God is faithful and generous

Before I became a city councilor, I worked for a group of companies owned by a Manila-based businessman. He is a kind elderly man who is well-liked by his people.

He helped me and my family a lot. And when I became a city councilor, he took my wife as business partner and they went into orchid growing, integrated farming and ornamental plants. I continued to serve the group of companies in an on-call consultant basis and received an allowance to help with my meager income as a public servant.

In many of my trips to Manila, I would call on him. He would always treat me for breakfast, lunch or dinner, and on occasion would lend me his car to bring me to places I needed to go around Metro Manila. When my daughter was admitted to two Manila hospitals in late 2009, he was there to lend my daughter and my wife a hand. He was truly an angel.

But as I became busy with my work in the city government particularly during my 2nd and 3rd terms, I gradually lost contact with him. Having not done anything for him, I believed that he has stopped sending me my honorarium. I have not also bothered to check my bank account for close to four years.

To my great surprise last week when I moved to Manila, I learned from him that he has faithfully sent my allowance every month. Yes, every single month! I was so embarrassed; his faithfulness and generosity simply floored me.

I have been praying for some time for additional money to help pay for bills and some personal loan. I did not expect help to come this way. This was an unexpected blessing.

Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on his faithfulness.” Psalms 37:3

I just realized God send us angels to help us not once, not twice, but many times, and perhaps, even forever. That is how faithful and generous God is.

American pastor

President Jun Basalo has invited an American pastor, Richard Lokkan,  as our main speaker this coming Saturday, Jan. 22. Please bring your friends to join our breakfast.

Those assigned for the program are the following:

Opening Prayer and Prayer for the Nation – Engr. Ruben Sumagang

Grace for the Food – Diego Baoy

Love Offering – Engr. Danny Amen-amen

Master of Ceremony – Capt. Louell Yasay

After the fellowship, a number of our officers and members will convoy to South Cotabato.

Gold ring

Last month as the new officers were planning for its activities, President Jun Basalo, who incidentally comes from the gold-rich Compostela Valley, suggested that the chapter produce a ring  with the FGBMFI logo similar to our pins. Two weeks ago, he went to a local jeweler, the maker of the country’s biggest gold ring, and asked for a design.

Here it is in a photo sent by President Jun. He is now wearing it for our evaluation.

It is not fanciful but very dignified. It features the FGBMFI logo at the round top of the ring, and akin to a college ring, it has the figures 19 and 51 on each side. The figures refer to the year of the founding of the FGBMFI.

It was made from 12 grams of 18 carat gold, and with the design, costs about P20,000.

Arch. Joe Alvarado one of the first to see the ring suggested another design, a flat  top face to make the logo more prominent. President Jun said he will ask the jeweler for the adjustment. Anyone who wants to have the ring can modify the year signifying the date when they joined the fellowship.

Any order?

22 guests, highest in recent years

The fellowship last Saturday turned to be very successful as we netted 22 guests, the highest in recent years, to start the new year on a hopeful note.

One of the first-time visitors was Dennis Capa who was invited by past president Eder Bacus. Both are electrical engineers and contractors by profession. Dennis is also a friend of mine. He had an unsuccessful run for a City Council seat in 2001 and we used to drink a lot together at the old Lanang Golf & Country Club (it is now the site of the new SM Mall).

Capt. Louel Yasay brought in the most guests, six, two from Australia, who were in the city for this weeks Arise Davao conference. Our treasurer, Jun Carmelotes, who started collecting our annual dues had three guests.

There were also 37 members in attendance, just over the target I set in the previous post.

President Jun Basalo was all smiles as he called on everyone to continue the good start to bring in more men to our breakfast prayer meeting.

First meeting in 2011

Hello! Happy New Year!

Preparations are now underway for our first meeting on Saturday for the year 2011. We missed our fellowship after a lull of two Saturdays due to the holidays.

