ABITO SERIES: It’s Never Too Late to Become a Priest

Take it from Fr. Eldrick S. Peña, 42 years old, of the Diocese of Antipolo, who revealed that he already felt his ‘calling’ at an early age but tried to dismiss it thinking it would just go away, but it didn’t.

They refer to them as ‘late vocation’, but Fr. Eldrick said that’s the widely used term, but the more politically correct term is ‘late response’.

And true enough, when God calls you, it doesn’t matter where you are, how old you are, or you’re at the peak of your career, you cannot run or hide from it. He will equip you and prepare you for it and at some point in your life, you will have to respond to it, or it will bother you or haunt you for the rest of your life.

Humble beginnings

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Canossa Academy, LC Kinder graduation in 1984

Fr. Eldrick grew up in a devout Catholic family. He’s the fourth among five children. His mother was a public-school teacher and his father was a police officer. 

His father was always away due to his job as the Chief of Police of various towns in Batangas City, so it was his mother who took care of him and his siblings and attended to all their needs.

When he was six years old, he injured his left arm while playing with his friends.  The injury was so severe that the bones connecting to his upper and lower left arm separated. Only the flesh connected the whole arm together. That traumatic experience bore him so much pain at an early age and created such a strong impact on his life.

From being very playful to the point of being mischievous and naughty, then Eldrick suddenly became timid, reserved, and could not play that much anymore since his left arm was weakened by the injury.

“I could not engage in physical activities because of such limitation and out of fear of injuring myself again.  So, I just concentrated on reading books and playing chess,” admitted Fr. Eldrick.

In elementary, he and his siblings were sent to Canossa Academy, an institution run by nuns.  In high school, he and his eldest brother were sent to La Salle; while his sisters remained in Canossa.

Fr. Eldrick studied in Catholic schools from preschool to graduate school and had a very Catholic upbringing, which could have contributed to the cultivation of his priestly vocation.  He was also very much active in different religious organizations and excelled in religion courses all throughout his studying years.

When he graduated from De La Salle High School in Lipa, Batangas, he was awarded Catechist of the Year. In college, he and siblings were sent to various Catholic schools in Manila so he enrolled at the University of Sto. Tomas where he took up AB Communication Arts and graduated in 1998.

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University of Sto. Tomas graduation in 1998

“People would mistake me for a seminarian during my college years. Friends, relatives, and family members would ask me if I had any intention of entering the seminary, but I would just dismiss them. But deep inside, something is telling me that I have a vocation. I can feel it deep in my heart, but I was not yet ready to respond,” he admitted.

A flourishing teaching career

After college. Fr. Eldrick pursued a career in teaching and decided to forego a promising career in journalism or advertising because he wanted to live a more laidback life in the province.

He took up graduate studies at the University of the Philippines and De La Salle University and rose into the ranks from part-time instructor to full-time, and then chair of the Languages and Literature Department, then of the Communication Department, then of the Communication and Multimedia Arts Department.

He pioneered the offering of the AB Communication Program in De La Salle Lipa as well as Multi-Media Arts.  Sometimes, he would be appointed acting Dean in the absence of the Dean of the College of Education, Arts, and Science, being the most senior department chair in the college.

“For 14 years, it had been my life, building a career, pursuing further studies, and there was a time, partly being a breadwinner for the family when my father got sick and had to undergo dialysis for two years.  Then I realized, I was not getting any younger.  I was already 35 at that time. So, I decided to give priestly vocation a try,” he revealed.

He further added, “I wanted to confront the ‘feeling’ and put rest to this ‘discomfort’ once and for all because this will keep me hanging all throughout my life if I will not make that initial step and inquire about it.  The question ‘what could have happened if I at least tried and applied for seminary formation?’ will continue to haunt me all the rest of my life.”

He tried applying in two seminaries run by the religious. However, he did not pursue his application in the first seminary further because he immediately felt that he was not for the kind of life they are espousing in the early stages of admission.  Then in the second seminary, he was not accepted.  Thus, he said to himself:

“That’s it!  I can now move on with my life.”

Upon learning of what happened, a priest-friend advised him to apply in the Holy Apostles, a seminary for late vocations. He also told him that maybe his calling is towards the diocesan priesthood, but he was already adamant.

“Still the ‘invitation’ continued haunting me.  The more I tried to evade it, the more it became louder and certain.  So, after a year, I decided to pay Holy Apostles a visit, and the rest, as they say, is history,” he said.

