Category Archives: travelblog

Prelude to EL Hannora Thrift Shop

Commit to the Lord whatever you do and He will establish your plans.  Proverbs 16:3 NIV

The first 2-years of marriage, me and my husband Gnex like many married couples have undergone transformations and adjustments. Meaning, we realized our differences in attitudes, way of doing things, careers, outlooks, and a long list… leading to lots of fights.

We’re grateful for our friends, family, and our brothers and sisters from Moriah AG who constantly include us in their daily prayers, being there when we needed a breather.

In the end we realized that… putting God in the center of our marriage is the only way to make things work.

One time, while I was in Kuala Lumpur for business, I’ve asked my mentor and also my business partner how he and his wife made their marriage work? They’re married for 20+ years; there are still fights yet they’re still together.

I wondered and asked myself

“Don’t they get tired?”

And so I got curious how did my mentor made things work.

And he told me this:

“In marriage, you have to accept that both of you are different. You cannot drag your husband to all the things that you want and he cannot drag you to all his ways. It’s a matter of keeping both of your identities. In time, the crazy love that both of you feel while dating leading to marriage will wear off. Both of you will need space to keep identities. You will soon realized that being married – the love and excitement will soon wear off; the gap between the two of you will grow bigger. You have to find that common ground that both of you enjoy. Nurture that common ground and it will hold your marriage. Always give respect with each other and both of you must always remember the boundaries. I believe that’s the essence of keeping the love alive in marriage. Always remember, when the boundaries are forgotten, the sense of respect will die; love will die; marriage will break, like a glass that’s very hard, close to impossible to repair.”

I was stunned.

My mentor is non-believer but at that time I felt that God himself was talking to me.

God will always be there when you need Him the most.

I reflected on what my mentor told me. I combined it with prayers until I received the message of opening a thrift shop dedicated to God. I told my husband about it. We discussed couple of times until I gained his support.

I asked my husband: “So, what would be the name of the thrift shop?”

My husband Gnex: “Since it will be dedicated to God, why not choose from this list.”

He iMessaged me the list of names God is being called. I looked at the long list of names and thought “Wow, God has tons of names – from Jewish, Greek, you name it. My eyes were growing tired.”

Until I saw the name “EL Hannora – it means awesome God.”

I told my husband, “the thrift shop will be called – EL Hannora Thrift Shop.”

Usually, in the business world, you have to first study the market and identify if there are demands. If there are no existing demand, you have to create the demand so you can create the market where you will get the competitive advantage.

In our case, we placed faith above all things. It’s when I understood what really faith is.

After we registered the business, it’s then I realized that God has guided me to use the tools and everything I learned in my study of MBA. My husband’s passion is motivations and preaching Christianity while my passion is business and arts.

EL Hannora thrift shop has become our common ground. When God provided us with our needs, we committed the thrift shop revenues to support charities across the globe.

Business startups has always been challenging. Even our faith based thrift shop were hit with challenges too. We received disheartening and unsupportive comments from fellow Christians. We came to a point that we wanted to give up.  But…

God will always be there when you need Him the most.

While we see our Christian brothers and sisters lack of belief and faith in us, we always remind ourselves that God has given His faith in us. Persevere no matter how tough it is.

We changed our business model. And business started to flow in. We bowed our heads and followed what we believe God is leading us to.

Right now, EL Hannora thrift shop is still thriving. We will continue to persevere. Last 2014, EL Hannora Thrift Shop revenues helped couple of outreach programs in Philippines.

My husband is always supportive of me. And I’m always grateful to God for him. While I searched for that common ground for me and my husband, God made it as a tool for us to discover ourselves, taught us patience, perseverance, hope, faith, and love – the tool for us to reach out to our brothers and sisters regardless of whether they’re Christian or not.

In my next articles, I will be writing The Joy of Giving which will be written in few parts. It will describe how EL Hannora Thrift Shop see the joys and smiles of different people in the times of giving.

Thank you to our resellers and buyers, who supported us all through out the journey. We will always be grateful for your support and hard work.

Til next time. Au revoir.

 

Advertisements

Photoblog: The bushes of God’s revelation, Dhofar Oman

Exposure: 1/500 sec. F/11. Focal 70mm. ISO 400. Title: “The bushes of God’s revelation.” Dhofar, Oman. December 2010.

While growing up back home, I always watch the Ten Commandments movie during the Lenten season whilst there’s no TV channel broadcast – no shows, except for the Ten Commandments and the Life of Jesus of Nazareth.

The story of Ten Commandments always starts with Moses and God’s revelation. In this time, God revealed and spoken to Moses through the burning bush.

