slain Special Action Force officers

I write this post with a heavy heart. I’m sure most, if not all, of my fellow Filipinos reading this already know about the recent encounter between the Philippine National Police’s Special Action Force and muslim rebels in Mindanao, which left more than 40 people dead.

Actually, according to the PNP, “around 43 members” were killed but “the number could be higher as retrieval operations are still ongoing.” Five rebels from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) were also killed during the clashes.

It is a sad, sad time for us Filipinos, and lawmakers are calling for a national day of mourning. It is indeed a time of mourning. The killings occurring just a week after Pope Francis left the Philippines makes it even more tragic.

There have been many reports coming out in relation to the incident, with people in top positions pointing fingers left and right. “Purisima planned it all,” says one of the news headlines, referring to suspended National Police Chief Alan Purisima. People are taking sides and condemning certain government officials based on news reports like these, and I don’t really blame them.

Whatever the case may be though, I’m sure you’ll agree with me that, more than pointing fingers, it’s time to clasp hands — in prayer, specifically. No matter what religion or beliefs you may have, I ask you to join me.

Let us pray (or send out “good vibes” or “positive thoughts,” if you’re not comfortable with “religious” terms). Because, no matter who is to blame for this heartbreaking tragedy, the truth is that there are 40+ souls who need our prayers, and 40+ families (including the families of the Muslim rebels) who are grieving.

So, if you’re a Catholic Christian like me, or from a different Christian denomination, or maybe even a Muslim, (or of no religion at all, but still want to join me), here is a prayer that we can use together during these difficult days, inspired by this prayer for the families of police officers who were gunned down in a coffee shop in the U.S.:

slain Special Action Force officers

Heavenly Father, we come to you in our need. We come to You with our grief, confusion, anger, disappointment. We know that this is Your world. We know that You have set the rules. Because You love us, You have given us free will, and the ability to choose what is right or wrong. You have created us humans with the capacity to love but also to hate. 

Sadly, there is much hatred in this world, in our own country. There is much darkness. There is much division. We don’t understand why all of this has happened — why the slain Special Action Force officers had to die the way they did. There are still many questions left to be answered.

Hear our plea now, O God. We ask, “How can you turn this disaster into something good?” “Is there any hope for our country?” “Will justice be served?”

Through all these questions, we know that You are in control. We seek Your help now, Lord, especially for the families of all those who have died on both sides of the clashing groups.

Through and past the pain these families are now feeling, please show them Your love and comfort. Draw them toward You and don’t let them turn in anger from the only One who can heal their brokenness and pain. We know that You are present for them, O God. In the emptiness of their sorrow, show them Your mercy, Your compassion, Your kindness.

We pray, too, for the souls of all who have been killed — from the SAF and from the MILF. Have mercy on them, O Lord, and let Your perpetual light shine upon them.

In a special way, we also pray for all those involved in this incident — especially those in government, and in the MILF and other rebel movements. We pray for justice — Your justice — to reign. May those who are in the position to make a difference in our country truly do so, for the sake of our people, especially those who have no voice, no position.

We can’t see how this tragedy can become something good, but You do, Lord. You do not will such tragedies, but yes, You can use them. We know You can.

Lastly, we pray for Your peace. For peace in our hearts, our homes, our country. We pray for peace especially in areas like Mindanao. We pray for all of us — Christians, Muslims, atheists, Buddhists, Hindus, Taoists, etc. — that we may see in each other the basic human goodness that only You can create. For it is only when we see each other through Your eyes that peace can truly exist.

Let Your light shine in the darkness, God. Do not let that darkness overcome Your presence. Use us, Your people, to be the bearers of Your light to others, even if it is by “just praying” for others. Amen.


Photo credits: Praying hands by graur razvan ionut | Candles by koko-tewan |

Posted by Tina@TrulyRichMom on January 29, 2015 · 2 comments · Catholic

There is no doubt about it — Pope Francis, who had even non-Catholic and atheist well-wishers during his visit to the Philippines, has truly been a source of inspiration, encouragement and hope not just for Filipinos, but for millions of people worldwide, too.

Locally, many of us found ourselves taking to the streets, hoping to catch a glimpse of the Pope en route to his different appointments and activities. Our own little family did this, and were blessed to have seen the Pope whizzing by, even if it was just for three seconds! Too bad we weren’t able to take a picture! Well, at least other people did, like this one below:

Many more people waited patiently for hours to hear Pope Francis speak in person at various locations like the Manila Cathedral, the Mall of Asia Arena, Tacloban Airport, Palo Cathedral, University of Sto Tomas, and, of course, Luneta Park.