Assigned for our program are the following:

Opening & Prayer for the Nation – Peter Lavina

Songs of Praise and Welcome Song – Uly Ampon

Prayer for the Meal – Ben Aquino

Love Offering – Felizardo Carmelotes

President’s Time – Cirilo Basalo, Jr.

Introduction of the Speaker – Gerry Guiang

Main Sharer – Pastor Bert Diao

Closing Prayer – Antonio dela Cruz

Incidentally, we would like to remind our members to prepare to pay for our annual dues.

Christmas gifts

Big thanks to our VP for Mindanao Gerry Guiang. At the office party of his staff at Jehu Marketing, he gave me two gifts, a copy of the 2011 Our Daily Bread and a t-shirt.

Last week, at the party of the staff of our new chapter Auditor Arch. Joe Alvarado, I also received a t-shirt and a backpack.

Our family friends Roberto and Charita Puentespina, Henry and Ely Lopez Chua, and Sim Marfori also sent Christmas gifts, all were delectable foodstuff. My two sisters living in the US also sent gifts.

When I was a city councilor and was very active in many social groups, I receive plenty of gifts every Christmas. On the other hand , we also sent out hundreds of gifts for our friends, staff and political supporters. On average we prepare as much as 600 to 700 gift packs every Christmas.

It was a total change for this year now that I have become a plain citizen.

Let the true spirit of Christmas be upon us all – the love of God in sending baby Jesus to save mankind. Best wishes to all our readers!

Christmas wish

Let the talks begin in this season of forgiveness and hope

The government appears to be painting itself into a corner in publicly raising the issue, and then insisting, on a change of facilitator in its planned resumption of peace negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to resolve the so-called Mindanao conflict.

It continues to ventilate its grievance via the media instead of finding a diplomatic way to resolve the thorny issue or going directly to the negotiations without this “pre-condition.”

Philippine Star columnist Jarius Bondoc, who was just appointed a few days ago to the board of a government sequestered company, was the latest to assail the Malaysian facilitator Datuk Othman din Abdul Razak. He wrote on December 17 that the facilitator marred the talks by “messing up ties” between Malaysia and the Philippines.

Former government panel adviser to the GRP-MNLF talks Fr. Eliseo Mercado, writing in his blog at gmanews.tv on November 15, described Othman as the “obstacle” in the resumption of the peace talks for being “partisan.”

The following day, November 16, government panel chair Dean Marvic Leonen issued a media statement that they are seeking a replacement of Othman because they would have “difficulty” and “trouble working with him.”

This calibrated sniping on the facilitator, ergo on Malaysia, is a dangerous gambit. It depicts the government awkwardly as a petty party willing to gamble the early resumption of the peace talks and success of a political settlement of the Mindanao conflict on purely procedural matter that can be resolved in a dialogue at the negotiating table.

Moreover, instead of dealing directly with the Office of the Prime Minister, which has been handling the facilitation for almost a decade and where Othman is Head of its Research Department, the Philippine government panel preferred to coordinate with the Malaysian Foreign Ministry, an entirely different office. In Malaysia it is a sign of disrespect to ignore one person or agency by dealing with another.

Thus, the December 2 hand-carried letter by Leonen to the Malaysian Foreign Ministry for the MILF panel chair for possible exploratory talks before December 14 has not reached its rightful recipient, Mohagher Iqbal (MILF to gov’t peace panel: Where is the letter?).

Former government chief negotiator Jesus Dureza had earlier described this paus fax as a big “mistake” opining on November 21 at inquirer.net that matters such as these should be “discussed behind closed doors without embarrassing or putting on the spot persons or institutions involved.

In contrasts, the MILF has taken a high moral ground on this issue that has pictured itself as the conscientious party in the peace talks. It has consistently stood by its positions that the facilitation issue can be taken up at the negotiating table, and the matter of facilitator is the call of the third party host, Malaysia, and not the panels’.

The government is wasting the political capital of the very popular Aquino administration, an essential ingredient in forging a political settlement, in insisting on its untenable position. It is a self-flagellation fit during the Lent and certainly not for Christmas.

