The Long Hyphenated Years

A petite lady with a BIG heart. That was Lola Tukay. Literally, because she had a medical condition of an enlarged heart despite of her cute frame (which seemed impossible to some) and figuratively speaking as the number so implied and she had touched so many lives in her lifetime. At the ripe age of 96, 6 months short of 97, our Creator took her home to be with Him for eternity at 11:30 in the morning today. Her earthly tent now destroyed, has been replaced with an eternal home. It’s like having a vision of how heaven is rejoicing at the grand entrance of what my then 2 yr-old daughter Dana used to call her “Tukay, Tukay!” unabashedly without being irreverent at all!

In my younger years when my parents still used to work in the city, a visit to my dad’s hometown is something to look forward to. I admit, i didn’t like the 6-hr bumpy ride back then, but despite that ‘agonizing’ condition, I can well remember those times spent with her, my uncles and aunts and my cousins where we used to line up for that must-have photo shot!



Reunions in my father’s side were marked with mini programs complete with games..


and much dancing! From the 1980s…


to the 90s!


Lola Tukay has always been the crowd-drawer, not that roasted pig that poses stately in special occasions like that of her birthday


Because she was a widow at a young age, she devoted her life to her children, grandchildren and great-grandkids. The moment we stepped in her home in those visits, the first thing that she would ask us was if we have eaten, what we liked for snacks and lunch and insisted that we stayed on for dinner – never mind that she ate the last – I just realized that she must’ve quietly enjoyed watching us  – our rowdiness , our appetite, or even just merely looking at us and realizing how fast the years have gone by for her!  She was a homebody, or so i thought, until that time came when my parents and an aunt and uncle brought her to the country’s capital , Manila and enjoyed the iconic Manila Hotel for a  sales incentive treat from a top company back in the ’90s. She had a new wardrobe, a new hairstyle, nails polished and a brand-new smile!


I must say my younger brother (in the pic) was fortunate to have lola all by his own back then. Right now, I am looking through some old photos and saw these –

My youngest brother with her..


and back when there was still only me in the family..


the background is still the same and so it has been meaningful to have pictures taken with her in that particular spot.

Last December 8, 2012 , when she celebrated her 96th birthday, I was determined to pay her a visit. After all, I have been missing 7 birthday celebrations because of my work’s annual staff meeting that happens on her birthday week. I didn’t know that was our last picture to be taken with her on the same spot.


Our tribe has been increasing and I am so blessed with the legacy that my Lola Tukay has left us. I always say that I come from a bloodline of strong women – my maternal grandma is still with us at 84 yrs old and although Lola Tukay was around for such a long time and we know this “she’s just there” feeling will come to an end, I truly miss her. A survivor, she was a woman born at the break of World War 1, overcame World War II, migrated to the Land of Promise at a young age, worked hard alongside our Lolo Tacio and has become the epitome of the Proverbial Woman. That brand of gentle strength is worth emulating. Will I ever match her in terms of accomplishments and age? Eustaquia “Tukay” Roda  Cabatic  (Dec.8, 1916-June 19, 2013). Looking at those years that come in between life and death, I can say she has lived a long, full life. Those are long ‘hyphenated’ years that witnessed a lot of sorrows and tears, of joys and wonderful memories. As to myself, I trust God on what remains of that single hyphen in my life. I can only pray that this dash could be as meaningful as that of my grandma.

Farewell , our dearest lola. Rest in peace in our Maker’s everlasting arms. We love you!!!


(On her 96th birthday, December 8, 2012)


“For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands.” (2 Corinthians 5:1 NLT)


Rebellious Children and God’s Everlasting Love

“When you were prosperous I warned you, but you replied. ‘Don’t bother me’. Since childhood you have been that way – you simply will not listen!”

I have heard this line from parents with rebellious children. Too often, they became hopeless, deeply grieved and exasperated. While others chose to give up, I know of some who chose to lift their wayward children to the Lord.  Others have gotten back on the right track, others are still in the “wilderness”.  Parents of rebellious children, take heart. Don’t give up your children to the world, If you have said that line before, God also spoke of that to his children in Jeremiah 22:21. The SAME words. Exactly.

