Butterfly in the Spring

Faith Encouragement through Life Seasons

KUHL Concert: Guests’ Testimonies

This was taken last October 2015 at the Kuhl Concert. Kuh Ledesma shared and she asked her guests, Christopher de Leon, Fernando Carillo, Gary Valenciano, Jaya, Isabella Gonzalez, Kuh Ledesma, Perkins Twins, Regine Velasquez, and Tirso Cruz III their answer to “Why did you fall in love with Jesus and how?”

Individual Interviews during the concert:
Fernando Carillo

Isabella Gonzalez


Stephen Baldwin


Aggie Sarthou: How Do You Guard Your Walk While Pursuing Excellence? Part 8

Agnes “Aggie “Sarthou is one of my dear spiritual mentors.  She also teaches practical lesssons at the CCF Women of Worth Sessions at Tiendesitas and Makati sharing her expertise as an Organisational Development and Corporate Training Consultant for multi-national companies.
Would like to share with you her wonderful answer to the above question:
God has only one (1) standard: Excellence. He is completely perfect in every sense. He also commands us that we should dwell and practice excellence in the way we think and do because this pleases Him. “In whatever we do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men” – Colossians 3:23
In contrast, “Pwede na” and mediocrity is man’s invention. It is natural for us to do “petiks” because it is more comfortable and easier to do.
Excellence could have any interpretations, what is excellent to one may be mediocre to another. So what is critical is to set standards of work and deliverables. Once standards and expectations are clear and measurable, the more critical issue ishow  I respond when the output/deliverable does not meet agreed standard.
In pursuing excellence at work, I clarify expectations. I also clarify the standards/quality of the deliverable.
If things don’t go well (and the employee commits an error, I resist from speaking harshly or speak in very high decibel!
The first person I should handle is MYSELF. I need to calm myself first.
When there is a mistake, I ASK… I don’t blame. I ask the person the basic questions the kindest way I could: What happened, why it happened, where did it happen, what procedure was not done properly, etc.
Once the person realizes that there was an infraction  in the work standard/behavior/procedure and he/she admits that he/she committed  the mistake, then I ask  how he/she will do it next time… This way, I am able to preserve the dignity and self-esteem of the other person but making it clear that he committed the error and there may be consequences to the error.
In all likelihood, he/she will not repeat it again. Why, because we have clarified the reason why the mistake happened and he/she already knows how to do it better next time.

The better way of responding to mistakes is  to ASK, not to TELL… and then FORGIVE.

This is God’s way … remember, when Adam ate the fruit, God did not immediately strike them with lightning! He asked Adam: “Where are you? … Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” And then He clothed them with garments of skin … to cover their nakedness, sin and shame.

Wow such beautiful words of wisdom from Aggie.  Thank you so much Aggie for your sharing!!!!
Please click here to see previous posts featuring Aggie Sarthou including her journey with Stage 4 Cancer thirteen years ago.

The World Falling Apart Means Word Falling Into Place?

Even as ISIS continues to terrorize to pursue its goal of seizing land and take over the entire Earth, as France retaliates to ISIS Paris attacks saying, “We are going to lead a war which will be pitiless,” on the other side of the world, my husband’s favorite goose might be harder to find. Hong Kong’s famous Yung Kee Restaurant might be forced to close down… the difference of 10% more shares from this billion (Hongkong) dollar business between brothers became the root for the family fallout.  Human Trafficking survivor, Karla Jacinto, said she was raped 43,200 times. That’s not even nearing the tip of the iceberg.  Current events sometimes incite the question, “What is the world coming to?”

Anne Graham Lotz, Billy Graham’s daughter, discusses spiritual signs, national signs, environmental signs, personal signs, global signs based on Scripture that point to the stage being set for the return of Jesus Christ.


When Truth Has Consequence

“What are you, Shaman King?” my son asked me.

[I was in the middle of something when a golden teachable moment came. My son mentioned to me a situation wherein telling the truth would mean that there would be a setback for him.

