Monday, May 28, 2012


Banner Commemorating International Day of Families
"Ensuring Work--Family Balance"
Pictures (l-r)  1. NCFF Delegates 2. Elder Benson Misalucha Delivers Keynote 3. Little Girl Plays with Family Enrichment Book 4. NCFF Leaders with Haidi Fajardo, Our Director

The National Committee on the Filipino Family (NCFF), led by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), conducted it's yearly forum in celebration of the International Day of Families on Saturday, May 19, 2012, with the theme, “Ensuring Work-Family Balance”.  Our former PA Director, Leni, served on this committee...and to our great surprise...Haidi learned 2 weeks prior to this event that SHE was the host for it this year! It was the same weekend as the MTC Dedication, and we were already very busy with that, but we did some fast scrambling...looking for a large enough venue, getting a keynote speaker, lunch for 200, drinking water, flowers, a banner, and all of the technical equipment we would need! 

About 200 family advocates, representing the different sub-committees of the NCFF, participated in this forum which was held in the cultural hall of one of the  stake centers...the Marikina City Stake.  The former director of the DSWD, Ms.Lina Laigo, presented the theme. She is a wonderful woman that shares many of our same values.  She mentioned that the word, family, stands for “father and mother, I love you”.and that home is spelled t i m e.  Then she encouraged everyone there to tell parents and children, often, that they love them.

A little history: The International Day of Families is observed annually on the 15th of May as proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in a 1993 resolution. This year’s theme emphasizes that “work-family balance lies at the core of the ability of the family to provide economically and emotionally for its members.”

Elder Benson E. Misalucha, an Area Seventy for the church, gave the keynote  address. He gave a fantastic talk on balancing work and family life. He mentioned three ways to help achieve success in this balancing act: 

      Commit to what matters most

      Dedicate time and attention

      Say “NO” as needed to things of lesser importance

As part of his explanations, Elder Misalucha encouraged those present to play with their families, have daily family prayer, regular scripture reading as a family, and hold weekly family home evenings. He referred to our church's Proclamation on the Family, and the special Philippine edition of the Family Enrichment Manual (a non-denominational Family Home Evening manual produced by BYU), both of which were offered to those in attendance. Every copy was taken.

We have had our attention brought to several parts of the Philippine Constitution, and it truly recognizes the family as the foundation of the nation, and this nation is known for giving importance to strong family ties....hopefully they will be vigilant in protecting the family!

2 Side Notes to this Event:
  • In October 2009, one of the most devastating typhoons hit the Philippines...Typhoon Ondoy. The water level was up to the ceiling tiles in the cultural hall of the Marikina City Stake Center (see above photo)...and when you pull into the parking lot of this building you go up a steep incline from the it gives you an idea of how deep the water was that covered this area of Manila.
  • We ordered 200 boxed lunches...including drinks... from Kentucky Fried Chicken to feed this large group.  All of it had to be delivered on motorcycles by 3 employees.  It was very hot and they worked so hard!  A few people had left before eating, so when the last of the boxes was delivered, we offered a lunch to each of the deliverers.  I was really taken back by how excited and grateful they were that we would give them lunch..they were so happy....I didn't realize how hungry they were.  Haidi said these employees could never afford to eat the food where they is too expensive!  I just love these humble happy Filipinos!  

Friday, May 25, 2012


National Day of Service at Quezon City Circle

On Saturday, April 28, Randy and I attended the kick-off event for the National Day of Service here in the Philippines. This is a yearly event sponsored by the Church. It takes lots of planning in each district/stake.  About 3 months prior to the event date, a project was chosen by each group and then had to be registered with the city government.  All details had to be cleared.  Then, depending on the service project, businesses in the area were approached to see if they would like to donate supplies needed. The one we attended involved about 1500 of our youth and their leaders from 6 stakes....and required 50 gallons of paint.  Randy had been asked to address all of the youth at the first of the really did take us back to our EFY days, and so he started with the “Bird Cheer” that we used to teach at all of the EFY sessions we directed. Yes, now the cheer has reached the Philippines! It was a success!  He then made a few short remarks, followed by Kim Antenorcruz, the Multi-stake Public Affairs Director, and then the youth were sent off to their assigned areas to begin their paint the fence that surrounds the Quezon City Circle (an enormous roundabout with an amusement park and other things in the center of it) a general cleanup of the entire area...yes, quite an undertaking! It was so so hot, but they showed up and did a great job. While we waited to get started, we visited with Atty. Ed Bellen, the Deputy Secretary for Legislation in the Philippines, along with Orly Ramas, a professional media consultant hired to work with our office. The four of us decided to follow one of the groups and take photos for a newspaper article.  As we were walking and talking with them, Elder Bird had just taken a photo, and suddenly he fell right into a storm drain, from which the protective steel grate had been removed! The hole was about 3 feet deep and half full of flowing water! It was quite painful and embarrassing for him....I assured him that he went in quite gracefully with both legs, without hitting his head or knocking out any teeth, AND held the very expensive Public Affairs camera up where it remained unharmed!! The three of us pulled him out of the was really quite alarming, knowing that many serious injuries are not noticed immediately, but he kept saying he was okay and we proceeded to walk to where the youth were painting. As we walked, he could feel lots of pain in the toes and ankle of his left leg. Ed and Orly went right to the guard station to complain about the open drain....the worst part was that the guard said they had noticed the night before that one of the grates had been stolen but had done nothing to cover it for safety purposes!!  We kept thinking of how grateful we were that a little child had not fallen in....they could have been swept away before anyone missed them!  We took more pictures and then knew we had better get back to our apartment to take a look at his foot.  He got by with one broken toe (the rest were sprained, swollen, and turned black and blue),  and a gash in the front of his ankle.  The doctor said it should feel better in about 6 weeks!!!  Nice! The "Day of Service " was a great success, in spite of our accident...over 150,000 hours of service were given throughout the country.....doing such things as:  planting mangroves (helps stop beach erosion), planting mango trees, clean-up projects of all kinds, painting schools and big fences, and all kinds of beautification projects.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


