Sunday, August 20, 2017

Crime and Journalism

Note:  I wrote this article a few months ago, keeping in mind the crime that happened last January 2017.  With the events that's going on, it seems that we need to stop and think and see both sides of the story before accusing people.  Though this account is from my point of view, it's not just witnessing the scene but being involved in it, doing something about it.


January 14, 2017.  It was a Saturday, just a few hours away from the Sinulog festival happening in our city.   I was in the apartment with my fiancé when I heard a commotion outside.  I heard people shouting, making a ruckous outside and I complained, “Ang aga naman nila mag Sinulog! (It’s too early for them to celebrate Sinulog)”  Frustrated that my quiet Saturday afternoon was getting disturbed.  I was walking towards the door when my fiancé told me, “‘Wag ka na lumabas, pabayaan mo na yan. (Don’t go out anymore, just leave it be.)”  

The curious side of me could not resist.  I went out and saw a man being carried in all covered with blood.  I shouted, “Babe, call 911.  I think someone needs help.”  I saw people putting the man down in front of my parking space.  I rushed back in and my fiancé was on the phone waiting for 911 to pick up.  He handed me the phone and went out to check the situation.  By the time I got to it, 911 operator answered but I was not fast enough to answer back that they hung up.  I called again and having explained to the operator that we need an ambulance immediately, a man has been shot.  

Victim:  22 Stab wounds
I didn’t know that 911 was based in Manila.  The response I got from the operator was “Ma’am we’ll check for ambulance in your area then we’ll call you back.”  Are you kidding me?  It’s Sinulog!  The local government saw it fit to cut out all cell site in the area to prevent the attack from terrorist. How do they suppose to call me back on the cellphone?  I wanted to rush out to try to administer first aid but apparently someone needs to stay by the phone to wait for them to call back.  My fiancé came in and told me “Forget 911, we need to take him to the hospital fast.  He’s not going to make it.”  I told the operator we’ll take him ourselves and loaded the man in the back of my vehicle and drove like crazy to get to the hospital.  Cebu Doctor's and Chong Hua was out of the question because the roads heading that direction was blocked.  The nearest one would be Perpetual Succour Hospital.

We were driving with the hazards on and windows down to wave our hands out shouting for cars to move aside. The Jeepney drivers are even more gracious compared to the private vehicles when we were counter-flowing.  The barkers helps us by informing their drivers to move aside for us while private vehicles adamantly stops in front of you not willing to give an inch for you to drive on. 

Emergency Room at Perpetual Succour Hospital
When we got to the hospital, the emergency staff seems to be in a panic.  I was screaming for someone to bring a stretcher because it was an emergency.  Response time was too slow.  We were trying to keep the man conscious while we were in the car.  We didn’t want him to die, we need people to act fast.  And everyone seems to be so rattled.  

Finally, they got him in.  One of his staff Mylene, was with us and luckily she quickly wrote down the phone number of his residence.  We asked the Emergency staff if we can use their phone and it took me 3 times to try to dial the number correctly.  How does one tell someone that their beloved is in the hospital dying?  We have no clue on who he is and I only have a name and a phone number.  
Someone answered.  I don’t remember exactly what I’ve said but we left information which hospital he’s in. I didn’t know what else to say, we couldn’t leave them our mobile numbers as there’s no signal. It will be useless to try to call. 

 When I saw his wounds, I thought it was a gun shot.  It was rounded but I couldn't see an exist wound as his shirt was covered in blood.  It wasn’t a gun shot.  While we waited in the ER we didn’t see any police coming to investigate.  His mother finally arrived and we spoke briefly and said our goodbyes afterwards.  We didn’t want to intrude.  But we prayed for recovery.

Crime Scene at Mabolo
When we got back to the apartment, the scene of the crime was still there.  We only saw the yellow tape but there were no police. We didn’t see any investigators. No one came to question us as well.  We worked on cleaning the car, removing all the bloodstains and kept on praying. We searched on Facebook for any news and watched out for posts from the Chinese community in Cebu.  Cebu is small, word gets out fast.  We receive news from friends who knew the man or the family.  We also found their contact through friends of friends.  He’s alive.  But the battle isn’t over yet.