If you are in that situation today, know that God is a promise-keeper. He loves you and your children with an everlasting love. With unfailing love He draws us all back to Him. Those tears today are not wasted. He has kept track of all your sorrows and collected ALL the tears in His bottle. Each one recorded in His book.

There is hope for rebellious children! And while you pray and patiently wait, praise Him for the restoration that God has promised you today.


photo via web

Our pre- Independence Day Dinner

Here’s a taste of Filipino food that you can easily prepare any time of the day. We had these 2 for dinner tonight – my all-time favorites, Tinolang isda with malunggay (Fish soup w/ Moringa) and Pansit Bihon guisado (Stir-fried rice noodles with vegetables). Because Philippines is in Southeast Asia, our cuisine is also partly influenced by that of the East – think of rice noodles, veggies , fish , spices, soups. But not exclusively Asian for our food has numerous foreign influences. A quick check in Wikipedia gives you a brief introduction to Philippine cuisine.

If you want to taste it like how it was done here in our home, here’s how:

Pansit Bihon Guisado (Stir-fried rice noodles with vegetables):



  • 1 pack 227 g Super Q Golden Bihon (rice noodles or cornstarch sticks)
  • 1/2 lb pork, cut into small thin slices ( you may also add chicken and shrimps, or pure chicken meat if  pork is not allowed due to health or religious reasons)
  • 1/8 lb peapods or baguio beans
  • 1/2 cup carrots, julienned
  • 1/2 small head of cabbage, chopped finely
  • 1 medium sized onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pc chicken cube (optional, instead of chicken meat)
  • Mama Sita’s Pansit Bihon  mix ( dissolved in 2 cups of water)


  1. In a large pan (or wok), saute the garlic and onion
  2. Add the pork (and other meat) then let cook for 2 minutes
  3. Stir-fry vegetables except for cabbage and simmer for a few minutes
  4. Remove all the ingredients from the pan (or wok)  set them aside
  5. Pour in the pan the Mama Sita Pansit Bihon mixture
  6. Add the pancit bihon (makes sure to first soak it in water for about 10 minutes) and mix well. You may add another cup of water and cook until liquid evaporates completely
  7. Put-in the stir fried vegetables, cabbage and meat, mix thoroughly with the noodles and let it  simmer for a minute or two
  8. Serve hot!


Tinolang Isda with Malunggay (Fish soup with moringa)



  • 4 slices Lepte fish or Malasugue
  • 1 medium size onion sliced
  • 2 medium size tomatoes
  • thumb-sized ginger
  • lemon grass ( tanglad)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • malunggay leaves or moringa (according to your heart’s desire!)


  1. Clean the fish.
  2. In a medium sized- pot bring to a boil about 4 cups of water, add in the fish and continue to simmer for 3 minutes.
  3. Add onion, lemon grass, ginger and tomato then simmer for 3 to 5 minutes.
  4. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Add malunggay leaves (leave the pot uncovered or else the leaves will turn brown), simmer for a while
  6. Serve hot!

There you go, 2 recipes to celebrate our country’s 115th Independence Day! Today, the 11th of June is also the 150th Anniversary of the Malacanang Palace as the official residence of the President of our country (read more about it here). If you haven’t thought about what to do to pay tribute to our beloved country, why not cook authentic Filipino food?

Like Ebony and Ivory, the 2 were a perfect fit for tonight’s gastronomic delight 🙂


Mangaon ta! Mangan tayon !Mangan tana! Kakan tano! Kain tayo! (“Let’s eat!” in several dialects).  However we say it in this archipelago of 7,107 islands, it’s definitely more fun (to eat) in the Philippines!

Homeschool, Day 1

Today is Day 1 in Dizon Household’s Homeschool! And just like in any regular school, Day 1 is just a “getting-the-feel-of-going-back-to-school” day. Only that, there’s nothing much to rave about because the characters are all too familiar, no new faces around, plus it’s in the home court! I am grateful to Dana, my 7th grader, who stood in as “Administrator” while I was  at work. Our household helper,  Lalai , was our newly installed “Principal”! See, we got the whole caboodle here. 🙂

Here’s how the day (more or less!) looks like. We are still looking for a perfect schedule for their Music, Arts, PE (MAPE) days.


