Friday, December 30, 2011


(pics. l-r) 1. Sister Bird on Big Gun at Corregidor 2. W.W 2 Barracks 3. View of Corregidor Island from Top Side 4. Sister Bird at Welcome Sign 5. Large Lizard 6. Map of Corregidor 7. E/S Bird in Front of Pacific War Memorial 8. E/S Bird in Front of 14" Gun 9. Line of Guns 10. Malinta Tunnel
On Wednesday, December 28, 2011, Elder Bird and I organized a trip for the Senior Missionaries in our Zone to travel to the island of Corregidor. Corregidor is one of the most important historic and tourist sites in the country. It is a lofty island located at the entrance of Manila Bay in southwestern part of Luzon Island in the Philippines. Due to this location, Corregidor was fortified with several coastal artillery and ammunition magazines to defend the entrance of Manila Bay and the City of Manila, from attacks by enemy warships in the event of war. Located 48 kilometres (30 mi) inland, Manila has been the largest city and the most important seaport in the Philippines for centuries—from the colonial rule of Spain, the United States, and Japan and after the establishment of the Republic of the Philippines in 1946. During World War II, Corregidor played an important role during the invasion and liberation of the Philippines from Japanese forces. Heavily bombarded in the latter part of the war, the ruins left on the island serve as a military memorial to many American, Filipino and Japanese soldiers who served or lost their lives on the island.
The island, when viewed from the air, looks like a tadpole, and has been divided into four sections: Topside, Middleside, Bottomside, and Tailside. It has also been nicknamed "the Rock" due to its many fortifications and rocky terrain. Each of the "sides" house a significant part of history. Topside housed barracks, communications center, golf course, etc. The Middleside housed the officers quarters, and included schools and a hospital. The Bottomside connects the middle to the tail by means of the Malinta tunnel. A tunnel that was ten years in the making (1922-1932). It literally became an underground city of its own housing a major hospital, and was used as a bomb shelter for the many air attacks on the island. The Tailside housed a small airfield and navy landing site. Our entire Zone loved this "getaway" to an island of fresh air, lizards, monkeys, and only 200 residents. I actually chose 3 sites for a perfect vacation home!! This place was the most beautiful, peaceful, perfectly clean place I have experienced here in the Philippines....rather ironic when you consider all of the pain and bloodshed that has taken place here. What a privilege for us to visit this piece of history.

Thursday, December 29, 2011


(pics. l-r) 1. Malaya Children on Christmas Day, 2. E/S Bird with Nel's Family 3. Elder Bird with Gifts for Malaya Branch Members 4. E/S Bird with Nel (We Did Christmas Service for His Family)