Blood Stains in the car
That following evening, we saw a news article online from Cebu Daily News about the stabbing incident.  My fiancé and I read it.  Eager to hear news about the man and his condition.  It turns out, the news didn’t help much.  The article made me want to scream at the person who wrote it.  How can they have this all wrong?  What sort of journalism is this?

The article has condemned the man of a crime he has not committed. “Worker stabs boss over unpaid salary”  and I was reading nasty comments from readers how it serves him right for not paying the guy, hoping that he dies.   

Cebu Daily News Article
Full Article as published in Anotao News
Inquirer post on Facebook

Reader's response
I contacted Cebu Daily News through Facebook.  In my anger I wrote to them how mistaken they were to condemn a man too quickly without investigation.  

This is what I wrote to them: 
My Response to Cebu Daily News

“Dear Cebu Daily News, 
Your recent report in regards to the man who was stabbed by worker because of unpaid salary is incorrect. I suggest that your reporter should investigate more about the matter than falsely reporting that article that might cause damage to people involved. Especially in social media, people trash the accused party immediately just because an article written says that the Boss is guilty of not paying. 

To that reporter, do not falsely accuse until it is proven. You have only heard one side of that story. And for your information, that man was not rushed to Chong Hua. We were the ones who drove him to the hospital. And if I am not mistaken, you have written the wrong name of the man who was attacked as well. What happened to responsible journalism?  What happened to proper investigation and unbiased news?  I do not know how you call yourself a journalist or a reporter if the article you have written have the wrong facts.


Their response irked me more.

“Hello Ms. Yap! The information came from SPO3 Jefferey Larrubis of the Mabolo Police Station. The information he gave us was based on their initial investigation. We can do a follow-up story if the victim is willing to grant us an interview. Thank you!”
Their response

Even the police did not bother to conduct a thorough investigation and reported it to the press.

Our conversation continues.
Our conversation continues

How do we justify a claim when we don’t have ALL sources?  How can we publish information when there’s no credibility, concrete evidences that suggested confirmation of their headline?  It upsets me that people had judged so quickly without verifying facts.  Is this the future of crime reports?  Is this how we write for the newspapers nowadays?  There are no fact check, no reporters interviewing witnesses, not even interviewing the people in the surrounding neighborhood. The police did not even do their job properly. The suspect was caught, we don’t have to pursue the investigation.  

What happened to accountability to do what is right for the people?  How will they earn the public’s trust?

We asked the people in our compound, we listened to what people were talking about. Turns out the worker was a drug addict.  The police caught him because he was still in the compound lost to himself and was repeatedly saying not to call the police.  Apparently one of my colleague knows the suspect's family, heard of the crime from the mother and it confirmed what I’ve heard from others. The victim told us his story which confirmed what I’ve heard as well. The pieces of the puzzle are slowly coming together. The worker asked to have his job back after being AWOL for several times. The victim talked to suspect in his office and told the suspect to come back on Monday for work. It was Saturday afternoon after all and work is almost done.  The festivity is on it’s way. The victim gave him a 100 pesos so he can commute back home. Office workers saw the suspect lurking around after the meeting and followed the man to the bathroom. That’s where the crime happened. It was a warehouse.  Where would a man find a weapon to stab someone in the bathroom unless it is premeditated?  

The article was taken down from the site that evening. Cebu Daily News never published a retraction nor offer any apologies to the family they have harmed with their report publicly. Try searching it on their website. You won’t find a trace of it. The only concrete reminder would be the snapshot I took of the article.  This is what we call “Responsible Journalism.”    

As of the man we drove to ER, he was stabbed 22 times, hitting his organs, but miraculously he survived. He spent 6 weeks in the hospital, 3 of which in ICU and another 3 for recovery. He is well and reunited with his loved ones.  Thank God for that. They will proceed with filing charges against the suspect.

I ask myself why I am writing this article now when it could’ve been months ago.  It pretty much bothers me still when I remember the ill will people wished against this man who’s only crime was to give another person a chance. If this was a trial with a jury and one of the jurors read the article from Cebu Daily News, it would’ve given a very biased opinion.  Every time I drive home I would see the warehouse and be reminded of the crimes that happened that day.  Attempted murder and libel. We might find justice in convicting the suspect.  At least one crime will be punished. But we will never find justice when media gives you a bad name.