Entering the seminary

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 Entering the Holy Apostles Senior Seminary on May 20, 2012, was one of the most difficult decisions Fr. Eldrick had to make as he had to give up his studies and his flourishing career.

“I was at the peak of my professional career as chair of the Communications and Multi-Media Arts Department at the De La Salle Lipa.  I was also on the board of the Philippine Association of Communication Educators and in the process of completing my Ph.D. in UP Diliman,” he recalled.

As Chair of the Communication and Multi-Media Arts Department, he acted as the founding chair of both programs and had been department chair for eight years.  He was also in the Board of Trustees of the Philippine Association of Communication Educators and his term of office was still up to October 2012.  He also needed to discontinue his Ph.D. studies in UP Diliman.

“After receiving word from the seminary of my acceptance around the first week of April, after much prayer and discernment, I immediately wrote my resignation letter which I submitted to my superiors.  They were all in a state of shock upon knowing of my plan to enter the seminary,” admitted Fr. Eldrick.

Appointments for the next school year has already been released and he was re-appointed chair of my department but since he was resigning to pursue a priestly vocation and not to look for a greener pasture somewhere else, the administration supported his on the condition that he still has to hold classes for that summer (since he was the only one teaching the course) before he was allowed to finally leave De La Salle Lipa.

“I had to work until the afternoon of May 19, which was a Saturday, in order to make sure that I have turned over everything to my successor and have submitted the grades of my students for summer (although technically, the end of summer classes is still in the last week of May)  and the next day, which was a Sunday, the feast of the Ascension of the Lord, my four other batch mates and I entered the seminary,” recalled Fr. Eldrick.

Life inside the seminary

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Fr. Eldrick, however, underestimated the seminary formation, thinking it would be something easy since he was used to reading a lot due to the nature of his former profession, he already had a regular prayer life even before the seminary and generally, he was obedient to his superiors.

“I thought seminary life will be a semi-retirement type of life I will enjoy without experiencing so many stressful situations. Well, I realized later on that I had wrongly imagined the life in the seminary,” he admitted.

What made it more difficult was living with 27 other men who came from various backgrounds, experiences, and values in one house.  These men were now living together as a community of brothers who were already of age, successful in their chosen fields and careers before they entered the seminary.

The seminary’s first task was to deform a person of its old self-values, attitudes, and ways of looking so that he could be formed to the person and later priest, patterned after the heart of Jesus the Good Shepherd.

“The process was difficult and painful at times. You have to submit to the wisdom of formation even if sometimes, it doesn’t make sense to you at all.  You have to swallow your pride many times to the point of asking yourself: ‘Why am I doing this?’

He also kept questioning himself at times why he remained in the formation when there is much work to be done outside where he can be more productive and fruitful. Sometimes, he doubted himself if he really had a vocation.

“But you know, God really works mysteriously in His own pace and time,” he said.

And with God’s grace, Fr. Eldrick has only words of gratitude to God for giving him the grace to persevere.

“Seven years of formation is no joke. And I firmly believe that God was really behind me all throughout my seminary formation.  Guiding and strengthening me when I doubted, encouraging, and rallying me when I fail and wanted to give up and most especially, nourishing and refreshing me spiritually that I may continue with my formation.  I could say that it was really only through the grace of God that I was able to overcome the obstacles of formation,” said Fr. Eldrick.

He, however, clarified that he was not painting a stark image of seminary formation. There were also many happy and unforgettable memories in seminary formation which he will always remember and cherish, most especially the deep sense of brotherhood and family.

“You know, in the seminary, there is a really deep sense of brotherhood and being a family. And I could say that seminary really became a second family to me even after I graduated from Holy Apostles.  The bond of brotherly love and friendship continues even after ordination,” he quipped.

Diocesan vs religious priests

But while discerning to choose between diocesan or religious priesthood, Fr. Eldrick strongly felt that he was for the diocesan priesthood ever since.

According to Catholictv.org, diocesan priests usually serve in the particular geographical region of a diocese or archdiocese, serving the needs of the parish, and they make three promises to the bishop at their ordination: to recite daily the liturgy of the Hours, to obey the bishop, and to live a life of celibacy; while religious priests are not assigned to a particular diocese it could be in a different city or country, their work depends on their religious order but they also administer sacraments and celebrate mass; and they vow to three evangelical counsels: poverty, chastity, and obedience.