(pics. l-r) 1. Joel and Irene Javier in Manila Philippines Adm. Office 2. Sister Bird with Joel and Irene in Front of Manila Temple 3. Christmas Nativity on Temple Grounds 4. Christmas Lights on Temple Grounds 5. Christmas Tree in our Apt., we call it the "Infantry"!
The week before Christmas was a wonderful week! Christmas carols were being played everywhere and there were many beautiful decorations.....especially at the temple. Many of the saints and investigators from the Malaya Branch came to see the lights and have a temple tour put on by the full time missionaries. 33 of them rode in one jeepney....24 would be a full load....but so many wanted to come. Joel and Irene Javier came with them. We were so excited because they got to see where we work and meet our friends in the Public Affairs office. Then we walked around the temple with them and the rest of the group and had such a nice time. The evening was beautiful....I was so grateful because it had been raining a lot the past few days.
On Monday evening (Dec. 19th) we had our Senior Zone FHE at the new MTC (Missionary Training Center)....the big remodel and addition had just been completed...and the MTC President, Pres. Taylor invited us to a one man (him!) presentation of Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol. Wow, it was so good and really filled us with the spirit of Christmas. Also, that day we finished getting out about 1000 Christmas cards and new 2012 Calendars, designed for our office....busy, busy!
On Tuesday we and the Goss' had put together a Christmas package for a former employee of the PAO, Nel, and we left work early to go to his home. Yes, even with all of the directions we were given, we had the hardest time finding his place. When we finally did, he was not home, but his mother was and also 3 of their 6 children. We loved meeting them and visiting with them and left our gift with strict instructions they were not to get into it until Nel arrived back home. Well, according to Nel, when he and his wife and their other 3 children arrived home, everything from the box was laid out on the floor of their small cement and cinderblock home just waiting! Then they divided up the minature candy bars and he said the children just ran around the room dancing and singing for joy. We had included some money, and he said his wife took off immediately to buy milk for the children.....they had not had any for weeks!! He had had to quit work because of health problems he was having. They had decided that his wife would go overseas (Taiwan) to work. A very difficult decision. She left the day after Christmas and cannot return for two years. Many of the Filipinos do this very thing to attempt to support their families financially. We went back to see them on Christmas day and took a picture of us with Nel. Also, some additional Christmas items were left for the that we knew the ages of the children.
Wednesday was another favorite day. We have this group of maintenance workers that have helped us so much in public affairs. They move, lift, haul, clean, and just do lots of physical labor. So, we arranged with their boss to call each of them to the public affairs office for a job we needed done. Instead, when they arrived, we pointed them to the Director's office, and upon entry they found a reception of goodies and drinks set up for them. In addition, a gift certificate for one free lunch was presented to each of them. They were so surprised and we had so much fun doing this. Nel used to be one of this maintenance team. He calls us Mom and Dad.
Thursday we took a box of donuts to the Quezon City Post Office thanking them for how helpful they have been in getting our packages delivered to us. They truly love my husband and enjoy his visits there.
Christmas Eve (Dec. 24) was our Zone Christmas Social. It was a pot luck dinner with lots of "yummy" food brought. E/S Bell (Hermosa Beach, Ca.) helped so much with the decorations and games and a gift exchange. We had the conference room set up like a big living room/dining room with couches, Christmas tree, lamps, tables, etc. You would have thought it was a home. It was so fun. Randy got a small nativity and I received some candy which I quickly gave to the Malaya Branch on Christmas.
Christmas morning found us up early preparing to drive to Malaya for Church. No time for gifts. As we were sitting there ready for the meeting to begin, the Branch President got up and walked down to me and said,"Sister Bird, could you do me a favor"? Thinking he wanted me to lead the singing, I said "Sure, what can I do"? He said, "Would you be our speaker along with my wife....our other speaker didn't show up". I went into panic mode with my mind absolutely blank, and said "Sure, I would love to".....okay, a small lie! I did it...and I vow to be more prepared for things like this!! We made little gift bags for all the children (candy, pencils that said "I am a child of God" in Tagalog...thank you Julie, a little tablet to write in, and toothbrushes). The adults received toothbrushes and candy. Many of them were checked for what power of reading glasses they needed. We will then try to meet their needs with glasses sent from home (thanks to Petersons and Hemmings) or here. We had a horrendous drive home with traffic as bad as ever....I was determined to not let it affect the Christmas spirit! I kept pointing out to Randy that they were all FAMILIES that were in our way....what better thing....and then turned the TAB Choir Christmas CD up a little louder!!! We arrived home in time to leave again for Nel's home and then back here for a little time to open gifts. Then quickly off to Christmas dinner at the Bell's apartment. Who says it is more relaxing in the mission field? WHEW!! We loved opening our presents from home and each other. Things we needed were found in each box. It's almost as if our family planned it that way!! Hmmm!
To top our Christmas off, we skyped with each of our children and talked with my Mom. It was Monday here but Christmas there.
A couple of things we learned here: Christmas is celebrated at midnight on Christmas Eve with dinner, lots of time for prayer, and then gifts (for those that have them....they are not necessary). Santa does not play a significant role here. We are most grateful to be here and to experience Christmas in the Philippines.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


(l-r) E/S Goss, Deo Divinagracia,E/S Bird,
E/S Bird with Catholic Archbishop and Bayani and Jo Imbong, Sister Bird at Shangri-La Staircase, Area Presidency and Wives

E/S Bird, Sister Bird and Sister Goss w/FVA Helpers, FVA recipients, Marides Fernando and Jo Imbong

The Manila Family Values Awards Dinner and Reception was held on November 29, 2011, at the Edsa Shangri-La Hotel in Mandaluyong. The Area Public Affairs Office is completely responsible for this event....and it is a lot of work....and a very fun event.

The Family Values Awards are presented annually to community leaders in Asia, Europe and the United States. Notable recipients include Australian Prime Minister John Howard MP, anti-abortion and anti-euthanasia policy maker Jack Snelling MP, and Fr. Thomas Rosica, the National Director/CEO of World Youth Day (Canada). Okay, so it is a pretty big deal!

Atty. Jo Imbong, and Mr. and Mrs. Bayani Fernando were the recipients this year. Besides being the lawyer for the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, Atty. Imbong is an author, educator and a family activist. She is married to Manuel B. Imbong, also a lawyer. They have eight children and three grandchildren.....all were present for the award presentation. She was so proud of each one as she introduced them to the audience....I could truly identify with her.....the heart of a mother! In her acceptance remarks, our hearts were touched as she quoted from The Proclamation on the Family.....and considers it a most amazing document. She also said that being mother to her 8 children is, without a doubt, her greatest accomplishment! The Fernando's are both former city mayors responsible for the establishment of a yearly festival which honors

the family.

We met a number of other important leaders in this country, including the Archbishop of San Fernando, the head of the Catholic Bishops Council, Senators, the former presidential candidate that ran against President Aquino (he invited us to his home for dinner....hmm....still waiting for him to call..., and professors from the University of the Philippines. Also present were many leaders from our church. It was a grand event and I must say, we were quite happy when it was successfully over!!!