We might not be able to trace it anymore. I’m quite sure a media company as big as that would be able to cover their tracks. But as what people say, “Once it’s in the internet, it will always be in the internet.”

Post Script:  In the recent events of what's happening in our country, there is one thing that we are certain of. People die. Death happens whether we like it or not. Unjustly killed, or dying because of sickness and so on. Death is everywhere. Everyone dies. This is a fact where we have to accept it.  It's the harsh reality. I do not wish upon death on anyone, but it happens because it is the consequence of our sins.

I felt the need to publish this in response to crime and journalism in our country.  Crime is rampant and occurs ever so often. Unbiased media is a rarity. Often I wonder who I should trust when I read the news. 

The most important question we all should ask about this is, we as Christians, what are we suppose to do?  How are we suppose to act? How do we show Christ-likeness in this situation? Have we prayed for peace in our nation?  Have we prayed for our president, our government officials, our police, our fellow countrymen? Or are we so eager to fight trying to argue who is right and who is wrong?

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

On Capital Punishment: Jesus was Sentenced to Death

When people respond about Manny Pacquiao's statement about death penalty, most people ridiculed him. I feel pity for the senator, but that the same time, I feel more pity for the response of the people.

Looking back at his statement, the senator said, "God allows governments to use capital punishment. Even Jesus Christ was sentenced to death because the government impose the rule then." (According to Rappler)

Perhaps the Senator is not a very good orator but I understood his point.

Jesus was sentenced by Pontius Pilate to cruxifixction even though he is wrongly accused. Justice system back then did not allow proper investigation and so on. Except for the plot to kill Jesus where in the Pharisees and the Sadducees were successful in it. But looking back in the Scriptures, we should all understand this:

"For the wages of sin is death." Romans 6:23a
We are all actually sentenced to death.

Let that sink in for a moment. We are all under capital punishment. Death

Just as one man had sinned, death came through sin, so death spread through all men because all sinned. (Romans 5:12)

But what is it about that comment that made me agree on?

In Genesis, right after the flood, God told Noah this, "And for your lifeblood I will require a reckoning: from every beast I will require it and from man. From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man. "Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image." (Genesis 9:5-6)

A bit too deep that is. But it does seem to direct that God is pro-death penalty and He has given man the authority to shed blood.

David Gushee, a professor of Christian Ethics at Mercer University wrote this:

"The most plausible biblical support for the death penalty is Genesis 9:5-6. This pivotal text, framed as part of God's covenant with Noah after the Flood, says that God requires a "reckoning" for human life (ESV), that this divine reckoning shall be undertaken by humans as if on behalf of God, and that this reckoning is a corollary of human beings having been made in the image of God.

This is a short passage, and a somewhat cryptic one. It is possible to interpret 9:6 as an observation or proverb rather than a command. But when linked to 9:5, and especially when considered in the context of a flood sent as divine judgment in large part because of human violence (Gen. 6:11), it is hard not to read it as divine institution of the death penalty against murderers to protect humans made in the image of God."

So how does it work? What does this has got to do with Pacquiao's statement about Jesus being sentenced to death.

If you're a big fan of Romans (not the citizens of Rome but the letter the Apostle Paul wrote), Paul talked about the laws, laws of God given to men and how it condemns us to unrighteousness. The law was made due to the knowledge of sin. It meant that it was there so that we may know that we do sin.

"As it is written: "None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one." "Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive." "The venom of asps is under their lips." "Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness." "Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known." "There is no fear of God before their eyes." Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin." (Romans 3:10-20)

We always need to read beyond a verse and take the context as a whole.  No one is righteous, not one.  We are all sinful creatures.  We do not fear God, we do not even seek God.  But we all know that we are accountable to Him.  Yet in whatever law there is, we are all guilty of breaking them.

We also need to understand what Paul wrote about governing authorities.

"Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God's wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed. Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, "You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet," and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." " (Romans 13:1-9)

Christ came to earth so that He will save us from the capital punishment. God uses the laws that was created for His own good by letting His Son be under the law in order to save us from the law. By allowing Jesus to be sentenced to death, although Satan or even the people against Jesus thought they have succeeded, it had allowed Jesus to take upon all of OUR SIN so that we are no longer under the law in which OUR PUNISHMENT is DEATH.