Others were content to follow the live telecast of the Pope’s activities and messages on TV or other devices, noting his bright smile and laughing along with his audience whenever he’d crack a joke.

Pope Francis

There’s a touching story behind this photo — read it here.

Indeed, the 78-year-old pontiff, who is agile even with only one lung, has definitely given us words (and an example) to live by. Read some of his most inspiring messages, especially for families, on Smart Parenting’s website.

Posted by Tina@TrulyRichMom on January 20, 2015 · 2 comments · Catholic, Family, God, Parenting

If you’ve been keeping up-to-date with the news, you’d know that Pope Francis is due to arrive here in the Philippines tomorrow, January 15. He is currently in Sri Lanka, where he canonized St. Joseph Vaz, Sri Lanka’s first saint.

I have been busy with catching up on work deadlines and helping out with sharing updates about the Papal Visit — and still am — but I thought I’d take a break and share some simple activities parents can do with their young kids in honor of His Holiness’s visit.

I pray that this will be useful to you, especially if (like me) you won’t be able to attend any of the activities in person because you have little ones who might not be able to take the discomforts and difficulties that come with being in massive crowds. (Believe me, if I didn’t have a toddler to consider, we’d be planning on which activity to attend, despite all the sacrifices it might entail!)

Anyway, without further ado, here are my suggested activities in honor of the Papal Visit (this is one way to make the holidays in honor of Pope Francis’s visit meaningful!):

1. Read aloud Matthew 16:13-20 (Peter’s Confession about Jesus) from your Bible or Children’s Bible (or Bible storybook, if it has it). This narrates when Jesus established Peter as the “Rock”, i.e. the moment the papacy began.

papal visit

Screen shot of Matthew 16: 13-20 from the USCCB website

Explain to your child that Pope Francis is the successor of Saint Peter. If you have a children’s book about St. Peter, read it, too.

2. Join the Church in welcoming Pope Francis by ringing your own bells at home, tomorrow, January 15, 2015, at 5.45p.m. 

You can do this anywhere you are, actually. If you don’t have bells, you can make your own if you want to, or use homemade shakers/maracas instead.

If you won’t be able to welcome Pope Francis this way, you can still ring the bells when he leaves. ;)

3. If you have a picture book with the Pope as one of its characters, like Paul Gallico’s The Small Miracle,  you can use the story as a jumping point for a discussion about the Pope in general, then zero in on Pope Francis.

papal visit

If you don’t have a book, you can proceed to #4. ;)

4. Watch a short cartoon video about the life of Pope Francis:

Alternatively (or additionally), you can read this simple book about Pope Francis for kids, which Sanne of The Learning Basket made. (You can download it for free!)

5. For a bit of Geography/Social Studies, locate Argentina (the Pope’s birthplace) on a map, atlas or globe and then locate the Vatican. Since the Pope will be coming from Sri Lanka, you can look for it, too.

Ask your child to trace the Pope’s route from the Vatican to Sri Lanka to the Philippines with his or her finger. Or you can ask him/her to use a colored pen (if you don’t mind any writing on your map/atlas).

6. Get a set of the official Papal Visit stamps (or print the image below out — image credits go to Ilsa Reyes on Facebook) and talk about each image.

papal visit

If your child is the “artsy” type, you can even ask him/her to try drawing a picture based on the stamps. :)

7. Make a scrapbook about the Papal Visit, with pictures you can print off the Internet. Fellow Catholic homeschooling momma Stef of And These Thy Gifts suggested this FB page as a source. You can also get stuff from CBCP’s Official Coverage of the Papal Visit.

8. If you’re a homeschooler (but even if you’re not one), sneak in a bit of handwriting practice during the official holidays in line with the Papal Visit and have your kids copy one of Pope Francis’s quotes, like this one:

If your child can’t write yet, you can ask him/her to draw a picture of Pope Francis or simply trace over a simple sentence like “We Love the Pope!” or something like that.

9. Talk about the main reason behind the Papal Visit. Your kids — especially the older ones — can stand to learn a lot from Pope Francis. Here are 5 things. Focus on Mercy and Compassion.

10. Taking off from the previous activity, think of something your family can do as an act of mercy and compassion to others during Pope Francis’s time in Tacloban (January 17). It can be something as simple as handing out sandwiches and drinks to streetkids (which is what we plan to do).

For more ideas, you can check out this link for Pope Francis activities for kids.

If you want to brave the streets of Manila to catch a glimpse of Pope Francis, you can find a list of the routes he will be taking here.

Of course, let’s not forget to include the Holy Father in our prayers. May God bless us all! :)

How are you preparing for the Papal Visit to the Philippines? 