“I AM THAT I AM.”

Such powerful words that have always been taught during my religion and theology classes in school – from primary school until my university days. However one thing I won’t forget is that bush – that variety of plant imprinted in my mind and prayed that one day I would see that.

Having lived in the slum of Cebu and the slum of Manila, I’d never imagined settling overseas with a wonderful Christian husband let alone travel to couple of continents including the Middle East. When I reached Oman in 2010, the first glimpse of the country made me felt I was in the movie. And the wind blows my hair and my cheeks relived my childhood days of watching the Ten Commandments, Exodus, and Jesus of Nazareth.

I never realized my prayer when I was a child would be answered. After almost 30 years it does. God, truly answers prayers.

My road trip experiences combined with watching the sunset beside the beach in Oman with my eldest brother together with friends made me appreciate to be at peace with nature, with life, and with God.

And the picture of the bushes above will keep as a reminder that the true and ever living God exists. Ask the 2 Billion Christians across the globe and you will hear different testimonies and acclamations about God and our Lord God Jesus Christ.

If you’re looking for a church in Singapore, me and husband cordially invite you to visit Moriah Assembly of God at Vivo City Cinema Hall every Sunday at 10AM. See you around brothers and sisters.

In Christ.

Photoblog: Henderson Waves

Singapore may be a small dot in globe but there are tourist attractions in this country built though the creativity of talents.

One of them is Henderson Waves.

Henderson Waves is one of the attractions that shouldn’t be missed by photo lovers. It is one of the bridges connecting Telok Blangah, Henderson Road, and Mount Faber.

When going there at night, you can capture a glimpse of Singapore city lights.

Just don’t forget your tripod!

DSC_0523Exposure: 1/8 sec. F/4.2. Focal 62mm. ISO 1600. Nikon D200. Title: Henderson Waves, Singapore. 2010.

Til next time. Au revoir.

Photoblog: Sunrise

DSC_0080 - Version 2_new

The beauty of sunrise reminds us the wonders of our upcoming day. God’s love is like the sunrise – touching our lives with its conglomerate of rays. Each of us has our own battle to face and and sunrise gives us the strength each day reminding us that God is always there and will never abandon us.

The early morning mists lying on the leaves of the plants will simply bow down like an accolade giving way to sunrise. A beginning of hopes, dreams, and aspirations. A beginning of change for the better.

When was the last time you experienced the invigorating beauty of sunrise?

Take some time off from the noise of the city and relived those days when you can enjoy sunrise with your loved ones. Create your inspiration and passion. Recognize God’s love.

This picture was taken at Cameron Highlands Malaysia on July 7th 2013 when me and my husband needed a breather and enjoy one of God’s creation.. The nature…

To see the full size picture, click here.

Til next time. Au revoir.

A Taste of Heaven at Calle Real

I often admire my Singaporean friends and family on their love for food. Singaporean loves to eat. And that makes Singapore a food paradise for everyone. Singaporeans will not restrict their taste buds to their own but is willing to get savory taste on new culinary places in the country.

In the heart of East Coast Road lies a restaurant waiting for everyone to experience the authentic Spanish Filipino dishes that will delight everyone including the food connoisseurs.

Calle Real at 425 East Coast Road

I have known the owners of Calle Real since early 2000 when their family moved and settle in Singapore. A very lovely family and their kids grew up here as they have been here since 1996.

The owners came from a family a chef. Needless to say, their aeipathy for creating their own food fusion will never ceased.

Fall in love with Calle Real’s Seafood Esta Galore – This is their fusion of coconut milk with a little brandy, coconut flakes, basil, mussels, squid, scallop, prawns, & dry shitake mushrooms cooked in perfection.

Why Calle Real?

The owners’ family food business started with Cafe Calle Real influenced by their father from their Spanish blood lineage. Their parents came from the lines of professional chefs in Philippines. The decision of choosing the name Calle Real for the family restaurant came from an old book called ‘Old Manila’. The said book was given to their family with the desire of opening their own family food business in Calle Real in Intramuros Philippines. Their motivation to continue their passion for cooking came from all the compliments they received not only from friends and family but also from big renowned restaurants in Philippines including ‘Josephines’ restaurant in Tagaytay. Due to their family’s frequent movement following the job relocations, they opened up their food catering business in Singapore since 1998. Later on, they opened up their first restaurant in Roxy Square.

Why choose East Coast Road?

After choosing few locations for their food business, they decided to settle to the place where they started. They fell in love with East Coast Road; their very place when they first set their foot in Singapore.

What are the MUST TRY dishes?

Calle Real’s grand opening last April.