Mind you, in the context of "Do not kill" The Hebrew word רָצַח ratsach, it's often translated to kill. Though to kill can be too broad, but the Hebrew language is very specific that it is murder, not kill. Murder meaning premeditated, to assassinate, to kill. Illegal killings.

So in light of all the mockery, God did allow the government to use capital punishment for His own purpose. He allowed Jesus to be sentenced to death because Jesus was carrying all of our sins.

Christ died so that we might live. We were condemned to death but with His life, we were free from that condemnation. In court in which our plea should be guilty, a Man steps in to take the blame and release us from the bondage of sin.

"Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous. Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 5:18-21)

Death penalty, it seems that God does allow it. Death was often the punishment for disobedience as you will often encounter in the Bible, both in the Old Testament and even in the New. But as John Piper did say, "That capital punishment is the only fitting response to those who kill a human being (in reference to Genesis 9:5-6) And the point there, is not to make the taking a life through capital punishment an evidence the small value of life, it's exactly the opposite. Human beings are so incredibly unique and significant that a high handed crime to take another human being's life, the only way, to settle accounts and uphold the dignity of human life is to kill that person. Get the logic, at least get the logic here, the image of God in man is HUGE in this on going content. So, when we deal with keep in mind that it is a very complex issue at least in our culture, even when you settle on the principle. I feel settle about the principle. That is biblical and right to believe in capital punishment. How to implement it is another story and a complicated one." (On sermon about "Implications of Being Made in the Image of God").  I stand with that principle too.

The government, even our own government, though corrupt, they are still the governing authority that God has appointed. And whatever God has appointed them to do, they are also accountable to Him. If Death penalty is implemented, then we do have to adhere to the law. It is up to the government to be accountable in making sure that the justice system is sound and fair. And before we make a mockery about what the Senator has said and start to judge one another about who's being Pro- Death Penalty or Anti-Death Penalty, we all have to remember, we are ALL under Death Penalty.

"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life." Romans 6:23

Saturday, January 14, 2017

When a Life is at Stake and Help is Nowhere to be Found

*Warning, some of the photos depict blood.  Viewer discretion is advised.*

It was a lazy Saturday afternoon.  Sinulog festival is tomorrow and most of Cebu is in a festive mood.     But that quiet Saturday afternoon I was hoping for did not go as I was expecting.

The Local Government decided to have cellular service suspended for the next two days due to bomb threat for Sinulog.  When the news came out, I initially thought that was stupid.  Why would the government do that when there are other emergencies that can happen?

So while at home, watching a movie, I heard a commotion outside.  I heard people shouting and though, are they having a party already outside?  Turns out, that commotion escalated to screaming and wailing that I realized I have to check outside and see what's going on.  I opened the door and  I saw the guard and several men bringing in a man inside the compound all covered in blood.  The women were screaming and panicking.  I rushed back inside and called Gabo.  He told me to stay inside while he check out what is happening.

A man was stabbed outside.  He was bleeding and Gabo went back in to call 911.  He passed me the phone and when I heard the operator, the line was cut off.  I called again and the operator are busy.  When I finally got through, I called for an ambulance, but the operator told me that they will call me back once they have one.  What?  I mean this is an emergency and the man could be dying and you will call me back if they have an ambulance?
Crime Scene

Gabo grabbed the car keys and headed out.  I hung up telling them that we will just rush him to the hospital.  Bad idea perhaps, but a man's life is at stake.

I grabbed my bag and had the men bring in the guy on the back of my car.  The victim's staff rode with us.  I never thought of telling her to keep a pressure on his wound but we drove madly into the nearest hospital in the city.  When we got there, we were screaming for emergency responder to help us immediately.  I realize, I don't even know his name or how to contact his loved ones.  There's no cellular service.  His staff who was with me was shaking so I asked her if she knows the number of their residence.  Thankfully, she has the number written on her hand and we called his wife using the hospital's line.  I couldn't give her my cell number because it would be useless for her to call me when we don't even have cell reception.