We encounter those sometimes… Like when we went on a campus tour trip to Boston a few years ago, our hotel bill got slipped under the door on checkout day and I noticed that they forgot to bill us for the extra trolley bed we used.

Telling the truth to the front desk officer would inconveniently mean additional $30 per night on our bill which we could perhaps use for some ice cream or whatnot. But I had this conversation with the Lord, “Lord, following You is more important to me than pocketing $30 per night. Because You are most important to me. You can easily give me a hundredfold of that amount and You can easily also take away a hundredfold of that amount. I don’t want to profit wrongly and shortchange myself of the blessing of being in Your will.”

I can’t remember exactly how or when the Lord rewarded me for that act of obedience but I know that I feel a million times richer and more joyful and more blessed today than I did at that time not just moneywise but in growth of inner being, healing, relationships, etc.

Best of all, by God’s grace, my sons saw an example of telling the truth even when it has a consequence.

I just now belatedly recalled that after telling front desk about the unbilled trolley bed, the lady told me it was ok, the trolley bed would be complimentary! God was going to give me the freebie but He blessed me with a clear conscience as well! In addition, we got a free train ride because we got on the last car of the train and even with our fare money ready to pay, we already had to get off but had no idea who to give it to.

I read what my fingers typed in a hurry:

“Always tell truth. It’s the simplest and most liberating of all choices. Sometimes truth has consequences but better kind than the consequences for lie. Truth also receives more mercy. Usually lies don’t.”

 I thank Holy Spirit for a way to promote truth without sounding like a lecturer. This time it’s sounding like a tv character.

Reminds me… oh I miss my sons .

Not-to-be-missed Joy Tanchi Mendoza Live Testimony

I’ve heard the story from her mom and dad.  I’ve watched the 700 club feature. I’ve read the book, When A Good God Allows Rape.  But it was different watching her speak live at the Ikaw Na Ang Maganda event at CCF Marikina yesterday.

Joy walked in wearing a short, elegant, floral duchess satin dress that looked like fresh spring.  She also looks like spring with flawless skin, beautiful long hair, a picture of feminine beauty, joy, and godly purity. Her voice is gentle yet confident.  She gets real and straightforward even while she talked of what was lost and broken.  

In front of us, the picture is a restored whole person even as the process of healing continues throughout our lives; this is her now, post-tragedy, the spring abundant after winter gloom … an awesome living example of God’s restoration from ruins and brokenness.

If you find yourself or someone you love at a place of discouragement or devastation, this is a powerful encouragement for you:

Ikaw Na Ang Maganda

Malu Tiongson-Ortiz invited me to guest with her at CCF Marikina yesterday for the IKAW NA ANG MAGANDA Event, the name coming from Malu’s OMF#1 bestsellingbook of the same title.

Thanks to Waze, my friend Ann Dy and I made it to the venue quickly!


The line was already long for Malu to sign her book.


Aileen was one of 450 women who signed up for this event!


The stage was well set for Christmas! And Malu and I unintentionally matched the sofas exactly!


The praise and worship team did a great job of leading us into singing “Your Love Is Beautiful (Hillsong)” and “I Stand In Awe of You.” Indeed, the very praises in my heart.

Joy Tanchi shared her testimony.  I just read her book, When a Good God Allows Rape. I know the details but hearing it straight from her is just such a powerful not-to-be-missed story of God’s healing and restoration in brokenness.

I sang two songs, Blessings and Defying Gravity, Malu’s two favorites.

Malu and I discussed about makeup, inner and outer beauty, and women’s issues.

I had to get back to work and unfortunately missed the talk from Dra. Maria Rosario Sagrado-Luzod, MD, MHA on women’s health.

Malu did a makeup demo on five styles of makeup for the ladies. The event was supposed to end at 1pm but the ladies so enjoyed that they stayed on for almost another hour!

Sasa Felipe, Pastor Roy’s wife, was so glad that a lot of women came and were blessed!

