Showing posts from 2008

Good to Great?

The Wise Thing

Decisions are the stuff life is made of. I think it was Benjamin Franklin who said, “Do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of.” Unless we think of life as just marking time, unless we see ourselves as prisoners scratching a notch on the wall to count their days in prison, then there’s more to the stuff of life than time. I believe it’s the decisions we make that define life.
In his series, “The Best Question Ever,”Andy Stanley, senior pastor of North Point Community Church, pointed out that we never plan to mess up our lives. But, unfortunately, we never plan not to. That’s a fresh way of saying, “If we fail to plan, we plan to fail.” When faced with a decision, we usually ask whether it is a right or wrong decision. If we can’t find a verse in the Bible about it, we assume that it means God is for it because He apparently did not say anything against it. But then again when we are not careful we can make the Bible say anything we want it to say. So, Stanley brought …


A crisis is a door, not a dam. It is crisis that separates the decisive and the defeated. Those who are decisive would even expand their businesses for example during such dire times. That sets them apart from the rest. When the dust settles, they are already ahead of the competition. Those who are left behind missed out on an opportunity. Isaiah faced such a crisis. King Uzziah died. Even if he died a leper, Uzziah was still at that time a powerful king. There seems to be a power vacuum. But though the earthly throne was empty, the heavenly throne was not. “In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple.” (Isaiah 6:1, ESV) God was (and still is and will always be) in control. The crisis became an opportunity for Isaiah to witness God’s sovereignty.

Usually when we hear the word “crisis” we think of a time of intense dread or danger. But the Greek word for “crisis” denotes “decision.” It was, accor…


Last Wednesday, November 26, I did something crazy for my wife Ellen.

As you well know, my brother-in-law died due to liver cancer last November 19. (That’s about 11 months since my dear mother-in-law died. That’s two deaths in the family within the year.) Ellen immediately went home to Pozorrubio, Pangasinan to oversee the funeral arrangements while I had to stay here in Metro Manila until last Sunday for our church anniversary. After our church activities, my three boys and I joined Ellen there. Though somewhat surreal, it was a family reunion of sorts. Relatives as far as Baguio visited us. We even had the chance to share the Gospel during the last night of the wake. (We praise God because last November 1 my sister-in-law who is also a believer shared the Good News to her brother. He prayed to receive Christ. Nineteen days later, he died.) Last Tuesday we laid his mortal remains to rest. Then, we traveled back to Manila.

The next morning, I woke up to my wife’s cries. She was and st…

Safe or Significant?

In his talk “Just Courage: Charging the Darkness” (Global Leadership Summit 2008), International Justice Mission (IJM) president Gary Haugen spoke about choices that effective leaders make in the face of difficult tasks. Haugen knew courage amidst difficulties firsthand. IJM rescues the sexually exploited, the enslaved and the oppressed globally. “Dateline NBC” and“The Oprah Winfrey Show” have already featured Haugen and the IJM work.
One of those choices is the decision not to be safe. Being safe and being significant are not one and the same. To be safe is to watch things happen. To be significant is to make it happen. Safety says “Enough.Significance says “Excel.”Always keep in mind that we serve a God who wants us to be significant, not safe. That’s why C.S. Lewis' “The Chronicles of Narnia” depicted Aslan the lion (a symbol of Christ) as good but not safe. He is, after all, “not a tame lion.”God is more concerned with our character than with our comfort. He is the Lord who wo…

So Young Yet So...

Senator Allan Peter Cayetano’s decision not to inhibit himself from the probe on the fertilizer fund scam made me feel “delicadeza” (a sense of what is proper and improper, a sense of shame) is really in near extinction.

Though Senator Ping Lacson clarified that he was “not casting aspersions and giving any hint of indictment” on Cayetano, the fact that he raised is that Cayetano’s name is on a list of supposed beneficiaries of the fertilizer fund.

But Cayetano still refused to inhibit himself. Yet I find the reasons he gave self-serving. It is because he was the one who cleared himself and not the proper authorities like, for example, the Ombudsman. The one who clears and the one who needs to be cleared cannot be one and the same person.