Calle Real offers a whole lot of food variety to satisfy your Spanish – Filipino cuisine cravings. Among my favorites are the following:

1. Lechón de leche (Baby suckling roasted pig): Lechón is from Spanish influence and very famous in Spain colonized nations such as The Philippines. Calle Real made this dish stand among others.

The tender meat of Lechón de leche..

2. Tripple Enchelada:  Enchalada is the Spanish word for ‘salad’. Tripple enchalada is a three set of salads in one serving – a combination of mango salad, eggplant salad, and a salted egg salad.

Tripple enchalada: Mango Salad (left), Eggplant salad (Middle), Salted Egg Salad (Right)

Mango Salad..

Eggplant salad..

3. Seafood Paella: The Paella dish originated in Valencia, Spain. Widely accepted around the world and due to Spanish influence in the Philippines, paella has become one of the favorite dishes that mothers and wives will cook during special occasions.

Calle Real’s yummy Seafood Paella…

4. Seafood Esta Galore: Ahh… this is my favorite and my featured food here..

A 100% must try at Calle Real..

5. Calle Real’s Baked goods: For the sweet tooth folks, you will never be left out with Calle Real’s variety of cakes and baked products.

Sylvannas cake

Leche Flan (Custard Based)

Ahh… My favorite Brazo De Mercedes.. They made it right in Calle Real..

This Red Velvet cake is an entry from their daughter.. Cooking and baking will never run out in the family..

Combined it all together..

The Ambiance

Calle Real’s ambiance depicts The Philippines and its cultural heritage from Spain. The place is decorated with books, paintings showing their gratitude to the soil that gave life. The music is dominated by Ottmar Liebert, their favorite music artist.

CONCLUSION

Calle Real is a must try place if you want to experience the Spanish Filipino authentic dishes that you never had before.

Buena comida, buenos amigos, y buen vino son siempre bienvenidos!

English translation: Good food, good friends, and a good wine is always welcome!

 

Til next time. Au revoir.

Walk by Faith. Walk by Moriah.

We often wondered the existence of God.

How spiritual are we?

How can our emotions linked to our spirituality?

Why is it that positive people have the most fruits and happiness? While the opposite lives on angst and depression?

Why does our decision and judgement affects not only our lives but also of others?

Why do our lives intertwine?

Like a child, we asked humongous questions until we see ourselves in that breaking-free ultimate question,

WHAT IS OUR PURPOSE?

At first, I thought of correlating faith with Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs. And that religion will only play role on a person’s love and belonging, self-esteem, and self-actualization phases of life. Until I proven myself wrong.

In this walk of journey I’ve seen a lot of wealthy, career, and successful business people who still feels empty. Some achieved success in their younger years; while others passed their mid-life and still on ‘catch 22’ in building their dreams. While the irony of all is that people living below the middle-class possess more happiness. They are more grateful for small gestures that they receive.

One thing we can’t deny is the linkage of spirituality to God’s existence. Happy people at most keep constantly thanking God for all the blessing He bestowed upon them. While struggling people still awaits for their experience with God. Waiting that God will awe them in wonders. While others does not believe in God’s existence.

Interestingly, Pew Research Center on Religion reported approximately 84% of the world’s population in 2010 believes in God based on their religious affiliations. The remaining population on the other hand have either neglect the idea that there is God and others have decided to abandon the notion and turn up to irreligion.

One admiration I have for Singapore is the freedom to express religion or faith due to its cultural diversity. Here in Singapore the common religions are: Christians, Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist. On another perspective it attracts the foreigners – immigrants mentality to move to a country where their religion is openly spoken. It gives them the sense of belonging.

I started attending Moriah Assembly of God (one of the Christian churches of Singapore) early 2012 while me and husband were still dating. A small community of Christians where the walk of faith is rather intimate. The community knows each other and the essence of  caregroups give more intimacy to the faith. My husband and I believes we all belong to a church. It’s just a matter of time to find your church. And we both felt it; we both belong to Moriah.

With our busy schedules, we do our best to attend the church service; caregroup, and other means of fellowships. Needless to say, Moriah church played a big role to our marriage and now our married life. I reborn my Christian faith in Moriah; and during our wedding ceremony, our Moriah family helped us and our Pastor Simon officiated our wedding.

As we grow, age, and continue our walk of life, we need a church. We need a church family that will walk with us in growing our faith and experience God in our lives. Experience God, experience Jesus, experience the Holy Spirit.

Last June 2013 I attended my very first church camp through Moriah in Phuket Thailand. With God’s financial blessings, me and my husband able to listen and further grown our faith through the church.