It was an inspiring, relaxing, refreshing day of beauty.

When A Child Lives On After Passing On: Lauren’s Legacy

Last Sunday, I had the privilege to once again partake of the legacy of a child I have never met.  Her name is Lauren Santos, the firstborn of my friend and fellow parent, Dedet “The Lechon Diva” dela Fuente.  Lauren was born with cerebral palsy.  She lived a too-short span of thirteen years but her life continues to make a huge difference in the lives of others today.


Clockwise from Mommadetski, Liyora, Lileya, Lauren in front with their furry family.


L-R:  Lileya, Lauren, Liyora

Glimpses of her life which Dedet shared gave me a higher appreciation for the meaning of the event which Dedet, her younger daughters Lileya and Liyora put together: Project Wheelchair, a fundraising dinner to provide wheelchairs for the underprivileged.

This was Dedet’s speech that night:

Lauren's Legacy Speech of Dedet

Dedet’s sharing tugged deep in my heart.  Looking at Loren’s pictures and hearing of those precious moments, my heart felt the longing of a mother for her child, the loss of a precious loved one, the helplessness and limitation to change a situation.

Some time ago, Dedet had shared with me her life journey and to say that it was challenging is an understatement.  Understanding the back story moved me to see that Dedet chose to channel her pain from what must have been a cavernous loss into a far-reaching blessing.  I asked her how she overcame; her reply came:

“It was one big hardship after the next but my parents instilled in me how much God has taken care of me. Even in the lowest points of my life, I always knew He was there for me.  I always tell my children, ‘Life is not easy. You can have all the money but if you don’t have faith in God, you will never be able to survive.’ One of the turning points was when Lauren was about to pass on… I was able to overcome because I knew that God will be there for her… … It’s all about faith.”

In this article that sisters Lileya and Liyora wrote for the Philippine Star, they said that they wanted to “give the gift of mobility” [the ability to move forward] which in turn gives the opportunities for “the transformative experience…. second chances, and renewed hopes.”—– a metaphor for the very ministry of Jesus Christ for each one of us.

project wheelchair article

Philippine Daily Inquirer writeup which Dedet shared

From Isaiah 61 which Jesus read in the synagogue , He describes His ministry to proclaim good news to the poor, heal the brokenhearted, proclaim freedom for the captives, release prisoners from darkness, proclaim the Lord’s favor, comfort all who mourn, provide for those who grieve, rebuild the ancient ruins and restore and renew what was devastated and ruined, to bring joy and beauty instead of mourning and ashes.

That is a parallel on a higher realm of the twelve-course degustacion menu I was taking in.  First course:  good news. Second course:  healing . Third: freedom from bondage; fourth: light; favor, comfort, provision, restoration, joy, beauty… The unli degustation doesn’t end… Each day,  more…

Dedet’s faith in God gave her hope “to keep going no matter the cards you’re dealt.”  Dedet helped her daughters five years ago, the year that Lauren passed on, to join the Best Food Forward Bazaar to sell Liyora’s butter beer and Lileya’s Chocolate Happiness. That year, Lauren’s sisters were able to raise funds to buy two second-hand wheelchairs to give away.

Fast forward to November 15, 2015, with God’s favor, the wheels for Project Wheelchair turned and how!  Held at the gorgeous Champagne Room of historic Manila Hotel courtesy of the generous Yap Family…


Photo from Hera Geriene


Photo from Joi Cutter



Photo from Dedet dela Fuente


Photo from Guia Obsum


Photo from Michelle Rivera Lee

…Eighteen people from the culinary industry came together and prepared a degustacion menu.


Photo from Guia Obsum

With Spanky Enriquez hosting the event, around one hundred fifty guests braved the APEC traffic and heightened security to come and support the cause.  [Many more supported the cause but were unable to attend.]


Photo from John Victor Casas

Delicious, beautiful food after the next— the labor of love of different chefs— were dished out for the guests.