He said the Department of Agriculture has already disowned that list. But that is the very office that Cayetano is investigating. He claimed that his district did not get any fertilizer fund when he was a congressman. But he added a caveat to be safe: …

The Coach

All his life, Doug Blevins always dreamed of becoming a National Football League coach. So, he flooded New York Jets manager Dick Steinberg with letters. He pointed out the flaws of the team’s place kicker, Cary Blanchard. He also suggested how Blanchard can improve his kicking ability. Blevins so impressed the team manager that he got hired as its kicking consultant. Fast Company magazine praised Blevins’ coaching in an article aptly titled, “This Coach Helps the Best to Hit Their Stride” (Sept. 2008 issue): “Trainers in every business can learn from Blevins’s teaching techniques. He breaks every motion down to its component parts, then squeezes out incremental but critical improvements. And he knows just how much he can change in a player—and when he should leave well enough alone.” Sounds like a coach at par with the great Vince Lombardi.

What’s so amazing with Blevins is that he never coached any team before. He never even tried a field goal. To top it all, he has never ever walked…

That Popeye Moment

“That’s all I can stans. But I can’t stans no more.”

That’s one of the famous lines of Popeye, the legendary cartoon sailor man. (I think next to “I yam what I yam.”) Then he would ingest a whole can of spinach to gain superhuman strength and beat the daylights out of the villanous Bluto who threatened the love of his life, Olive Oyl.

Last Friday, as we watched the videocast in the 2008 Leadership Summit, Bill Hybels (senior pastor of Willow Creek Community Church, the second largest megachurch in the USA) connected that Popeye line with what he called “holy discontent.” He described holy discontent as that strong feeling about something that “breaks the heart of someone who loves God that most likely breaks God’s heart, too.” When for example you could not stomach injustice or apathy in society anymore, when you are so brokenhearted about it that you exclaim, “That’s all I can stand and I can’t stand it anymore”, when you are so frustrated that you knew you have to do something about i…

The Running Joke

[Note: This is my personal opinion and does not in any way represent Makati Gospel Church.]How come there are people who find telling the truth much harder than weaving a lie? This came to my mind when I saw on the news that former Agriculture undersecretary Joselyn “Joc-joc” Bolante had set foot at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on Tuesday night after fighting his deportation from the USA for two years while in detention there. Joc-Joc is accused of top-level involvement in a P728-million fertilizer fund scam in 2004. When the Ombudsman found as “sufficient in form and substance” the graft complaint filed against him and when the Senate committee on agriculture launched an investigation into the scam, Joc-Joc run away. He claimed though that he hid and sought asylum in the US because he feared for his life and that of his family. (Source: http://inquirer. net/)In a press statement, Joc-Joc claimed that, Many baseless accusations have been thrown against me these past years. …

Once Again in the Hospital

Believe it or not, I got confined again in the hospital over the weekend.

As they say, when it pours it rains hahahahaha again, when it rains, it's four! oops hahahahaha You know what I meant... :-)

Last Friday, I woke up with a severe stomach ache. It was a steady pain. It is not gurgling within (otherwise, it would have been just another loose bowel movement episode) or a sharp, cutting pain (then it would have been amoebiasis, which I got during my media days). I also vomited twice. Experience with this kind of pain taught me not to drink any pain reliever or any medication. I had close calls with appendicitis and diverticulitis before.

When I could not bear the pain anymore, my wife and I rushed to the hospital. I drove to the hospital, can you imagine? We live near a mall here so taxis are hard to get.

The ER people suspected either gallstones or appendicitis (my WBC count is 16,000 while the normal max level is 10,000 indicating an infection). The pain is also in the right side …


Allow me to share an e-mail a pastor-friend sent to me which, at the risk of oversimplification, graphically illustrated through a funny monkey parable how the global financial crisis came about: “There was a village near a forest teeming with monkeys. Then a businessman visited them to announce that he would buy monkeys for US$10 per head. The villagers went out to the forest and started catching monkeys. The man bought thousands. But, as the supply started to dwindle, the villagers’ enthusiasm waned. The man then announced that he would now buy monkeys at double the price. Thus, with fresh gusto, the villagers started catching monkeys again for $20 apiece. Soon the monkey population diminished even further. The offer increased to $25. But it was really an effort to even catch a glimpse of a monkey, let alone catch it! Again, the man announced that he would double the price. Each monkey would now be worth $50 each! However, since he had to go to the city on some business, his assista…

My surgery

Thank you for your prayers. I wrote this blog while resting at home after being released from the hospital last Saturday.

