUS stands at your door and knocks... and then enters your heart.
You have to stand in line to see Santa.JESUS is as close as the mention of His name.
Santa lets you sit on his lap.JESUS lets you rest in His arms.
Santa doesn't know your name, all he can say is "Hi little boy or girl, What's your name?". JESUS knew our name before we did. Not only does He know our name, He knows our address too. He knows our history and future and He even knows how many hairs are on our heads.
Santa has a belly like a bowl full of jelly.JESUS has a heart full of love.
All Santa can offer is HO HO HO.JESUS offers health, help and hope.
Santa says "You better not cry".JESUS says "Cast all your cares on me for I care for you.
Santa's little helpers make toys.JESUS makes new life, mends wounded hearts, repairs broken homes and builds mansions.
Santa may make you chuckle but JESUS gives you joy that is your strength.
While Santa puts gifts under your tree, JESUS became our gift and died on the tree.

It's obvious there is really no comparison.We need to remember WHO Christmas is all about.We need to put Christ back in Christmas. Jesus is still the reason for the season."

Thursday, December 2, 2010

CHRISTmas Countdown 02: The Nativity

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

Of all the Philippine Christmas traditions, the Nativity Scene is what I like most to see around this time of the year. So today, I put up our crocheted Nativity as my first Yuletide decoration in the center of our living room.

The Nativity of Jesus, or simply The Nativity, refers to the recreation of the birth of Jesus based on the accounts of Matthew and Luke in the New Testament.

The Nativity, (or sometimes called "Babe in the Manger” or "Belen" for the Filipinos) should be the most conspicuous feature in our homes, offices, in streets, plazas and malls, but it saddened me to see that less and less people are making The Nativity the center of their Christmas celebrations.

So I was glad to see this Nativity in the center of the Plaza stage somwehere in Moncada, Pangasinan.

("We need to make our CHRISTmas celebration be centered on the night when the infant babe was born ...He is our Redeemer and Savior...who is the reason why we can be saved". - a text message from my friend Judith Mayocyoc)

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