The Victim

Emergency Room
I do not know if the man survived.  We watched the nurses, doctors and staff working on him.   I was praying that the Lord will save him.  We decided to leave once his relatives arrived.  When we got home, we didn't see any police nor did we see anyone investigating the crime.  We parked the car and started cleaning up the blood in the car.  We heard the neighbors talking and they said the police came and had apprehended the suspect.

What happened today made me realize that wrong choices can cost people lives.  The man got stabbed by a disgruntled employee.  The local government made a choice and failed us by making the wrong decision in shutting down cellular services that could've helped us with contacting people in case of emergencies like this.  Our 911 is ineffective where in there should be first responders ready especially the city being on high alert for the festival.  The neighbors decided they didn't want to get involved and were just looking around the whole time.

Perhaps this should be a lesson for all of us.  When a life is at stake, we need to learn to make decisions whether we do something to help or not.  I do not know why God allowed this to happen.  Funny enough, when I was upset about the government shutting down the cell service, I was thinking of emergencies and what will happen if there's one.

Monday, January 9, 2017

When Bells (Bell's) Come Ringing

It was Thursday, like any other day at school. Teaching, getting them ready for exams tomorrow. I’ve been feeling the pain in my neck since the day before and I thought it just might be stiff neck and shrugged it off because I was busy.

But that morning, I couldn’t stand the pain so I took a nap in the clinic, perhaps it will just go away. Towards the afternoon, I felt weird, like my lips can’t smack together and my right eye is so watery, and I thought it was still irritated from the onions. The kitchen next door was chopping so much onions for the stew they were making. I didn’t know it was the start of something bad… I had my make-up trial and then was planning to go sort of the clothes for pictorial. But it was weird, I feel exhausted, when I got home, I took a nap before meeting with my make-up artist.

When Gabo came by that evening, he insisted that I should go to the hospital. I honestly didn’t want to but he said he’s worried that it might be a stroke. What? How can I be having a stroke that has been progressing for the entire afternoon? I felt the left side of my face is drooping. So he texted one of the doctors he knew and told him all of my symptoms. The doctor said, “It might be Bell’s Palsy.”

My initial reactions was like… WHAT?!? What’s Bell’s Palsy?

We went to the hospital and it was confirmed. Thank God it was not stroke. I was prescribed steroids and was sent home. But what are we going to do? The ER didn’t give us instructions on how to deal with it.

I was almost panicking… I have a photoshoot next week and we’re still prepping for Christmas and I have classes going on, I need to catch up on my studies. I don’t know what I’m going to do. Worst part, I can’t control the right side of my face. I started crying because I feel so helpless that I do not have any control of what is happening.


Is it permanent? How did it came to be? I’ve read numerous articles about it and there is no direct cause to how I came to have Bell’s Palsy. We did research online but somehow there’s no definite answer.

Why God?

Then I remember my recent complaint on Facebook…

Wow Lord, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry with Your answer.

But here’s the thing, I know that there are reasons why He allowed things to happen.

Whatever that was intended for bad, God meant it for good.

The devil prowls like a lion, it seems as if I was the target. But thankfully, I was reminded of whom I should cling on to.

When Jesus became my Lord and Savior, He did not promise us that we will have a life of prosperity, comfort and abundance in anything of this earth. He told us that we as His disciples should pick up the cross, deny ourselves and follow Him.

I wanted to quit on everything. Stop working for the next month, stop studying (which I took a break from after Pastor Tallo told me to stay on instead of dropping my subjects). I wanted to stop all ministry and not help in anything.

But when bad things happen, it shouldn’t stop us from following Christ. Despite any calamity, any sickness, any trouble we face, it should not hinder us from doing our work. Looking at Paul’s life, he wrote in his letters in 2 Corinthians, how he has been flogged, stoned, on a ship wreck, be in constant danger from others who wants to kill him and so on (2 Corinthians 11:16-33). Yet despite all that, he reminded us, “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast gladly of my weaknesses so that Christ’s power may rest in me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Trials should bring us closer to God. Not because we enjoy suffering, but knowing that without God, we will never get through these things. In James, it says “Consider it pure joy my brothers whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4)

I didn’t know at that time what God wanted me to do. I do know that I should not lose faith nor I should be surly and ask God why He made it happen. The fear of my face being deformed was something I should not dwell on. Thankfully, I have recovered from it far quicker than I thought I would. It is indeed quite a miracle.