Last Wednesday, October 8, my wife Ellen and I checked in at the hospital in preparation for my ear surgery early next day. My best friend, Rev. Jesse Dedel, and his wife Rose kept us company till almost midnight. We ate chicken burgers and salad from Wendy’s, sort of a “last meal.” :-)

The anesthesiologist informed that he made available for me a sleeping tablet that I could take just in case I would feel anxious and couldn’t sleep. I admit I dread the surgery. (I heard enough horror stories about people ending up comatose due to allergic reaction to anesthesia or waking up in the middle of the surgery.)

But that night, by the grace of God I slept soundly.

By 5AM I was awake. The nurse inserted the IV. I changed into the hospital gown. Then they wheeled me to operating room. I was even joking with the doctor about taking video footages of my operation and posting it o…

The Rescue

More than a week ago, 16 small scale miners crept inside an abandoned mine of the Antamok gold field in Benguet, scrounging for “paltek” or left-over gold veins inside a labyrinth of tunnels. But floodwaters due to typhoon “Nina” (International codename: “Hagupit”) rushed through the shafts and immediately flooded the tunnels. It became a death trap. The miners at that time were working 700 feet underground. When they noticed the fast-rising muddy waters, they immediately scrambled towards higher shafts and ledges. But they did not make it to the surface. Six miners drowned. One of them even tied himself to a rope to keep the rushing water from sweeping him away. But he still perished. Ten survived to share their story. To survive, they drank the dripping water from the roof of the tunnel. When they could no longer bear the hunger pangs, they started eating strips of their clothing. They kept their hopes buoyed up by swapping stories and jokes with each other. That kept them sane, eve…

White Death

It is plain and simple greed.

Without regard for human lives, unscrupulous dairy companies sold melamine-laced infant formulas that caused more than 53,000 infants ill (almost 13,000 hospitalized) and four confirmed deaths due to kidney failure. Melamine is an industrial chemical used to make plastic products such as tabletops, white boards, glues and fire retardants. If consumed, melamine can cause bladder or kidney stones, which can lead to organ failure and even cancer. Thus, the Philippine Daily Inquirer aptly dubbed it “White Death.” These dairy companies dilute milk with water to increase its volume. Then, they add melamine to make it appear that the milk has high protein content. They do that to fool government quality tests. An estimated 20% percent of dairy companies in China sell these tainted milk formulas. Now, there’s a worldwide scramble to ban milk and other dairy products from China. Because of globalization, it appears that every product that has milk in it is suspect…

The Collapse

We usually hear that when Wall Street sneezes, the whole world catches a cold. So, what happens when Wall Street catches flu?

Last weekend Lehman Brothers, the fourth biggest US investment bank, filed for bankruptcy after it suffered an estimated $60 billion in bad real estate holdings. Then, Bank of America took over Merrill Lynch, the largest U.S. brokerage, for $50 billion. The fall of what was dubbed as “two of America’s most iconic investment houses” sent not just chills but convulsions throughout the world. Some financial planners downplay it as “just another panic Monday.” ABC News’ financial contributor Mellody Hobson said, “If you’re in the financial industry, there’s no question, it’s Armageddon, it’s a history-making day. [But] if you’re a regular individual, you should rest assured that 98 percent of banks in [the USA] are totally and completely sound. There’s nothing to worry about in terms of your individual account.” (Source: Time called it “bad …

Simply Heartbreaking

Maybe she thought it’s the only way out of poverty.

Janette Ponce, 32 years old from Magdalene, Laguna, may have decided she had enough. She forced three of her four kids to drink muriatic acid. Then, she drank the toilet bowl cleaner, too. Neighbors rushed them to hospital. Doctors declared her children, Marjorie (4 years old), Margarette (3 years old) and MJ (2 years old), dead on arrival. After a few minutes later, Janette also died. Thank goodness her eldest son, Mark Genesis (8 years old), slept in his grandmother’s house that night. Else he would have suffered the same fate. On the other hand, her husband Orly was working as a construction worker in Manila when the suicide happened.

