It's almost Christmas and when I watch The Filipino Channel, instead of the usual news about Christmas celebrations and preparations, I see the disaster brought about by typhoon Sendong (Washi).  It was devastating to see our 'kababayans' suffer this much, lose so many loved ones and stripped off all of their belongings a week before Christmas.  It made me ponder...how can someone even celebrate under these circumstances?

I was watching the news and they interviewed an official from Mindanao State University.  He said, one good thing that came out of this was they saw the people unite...Christians and Muslims alike.  Everyone was there to help each other without regard for religion, gender or status in life...It is sad that it would take a catastrophe like this for us to realize that we should all be united.  Shouldn't we be at peace with everyone everyday?

Christmas became Christmas because Jesus Christ gave Himself for us...That is why it is called the Season of Giving.  So during this time, what better way to celebrate than for us to give a part of ourselves to others.  Let us join hands and help our 'kababayans' in need.  

I have posted links to some websites that are accepting donations.  Hope you can give a little bit of your savings, used clothing or some of your time this Christmas.

World Vision Philippines                   - http://www.worldvision.org.ph/
700 Club Asia (Operation Blessing)    - http://www.worldvision.org.ph/
Philippine Red Cross                        - http://www.redcross.org.ph/
ABS-CBN Sagip Kapamilya                - http://www.abs-cbnfoundation.com/ and http://www.sagipkapamilya.com/
GMA Kapuso Foundation                   - http://www.kapusofoundation.com/

Merry Christmas and God bless you!
 
 
It's the first night of "Simbang Gabi" and I'm starting to feel homesick...

The Filipino tradition of "Simbang Gabi" (mass at dawn or novena mass) is a nine-day novena in preparation for the birth of Jesus Christ.  It starts on the 16th of December as early as 4 or 5 in the morning...while the anticipated simbang gabi starts on the night of December 15. 

Here in Los Angeles, the first day of simbang gabi was held in the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.  I was overwhelmed with the number of Filipinos who attended the mass and was overjoyed to see a lot of "parol" or Filipino christmas lanterns representing different parishes.  The First Reading was in Filipino and about half of the hymns too!  During the offertory, my eyes were brimming with tears...I felt the pangs of homesickness...

Filipinos have the best Christmas in the world because for us, it's not all about the presents...it's not really about Santa, the snow, nor the shopping the day after...For us, it's about Jesus and it's about family...everything is centered on the love and togetherness...it's the reason why we feel warm and fuzzy inside...not the hot chocolate we just gulped down (okay...maybe, that's a teeny part of it...)

After the mass, I was glowing with Pinoy Pride...We have shared our Simbang Gabi tradition with the world...

Now, if only I can find a store selling bibingka and puto bumbong...
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By the way, just in case you're from Los Angeles and need the schedule of simbang gabi masses, here it is:

Dec. 15 (6:30pm)            - Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angeles

Dec. 16 & 17 (5:00pm)    -  St. Basil's Church
                                        637 S. Kingsley Dr., Los Angeles, CA 90005 
                                        (213) 381-6191
Dec. 18 (7:00pm) & Dec. 19 (6:30pm) - Christ the King Roman Catholic Church
                                                          624 N. Rossmore Ave, LA, CA 90004 
                                                          (323) 465-7605
Dec. 20 & 21 (7:00pm)     - Cathedral Chapel of St. Vibiana Parish
                                        923 S. La Brea Ave., LA, CA 90036 
                                        (323) 930-5676
Dec. 22 & 23 (7:00pm)     - St. Brendan Church
                                        310 S. Van Ness Ave., LA, CA 90020 
                                        (323) 936-4656
 
 
Our baby turns one today...Happy 1st Birthday, Shandi!

I guess she's also excited about today since she woke up around 11 last night and seemed like she's going to wait for 12am (and welcome her day with a bang!).  Well, after 30 minutes, she got really cranky and decided to go back to sleep...funny baby!

Needless to say, today is also my 1st year anniversary as a mom.  Motherhood can change someone in so many ways...as for me, it made me more appreciative and thankful for the littlest things in life.  Thankful for my family's good health, for our baby's achievements, for supportive family and friends, for all the blessings we received.

I never knew our lives would change so much after having Shandi.  I cannot say it was a change for the better because I believe all the phases of our lives should be lived the best we can.  Instead, I call it a "happy" sort of change...

Before I got pregnant, when friends would show me a video or a picture of their children, I sometimes feel obliged to say something nice...something with the word "cute", "wonderful" and "adorable" in it.  Who knew that as soon as I gave birth, I'll have a phone full of baby pictures waiting to be shown to the world????  I could talk on and on about my baby to complete strangers...would even show a video of her trying to walk and babbling.  For me, everyone should care...she's my daughter and the source of our everyday joy!!!  I also have thousands of pictures on our computer, add to that the albums and picture frames around the house...would you like to see them?  Oh, and by the way, I also have this website...

On this special day, I have nothing but gratitude...It has truly been a year of "firsts" and I know it doesn't end with the first year.  This is only the beginning of all the wonderful moments to come.

So come and share our joy as we watch Shandi try to blow out her first candle.  It's cake time!!!