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Then Reverend Eldrick with Fr. Ric Eguia, parish priest and some lectors from the Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Parish in Rodriguez, Rizal
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After serve photo ops

“Religious life did not appeal to me as much as the diocesan priesthood. But you know all vocation is good in itself, whether religious life, diocesan priesthood, married life or single blessedness,” he explained.

“The key here is that you are able to discern to which vocation is God calling you to serve and in that way of life, you bloom and bear much fruit.  And in my discernment, I strongly felt that God wanted me to become a diocesan priest,” he further added.

Advice to those who wish to enter the seminary

 For those who wish to enter the seminary, Fr. Eldrick advises them to know if it’s the will of God and to help them determine that ‘calling’ is by seeking the help of their parish priest.

“If your answer is a clear ‘yes’ or at least leading towards that realization, then go for it.  And if you feel that God is calling you towards priesthood (whether diocesan or religious), I tell you there is no way to really find out if the calling is authentic until you make that first step of maybe talking to your parish priest, and then, later on, applying on a seminary for admission,” he said.

One can always disregard his calling; however, it will continue to haunt and bother him for the rest of his life. There will always be this pending and outstanding question: “What if I pursued priestly vocation?” just like what happened to him.

“That same question continued to bother me until I was 35 years old when I finally attempted to apply for admission in a seminary.  And mind you, it really felt great and was one of the most life-changing and important decisions I ever made in my entire life,” he added.

He revealed that seminary formation is not a bed of roses. One will encounter problems and difficulties in other vocations he might pursue himself, but if you really put your heart and mind, your whole being into something that you really like, the pains will be transformed into joy, the difficulties into opportunities,” he concluded.

Last November 2019, at the age of 41 and after seven years in the seminary formation, Fr. Eldrick, together with his four other batchmates were ordained as new priests of the Diocese of Antipolo. He is now the Secretary to the Bishop of Antipolo, Most Reverend Francisco M. De Leon, DD.

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Fr. Eldrick’s ordination
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Bonding with other priests

Prior to his current assignment in the Diocese, Fr. Eldrick was given assignments in different parishes for pastoral exposure and transferred parishes every two months. Some of his parish assignments include St. Paul of the Cross in SSS Village, Marikina, Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Parish, and St. Raphael Parish both in Montalban, Rizal.

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Holy Apostles Senior Seminary (HASS) located along EDSA, Guadalupe, Makati City is for late vocations. It accepts candidates who are 25 to 40 years old, who have finished college, have at least two-year work experience. At present, the seminary has 80 priests, three of whom had been ordained bishops: Bishop Mylo Vergara of Pasig, Bishop Robert Gaa of Novaliches, and Bishop Alan Dialogo of Sorsogon, all of which became rectors of the HAAS. (Thanks to Mr. Ryan Tristan Digan for the info.)

For more ABITO SERIES:

When God’s plan prevails: Fr. Rodrigo “Ric” Eguia

Former PMA cadet shares his journey to becoming a warrior of God: Bro. John Raven Bernarte

Road less traveled: Fr. Marvin P. Borda

Rico Blanco returns with inspiring new anthem “This Too Shall Pass”

After a four-year hiatus in making songs of his own, Rico Blanco returns with a rousing new anthem to help us deal with the uncertainty of the times.

This Too Shall Pass is Rico Blanco’s first solo single in four years, as well as his first under Sony Music Philippines. The song was written from a place of discomfort and fear, witnessing how the much louder tremor of pandemic anxiety instantly changed our lives and left us with little time to mourn and move forward.

THIS TOO SHALL PASS [COVER ARTWORK]

With frontliners risking their lives with little protection, people going hungry, and the social order crumbling to pieces, Rico felt powerless by the situation. Hence, he had to forego his difficulties of living alone and coping with his own emotional troubles, as there was work to be done.

He shares, “My efforts are little in light of a pandemic like this. As big as my imagination is for this song, I also feel that it’s not enough. But it’s what I can do and contribute as a musician.”

This Too Shall Pass succeeds in repurposing music’s mission: Outside of its function as an entertainment fodder and a way to escape, it carries the resilience of the human spirit. In the darkness, it shines brighter.

The big, sprawling pop tune is his most personal to date, which he struggled over the course of two weeks to finish, and almost did not.