Simply heartbreaking…

Expect the media circus and the teary-eyed politicians who would wag their accusing fingers at whomever they think should be held responsible for our economy that is so grim it would drive a mother to murder her children and herself… until the next big story comes. Then, Janette …

Life Expectancy

Have you heard about the online life expectancy calculator?It helps us measure our so-called virtual Age or health age. Supposedly, the lower our Virtual Age the healthier we are.

The calculator asks more than thirty questions on health factors. It computes those factors to determine our life span. It asks questions on the quality of our lives like close friendships, happiness in marriage and job satisfaction. (I just can’t understand how just being a male can affect one’s virtual age.) Then, it would give you an approximate on how long you can expect to live, not just in years but also even in days. So, you can now literally count your remaining days.

Of course, the calculator can give us estimates only. It admits, “The science of aging cannot predict all events of one’s life.” But it gives us a new approach to Psalm 90:12. “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” (ESV) That Psalm talks about the passing nature of life: “We live out our years like one long si…


Now the blame game begins.

Due to our dismal performance in the Olympics (for the nth time), people are clamoring for sporting officials’ heads to roll. Lawmakers have filed resolutions in both Houses of Congress for an investigation to be conducted on why we performed poorly in the Games. (Read: Expect more grandstanding in the next few weeks.) Yes, we won some medals in Wushu. But it is just a demonstration event, which did not even dent our medal standing.

Was it the lack of funding? Could it be the want of a comprehensive sports program? Or, politicians, instead of sportspeople, running whatever sports program we have, if ever there is really a program at all? Genetics, perhaps? (Some may even claim that the referees cheated in favor of our opponents.) We are grasping and gasping for answers.

In heaven, if ever we fail to get a crown or a reward from the Lord, we have no one else to blame but ourselves. God gave us everything we need to win the race He had set before us. (Again, let …


The You Tube video clip is both gut wrenching and heart breaking. (Warning: That video and this article are not for the weak.)

Late at night, Mang Boy would scrounge the trash looking for recyclables. Ignoring the stench, he would move from one pile to another. The next day, his wife would sort out the junk. Other than paper, styro cups and plastic utensils, she also sets aside the leftover food her husband collected from the garbage bin of restaurants. A half eaten chicken breast here. A piece of pork ribs there. She would then shake or clean off the dirt. That’s why it is called “pagpag” (In English, “shake off”). But she is not going to feed it to pigs or dogs. A box of leftover would fetch a measly fifty pesos. A nearby “karinderia” or food stall buys them. The cook would separate the meat from the bones. Then she washes the meat twice in hot water. After that, she cooks it. A dish of “pagpag” would usually cost ten pesos. But fried “pagpag” would cost fifteen pesos. Maybe because …

Image Is Everything?

To say that the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics was spectacular is really an understatement. Someone even commented that it is an extravaganza that has never happened in Olympics history and, probably, will never happen again. However, word got around that some of the dazzling fireworks the world saw at the opening ceremony were actually digitally enhanced, prerecorded images. The organizers admitted that they actually recreated “the hazy effects of Beijing’s smog at night, and inserted a slight camera shake effect to simulate the idea that it was filmed from a helicopter.” ( They claimed it was technically impossible and dangerous to film it live. Now, we learn that Lim Miaoke, the cute 9-year-old girl who sang the “Ode to the Motherland” while soaring on wires over the Bird’s Nest Stadium, just lip-synched the song. It appears that supposedly Yang Peiyi, a 7-year-old singer, would do the part. But, because of her chubby looks and crooked teeth, t…


That’s the day the Beijing Olympics will kick off, touted to be the best ever in Olympic history. About 10,500 athletes from 205 countries will be competing in 302 events in 28 sports. Desperately wanting the Olympics to showcase its 21st century superpower status, China invested so much in its preparation. The gargantuan Beijing National Stadium alone costs US$423 million. The opening ceremony itself will highlight 15,000 performers, making it the most spectacular event to be seen worldwide.