Bell’s Palsy might just be another series of episode in my life that God will allow to happen. I’m quite sure there’s a lot more to come.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Even Unto Death

Life can suddenly change in a moment, in a second, even in just a heart beat...

From the moment I was born, God has been forming my life in ways I could never imagine.  The first breath, the first sound, the first moment I opened my eyes.  And thirty-two years later, life is constantly changing, and moving.  I have traveled to different parts of the world, meet people from different cultures, fell in love, experience wrenching heartbreaks, had financial difficulty, hardships, suffering from rejections and even the loss of a loved one. But through out those thirty-two years, the only constant that I am sure that I have is Jesus Christ.

Don't get me wrong though, I am far from being holy, or a goodie-two shoe.  Knowing myself, I am one of the most wicked and sinful creature in this world.  I am a hypocrite, I am like those pharisees.  I am I have done things that if people would know each and every single detail of my life, that if each sin is represented with a black patch, I would be covered with it and people would not want to be associated with me.

But I am so loved...  Undeservingly. I am loved beyond who I am.  Me.  A wretched wicked miserable soul, loved to the point of Someone giving up His life, dying for me.  He knew that I need Him.

I thought I was a hopeless case.  I have run away from God for years.  But what evil I have done, God used it for good.  When I was in Cayman, I went back to God and I thought I have a good life.  Things were going well, but my relationship was a mess.  Suddenly, life changed. An offered to move to California came up and surprisingly, everything worked out for me to move there (At that time i thought moving to California was next to IMPOSSIBLE).  Then things happened that I had to give up things that I love.  I was brought down to my knees and came to the point of asking myself, "Is there a God?"

But God had not abandoned me.  I learned to live a life where in I have to rely on Him for everything.  I have to rely on Him to give me joy when I am working.  I had to rely on Him to provide just enough to get through the month, and even have a bit of extra.  He brought me to a church who loved me like I am part of the family.

Just when I thought God was done with me, God took me out of California and brought me home, I have been praying for a life where in I can serve Him.  He planned a perfect timing of being able to spend time with my father before he passed away.  He provided me a job which enabled me to fly back and forth to Manila to be with Papa.  He placed me in a church which at first I though I wanted to leave because the people are so cold, but now I felt that they are my family.  I never thought He would place me in a position that He is using me to minister to others.  To use my experience to help my kids.  He gave me the heart to love these kids even if they're not my own flesh and blood.  And Lord knows, I am so unworthy of this task.

As I write this, I kept on playing the song Even Unto Death by Audrey Assad.  At this moment of my life, in celebrating my 32nd birthday, what should I do with the life I was given?  The lyrics goes like this:

The very thought of You
It fills my heart with love
You burn like wildfire
And I am overcome

Lover of my soul
Even unto death
With my every breath I will love You
Lover of my soul
Even unto death
With my every breath I will love You

You are my only hope
And You, my prize shall be
You are my glory now
And in eternity

Lover of my soul
Even unto death
With my every breath I will love You
You're the Lover of my soul
Even unto death
With my every breath I will love You

In my darkest hour
In humiliation
I will wait for You
I am not forsaken
Oh, I lose my life
Oh, my breath be taken
I will wait for You
I am not forsaken

One thing I desire
To see You in Your beauty
You are my delight
Yeah, You are my glory

You my sacrificed
Oh, Your love is all consuming
You are my delight
Yeah, You are my glory
Oh, You are my glory God
Oh, You are my glory

You're the lover of my soul
Even unto death
With my every breath I will love You
You're the lover of my soul
Even unto death
With my every breath I will love You

I will love You
Even unto death, I will love You
With my every breath I will love You
The very thought of You
The very thought of You

I am so loved...  I am overcomed by His perfect unending love.  I do not deserve His love.  Thirty two years seems such a short time.  I see God working in my life despite my faithlessness, despite all of my faults, despite rejecting the Lord so many time.  He even saw it fit to provide me my heart's deepest desire, someone to spend the rest of my life with.

If asked, "Would I die for the Lord?  Would I die for that man called Jesus Christ?"  Even unto death, I will love the Lord.  All these thirty-two years that He has been calling me to be His, I am so assured that I am loved and that He is my prize.  I cannot wait to see Him and be with Him for all eternity.

