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.

Financial Report

Here are the highlights of the Financial Report of our outgoing Treasurer Cecilio “Boy” Felix covering the period September 11, November 13 and December 10:

Beginning Balance P61,433.85; Ending Balance P64,997.35

Love offerings and gifts received during the period P10,070.00 (excluding the breakfast on November 27 which was paid for by President Cirilo Basalo, Jr.)

Total Expenses P28,646,50(covers our operations, weekly bulletin, office supplies, etc)

A total of 61 members have fully paid their annual dues; only 8 had partial payments.

Three members have paid in advance their annual dues for next year, Cris Arrieta, Peter Lavina and Rev. Shiloh Haigh.

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!

Preparing for Subic

During last Saturday’s fellowship, we were informed by VP for Mindanao Gerry Guiang that he recently received the registration and solicitation forms for the forthcoming national convention in Subic on March 3-5, 2011.

Very soon we would be busy preparing for this convention. We will miss though the early bird discounted registration fee of only P2,700 as the deadline was set on Wednesday, December 15. Thereafter the registration is set at P3,000 which covers the meals and kits, and excluding hotel rooms. The latter would be for our own personal account.

I checked the national convention website and there was no recent entry. I am sure many are interested in the preparations for this annual conclave but information is wanting.

In its forum page, I started posting suggestions hoping to start any conversation.

One of the suggestions I posted is the fielding of buses at the NAIA 1, 2 and 3 on March 2 and 3 to ferry those coming by plane from the provinces to Subic. I do not agree with suggestions that we charter a special flight, for instance from Davao to Clark, for this purpose with members from other chapters in southern Mindanao joining the trip. This is a good idea if airlines would agree to a one-way trip only. But I am sure many would be staying longer after the convention thus it would be difficult to fill up a return flight for this charter. After Subic, a number plans to go up to Baguio City while others have other businesses to attend to in Metro Manila.

It would help a lot if the organizers field a bus at the airport or at the Mall of Asia leaving for Subic one at noontime to ferry those arriving in Manila in the morning and another at about 5 p.m. to wait for those arriving in the afternoon.

Beaten up for his faith

Yesterday was the first Saturday fellowship under the new set of officers of the Davao City chapter and we did start on a very remarkable note.

There were 32 members and 20 guests present. Our Coordinator Teddy Reyes commented that the chapter’s pleas during last Friday’s intercessory prayers for more guests to join us were answered. The number of guests was three to four times than usual.

Our main sharer was an interesting pastor from India, Matthew Samuel. He was with his wife, a fellow missionary. He told us that the land of Hinduism is now the most populous in the world overtaking Buddhist China.

It was his third visit to the Philippines since 2006 preaching in this only Christian country in Asia because he narrated that he can not do so in his own country. He told us about the experience of his father, an officer in the Indian Army who converted to Christianity. He said his father was persecuted for his faith, beaten up at least 15 times and jailed five times.

He said he followed the path of his father and he too was beaten up at least five times and jailed three times already for preaching the Word of God.

He lamented the widespread loss of faith particularly among many “Christians” in the United States and Europe. How ironic he said that those who brought Christianity in many parts of the world including the Philippines are now experiencing empty churches and dwindling parishes.

He said these problems are tests to us and should bring us closer to God. Confronted with many problems, he said, reminds us to keep faith and trust in God. He said God will reward those who are faithful to him.

He narrated Moses’ faith in crossing the Red Sea. He was rewarded by saving 3 million Israelites from the Egyptians.

He cited John 15:16 “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain; that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it to you.”

Salvation is the ultimate reward if we trust God, he said.



Awardees

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.

Awards

President Bienvenido Cariaga called for a special meeting today to finalize the preparations for the December 4 dinner fellowship, induction of new members and officers cum Christmas party.

One of the highlights of the event is the awarding of prizes for outstanding members. Up for grabs are the Fisherman of the Year, the member of invited the most guest who became members of the FGBMFI Davao City chapter. I won this prize during the mid-year awarding.

The two major awards are the Best in Attendance and the Best Contributor in our weekly Bulletin.

Outgoing officers like Treasurer Cecilio Felix, who served for more than five years, and Cris Arieta, who served as 2nd Vice President and Trustee, would receive Presidential Awards.

The prizes for the Fisherman of the Year and the Best in Attendance are leather-bound bibles, which are described by Atty. Cariaga as the “rolls royce” of bibles. That means they are the best available, and expensive too at P3,000 per copy!

For the Best Contributor, we are giving a copy of The New Strong’s Concordance (cost P1,675).

The meeting will be at Coco’s Restaurant at Victoria Plaza Carpark at 2 p.m.

Best wishes to all nominees for the awards.

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