Amie Vargas at Entrance to Jubilee Exhibit

Some of the Volunteers for Jubilee Exhibit in Bacolod

VIP's Attend Exhibit and View Local History

Youth Sings During Opening Ceremony

Bacolod Public Affairs Training Group

On Friday, May 4, we flew to Bacolod, for the final Jubilee Exhibit and Stake Public Affairs training. It was the very best experience yet of flying, while here in the Philippines.  Our director of Public Affairs, Haidi Fajardo, flew with us. The city of Bacolod is on the island of Negros....a one hour flight to the south. This was the first time we have had a flight leave on time!!!  Truly a miracle!  The Bacolod airport was quite nice and modern...the toilets in the CR (restroom) even had SEATS on the them....but still no toilet paper! While I was in there, a MAN was also in the CR cleaning.  I chatted with him while washing my hands....yup, lots of great new experiences. Another great thing about this trip was our hotel had a soaker tub and lots of hot water....that was a first! On Saturday we did stake public affairs training with all seven stakes on this island. The training went so well, and we really loved meeting so many new members that seemed to be very on top of their callings in PA.  Many of them traveled a great distance to be at the training...they were such a fun group! 

This final Church History Jubilee Exhibit was done in grand fashion!  It started on Monday morning with a well prepared cultural program followed by remarks from Evelio Leonardia, Mayor of Bacolod City and Benjamin Candari, Bacolod Stake President. The exhibit ended on Friday night after having 1,066 visitors attend, including many civic and community leaders.

I will now share a few sweet moments we had: 
  1. On the flight to Bacolod, I had an Ensign sitting on my lap, while I was sitting there with my eyes closed.  This lady, sitting to my left, tapped me on the shoulder and pointed to the magazine and asked if she could look at it.  After going through it, we started talking. She was returning from a very large family reunion...cousins from Europe, the U.S., and Australia attended. I pulled out a copy of The Family Proclamation and she read it and loved it. I left that with her and gave her one of our business cards, which has web sites printed on the back to go to if you would like to learn more. It was nice.
  2. A sister named Gerlie gave a spiritual thought at the beginning of our PA training.  She told of how very shy she had always been, never having many friends because she would avoid any kind of social interaction.  After joining the church in her early 20’s, she reluctantly accepted a calling and started to realize that she truly had talents and the Lord blessed her with confidence to develope them and use them to serve others.  Now she can approach political leaders with confidence and she loves it. She was really an amazing woman possessing great social skills!
  3. A sister named Sarah, who teaches business courses at a university there, told us she was baptized last October.  She was Catholic (almost everyone is) and had been really studying other religions and trying them out for a very long time and none ever felt right.  One day someone told  her about the LDS church, she decided to try it out, and for the first time in her life she feels so happy.  She reminded me of Irene Javier (Malaya Branch), because she just wants to tell everyone about her journey. 
  4. On Friday night, Randy, Haidi, and I walked to a convenience store to get bottles of water for the training.  As we left, this beggar boy followed us holding his hand out.  Haidi said not to give him money, but she gave him a brownie she had bought.  I felt so bad. So on Saturday night we went to a sandwich shop and bought some sandwiches, along with a couple of desserts.  I told Randy that I was giving this to the first little beggar children that approached us.  We walked up the same street we had been on the night before, and sure enough, two little skinny girls came walking toward us...holding out their hands...saying “Please, po”  I went over to them and asked if they were hungry...they said, “Yes, po”...I told them they needed to share the food in the bag.  They were all smiles and said thank you and ran down the street holding the bag. I sure hope they got to eat that food or perhaps shared it with a little brother or sister.  
The great thing about the gospel is that it helps people to become self-reliant, and the poor are cared for in the very best way...the Lord’s way.