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Fear Not

It was a frightening year for me. But it was also a year when my faith was strengthened as I was put under the refiner’s fire. In all these, I heard and felt God telling me, “Fear not, for I am with you.”

The year started with my daughter Clarence Marie waking up after a three-day coma brought about by diabetic ketoacidosis. We thought we would lose her, she was asleep since Dec. 28. But God gave us a miracle and she woke up.

Jan. 14, my wife Marissa and son John Maverick came back home after a six-month mission of taking care of my mother-in-law Sara Fernando in Los Angeles. She succumbed to colon cancer on Dec. 25, 2018.  

During the love month, my daughter Elishah moved to her first apartment. What’s a dad got to do? I could only pray that she remembers everything we taught her and uphold the values she learned at home in this new chapter of her life.  

In the same month, I was also in a really bad shape due to stress and over fatigue. I was sent to Las Piñas Doctors Hospital for a gastrointestinal problem.  

In March, Brazilian actress Daiana Menezes ended her contract that lasted seven months. We had our differences and difficulties, but D has remained my good friend. As God closed this window, He opened a door the following month in the person of Croatian beauty Marija Debelic who signed up with me as her PR manager.   

Fear Not
The author with former actress and politician Cristina Gonzales-Romualdez
In May, I found myself again going through the refiner’s fire, but my prayer warriors and family stayed with me all the way. Thank you also to Atty. Rudy Britanico and associates. God nudged me in June and I started joining weekly Bible study at North Forbes with my good friend and host Cristina Gonzales Romualdez. My soul needed rest as well. I thank former Vancouver Consul General and presently DFA Undersecretary Neil Ferrer for his help in extending my son Maverick’s passport to travel anytime to the United States.

July felt like I was just starting the year as I got busy shooting for the movie  Fusion, a culinary cinema masterpiece produced and directed by my good friend  Hero Bautista. He also starred in the romantic-comedy film with Marija and DJ  Luane De Lima, and a host of other stars. Dr. Jean Marquez treated me for botox at DARE; thank you for your generosity.  

On my birthday month, August, for the past decade, I usually celebrated for a week, hosting dinner every night with different sets of friends and colleagues. This year, we played it simple—I only celebrated with family. But I received an unexpected gift when my cousin  Gipee Pangilinan hired me as a consultant for the movie  Muelle De Binondo. The producers of Muelle also forged a partnership with Councilor Hero Bautista to be their partner. Well, I thought while we’re at it, why not get Hero as the movie director as well? So, in September, I recommended him to lead the  Muelle de Binondo movie and the producer approved it.

This month I also attended the Dutdutan 2019, thanks to my brother, Philippine Tattoo Artists Guild (PhilTAG) founder and president  Ricky Sta. Ana,  Junbal Tabuyoc, Bernard Mongas, and  Philip Pena. Everything was going well – we were wrapping up the shooting for  Fusion, starting pre-prod for  Muelle, and attending to my other commitments. I’ve been braving the traffic from Las Piñas to Quezon City almost every day and lots of things were happening all at the same time.  

On Oct. 28, I had a meeting in QC with Neo Blu Media boss Tyrone and my cousin Gipee. After the meeting, I was set to go to Fusion’s last day shoot at Antipolo, but I almost collapsed in the middle of the meeting. Maybe it was due to the heat especially when I was driving. My apologies to those who waited for me in Antipolo to meet Maria Ozawa and the whole cast. Praise God Tyrone’s driver was able to bring me to St. Luke’s on time.

At the ER, the staff and nurses worked quickly—I had MRI and 2D Echo, and it was found out that I have two blockages in the left side of my brain and one on the right side. It was my first time at St. Luke’s and I can say they have the best ER doctors, nurses and staff. I was there for five days and the medical bill rose like a wave. But praise God we were able to overcome this, too, with prayers and support from family and friends. My cousin Gipee was the first to visit me with the staff of  Muelle de Binondo, my best friend  Councilor Hero Bautista,  Peach Mascarinas  and sis in Christ  Vickie Abraham.  After a 10-day rest, it was my recovery period in November.

I started eating more vegetables and less rice and did a cardio workout. I was back at work after 10 days. Also, I “accidentally” played in our community basketball tournament as my team was going to lose by default because there were only four players when I arrived. I scored 13 three-points in that game, breaking my own record last year of 11 three-points.  

Another “daddy moment” happened when my daughter Elishah and I attended the Pagdilao and Alvarez wedding of my Kuya Abet’s daughter in Blue Leaf Pasay City. I told Elishah that when she is ready, I will be the one to organize her wedding. In my mind, I dreaded for that day to come (as all fathers do). Actually, I am still dreaming of my own wedding. This December, my son Louis arrived from a five-month stay in the U.S. He came with my father-in-law Bobby for the first death anniversary of my mother-in-law Sarah Fernando who died of cancer on Christmas day last year.