So you see, while we still don’t have lessons to review and it’s past 6pm as i write, I have my free time slot right now.

A bunch of textbooks and answer sheets (for Grades 7 and 3) and Boj’s “What’s for Breakfast ” daily devotional book by Grace Chiong . We have several books from this author that the kids love to read over and over again. Dana’s all-time favorite is “No Lipstick for Mother.” So heart-warming! Check out more from her website.)


Kids, earlier today, ready to gobble the words and numbers after gobbling real brekky food!


And yes,  they wore their ENLI Homeschool shirts!

Thank  you Lord,  for Day 1.  We got 219 more to go.  Bring it on! 🙂

Soul Surfer

I hate to admit it but it was my first time to watch the very inspiring 2011 movie, Soul Surfer, based on the life of the much-acclaimed surfer,  Bethany Hamilton,  who lost her arm to a shark at the age of 13. It also starred Carrie Underwood (as Bethany Hamilton’s mentor and youth pastor, Sarah Hill). Thanks to HBO Asia, the movie capped a whole day of being “brave and courageous!” I say this because I taught at the Kids’ Church ( Sunday school in the church) earlier today and our lesson was about Queen Esther’s life and just like her, God has placed us (no matter where and no matter what the circumstances are!) for SUCH A TIME AS THIS!

Going back to Bethany’s story, Here are some of her quotes :

  • My strength came from my relationship with Christ and from the love and encouragement of my family and friends.
  • God did have something bigger planned for me. What we all needed to do was trust… and believe.
  •  I don’t pretend to have all the answers to why bad things happen to good people, but I do know that God knows all those answers, and sometimes He lets you know in this life…
  • I have this thought every second of my life—Why me? Not negatively, like “Why did this terrible thing happen to me?” But more like “Why did God choose me and what does He have in mind for me?”
  • When people ask me what my faith in Christ means to me, I usually answer in just one word—everything! This was true before and after the shark attack.
  • I think that if I can help other people find hope in God, then that is worth losing my arm for.

At the end of the movie, when she was being interviewed after a comeback surf event, she was asked on what she thought about being able to touch so many people in different parts of the world. She said,  ” I could never have embraced this many people with two arms. ”

One arm, two arms , we are still whole in the eyes of God. If we give up to Him the thing that we lack, He will supply according to the richness of His glory,

“And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:19

Each of us has different needs. To Bethany, it was her arm  – a body part that’s important to a surfer! To us, it could be a material need , health or relationship restoration, or a spiritual revival. In human perspective, fear overtakes each bold step of achievement. We see defeat through our naked eyes. Why not see things through eyes of faith? Yes, we need our family and friends to encourage and help us along the way, like that of Bethany, but more than that, we need the reassuring word of God – the One who never fails, who tells us from yesterday, today and tomorrow –

“This is my command--be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9

Limited – yes, but God is unlimited. Our bravery and courage tanks may be limited, but God holds the unlimited supply. He does not only pour it according to the measure of our faith, but the most wonderful part is, He is with us wherever we go.  And if we picture this with a surfer’s point of view, in the “high tide and low tide” moments of our lives, He is with us.

So what are we waiting for? Let’s go get back on that board and thank God for this new lease in life!

Soul Surfer, Bethany Hamilton (photo via IMDb)

How to Know the Will of God (If you wish you could just Google search God for the answer…)

I am so glad to have a sister in the blogosphere ! Here’s one blog from Kirsten that I thought you shouldn’t miss reading too!


In our hyped up super techie generation, sometimes I sit down at my computer and just have the urge to google search God’s plan for my life. That’s the honest truth.

Over the last several years, I’ve had so many big decisions to make and I want more than anything to be in God’s perfect will. Thankfully, His will is hard to miss when you want to obey Him more than anything else.

Years ago, my pastor taught us some practical steps to take that are Scripturally based on how to know God’s will for your life. I’ve adapted them and made them my own. I’ve prayed through the following on almost every big decision I’ve made in the last several years, mostly in the following order. It’s not a google search to the answer, but the its a tool that has really helped me discern God’s will in decision-making.