Ginger and Wild Chili Gazpacho from Sharwin Tee; Burrata from Jutes Templo; Chicken Terrine Salad with Spice Mango Confit from Jam Melchor


Negros Lump Crab and Corn with Pangasinan Taba ng Talangka Mayo in Artisanal Bread from Angelo Comsti; Mushroom Truffle Cannelloni from Bettina Osmena


Salmon in Parchment from Happy Ongpauco-Tiu represented by Mikee Roxas


Coq au Vin from John Cu-Unjieng


Crispy Roast Pork Belly with Lingoberries, Applesauce, Dijon Mustard, and Gravy from Dulce Magat Gibb


Named Best Dish in Asia Best Dish in Asia at the London Chowtzer Awards, Pepitas Lechon de Leche Stuffed with Truffle Rice fom Dedet dela Fuente


Calamansi with Basil Sorbet from Ian Carandang


Assorted Tartlets – Chocolate, Pecan, and Dayab from Angela Villoria Tolentino


Echire Butter Millefeuille from Miko Aspiras, Kristine Lotilla, and Lileya Santos


Ube Ensaymada from Pearl de Guzman


Red Velvet Cake from Karen Young


Mini Ube Cupcakes with Sugar Flowers from Karen Young


Manille Liquer de Dalandan, Calamansi from Destileria Limtuaco.          Photo by Guia Obsum

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Dedet giving her speech of Lauren’s Legacy (Entire speech third photo in this article above). Photo from Michelle Rivera Lee

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Karen Young rendering an impromptu tribute of the song, “For Good,” from the musical, “Wicked,” for Lauren’s life which we continue to honor and her legacy which continues to be a blessing; Dedet for leading everyone in using influence for good, Lileya and Liyora for continuing this worthy project; as well as for everyone who supported the event in every which way.  It’s a song about acceptance, appreciation even for something that wasn’t desired but allowing the experience to be an instrument for being transformed for good. It also talks about forgiveness, closure, and moving on.  Credit to Leo Nemenzo for patching up the technical equipment.  Photo from Michelle Rivera Lee.

The preceding photos brought together by different people to complete the whole picture resonated the contributions of people coming together in the bayanihan spirit, a noteworthy Filipino practice.

Behind the scenes, more people volunteered their time anonymously… among them, Lea Stroem to do administrative organizing work, Leo Nemenzo to put together the slide show for Lauren, Sharwin Tee to manage the food flow on the night of the event, and many other kind-hearted men and women who genuinely wanted to help even without any credit.  Lord, thank You that You are the Great Rewarder/ Repayer and You don’t miss anything.

The goal was reached and will perhaps be surpassed!  One hundred fifty wheelchairs with the gift of mobility (and as the two sisters wish, to give  opportunities for “the transformative experience…. second chances, and renewed hopes.”) will be distributed to those who need them.  Dedet wants to help not just the person with disability but his family and caregivers, the people around him whose caregiving burden will be much eased.  This will help them to move on as well.

Of Project Wheelchair, Dedet says,  “This entire mission would not have been possible without our beloved Lauren. This is for you, Lauren, and for all those who keep moving forward in life.”

loren santos

Dedet posted this on her Facebook timeline on the night of the event:


It had this caption:
“Tonight, with the help of so many, there will be at least 150 people who be thanking the Lord above for having a new wheelchair.  – Dedet dela Fuente”

Amen! Amen!

Thank You Lord!


More photos from Project Wheelchair which turned out to be a lovely reunion with friends, old and new. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to take photos of everyone but I’m blessed to see every single person I met that night.


L-R: Lillian, Joi, me, Ann, Rina, Lisa, Chacha.  Lillian, Ann, and I pray for our children together ever since we were together at the British School Manila Moms in Prayer group.  Joi is my designer.  Rina is a fellow parent I just met.  Lisa is a kind-hearted mom whose dance rendition of “Hot Stuff” cracks me up. Chacha’s home was BSM’s adoptive home and I will never forget the time Chacha had me and my boys over for her New Year celebration.

