Women who give grow BIG!
PURPLE SHADES - Letty Jacinto-Lopez (The Philippine Star) - December 14, 2015 - 9:00am

Ten women  Maricar Burgos, Marilen Espiritu, Penny Katigbak, Frieda Lim, Cecile Limjoco, Reena Llamas, Patty Olbes, Marienne Pimentel, Susan Syquia, and Martha Uy drew close to each other because of lessons learned in life. 

Martha Uy began, “Life dealt my family a losing hand when my mother was stricken with cancer.  When the hospital bills continuously piled high, my father faced the wretched task of letting go of his one prized possession — an accordion.  The pain cut deep as he thought of his descendants whose lives would no longer be enriched by music played on his precious instrument.  When darkness seemed to cover every bit of light, weighing down the spirit and any trace of hope, what would you do?  Martha’s father took it on the chin. 

“We lost Mama despite Father’s sacrifice,” Martha cried.

But no one has a monopoly of grief.

Years passed and one day, Martha’s son was in his music class when the teacher casually remarked, “A colleague wants to sell a musical instrument because his family is not keen on it.   Interested?”

Ever experienced that sublime moment when everything seems to be orchestrated by an invisible hand?  Martha choked.  The musical instrument being resold was her father’s accordion.  Martha, fighting her tears, quivered, “I’d like to buy it, buy it, back.”  Martha’s quest came to a full circle.  Bowing with a heart touched and humbled by God, she whispered, “Lord, You cannot be surpassed in kindness and mercy.”

With that introduction, Martha called another speaker who instantly brought to mind my grandson’s photo of a granny hurtling confidently on a Vespa scooter.  Hip and gutsy, like Eleonor (Eli) Esteban, educator and founder of the Esteban School, now the Australian International School.

Eli at 80 surrounds herself with nature, communing with her heart, mind, and sharing her life.  Once, she flew to Cagayan de Oro to go white water rafting, grabbing her oars, ready to rage and splash through an exhilarating adventure.  Not content, donning helmet and straps, she zip-lined from a proud, old tree that was high as a 19-story building with nary a squeal of terror.

“You’re never too old to desire, to tussle, and to accomplish,” Eli exclaimed.  Eli quickly set the room on fire. What’s next on your bucket list, Tita Eli?  Is it to ride a hot air balloon over Cappadocia in Turkey? Nah! Too tame. Or, climb the air-thin, mountain citadel of Machu Picchu in Peru?  Dare me.  

“Life is a gift.  It’s a journey, it’s never smooth, there are dark stretches, long tunnels and struggles are a plenty, but be amazed at what the human spirit can hurdle,” Eli advised.          

Today, Eli has turned her attention to her spiritual journey, seeking a more intimate relationship with God.  “Pray without words,” she advised. “And God will continuously surprise you.” 

How do we pass on the gift of faith to the younger generation?  “Trust in the Lord,” Eli replied.  “He won’t let go of them.  Don’t go into the conscious, emphasizing the rites and rituals; better that they discover God in their personal lives.  Keep praying.”

Frieda Lim introduced the next speaker, Dr Cristina (Nina) Lim Yuson.  Nina broke the ice,  “I was born on Christmas Eve.”  That meant everybody in her life automatically practiced the two-occasions-in-one gift.  She’s the “casualty” of the tipid frugal syndrome.   

In her family, Nina was the quiet one, preferring to let the rest of her family take the cudgels and earn kudos.  From her mother, the much-revered Secretary Estefania Aldaba Lim to her accomplished sister, broadcaster/producer Che-Che Lim Lazaro.

But, each of us has been blessed with graces and talents that come shining through at the right time and occasion.  Nina’s star glowed bright in education and social service.  From serving as Girl Scouts’ chairperson to non-governmental advocacies focused on alleviating the plights of the young.

Currently, she’s the zealous face behind Museo Pambata, formerly the Elks Club on Roxas Boulevard, next to the American Embassy.  She worked towards making the museum interactive and captivating to all children of Manila, mainly to trigger and challenge them to go beyond the bare necessities of life and aspire to aim for greater and nobler endeavors.

The Museo is in its 21st year, growing in relevance and patronage, and ensconced in the hearts of awe-inspired children. 

When Patty Olbes asked, “What’s your greatest gift?”  Nina replied, “My mother, my family, and the children of Manila smiling happily, doing things children ought to do.”

In your share of curved balls, what nuggets of wisdom did you pick up?  “Don’t let obstacles derail you (she was widowed at 45), be grateful, count your blessings, be a role model, learn about money matters, and be politically savvy.”

After a sumptuous repast hosted by Marilen Espiritu, the ladies summed up the impact of BIG in their lives:

Continue to work towards fulfilling your dreams and

• B-uild and create structures to move you from here to there, from the bottom to the top, shaping character and gathering strength.

• I-nspire and make it the catalyst to fulfill your wants and desires.

• G-ive beyond yourself by subtracting from what you have to add value to another, giving to someone what you yourself hold dear.

Turning to the parable of a single kernel of wheat that falls to the ground, it remains only a single seed, but if it dies, it produces many kernels.  We give up to receive more.

This is the gift, as BIG as can be.

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