Thursday, December 13, 2012

Christmas Through The Years

Christmas always brings so many fond memories of my childhood. It is the time of the year when as a child I would have some sleepless nights from being so anxious of the holiday and anticipation of receiving Christmas presents that our parents have prepared for us. My most funny memory was when I would be unable to sleep at night of Christmas Eve out of joy because I couldn't wait for dawn so I could bathe and slip into my new dress and new shoes to show off to everybody the next day.

Through the years, Christmas celebration in my life had changed. As I get older, the celebration has become more quiet and more focused on others and less of myself. I am not expecting gifts anymore. I am more excited about finding perfect gift for each of my love ones. I want to give something more than just material things. The anticipation of Christmas has become bigger than just material gifts and festive celebration. It has become more of sharing myself, my time and treasures not only to family, friends but also to those who are less fortunate. Christmas is sharing the gift that waits for all of us under the tree of heaven. The birth of the savior in a manger brought the good news of life to all mankind.

As we celebrate Christmas this year with our family and love ones, may we also reflect that two thousand years ago, a King left his very comfortable throne to come and be with us here on earth--as a friend, a teacher, as God. He gave the most precious gifts to each of us- a new life. However some of us haven't open the box yet, still wrap and gathering dust. He still gives and waits.

Wherever you are in the world, may you feel the joy, peace and love in your heart and in your home not only this holiday season but through out the coming year.

Wishing you all a very merry Christmas!!!

Monday, November 19, 2012

My Memoir Of The Roman Sigma Second National Convention

It was a humid Saturday morning of October 27, 2012 when I checked in with my mother and my grand daughter at Water Gran Resort in General Santos City, Philippines. I just arrived from the States two days before and I was still battling with a terrible jet lag. I was attending the second national convention of Roman Sigma Fraternity and Sorority. I joined the group when I was in my first year college in Mindanao State University, main campus. My hometown General Santos City chapter was the host headed by our energetic, get-the-job-done type of person and successful entrepreneur sis Gina Perez Johnston. My emotion was mixed, not sure wether it was because of too much anticipation of meeting my brothers and sisters that I haven't seen for almost three decades and the anxiousness of meeting young and new breed of Romans for the first time or nervousness because I am one of the speakers after my batch mate in the Triangle Batch of '82 brother Juan Lorenzo Castillon assigned me a topic with a few days notice and very short time to prepare. As soon as I got inside our room, I immediately tried to get some sleep because I haven't had any for almost three days.  I was really exhausted and I could feel my system was messed up, the day was my night and the night was my day sort of feeling as far as my body was concerned. But it was not long enough and soon I started hearing commotions outside.  The participant  brothers and sisters were coming in to register, some with their families in tow. I was thinking of how uncomfortable I would be the whole day because I could feel the heat  and humidity intensifying as the sun slowly moved into mid day. But this thought was overtaken by my excitement as I looked at my brothers and sisters from different colleges and universities and alumni from all over the country were looking all set for two days and two nights of fun, foods, bonding and camaraderie, brainstorming and everything in between.

The convention center was an open hall and was the center of all our activities. We started with the celebration of the Holy Eucharist officiated by Rev. father Rogie Castellano, CP. If I had to write all the events and activities, I won't be able to cover them all in just one post. Even if I could, I won't be able to mention all the names of everybody and what they did to make this affair successful as it was. But I am posting photos below to give everyone (especially members of the Roman Sigma) a bird's eye view of that affair.

sis RenRen, me, Father Rogie and the head of the 
host chapter, sister Gina Perez Johnston

The Speakers and their topics:

Bro JuanLorenzo Castillon, 
The Steering Committee chairman in his opening address

Bro. Dr. Epimaco Cabanlit, PhD on A Glimpse of
of The Glorious Past, an Inspirational Speech

Bro. Alexander Godwin Beley on Milestone of 
Roman Sigma 1969-present

Bro. Engineer Ramil Sanchez on The Emerging Role
of Fraternities in Higher Education

Bro Dante Manlimos  on Building The National
Structure-Strategy To Expansion and Effective
Delivery of Services

myself on Exploring The Possibility Of Creating A
Welfare Fund

sis Gina P. Johnston, on Recruitment Practices
and The Legal Impediments 

Bro. Nestor Longakit, on Constitution Enhancement
and Centralized Communication 

Bonding and Fun together:

me with the gorgeous and beautiful wives of my 
brothers; we call our group The M Group

bro. Ramil believes there is treasure inside the tuna 

The brainstorming:

And the hilarious scenes of the search for False Gay:

The Picture taking before goodbye:

There were two things that highlighted the Second National Convention. First, we were able to pass resolutions and adopted changes that the group believed are relevant and will cater to the needs of the members and the group as a whole. Second was the creation of the National Executive Council and election of its officers. The Following are the elected National Executive Council Officers:

National President   :Bro. Engr. Ramil Sanchez
Alumni                    :Bro. Dante Manlimos
                                 Bro. Nestor Longakit
                                 Sis. Gina Perez Johnston
                                 Bro. Roquito Malones, Jr.
                                 Bro. Mario Pelarion
                                 Bro. Alexander Godwin Beley
Student/Sorority      :Sis. Leslie Mendoza Jumawid
Student/Fraternity   :Bro. Mon Sambo
Secretary                 :Sis. Cynthia de Los Reyes
Treasurer                :Bro. Engr. Zaldy Avena

I couldn't help but be amazed at how bro. Juan Lorenzo Castillon managed this group (as our steering committee chairman) from Bangkok where he has been  based. And how sister Elgien Verano who is based in New Zealand was able to collect the money needed for this gathering. But utilizing the technology and with the cooperation and full support of each and every active member from all over the world, we were able to pull off the convention successfully. It was made possible because of our team work and our love and dedication to Roman Sigma. We truly worked together as a family. It was an affair to remember for everyone who was there, an inspiration for others who did not make it because of individual circumstances and a challenge for those who are planning to attend the future conventions. 

Just like every gathering of this size the Second National convention was not perfect. There were some challenges that we had to deal with. But whatever problems and frustrations or things not done had become learning curves and lessons learned that will certainly be a guiding force for the next gathering of this kind. Besides, after all the fun and the priceless moments of togetherness and bondings we had, everything else was insignificant. This convention's theme was "Strengthen Our Bond, Let's Convene To Shape The Future." Everybody who was there would agree that we did developed a much closer relationship among brothers and sisters and we were able to laid down plans that will make our group more solid and strong that it can ever  be. In this convention we have built a strong foundation for a much more focused goals and objectives that matched the group's capacity and readiness for the challenges of the future.

After witnessing how the host team worked without counting the cost and listening to brothers and sisters speak and defended their argument during the different workshops, I felt the pride of being in this group. Back in college, being one of the recognized organization in the university, I have always been proud of Roman Sigma and our contribution to the community and our achievements in different fields that we were involved then.  But the business proper of this convention presided by Bro. Juan Castillon was a moment that will be instilled in my mind for a long time. I was in awe and short of words in describing my admiration during the deliberation and voting proper at how our Law student brother Mario Pelarion and the rest of the general assembly defended their stand on the issues they were passionate about. For that couple of hours, I felt I was in the House of Congress. It was very commendable to say the least.

We believe that with the leadership of our newly elected national president, the smart, result-oriented bro. Ramil Sanchez and with the help of the rest of the National Executive Council officers, the Roman Sigma will be stronger and more solid. They have all our trust and confidence that they will lead our group in achieving our goals. We will be an organization to reckon with.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

A Day In The Farm

Yesterday, amidst my very hectic, short and crazy schedule I took a day to go and visit our farm in Sarangani Province. I will be leaving for the States in a couple of days so I thought of visiting the place while I have the chance. It's been 25 years since the last time I was there and I was amazed at how much it has changed in terms of land scape and vegetations. But the familiar feelings and the fondness of the place where I spent so many memories of my youth seems like fresh and remains as it was more than two decades ago; in my perspective at least. I took some photos which to my frustration are short of capturing the beauty of the place I once called home.

this structure was a witness to my dreams as a young 
girl; who was full of hope & had a crazy ambition 
of becoming a future mayor of our town

papaya tree


fruits like papayas, mangoes, bananas 
are found in the farm

view from the kitchen window

I planted this coconut 25 years ago

Farm animals & fowls:






part of the river where we used to play and swim 
when we were kids

this is a bridge that was not there when I almost got
drown while playing in the deep water under the trees

I used to love swimming here like this little kid but
the difference is that the water used to be so clear

the girl who dreamed of becoming a mayor of this 
town someday is now a woman who loves to travel 
and now look at life and the world from a different  

bahay kubo 

farm road going to the barrio where
we used to be scared to walk especially
at night because of "momo"(witch)

hanging bridge is another structure that was not
there when we were growing up

my sister, my confidante and my best friend

the second and fourth generation taking a rest
under the "payag" after a long walk.

That one day I spent in the farm was a chance for me to reconnect to my past. When I look at my life now and where I had been in this world, it is such a relief to realized that I haven't changed so much as far as my values are concerned. I still love the peace and quiet of being around with nature. I enjoy both the simplicity of the past and the challenges of the present and the future. I will always treasure the people who have formed me to be what I am today. My dream of becoming a mayor is a thing in my past anymore, but I still want to contribute in shaping the future of that place. After all, it is still home and the world to my sister, nephews, nieces, cousins and friends. God may have placed me in a different location many thousand miles away. But the memories and love ones will always make me feel close and connected to this place.