How about you?

Sunday, June 19, 2016

A Father to the Fatherless

Last night I had a dream about my dad, we were traveling around the area where there were different hotels and I was pointing out where we wanted to have the wedding next year, it was all a blur.  But what I remembered most in that dream was hugging him and telling him how much I missed talking to him.

My dad and I don't get along often. But there are times (such as now) I wanted to call him and seek for his advice.  And as my life is about to change, I know the vision my my father walking me down the aisle is impossible.  He wouldn't be there during my engagement, he wouldn't be there to give me away.  I never thought that I would miss him this much.  Despite our differences and constant arguments, I know I am loved.

And now that my dad's gone, I always have to remember to look up.  It's funny that I never thought of myself as an orphan until now.  What comforts me is that there are people who treated me like their own daughter and also knowing I have a Heavenly Father who loves me.

For some that they have failed relationships with their fathers.  Either their father didn't acknowledged them as his children, or perhaps their father left them.  Some lived in a life abused by their father.  The constant beating and discipline.  I resented my father back then.  Every time I flunked a subject I know I will get spanking.  To the point I hated my dad's belt whenever he will tell me to get his 'sintoron' so he will give me my punishment.  I hated that they couldn't understand that I am not good with academics.  I hated it when we couldn't get along because I have different ideas in life, not the way they wanted me to be.  I looked elsewhere for affection.  Maybe having boyfriends will replace the love I thought I never had with my father.  Maybe leaving the country would fulfill me so that my father could be proud of me.  Maybe someday he could see me as an independent young woman who can stand up on her own and not need anything from him.  But it wasn't until I was old enough to understand.  I understood that getting a job and earning for yourself was hard.  What more when my dad provided for all four of us kids and living in a big house with air-conditioned room.  He sent us all to private schools where as if I were to think of how much it cost to pay for my own tuition, I couldn't afford it.  I understood that my father has his own struggles, he struggled with the stress of his work, his health, he struggled also with his temper and uncontrollable anger.  I understood that my father is human, flawed, imperfect, and he was not suppose to be perfect like what you will see in movies.  Because reality is, all of us aren't.

Our fathers on earth may not have been perfect, but we have a Father in heaven who gives us perfect love.  Our earthly fathers may have failed in so many ways, but there is a Father who never will fail.  We may have a father on earth or maybe we don't.  But we have a Father.  He is the Almighty God, Creator of all.  He is the holy, perfect, merciful God.  He died on the cross and paid the price of our sins and has adopted us as his sons and daughters.  He gave us the gift of salvation, something that we don't deserve. And through Him, He has made us perfect. How can that be less amazing?  He should get the "Greatest Dad" award for all ages.

There will be days I would still break down and cry.  Days I would remember Papa and would wish I can still talk to him.  Like Father's day... I know that I won't celebrate it with him.  But I know his struggles are over.  he may have not been the perfect dad, but he loved us the best that he could.  I should still celebrate today because of my Almighty Father in heaven.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Geez... Food Cost!

Often when Chefs hear the word Math, they cringe.  You see a lot of people who are Chefs or aspiring to be chefs are those who are not into sitting down in a classroom and spend hours studying.  A lot are more visual.  Even for me, thinking about multiplication, division, addition and subtraction is a headache.  I literally hate math.

But as a Chef, it is important to know about math.  You use it everyday.  In recipes, in scaling, in knowing how many guests you're serving and how much you need to prepare.  Everyday you are using numbers.  In the end, if you're running your own kitchen, you will have to know about Food Cost.

Food Cost sounds like a big task but honestly it's not.  It's just like basic accounting.  Why is it important?  In every food organization or business, it is important to know how much you are spending in order to know whether you are earning a profit.  Food cost is not only for professionals but it should even be used daily by home-bakers or even small businesses.

How do you know your food cost?

You need to know how much you're spending.  Your cost are based on recipes, so it is important to have an accurate recipe and using a certain system of measurement.  In my kitchen, I use grams.  It is more accurate and it will assure me that everything I produce will exactly come out consistent as opposed to using cups and tablespoons.  Like for an example in a recipe (btw, these are random numbers, it is not a recipe for cookies), you've used 300 grams of flour, 4 pieces of eggs (at 50 grams per piece of egg), 200 grams of butter and 200 grams of sugar. You've made 4 dozen cookies from this recipe, how much are you going to sell it?