1) Scriptural Revelation. Is the decision I’m making Biblical? Am I violating any scriptures? Have I read the Bible in the midst of this decision? Is there a Word from God’s Word for me about this? The Bible is God’s word to us. If it violates something in Scripture, then you can stop here and know that it is not God. Psalm 119:105

2) The Cross Filter. Am I submitted to the Lord Jesus Christ? I have a will and plan everyday and I need to bring my will to the cross and submit it to Him. Am I okay with something working out differently than I planned? If not, it’s a good indication that my will is not surrendered to Him. Not my own plan, will, ideas, but His will, plan and ideas. This filters my will at the Cross. Proverbs 3:5-6

3) The Renewed Mind. Am I using good judgement? Am I thinking clearly? Have I let His word wash and renew my mind?  Am I reacting to circumstance or responding in faith to God? We don’t want to make a big decision as a reaction or backlash to fear or pain or bad circumstance in our lives. Instead, we want to respond to God’s leading and speaking as we move forward in a faith decision. He want to be faith responders, not fear reactors. Romans 12:2

4) Wise Counsel. How do the people closest to me feel? Do they confirm this as a good decision? Wise counsel isn’t always the people who tell us what we want to hear. Wise counsel could be parents, pastors and friends who genuinely want God’s best for you more than for you to be comfortable or to get your own way. Ask them to pray and hear from the Lord with you. If this is God’s will, the wise counsel in your life will eventually be in agreement. Proverbs 15:22

5) Spirit-led. Am I led by the Holy Spirit? We have word and ALSO the Holy spirit. Has God spoken to me?  Do I feel led by the Holy Spirit in this decision? Am I spending time with the Lord daily? Is He breathing life into me? Am I allowing time for the Holy Spirit to be communing with my spirit? Another way to say it would be, “Have I felt God speak to my heart?” Romans 8:14

6) Peace. Am I being led by peace? Or do I feel an uneasiness as we move forward in this decision? We can get thru all of them and not have peace. Real peace remains and abides. Romans 14:17

7) Circumstances. Is there an open door? Has God made a way for circumstances to line up? Just because we have an open door doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the will of God, but circumstances will confirm the will of God. If it’s God’s will, there will eventually be an open door and it will confirm what God has been speaking. 1 Corinthians 16:9

8) Supernatural Confirmation. Have I received supernatural confirmation? For example, maybe you are in the midst of a big decision wondering if it’s the will of God. It lines up with Scripture, you have peace, circumstances line up, and then one Sunday you’re at church and someone prays over you and tells you the same scripture that God put in your heart. Or, maybe you’ve been praying for finances to come in to confirm it’s God’s will and you receive a big contribution. Those are just some examples, and this kind of confirmation could be many things, but eventually, you’ll feel that supernatural confirmation. Mark 16:20

9) Fruit. What fruit will this produce? Will this help people? What kind of fruit (good works that extend His Kingdom on the earth and in your life) will this decision manifest in my life and how will it help people? 1 Peter 5



From this blog site:

How to Know the Will of God (If you wish you could just Google search God for the answer…).

Beautiful Exchange

Finishing the Book of Isaiah for the nth time still gives me a fresh dose of God’s word, His power (think about parting the sea and leveling the mountains power level!) and His awesome love for its overarching theme points us to His own Son, Jesus , whom “the Lord laid on him the guilt and sins of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6b). 

Back in the university, we were taught that Economics is the allocation of scarce resources as efficiently  as possible to benefit all peoples. During my short stint as a college teacher, I remember my students likened it to a household budget management which I totally agree! Because resources are scarce, there is always a trade-off. We sacrifice one thing for the other. But take a look at this:

1. beauty for ashes

2. joy instead of mourning

3. praise instead of despair

4. a  double portion of prosperity and everlasting joy instead of shame and dishonor!

You may read it in it’s entirety in Isaiah 61.

But not only that, the most beautiful exchange of all came into fulfillment when our Savior stepped on earth , died for us and resurrected so that we may live for eternity! The ultimate sacrifice for mankind –

5. everlasting life instead of eternal wrath and condemnation!

Haven’t you noticed, in God’s economics, He always overpays all the time?  His resources are never scarce. In fact, they overflow! Thank you Lord for we are at the other end of this beautiful exchange!