Here in the Philippines, the reward for the athlete who would bag the first Olympic gold medal is expected to go even beyond P15 million. Also, a brand-new Toyota Vios will be given to every athlete who would win a silver or gold medal. Those incentives are said to be the biggest ever offered in history! (Though some athletes confessed it only added to the pressure. They would rather focus on winning the gold medal first.) The highest we got so far was a silver medal. When he won a silver medal in…


That’s the day the Beijing Olympics will kick off, touted to be the best ever in Olympic history. About 10,500 athletes from 205 countries will be competing in 302 events in 28 sports. Desperately wanting the Olympics to showcase its 21st century superpower status, China invested so much in its preparation. The gargantuan Beijing National Stadium alone costs US$423 million. The opening ceremony itself will highlight 15,000 performers, making it the most spectacular event to be seen worldwide.

Here in the Philippines, the reward for the athlete who would bag the first Olympic gold medal is expected to go even beyond P15 million. Also, a brand-new Toyota Vios will be given to every athlete who would win a silver or gold medal. Those incentives are said to be the biggest ever offered in history! (Though some athletes confessed it only added to the pressure. They would rather focus on winning the gold medal first.) The highest we got so far was a silver medal. When he won a silver medal in…

August Speakers for the English Worship Service (Makati Gospel Church)

(Click on the image to enlarge it.)

Please invite friends and relatives to join
our English Worship Service.
We meet every Sunday, 8:20AM,
at Makati Gospel Church,
7650 Dela Rosa, Makati.
For more info, call (632) 8160634.
You can also e-mail me for the location map.

Starbucks Saved His Life?

In Michael Gill’s own words, “I was born with just about every advantage you could imagine, or even wish for.”1 Born the first son of a prominent family, went to Yale, climbed the corporate ladder until he became a top executive of the world’s biggest ad agency at that time, received a six-figure salary, he got it made!

Or, so he thought. At 53, he got fired. He started a consulting company. It fizzled. Then his wife of twenty-years divorced him due to an affair where he sired a son. Then, his doctor found a brain tumor. Only Job had hit lower than that!

Gill described his morning ritual: “I was dressing up everyday with a tie. It’s sad now to think about it, but I was dressing up like I was an executive when I didn't have any work. I was surprised at my inability to cope.” Talk about hopelessness! One day, he entered a Starbucks store. That time the coffee shop was hiring. The manager approached him, “Would you like a job?” Drained and desperate, Gill could only nod.

Gill became a b…

The Dark Knight

Though I won’t recommend that kids watch it (it should be rated R for excessive violence rather than PG13), The Dark Knight is truly “a rich, multi-layered movie filled with great performances, memorable dialogue, and moral complexity.” (Gary Robinson, The Choices of Bruce Wayne, Breakpoint 7/22/08) It made blockbuster history by posting US$158.4 million in its opening weekend, beating Spiderman 3 by more than $7 million! (Heath Ledger’s untimely death after portraying the devilish Joker in the movie surely fueled much interest in the movie. But in fairness, the producers did not capitalize on his death in the promotion of the movie.) Indeed, it’s a rich movie, both literally and figuratively!

I won’t share the plot so as not to spoil the fun. But, in one scene, Batman was about to crack under pressure. His ever-loyal butler, Alfred, exhorted him, “Endure! You can be the outcast. You can make the choice that no one else will face—the right choice.” I like the lesson distilled by Breakp…

No Story Worth Your Life?

Thanks to the Internet, even while I was in the US of A, I got to follow closely the news on the kidnapping of ABS-CBN news anchor Ces Drilon and her two cameramen by the dreaded Abu Sayaff. They went to the Sulu forest supposedly to interview Abu Sayyaf commander Radulan Sahiron. It turned out to be a ruse. One cameraman got the scare of his life when the bandits bound him and made him kneel as a prelude to beheading him. Then, the cell phone rang at that very moment with a call from the negotiators. True to their training, the cameramen secretly took footages of their ordeal, which the network aired in a recent TV documentary. After 9 days, allegedly upon payment of ransom, the bandits released them.

(Personally, it brought back memories of my work experiences with that network about a decade ago. I again realized how God faithfully kept me when we visited with Kabayan Noli De Castro the camps of the New People’s Army to interview its spokesperson, Ka Roger, and the Moro Islamic Libe…