“Some songs are anchored on truth, but they are wrapped and adorned in a lot of romanticized thoughts,” he shares. “This song is real, inwards, and also outwards; it’s something that I really want to tell every single person. I wasn’t able to give a message to the frontliners, and I feel very guilty about this. I needed to finish this, and I want them to hear this. I know each one of us is going through something. I wrote this song as my way to reach out.”

With sonic elements that span continents and a carefully honed production which he supervised himself, Rico’s latest single defies convention with a global sounding opus that incorporates musical dispatches and personal anecdotes. From samples of his nieces laughing culled from a family chat group to his attempt to blur the cultural lines by incorporating European techno, hip-hop beats, Asian riffs, Afro chanting, and Pinoy fiesta in a seamless, genre-bending extravaganza, This Too Shall Pass is ambitious in scope and sound design, but its heart is for the people who need light and love.

There’s a sliver of joy in finding one of the most prolific artists emerge from long silence. As Sony Music’s GM Philippines and VP Business Development Asia, Roslyn Pineda sums it up: “Music is important – we all know this.  But never more so than when we are faced with uncertainty because it is then that the power of music becomes unquantifiable, almost limitless.  Music can make you feel you’re not alone. Music can save you from despair.  And so it is with a song like This Too Shall Pass.  It is so relevant to the times that it becomes a declaration, a prayer, a mantra — all rolled into one.”

Rico Blanco’s “This Too Shall Passis now available on all digital platforms worldwide. Watch out for the music video to be released soon.

How I’m Spending My Quarantine Period

“If you don’t come out of this quarantine with a new skill, your side hustle started, and more knowledge, you never lacked time, you lacked discipline.” @kaizenexecutive

I saw this post while browsing my Instagram feeds the other day, and this hit me right to the core. You see, we have been confined in our homes for more than a month now, but what have we done or accomplished so far apart from eating, worrying and feeling anxious?

As of this posting, it’s been my 47th day in quarantine and all I did were finish one book (which is only my second out of my 40 target books this year), watch Netflix, browse Facebook, watch Youtube videos, finish my thesis draft (which I already submitted for my advisers’ evaluation), worry and feel anxious, which are not helping me at all.

While it’s productive for some to pass time and distract themselves from feeling anxious and fearful, I felt I could have been more productive in the last 47 days had I come into my senses earlier. But now that we are down to another two-week ECQ (Enhanced Community Quarantine), I decided to up my game and do something really worthy of my time.

I actually started last week since I read that quote. So, I have listed some of the things I’ve been doing and how I am making the most out of my quarantine period:

  1. Learn French online. Why French? Given a choice, I wanted to learn the Korean language since Korean dramas are hit nowadays, or refresh my basic Spanish language, which I learned way back in college, but I need to learn French for work purposes. Actually, we were required by our company to take some online courses and this was one of the choices. So why not give it a try since I’ve been wanting to learn a foreign language.

I’m in my second week of learning French and I never thought this could be really fun. It’s intimidating and pressuring at first, especially if your native French-speaking boss will send you a Private Message to cheer you up and will tell me to take it as a distraction.

“It’s not a pressure, it’s a distraction. Think of all the places that you can visit and practice your French when the ECQ is lifted. That will distract you,” she told me.

Hmmm… well, that’s something I’m really, really looking forward to.

So far, here are some of my favorite French words: Merci, beaucoup! (Thank you very much), Bonjour (Hello), Enchanté (Nice to meet you), Je mappelle Mylene (My name is Mylene), Excuse-moi (Excuse me), S’il vous plait (please), and oui et non (yes and no).

Note: If you want to learn French, you can DM (direct message) me your email address and I’ll send you an invitation. You have to receive an invite from me or those already using the app so you have a one-week unlimited use.

  1. Write Filipino romance novels. My love for writing started because of my fondness in reading Filipino romance pocketbooks when I was younger. I’d spend hours and hours and late nights just to finish one single pocketbook. My favorite pocketbooks were from Precious Hearts Romance (Filipino) and Mills & Boon (English) because they always have happy endings. Same plots, but I love it. I’m a sucker for happy endings.

My dream was not only to become a bestselling romance writer but to also meet the love of my life just like in my favorite pocketbooks. I’m that hopeless romantic.