Posted by Tina@TrulyRichMom on January 14, 2015 · 1 comment · Catholic, Family, Homeschooling, Parenting

Hello, hello! :) I’m back! (Did you miss me?!) It’s been a month since I’ve blogged here and I’m SO happy to connect with you guys again. I still can’t believe that almost half of the month of January is over — and that Pope Francis will be here in the Philippines in less than 3 days!!! 

Those of you who get to see my posts on Facebook and Twitter probably already know what happened to this blog last month. Basically, it was down for almost three weeks due to some technical problems. For a while there, I thought that I had lost all the content!

Thank God for the people who helped get my blog back online — and for ALL OF YOU who prayed for and with me, for this particular concern! There are still things that need to be fixed though, so do keep praying! (And thanks in advance! :) Note to self: Back up your blog and save all your content, now!)

Anyway, I believe that God allowed all of this to happen for a reason. He probably wanted me to have more time to think and pray about the new direction for this blog — something which I feel He’s been leading me to for quite some time now. He also knows that I already have too much on my plate — and while I have not been “active” here, I’ve definitely been writing elsewhere, like here and here.

One Word for 2015

It’s this having an overflowing plate that led me to reflect again on why I’m doing what I’m doing, and whether or not I’m really “following my bliss,” as my dear friend Martine would say. Which is why I felt led to this word — my “One Word” — for 2015:

one word

[click to continue…]

Posted by Tina@TrulyRichMom on January 12, 2015 · 5 comments · Catholic, Intentional Living, Truly Rich Reflections

I cannot believe it’s already the middle of December — with only 12 days to go till Christmas! So many, many, many things have happened… and are still happening, and will still happen, and it’s all just going by so quickly that I have been having a hard time catching up!

While many people are excitedly anticipating Christmas and the New Year, I’ve been quietly reflecting a bit on the New Year that has already started… well, for us Catholics anyway. (Yes, I’m referring to the Church’s new liturgical year, which officially began on the First Sunday of Advent — November 30, for this year.)

Today, December 13, marks the 14th day of the new Church year, and is actually the feast of Saint Lucy. Saint Lucy, whose name means “light”, was a virgin and martyr who died for her faith.

Here’s a brief account of her life, according to

St. Lucy (283-304) was born in Syracuse, Sicily, where she also died. She was of a noble Greek family, and was brought up as a Christian by her mother, who was miraculously cured at the shrine of St. Agatha in Catania. Lucy made a vow of virginity and distributed her wealth to the poor. This generosity stirred the wrath of the unworthy youth to whom she had been unwillingly betrothed and who denounced her to Paschasius, the governor of Sicily. When it was decided to violate her virginity in a place of shame, Lucy, with the help of the Holy Spirit, stood immovable. A fire was then built around her, but again God protected her. She was finally put to death by the sword. Her name appears in the second list in the Canon.

As we celebrate Saint Lucy’s courage and faith today, I find myself thinking about the calendar year that is coming to an end soon (sooner than I’d like, actually!).

While 2014 has been full of highs and lows, blessings and burdens, trials and triumphs, I continue to praise God for everything He has allowed me to experience.

One of the things I’m really, really, really grateful to God for is the blessing of being able to hope, dream and plan.

Recently, a few very close members of our family had to move to a new place, which made for a rather stressful situation for everyone involved. We had to help out in a lot of ways, and I even had to do a bit of research about what option would be better for them: renting or buying a home. (Luckily, I was able to find this useful article online, among others.)

The blessing behind the seemingly burdensome tasks that arose out of the situation is that it got me and my husband thinking and dreaming again about our own plans for our own home, among other things. You know, a place that we could really call our own.

Of course, once we started thinking, dreaming and hoping again, we couldn’t help including other aspects of our lives. We’ve actually just finished discussing our financial hopes, dreams and plans, too, especially for 2015. They’re still a work in progress though.

On a personal note, part of those hopes, dreams, plans, thoughts also include this blog, which is in need of a long overdue makeover. I think I’ve mentioned it before, many months ago, which only goes to show that I really need to get to work!

In the meantime, I hope you’ll stick around as I try to accomplish what needs to be done and set the ball rolling for other things, so that these new hopes, dreams and plans will finally become reality — all for God’s greater glory and, of course, all for the love of you, too, dear readers! :)

So, tell me… How have you been lately? What’s been keeping you busy? What new hopes, dreams and plans do you have right now? Let’s talk in the comments!


Posted by Tina@TrulyRichMom on December 13, 2014 · 3 comments · blogging, Catholic