Our Moriah family. Church camp 2013 in Phuket, Thailand

My husband with our youth Amanda

While the kids were busy admiring the beauty of nature..

The camp is very active.

And the kids are attentive to the game masters..

We were divided to teams where camaraderie starts to kick in!

Excellent service! Where we held our camp…

Our Moriah Youths graced us with their talents for dancing…

The fun and laughter where all generation gaps were forgotten..

And here’s another one..

Our youths happy faces..

A game is a competition regardless of age.. Uncle Alan showing off with his moves..

The church camp may have last only for few days but what we’ve learned and experienced was a leap of faith. Science cannot disprove God’s existence. The more we resist spirituality, the more unhappy we become.

Leading back to our question, What is your purpose in life? It’s simply being happy. But we dragged ourselves in societal norms and rat-race competition that we wined up living a complicated and overstretch life. We forget to appreciate the beauty of nature and the people surrounding us. We stopped growing personally and spiritually.

If you want to be happy, start putting smile in your face when you wake up each morning. Paired it up with a silent gesture of giving ‘Thanks!’. I always believe that we could have just died in our sleep but God gave us another morning to be with our loved ones. Accept that you cannot control life and you need God to be with you. If you have a Christian friend whom you have constantly rejected the invitation, why not give it a chance?

If you’re a fellow Christian and feels hungry for God’s words, you can always open your stashed and dusty Bible in your home. Alternatively, through smart phones, electronic Bible are in various digital application stores –> the word of God is always within reach.

As for me and my husband, our faith, like our lives… is a constant journey. We’re walking by faith. And we’re walking by Moriah.

As we wanted to share it to everyone, if you feel the need to be connected to a church, feel free to join us in our worship every Sunday in Golden Village Cinema, Vivo City, Harbourfront Singapore from 10AM – 12PM.

Til next time. Au revoir.

A Visit to Teen Challenge Singapore

Singapore has been known as the fast-moving cosmopolitan in South East Asia. High rise buildings, non-stop trains and buses, and people hurrying up to report to work in the mornings are but the usual scene.

Aside from Singapore’s reputation for being the cleanest city, the country is also famous for security where crime rates are very minimal.

It is not surprising to see Singapore in the 2nd Rank of Global Competitiveness Report from World Economic Forum. From the last year’s 3rd place, the country has overtook Sweden. Though there are a lot of criteria for the said competitiveness rankings; as a resident in Singapore, what’s visible in the naked eye is the country’s initiatives in making Singapore an attractive habitat for the best talents.

Within the buzzing city of Singapore, is the habitat for the different cluster of citizen. The said cluster are those who need understanding, those who need another hand to continue living, those who were hurt like us, and those who need forgiveness from us.

With a very hectic schedule, I was invited by Gnex to come and visit the church service in Teen Challenge Singapore. It was the very nourishment I need with all the concurrent happenings in my life.

Nothing’s more important than hearing God’s words.

So I agreed and went to visit Teen Challenge. It is located outside the central business district – in Boon Lay district.

Teen Challenge Dare Center is a drug and rehabilitation facility. The mission of the organization is to transform the lives of individuals having been addicted to substance or alcohol and restore them back to being the law-abiding citizen and continue living to Singapore society.

It was quite a distant from the city but it was worth the travel. When I reached the place, the folks (residents, staff, and management) are still playing football in the field. While waiting for Gnex, I decided to take a little tour of the area.

The said facility is a calm and quiet place which gives the individual the opportunity to reflect just about anything. Once a primary school, the facility has been transformed to cater the needs of residents who need the nourishment for the soul.

Front office and waiting area.

Residents of Teen Challenge whether walk ins and those mandatory would undergo a program designed by the organization.

I must say I’m impressed with the facility of Teen Challenge. Staff are warm and friendly. With a smile in the face, I met Mr. Dave Chai, the center director of Teen Challenge.

A snapshot of the center’s programs and activities.

Finally, the church service began. Interestingly enough, the church is located inside the center’s facility.

Prepping for the service.

I was fortunate enough to hear Reverend Jim from Teen Challenge’s headquarter who delivered the service that night.

 Singing praises through the worship songs.

 

Worship songs in Mandarin.

The church service was insightful and reflective. It was a very good experience.

It is often that we get swayed by the mundane aspects of life. To gain a different perspectives of life we have to look at our brothers and sisters who need our understanding and support.

Like any ordinary being, the residents of Teen Challenge have undergone hurt and betrayal too. However it is not our position to judge but rather understand  them by giving them second chances.

All comes from Him and all is through HIM…

 For more information about Teen Challenge, please visit their website:

http://www.teenchallenge.org.sg/

Til next time. Au revoir.