Beyond all barriers
FROM THE STANDS - Domini M. Torrevillas (The Philippine Star) - November 18, 2015 - 9:00am

A few years ago Flor Tarriela and Butch G. Jimenez published a collection of stories that showed people’s experiences not as coincidences, but miracles. The pieces were a testimony to God’s being the unseen, but real, power, that saved lives, provided food for empty tables, and flashed  light in the midst of darkness.

The first edition, titled “Coincidence or Miracle” gave birth to four others. To be launched on Nov. 25 at the Manila Polo Club is the fifth edition, with focus on surmounting obstacles to success; thus the sub-title “Beyond All Barriers.”

 As in the four editions, this year’s stories are on the experiences of people from all walks of life: well-known personalities, businessmen, bankers, a chef,  urban planners, medical doctors, educators, housewives, children and caregivers in hurdling obstacles.

There’s the story of Ted Tarriela, an enterprising, self-made designer of beautiful houses, who found himself in a quandary. He had sold an expensive Anita Magsaysay-Ho painting to an art collector who returned it for lack of authentication. Ted wondered where and if he could ever find the artist to sign her artwork. Thank God, his mom, Flor Tarriela, had lunch with Anita, who quickly signed the painting. Ted said only Someone Up There made that possible.

Leonor Briones faced such barriers as her family’s poverty and her being a woman in a male-dominated society. Fortunately she had a brilliant mind, finishing the grades and high school as valedictorian, and college at the age of 17, and enjoying scholarships at Harvard. She became National Treasurer and is a professor emeritus at the University of the Philippines.

Rebecca Bustamante worked as a domestic helper   in Singapore and studied at night while his employers who did not approve of her going to school were asleep. Fortunately, she was hired as a nanny in Canada where she obtained a  college degree. She founded and is president of Chalre Associates, a multinational recruitment firm for top executives.

At a cocktail party hosted by the Bangko Sentral governor, monetary board member  Jun De Zuniga suddenly felt ill and was rushed to the hospital. The  tests surprised everyone because his vital signs were normal. Perhaps it was stress from his work? While waiting for his release, he prayed,  and  included the granting of requests of the relatives of two patients who had been wheeled into the emergency room on beds placed beside his.  The result: good news for him and the two patients.

I like the story of Aj and Joanne Aguila, whose son, Alab, was born with a rare bone deficiency. They loved the boy so much; where could they take him for special care? God answered their prayer. Aj was assigned by his company to work in Montreal, Canada, where a hospital specializing in cases like Alab, is located. According to his mom, Alab today is “a vibrant little boy,” who despite his physical condition, plays a musical instrument and is devoted to his older sister.

“Beyond All Barriers” has 100 stories  with two common denominators: each protagonist faces some predicament or another, and turns to the Lord for help and guidance. Some of them had relied on their own strengths previously, and finally found answers and healing  through prayer.

There’s the story of Elmer Ranola, who had long  given up his dream of visiting the Holy Land because of his meager salary. One day, he won a raffle ticket to his dream land.

Beta Silverio was in a quandary: how to feed 2,500 people in a four-day evangelistic meeting, without a budget? Before she knew it, people came knocking at her door to donate food to feed everyone. This was surely a miraculous event.

Interested to know how celebrities overcame their fears?  You’ll be inspired by the narratives of Kim Atienza, Alden Richards and Isay Alvarez.

How to earn college degrees without resources? Pastor Lloyd Estrada didn’t know how, so he completely yielded the education of his son Allan to God’s grace. Allan received financial help from generous souls; he finished computer science in the University of Masachussetts-Louell in  the United States summa cum laude.

You will be inspired by the accounts of Dr. Ben Gozon, Angel Lazaro III, and  Dinky Einsiedel.

And the stories of Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, GMA CEO Felipe Gozon, Entrepreneur of the Year Nix Nolledo, Mama Sita’s Clara Lapus, chef Jessie Sincioco, and “bamboo queen” Kay Jimenez. Read accounts of such bright women as Elizabeth Lee, Nene Guevara and Grace Padaca.

I like Grace’s brimming with enthusiasm. Stricken with polio since she was little, she could not walk without crutches, but she ran against experienced politicians and won as the first woman governor of Isabela province.

I am also fascinated by the story of Elizabeth Lee. The first female president in the history of the influential Chamber  of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines, with the sales for both her company and the automotive industry high, she was  beset by fears of not living up to her own expectations, and finally she chose to take  another path – as a social entrepreneur, building clean, green zero-emission electric tricycles (e-trikes).  Says she: “I learned a valuable lesson from the book of Proverbs that says, ‘To fear is to fail.’ I believe God has a plan and a purpose for each one of us.”

The authors of “Beyond All Barriers,” Coincidence or Miracle? V are big names in their fields. Flor Tarriela is chair of Philippine National Bank, and a former Undersecretary of Finance, and holds the distinction of being the first female president of Citibank N.A. Butch G. Jimenez is a senior vice president of PLDT. He is the producer of the award-winning and critically acclaimed movies Jose Rizal and Muro- Ami. He was awarded one of Ten Outstanding Young Men, and Ten Outstanding Young Persons of the World. He was also awarded the Agora Market Man of the Year in 2006.                                                                                                                                            

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