Less of me, More of God

Archive for the ‘People Who Inspire Me’ Category

Have You Ever Met Someone Who’s Changed Your World?

I have. I guess I am one of the lucky ones. The luckier ones, even, as I am actually related to the person who’s changed my world.

Her name is Janice and I’ve known her all my life. You see, she is my first cousin, and we grew up in a “clannish” family here in the Philippines. By “clannish”, I mean growing up in the same compound, and even when my family moved away, we still went to our grandparents’ ancestral house on a weekly basis, so I always see and spend time with my cousins. She is 6 years older than me, and I looked up to her growing up because she just seems to know everything! I was always considered an early bloomer, and maybe it’s because as I would often hang out with her and her friends. I learned and experienced a lot at such an early age—and this includes drinking and smoking (sometimes, since I have asthma), and dealing with suitors, maniacs and heartaches.

This is not to say we lived a low and miserable life before, in fact, some of my great memories are when I was with her, talking and laughing about stuff, discovering the new clubs and bars, gossiping and so much more. It also wasn’t shallow, as we’d have long talks about love lost, family issues and what we should and should not do in our generation. We have a big clan with lots and lots of complications, so at an early age, we got to see the wrongs of the ones who came before us. In high school, I think some of my classmates saw me as someone profound as I would always share stuff about “life” – and I don’t mean the sheltered kind of life we were ideally living in.

I think the best thing about my relationship with Janice is that despite moving away (for her, it was several times), and moving forward  with new discoveries, we somehow always pick up where we left off whenever we see each other. The problems we have faced, no matter how different they were, kept us close. We have an unspoken agreement that we can tell each other everything, and I mean everything, without the fear of being judged or misunderstood.

After her quarter-life crisis, she found her calling one day – to serve in her church’s ministry, The Rock of My Salvation Media Ministries – and everything in her life turned. Her talents were honed in a way that no one could ever imagine! She started editing photos, then short videos, until she was a full-time creator of documentaries that reached and touched thousands of lives. Moreover, she created a group that supports the women in prison, the Saving Grace Project (www.savinggraceph.org). Monthly, the project will be giving these women basic toiletries, and occasionally, good food they can enjoy. But what is important is the HOPE that these small gifts come with. Janice said that, after her darkest days, when she was sad and alone, God placed it in her heart to provide hope to everyone, especially those who are not able to see the light, and this is what gave birth to this project.

Seeing her go through almost everything seemed to prepare me for what I will be going through in life. Although the circumstances are much much different, I felt that I can go to this person for anything, as she has gone through so much, and she was never afraid to be transparent to me. I think Janice’s life is a real and complete testimony of God’s love. She has given strength and inspiration to so many people, most especially to me. Whenever I am feeling helpless or confused, talking to her always assure me that everything will be fine, and eventually, things will be great. She is my constant reminder of the great plans that God has for my life, and she is one of the very few who can truly motivate me to move forward and stretch my potential.

More importantly, she helped me see what I can be in others’ lives. And although I am a work in progress, I know that one day, I will be a source of strength to others, the way she has always been, and will always be, to me.

Happy Birthday, ate Janice ❤ Thank you for changing my world.


For the Love of A.

It took me a while to get to write another blog, and this one is no picnic. I’m writing this to pay homage to a really good friend whom I have lost recently.

Let’s call him “A”.

I met A a few years back, for a company we both worked for. He was clean, with very nice teeth and smile. He dresses well, like he is always going to meet clients. He is jolly and will find ways to cheer up an otherwise dull day. We became fast friends, and I learned a lot about his life. I’m amazed with what he has gone through, from his career, rising from the ranks, to his family life, being a breadwinner when we were just of the same age. At times he’d complain about making ends meet, but in a way, he’d sound like he’s just joking his way through it. He’s hardworking, never heard him complain about the early call time for events, or the fact that he will have to be the one to man booths and set them up himself.

One of the things I love about A was that he is very gracious and thoughtful. I remember before, he used to buy me lunch daily as I don’t want to go out of the office and walk towards the store. I loved the fattening liempo and lechon kawali, and he noticed that I ordered the same thing everyday. He’s concerned about my health, so for a couple of weeks, he pretended that liempo and lechon kawali were  not available so I’d be forced to order chicken or fish. I got pissed but realized quickly,wow, this person cares!

He also always mentions the things he appreciates in a person — whether its the work ethic, generosity, or sincerity. I think that in the midst of this cruel world, A will always see the good in others, and that is what he helps me remember.

When I left the company, we still kept in touch, and even had a couple of projects tied up and worked together. We do not regularly talk, but when we see each other, we’d talk non-stop until we realize it’s already late. I hated that he called me “Ms. Jan” in front of others, but loved it when he says I taught him a lot of what he does on his own now. I wish back then I also said to others, that I learned a lot about him too.

Come March, we found out that A was very sick. On that same week, another friend and I visited him, and cried at what we saw. Very thin and sickly, he smiled weakly at us and talked as if he wasn’t scared. I gave him a book, and left it with a note in the middle of the grocery bags we brought for him. I was just entering my car when I got a call. A was half laughing and half crying, telling me thank you and not to worry about him.  A couple more visits and another month came along, and suddenly, he was gone.

We were told to expect it, but like everyone else, we did not expect it to end so soon. I miss his smile. I miss his criticisms, especially when he tells me I look fat in what I wear. Up until he passed, I didn’t realize how much he was part of my life. My friends from events know him, my family and relatives, my ministry-mates, and even the people I work with now. Everyone who got to know him, remembered him.

So to A, whom I know is looking down on me right now from heaven, THANK YOU. IT WAS A GREAT PLEASURE KNOWING YOU AND KNOWING YOUR LIFE. IT WAS AN HONOR WORKING WITH SUCH A HARDWORKING MAN LIKE YOU. I WILL FOREVER BE GRATEFUL FOR OUR FRIENDSHIP. You’re home now, and that leaves us with peace. No more pain, just joy and memories we will always keep.


A Worthy Cause: Unveiled (via Change.org)

Here’s a petition I sent via http://www.change.org, a place where you can have a voice by signing petitions you believe in. Kindly find time to read my cause, and sign if you believe the same. 🙂 Click on the link below if you would like to find other petitions, or create petitions of your own! Let’s change the world one cause at a time! 🙂


For the longest time, Muslim students of Pilar College, the oldest school in Zamboanga City, have been forbidden to wear their hijabs or Islamic veil. 

Amid numerous protests, the school defended its policy last week by saying that they can’t deviate from their Roman Catholic origin. They also invoked academic freedom. 

As a devout Catholic, I would also be insulted if I were to be asked to give up something very sacred to me. This is why I started a petition on Change.org appealing to the administrators of Pilar College to revoke this policy and respect religious freedom.

Click here to add your name.

We have a rare opportunity. In a meeting with the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos Tuesday morning, it was reported that Pilar College agreed to issue a joint statement that they’re open to re-examine the hijab policy. But the final decision still befalls upon the approval of their superiors.

They could make their decision any day now. If thousands of people help speak out, Pilar College President Sr. Maria Nina Balbas will no longer think twice about allowing students to wear their Islamic veils — click here to sign my petition.

Every Filipino should sign this petition. The hijab ban is a violation of the Magna Carta of Women, and I believe that just by ignoring this issue, we already contribute to the discrimination of Muslims in Pilar College.

Let’s show Muslim Filipinos that we are behind them in this Right to Hijab movement.

Thanks for taking action,

Janina via Change.org