I received an award in the PMC basketball league for shattering the record for most three-point shots by a PMC player in a game with 13 triples. For the first time, before the New Year, our family will go up to Baguio with my father-in-law. Thank you to Elishah and Louis for the treat.  

My heart is grateful to my prayer warriors – Sis  Leila Ravelo, Vic Calma,  Ps.  Ruth Hillary, Christine Tolosa, Chiqui Villanueva, Samuel Yu, Melon Santiago, Bishop Chito Sanchez, Tita Angeli Valenciano, Alabang New Life Pastor Joey and Sister  Rosemarie Rafael,  for her daily prayers for my health, projects, and loan and for being a great testimony to my life.  Thank you to the strong women who are God-sent to me: Former Mayor Cristina Gonzales Romualdez, The Skin Specialist (now DARE) owner  Jean Marquez, and QC District 3 Coun.  Kate Coseteng, Dr.  Far, and blogger/TV host Shideh Nikbin who I had the chance to have dinner with together with Maria Ozawa.  

My good friends and family–Atty.  Rudy Britanico, Atty.  Jenny, Atty. Gab  Mangahas, NBI  Palmer Mallari, Councilor Hero Bautista, Coach  Norman Black, Tito  AJ Pangilinan, Atty.  Anthony Mandap, SPO1  Art Chan, Director  Andy Quizon, PD Kuya Abet and  Allan Alvarez, celebrity lawyer Atty. Alex Avisado and wife Christy, Atty. Eaa Rosales, Atty.  Cristina Ramirez, Councilor  Julian Coseteng, Mozzaico’s  Samman Emamdad, rap artist  Slykane,  Jkris,  Archie Malate, Atty.  Kim Obejas, Ryan and  Paul Tolentino, Dr.  Arvin Marbibi,  Randy Dayrit, and Dr.  Sina Dabbagh.

Celebrity friends Maria Ozawa, Dj Luane De Lima,  Yayo Aguila,  Herbert Bautista, Brother  Chris Aguilar  , Tol  Kiko Matos,  Niño Muhlach, Jethro Ramirez. Little People  Miko Penalosa, Marija Debelic,  Alma Concepcion,  Toby Alejar,  Monette Rivera, and Sen.  Nikki Coseteng.

My Media family: Dante Klink Ang,  MB  editor  Art Samaniego, Manila Standard editor  Nickie Wang, pinsan Riera “TheRockstar” Mallari, my mentor PhilStar’s  Ricky Lo, beautiful mareng Gie Trilliana, jet setter Ate  Tess Lardizabal, dashing  Dinah Ventura, my sister in Christ  Pia Macan,  Lg Cordero,  Alfie Ramirez,  Aubrey Ramirez, writers Gigi Moraleda and Cherrie Villahermosa, event organizer  Allen Lugo, my BFF Mae Balbuena, Nympha Ang, Rene Bisquera, Che Francisco, Ate Beth Repizo, my partner sports bro Enjel Manato,  Ed Andaya, BFF  Alex Vidal, Big  Mike Murillo,  Edwin Rollon, Kuya Melvin Sarangay, Marlon Bernardino, Jeff Venancio, publisher Joey Venancio,  Jimmy Cantor, arnis idol  Perry Mallari, my loves  Giana Maniego and mother Isabel De Leon, poker genius Noli Cruz, and sports icon Eddie Alinea.

My Philtag family (The Philippine Tattoo Artists Guild, Inc  ), Rotary Club of Sta. Mesa: District 3780, PMC Basketball Community group with 101 Members, PPP Press Photographers of the Philippines and Tuesday Troops (celebs, rap artists weekly basketball group), I would like to acknowledge the people who have been a big help to me in my career: my family, my favorite, wife  Marissa, Mavy, Elishah, Clarence, Louis, Athalia Ichika,  Jazzy Eliz,   my website team—Giovani Juntereal, Mic Rivarez, Aldrin Capinan, Patrick Aninang, Franz Defante, Kean Fernandez,  and  Tom Choy.  

I would like to acknowledge my sponsors Patio Victoria Intramuros, Global Elite Dental Clinic, DARE Clinic, Neo Blu Media, Inc, CSalon Robinsons Galleria and Dr. Olga Roque of YSA Festival Mall.

As the year ends, I still have a lot of fears—for my health, my work, my children, my life in general. I try to be strong no matter what.

I hold on to God’s promise to quiet my fears—He said in Isaiah 41:10, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand,” and in Philippians 4:6-7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” So whenever I find myself afraid, I put my trust in Him (Psalm 56:3) because I know that He will be with me wherever I go (Joshua 1:9). 

Topics: diabetic ketoacidosis , Daiana Menezes , Marija Debelic , Cristina Gonzales Romualdez
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