To start of with, start creating a price list.  You can create one using excel or numbers.  Even a Costing sheet can be done in a computer.

I keep one like this on my file and would update it ever so often.

Then, you would start to compute on how much each item cost.

Flour = 35pesos per kilo = (35/1000) x 300 = 10.5 pesos per 300 grams
Eggs = 6 pesos per piece = 6 x 4 = 24 pesos
Butter = 120 pesos per 225 grams = (120/225) x 200 = 106.67 per 200 grams
Sugar = 88 per 2 kilos = (88/2000)x200 grams = 8.80 pesos per 200 grams

When you add it all up, one recipe cost = 149.97

Now this will be your food cost.  In most kitchens, we add up inflation ratio at 10%.  Usually prices increase on a daily or weekly basis.  A bag of flour might cost Php35 today and it might cost Php38 the next time you buy it.  Also sometimes it varies from which supplier or store you get it.  Putting a 10% Inflation Ratio will help you cover up the cost in case that there is a surge of prices and knowing you don't have to re-do all your food cost in all your recipes.  But if the surge is more than the 10% of your inflation Ratio, you might need to increase your prices.

How do you get your inflation ratio?  The formula is just your Food Cost x 10% which is your inflation ratio and to get your Total Food Cost you add your Food Cost and Inflation Ratio.

Food Cost x Inflation Ratio % = Inflation Ratio  
149.97 x 10% =  14.997 or 15php

Food Cost + Inflation Ratio = Total Food Cost
149.97 + 15 php =  164.97 Php

Now that you have your Food Cost, how do we know how much to sell?

As stated earlier, your recipe produces 4 dozens of cookies.  that means it's 48 pieces.
You can divide your food cost into 48.

164.97 / 48 = 3.44 per piece.

164.97 / 4 = 41.24 per dozen.

To compute for Selling price, you need to know your Food Cost Percentage or Cost of Sales (Meaning the expenses)

If you have set you Food Cost Percentage as 30%, your Selling price will be at a 100% you can divide your food cost together with your food cost percentage in order to get a 100%

Example: 30% is .3

164.97 total Food Cost /.3 = 549.9 for all 4 dozens of cookies
3.44 per piece of Cookies / .3 = 11.47 pesos per cookies
41.24 per dozen of Cookies /.3 = 137.47 per dozen of cookies

Why 30%?

Normally if you are planning to sell, you can't just price 50% is food cost and 50% profit.  There are other expenses that you also need to cover.  Like Utilities (Gas, light water), Transportation, Rent, Labor, Wrappings/ Boxes, the equipment you use which all have to add up.  I would keep my food cost at 30% and at least 30% of my sales will go on utilities, then the 40% will be my profit.  Having a 50% food cost will end up having you losing money in the business.

Other cases, you can just multiply your food cost by 3.  It is a lot easier.  But then, there's little room for adjustments.

Just a bit of a story I encountered recently.  At the end of my Food Costing class, a student of mine came to me crying.  I asked what's wrong.  And she said, "Chef, I feel like my heart is breaking."  I asked, "Why?".  The she replied, "Because I've been baking for 5 years and been selling my cakes so cheap.  Now that I see how much it should cost, I am heartbroken.  Because I have not been making any profit from it.  No wonder my husband kept asking me why I don't have any money."

I saw the cakes that she makes for her clients and they look incredible.  I want to cry as well.

Doing proper food costing should prevent you from getting a heartbreak.  Some people might ask me, why is my product so expensive.  I'm not saying that I'm putting too much "patong" but rather I count all my expenses and my labor in it and by using basic math, I know I am pricing it right.

Some might ask, "But I will lose clients when I increase my prices?".  It might happen, but true customers will support your business.  True friends will buy from your business without asking for discount.  Business is still business.  Asking for "tawad" is bad form.

I've seen recent post about asking how much a cake or their product should cost.  To be honest, I won't even give you a figure on how much it should sell.  Price it out according to your food cost.  Learning to do your own food cost will help create a profitable business for you.