How many of you guys come from broken families? I share the same fate… my dad left us when I was 11. It was actually okay for me since I dread each night when my dad would go home drunk and wreck havoc, he would forcefully wake me up around 2am just to tell me how much he loves me and would get mad if I would not respond. There are times when I would see him beating up my mom. At that time I vowed to myself, “I will never be like my dad.” So when he left, it was actually a relief… we were better off without him and the separation did not affect me at all – so I thought.
I was born into the world with glitz and glam. My mother who was a former beauty queen meets young actor and in 3 months decided to tie the knot. This must be love. There was so much attention as I was born, because I was not born alone, I was born with a twin. But this was a picture of a life from the outside.
I was born to the chaos of my parent’s lifestyle: partying, drinking, gambling adultery, debt, and domestic abuses. Our home was broken at the age of 8. My parents separated and my father abandoned us. We had no choice but to cope with the situation. So what is love?
In search for love, I tried to seek attention by excelling in school to cover up all the handicap I had in my life. I sought approval of people/ friends by doing all the popular things. I was an honor student who knew how to party, drink and smoke. This was in the hope to find love and keep it. I entered into many relationships early on in my life and broke many hearts because I did not know how to love. I had distorted view of relationships because of what I saw in my family. Married not married as long as there is love, that’s all that matters.
Fast forward 1996, I got married to a girl who I just met 5 months prior. Not pregnant, but 3 months after the marriage we felt really empty and we decided to have a baby. So exactly a year after our marriage my 1st child was born named Jazz – because both if us were musicians. A few months after she was born, we were still unhappy and decided to part ways – no fights, just simply unhappy. I can actually still visualize that day over breakfast when we just stared at each other and said – “I’m not happy.” She said “me too” and I helped her pack and off she went. End of that chapter… year 1997.
4 years later, in 2001, I got together with Monique and In June 2002, our first child was born – Sabrina. Since we were already with child, we lived together.
With all my relationships, I found myself falling in love with a separated man. I had a daughter with him Sabrina and we had a business together. I said to myself, “This must be love.” Until one day, my twin sister invited me to an all girl bible study and we tackled the Purpose Driven Life. Little did I know, God was trying to catch my attention and he was going to make Himself known very fast. The 2nd week of bible study, my discipler opened the bible and showed me the verse:
(Matthew 19:9) 9 I tell you that whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and he who marries her when she is divorced commits adultery.”
(1 Corinthians 6:9) 9 Or don’t you know that the unrighteous will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t be deceived. Neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor male prostitutes, nor homosexuals,
It was only clear that I was living in a sinful relationship and that having to feel love from someone is not all that matters. That crushed me deep in the heart. The 3rd week to the bible study God through friends revealed to me that my boyfriend was having an affair with his staff who also happens to be a friend. That was already a double sword for me. I don’t know why I did not leave the bible study group or resent God instead I faithfully started to go to church, humbling myself, crying on my knees during service to ask for forgiveness for the wrong things in my life. I ask God to come into my life and undo all the mistakes in my life.
It was only then, that at my lowest point I realized that I was loved all along, not by a man but by Jesus, himself.
In 2003, I was into events and I got caught in an affair with my employee. I know for many of you women, this is would mean the end of the relationship. But I guess since we already had Sabrina, Monique decided to hang on. I promised not to do it again and to prove it, shifted career… from Event management to Photography just to prove my sincerity – and God knows how sincere I was. Two years later in 2004, Monique gave birth to our son Matthew.
I surrendered my life to Jesus in a retreat and made arrangements to live apart from my boyfriend. But as I was doing that, I discovered I was pregnant again. I cried because as I was making the first bold move to walk with Jesus but I stumbled again.
Around Sept 2005, Monique asked to meet me in Tia Marias Megamall and asked what I was doing May 2005? I checked my planner and saw it was blank so I replied “I don’t know”. She said “You want me to remind you?” and she hands me my old phone and shows me a prohibited video of me and another girl in bed. At that time, everything just crumbled on my hopes to lived a changed life and all I could say was “Go and find a better man, I am sick, I am hopeless – I will never change.” At that time Monique and I decided to finally part ways but she did give me a parting statement that hit me deep “I will only go back to you when I see Jesus in the center of your heart.”
As a photographer, I hear this over and over as tips to the couple – and some of you may get this during your wedding. Know what? Most people think they have Jesus in the center but actually don’t. Ever met someone who would curse or do bad things immediately after stepping out of the church? They’re in love with religion & its rituals but don’t know the God who they’re worshipping.
Anyway, So after hearing this, I began my search… what does this mean. When I was in DLSU I say “live Jesus in our hearts forever” but never really meant it. At that time, I was thinking, mabait naman ako and I thought it was enough.
Monique started to attend a church in Ortigas and I saw her write out 5 figure checks … to my mind I was saying “kawawa naman si Monique, because of my craziness nasama sa cult.” And I even remember one time being invited to a birthday party and walking out after Edric opens us up to a prayer before meals… I thought I was tricked into a bible study because he prayed while holding a Bible.
Eventually, God made his way to me… and after attending church for 6 months I finally understood what having him in the center means. It meant recognizing God as not only your Savior but your Lord. It means trusting to him not just part of your life but everything. You see my best was not enough to overcome my sickness, but God was able to. I am not claiming to be sinless now, but having Jesus in me allowed me to sin less and less and I will confess that to this day – I am still a work in progress.
God had another plan. You see I asked God to undo “ME” and I asked to be loved. He did. He showed me unconditional love through bringing into full circle all the people that have hurt me in the past. Jesus was Undoing me and Healing me. He reintroduced me to my father, who I met again but this time in prison. My dad ran away from us long time ago and how funny that God would allow us to meet in a place where he can no longer run but face the music. Over several visits, God helped restored my broken relationship with my dad. He also allowed me to reconcile with my mom who I saw again in the States after 12 years of separation. Jesus caught my attention even in my business. He made me experience failure as I entered 2 projects that brought me millions in debt. But as the going got tough, Jesus taught me to cling to Him. I surrendered everything I had. I opened my home, opened my office to Him. I gave back my boyfriend to him by separating from my boyfriend and I allowed myself to free fall in faith – not knowing what life I would live with 2 beautiful yet fragile kids in my hand.
I trusted that God had a plan and I was waiting expectantly. I asked God to help heal my family. I did not want my kids to undergo the same tragic state I had to go through as I kid. So I asked God to UNDO me even in my family life.
Though I am not promoting that its ok to have an annulment and remarry, at that time we both didn’t know. Which is why we created “Before I do Workshop”. You don’t have to go through all these. God so loved us that he didn’t want any of us to get lost and so he gave us a manual – the Bible and they say that the Bible stands for “Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.”
We are a product of grace. Every ounce of faith we took to walk with Jesus was rewarded with pure joy, peace and love. Now with total 5 children we are still saying “yes” to Jesus everyday to walk, serve, share and bless others with God’s unconditional love.