Hera is one of three moms who were channels of God's grace and love when I started this blog

Hera is one of three mom friends who were channels of God’s grace and love for me when I started this blog.  There are many more channels of God’s grace and love but either we didn’t get to have a photo taken or they were not at this event :)



With Kapwa Ko, Mahal Ko legendary representative, Orly Mercado and beautiful baker Pearl de Guzman as she makes pabaon breakfast for my husband and me, her yummy Ube Ensaymada.


I was enjoying every scrumptious morsel of the Salmon dish whose wrapper Spanky Enriquez announced was not an empanada but parchment (i.o.w., don’t eat the paper!) when a familiar face spoke at the podium.  If she hadn’t come to my shop the week prior, I wouldn’t have connected the grown, beautiful, Paris-trained chef assistant of Happy Ongpaoco-Tiu  introduced as “Michelle Roxas” to little Mikee who sang and danced for the children’s choir I taught years and years ago when we did Christmas caroling for Christ the King outreaches.  I took the opportunity to go to  Mikee and tell her how much I enjoyed the dish.  I was so entertained with chef stories and we had a lovely catch-up bonding time.


Met again this power team of Miko Aspiras and Kristine Lotilla.  They are so humble and hardworking, innovative and talented.  I’m excited to share soon what they generously shared about their work.


Fellowship Behind the Scenes: Seated: John and Michelle, Kristine and Miko. Standing: Karen, Mikee, Jam


John and Michelle Cu-unjieng remind the waiter that there is a whole lechon for the Chefs’ Table.  Er..umm.. I belong here!!! :)


Impromptu Brotherhood, Relishing being with these people.  L -R  John and Michelle Cu-unjieng, Miko Aspiras and Kristine Lotilla. Front: Patrick de Guzman, Mikee Roxas.  Back: Jutes and Cello Templo, Patrice and Pearl de Guzman, Ian Carandang.  Karen Young, Jam Melchor



Work Rewards

There are so many blessings to count.  My staff members’ talents are put to use and I see them develop in their jobs. Creativity is called forth in the day to day.

Even though I’m an unschooled ordinary girl in the culinary world, the Lord has allowed me to see what His grace can enable me to do.  When my brother in law, Kirk, suggested that I take up a culinary course, it really appealed to me to officially be a chef.  But after attending three sessions at ISCAHM, several acts of God happened.  My father passed away and I was absent three weeks from the wake, burial, and mourning. Then Typhoon Ondoy came. Then the unique phenomenon of a Fujiwara storm—the departing storm is pulled back by the incoming storm so the resulting Typhoon Melor came back with a vengeance.  I had so many absences that I pondered God wasn’t prospering my quest to have a title.  This way, I couldn’t credit a school but it would point to Him as the Enabler.

He’s been giving the joy and privilege to help people celebrate wonderful milestones and  tributes for loved ones.

It is truly a delight to witness not just the overt celebrations but also the quiet reconciliations, the father-and-daughter bonding over homework, an adult son taking his elderly mother out for merienda, people getting a refreshing break from their routines, and all the wonderful sharing and caring that bread-breaking provides the platform for.

I get to meet people from the North, South, and from outside the country.

At times, I feel like a Cheers bartender.  Sometimes the Lord allows for people to share with me their struggles or circumstances— a young man is struggling with a drastic change in circumstances, a mother worried for her faraway child, a grown daughter saddened to see a usually strong mother weak, sisters who haven’t spoken to each other for years, a wife experiencing a turbulent season in her marriage.  It becomes an opportunity for praying.

The family kitchen is usually where these exchanges could take place in a home.  I’m blessed to have the humble little shop as the venue for life to turn with graces from God.



You Will Not Fear the Terror of Night


Encouraging Entrepreneurship Part 2 : 702 DZAS Guesting

Encouraging Entrepreneurship Part 1 : 702 DZAS Guesting

Part 2: Here’s the radio interview of the episode

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