All we want for this Yuletide, a season of Forgiveness and Hope, is Peace for Mindanao. Let the talks begin without any precondition!

Peter Lavina, Treasurer, Board of Trustees, Alternate Forum for Research in Mindanao (AFRIM)

– – – – – – – – – –

Sorry for cross-posting this statement, not entirely related to the Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship International, but relevant this Christmas season.

Last Saturday

Both Christmas Day and New Year’s Day fall on Saturdays.

So, tomorrow would be our last Saturday breakfast fellowship. I hope many would attend to listen to the Word of God, share their testimonies and fellowship with our members and bring Christmas cheers.

President Cirilo Basalo, Jr. plans to call for a special board meeting during the long holiday break to discuss the chapter’s annual plan for next year. During the ALTS training last October, our national officials reminded the chapters on the submission of the annual plan. It involves target for membership growth, financial management, list of activities, among others.

These are the last two activities that we will hold for this year, a fruitful one for the Davao City chapter. We are hopeful for the coming year with a new set of officers and fresh ideas on how to make the chapter even better.

Merry Christmas and More Blessings for the New Year!


For the record, here are the awardees in last Saturday’s induction program. Congrats!

Fisherman of the Year – Engr. Cirilo Basalo, Jr. (for inviting the most guests who became active members);

Best in Attendance – Capt. Remy Celeste (not only for the number of times he was present, but also for being on time always);

Best Contributor to the Bulletin – Atty. Bienvenido Cariaga (for being the most consistent, original, relevant and best written articles);

Distinguished Service Awards:

Atty. Bienvenido Cariaga – for serving many times as president;

Cecilio Felix – for serving with honesty and dedication as Treasurer for more than five years;

Cris Arrieta – for contributing his time, skills and resources in spite of  his busy business schedule;

Lamberto Miranda – for being the local “King Solomon” with his inspiring words of wisdom;

Ulysses Ampon – for his music ministry;

Shiloh Haigh – for his exceedingly generous help for the Bulletin, the Coordinator and the Working Secretary

Teddy Reyes – for his untiring work as Coordinator for the past decade

A prayer instead

Oh My God, how time flies so fast. I did not notice I have not posted for over a week. I was busy with my research work on the peace process and I have been traveling a lot lately.

I was in Manila the previous week, flew back again Wednesday last week for a one day trip. Now, I am headed again to the airport to catch a flight for the capital. I will attend a meeting at the Asian Institute of Management today and for the next two days, I will be at the Waging Peace in the Philippines Conference at Bay View Hotel.

I fell sick while traveling last week, I had a swelling in the lower right side of my gum. I had no toothache though. But I caught a slight fever that I was not able to participate actively in our induction last Saturday. I was to help our 1st Vice President Tony dela Cruz act as co-master of ceremony but I beg off at the last minute. I did took my oath though together with the other new officers. I left even before our main sharer Ramon Manahan took the podium.

The event was marred somewhat by the venue provided by the new Pinnacle Hotel. Instead of the spacious Ballroom where everyone expected us to be seated, we were given a small function room. Many were surprised and complains were plenty. The room was small; the seating was cramped; the aircon was not enough; the sound system was bad; waiters were nowhere to be found or could not go around, etc.

I remember the forewarning of our spiritual adviser Shiloh Haigh of leaving our current home, Grand Men Seng Hotel. He said it was a good place for the fellowship; it has a spiritual vibe conducive for our prayer meetings. Moving to another place, he warned, was not good because we are not sure if the new place was anointed.

Normaly I would have complained too on the shabby treatment at the Pinnacle Hotel. But instead, I look at the message of this experience. This new hotel lacks the spiritual blessing. It would not prosper unless it is an anointed place.

So, instead of pointing a finger to anyone to blame, I can only offer a prayer for others not to go through the same bad experience of conducting a big event in a small space at this hotel.

I guess this closes our search for a new home.

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