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If God Has Loved Us, Let Us Too Love Others

Metro Manila and Luzon Leaders Conference

Last January, traffic was building up again at Cubao's Araneta Coliseum when 16,000 leaders of CFC and its Family Ministries from Metro Manila and Luzon plus the CFC Area Council members from Visayas and Mindanao gathered there for the CFC Leaders Conference. The coliseum's management had to turn away like last year a lot more who wanted to get in, but their own safety regulations prevented them from filling up the venue beyond its designed capacity. The dome was filled, in Tony Meloto's words, people-to-people!

The conference started with Mass celebrated by Fr. Ben Beltran, Parish Priest of Manila's infamous dumpsite town Smokey Mountain. The Mass, interrupted for 17 minutes by a sound system failure, was resumed when all the microphones and musical instruments were re-channeled to the coliseum's own sound system.

The three conference talks were confirmed by sharings: PBA basketball player Freddie Abuda of CFC Manila, blind since childhood Minnie Juan of YFC Pangasinan, Ka Roger of CFC (war-torn) Mindanao, Great Adventurer Philip Moller of YFC Australia, rich-yet-with- the-Lord Inna Cuisia of SFC Makati, identity-crisis-recoverer Nan ding de la Cruz of SFC Lucena and Bicutan Drug Rehabilitation graduate Catalino King of CFC Manila. There were as well three other PBA basketball players Mike Mustre, Omi Padilla and Ruel Bravo and MBA player Gido Babilonia. Seminarians of the Society of the Holy Family with Mgsr. Art Baluma came as of the Philippine House of Representatives.

Lachie Agana declared the conference open by 3:30 pm, while Billy Price of CFC Cebu closed it appropriately with a Praisefest by 8 pm. Tony Meloto in 1st talk, “Bring Glad Tidings To The Poor,” said, “Let us give what we have. If God has loved us, let us too love others.” Rouquel spoke in the 2nd talk of “Give Sight To The Blind”: What is harder than being blind is preferring to be blind. In the final instructions in the 3rd talk, “Set The Captives Free,” Frank Padilla said: The fight is going to be tough …. We need a two-pronged approach. We need liberation from our own bondage - by being centered on Jesus Christ and by remaining on his word and we need societal liberation.

Conference on Women

Two big first-time events - the Women Leaders' Forum “Quantum Leaping in the Spirit” and the Conference on Women “Woman of the Millennium” - ushered in the New Year last January at the Valle Verde Country Club in Pasig. These events were sponsored by the Central Committee of the CFC Office on Women to “unite the women of CFC in the spirit of mission and adventure.”

The Women Leaders' Forum was attended by about 70 top CFC women leaders from Metro Manila and some provinces like Batangas, Benguet, Cebu, Davao, Iloilo, Palawan and Zamboanga. The talk and sharings in the morning on how women can use their talents in the work of evangelization were well appreciated by the participants. They were affirmed on the important role women play, whether as support to their respective husbands or as leaders themselves in the various family and special ministries of CFC. They were also given guidelines on how to establish the Office in their areas. In the afternoon, the participants held a workshop to identify their strengths, weaknesses and issues within community that need to be addressed and, most importantly, what can be done about them. The forum was both uplifting and fun for the women; and the spirit of sisterhood that pervaded it paved the way for that unity in the spirit of mission and adventure. The following day, nearly 1,500 women packed the ballroom of the Valle Verde Country Club for the CFC Conference on Women from 1 to 8 pm. It showcased what a CFC woman should be - “a woman of faith, a woman of passion, a woman of joy, and a woman of style.”

The first speaker (for the talk “Woman of Faith”) was no other than Mrs. Maria Aquino. It was truly inspiring to hear Mrs. Aquino share even the personal details of her “exciting, challenging, fulfilling and painful” life and how prayer saw her through all the tribulations she experienced. Her rule in life, she said, is: “I will pray with all my heart, work with all my might, and the rest I'll leave to God.”

Next, Gerry Padilla gave a very lively talk on “Woman of Passion.” Contrary to the worldly view of a passionate woman, Gerry described the CFC woman of passion as one who loves according to what is true - her love is intense and deeply rooted in her convictions, and her cause is the cause of Christ, of serving others. She challenged the women to be the women God created them to be - loving, charged with a cause, and truly passionate.

An extra treat for the CFC women was the sharing of TV personality Cheche Lazaro, another “woman of passion.” She talked about how she started the investigative news magazine format on Philippine television despite all the odds against it twelve years ago. On hindsight, she muses, it was crazy. Yet the success that followed proved that her dogged determination and deep conviction reaped its fruits. “We believe that we have a responsibility to the audience… because we want to change lives, to impart values that matter. We want people to recognize that there is good in the Filipino.” There is no regret at all that the fruits do not include fame and material wealth for her.

Luz Villaroman, who has delivered life to seven children, talked about the joy of living that comes with life. Joy, she said, is a product of a trusting, grateful and contented heart, in spite of the pain and the sorrow that is also part of life. Indeed, how good it is to be women of joy - life-giving and a delight to be with!

Finally, beauty queen title-holder Vida Doria-Legaspi presented what it means to be a woman of style. Her talk was creatively interspersed with a different kind of fashion show. It was different because it focused not on trendsetting fashion but on woman defining her person and character. A woman of style is a woman of grace that comes from being a daughter of God. A truly beautiful woman is a woman whose heart is filled with love for God and others.

The conference was also a special occasion to honor CFC women who have shown exceptional dedication to Christian values in their family and career. The CFC Office on Women gave the “Woman of the Millennium Award” to the following women: Tess Arguelles, Luz Villaroman, Ethel Valenton, Li Chato, Shirley Bangayan, Gigi deJa Cruz, Menchie Donato, Lulu Frias and Filomena Tatlonghari (posthumous). By Annie Faustino

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