So, I tried writing my own romance stories. I had so many ideas but only got to write and finish two. I submitted them to publishers before but they rejected them, saying my stories (my babies) were “too juvenile” and I used too many English words. It was disappointing but at the same time, I also got too busy working that I never got the time to write again. I also had my church activities and my personal life to deal with and so on and so forth.

Also, what made it really difficult for me to write and finish another romance story was that it was too hard for me to accept that love stories don’t always have happy endings.

You see, I finished those two stories before without having been into a relationship. But after I got into a relationship myself and had my heart broken a few times that stopped me from writing a romance story, thinking there’s isn’t really a happy ending.

Anyways, I’ll write more about this in my next post.

  1. Read one book a week. Goodreads said I am 9-10 books behind my 40 target books this year so I need to also up my reading. I’ve been so caught up with watching Netflix movies and Kdramas during this ECQ that I missed the joy and satisfaction of reading books.

Here are the books I finished reading so far: Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner by Dean Karnazes and Living Whole Without a Better Half: Biblical Truth for the Single Life by Wendy Widder.

At the moment, I’m halfway reading the Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, The Power of Favor by Joel Osteen, and The Way of the Seal by Mark Divine. Well, that’s three books every week. Hopefully, I get to finish them before this ECQ ends.

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Blue cloth coaster courtesy of Therese D. Thank you.
  1. Learn how to cook. I love to eat, but I don’t really like cooking, to be honest. Maybe because mom always cooks for us, and because I hate the preparation and the agony of having to wait to eat what I want.

However, in 2017, I was forced to cook some of my favorite meals when my parents went to the United States for a year; and my married sister who used to live in our house and was our designated cook went for a two-day vacation.

My mom said if you want to eat good food, you have to learn how to cook one. But I won’t elaborate on that anymore because you can read my entire post on Why I Decided to Cook My Own Meals.

Since this pandemic began, I committed to the 16:8 intermittent type of fasting for religious purposes. My new normal is not eating dinner. So, after going without food for 16 hours, obviously, I will be hungry in the morning.

So, I need to eat breakfast as early as I can, usually, around 6:30 am to 7 am to avoid getting dizzy while doing my daily exercise.

However, if I want to eat early, I need to rise up early as well and cook food for me and my family.

Disclaimer: Don’t expect too much from me. I still don’t know how to cook some of the elaborative meals. My mom still cooks our food, she just lets me help by cooking fried rice, frying fish, meat, egg, etc, making coffee, and let me prepare basic ingredients for our lunch, which I think is better than nothing.

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My staple fried rice
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Egg omelet
  1. Daily 5-km walks and skipping ropes. We were told not to go out of our house, but I need to get some fresh air and a little bit of the sun, too. Luckily, we live in a neighborhood where there is less crowd. I also make sure that I walk around the village early in the morning for an hour or 5-km, wearing my mask, less contact with people just wave, and then skip rope after.

I used to work out inside our home by doing some high-intensity interval training (HIIT), but when I suffered a severe lower back pain a few weeks ago to the point where I had difficulty standing up and sitting down for three days, I decided to go easy on my workouts and went for relaxed, lighter workouts like walking, stretching, and jumping ropes.

  1. Learn how to market and budget. Since both my parents are in their senior years already, they aren’t allowed to go out during the ECQ so I was left with no choice but to go to the market on my own to buy our food supply for a week or two.
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My errand/market girl look

I haven’t been to the grocery for more than a month now because I hate lining up and waiting for hours. Besides, we prefer fresh meat, fish, and vegetables so the wet market is really our only option. We avoid buying and eating canned goods in as much as we can due to its preservatives.

Little by little, I learned how to pick fresh goods and buy only what’s enough for our needs. I am tempted to hoard and buy more food or supplies so I won’t have to go out more often but some food can only last for a week or days. Like tomatoes, you can’t stock them for too long. The maximum is one week or they will be rotten.

Exodus 16:4 said, “The Lord said to Moses, “Now I am going to cause food to rain down from the sky for all of you. The people must go out every day and gather enough for that day. In this way, I can test them to find out if they will follow my instructions.”

The Bible tells us just to gather what we need. If we don’t obey God’s instructions, the food will be full of worms and will rot. Besides, this is not the time to hoard food. We just need to trust God to provide for all our needs.

  1. Lastly, read the Bible and pray every day. This is a must for me every single day from waking up to before going to sleep. I’ve never seen myself so diligent and passionate about reading the Bible and praying as I am these days especially now we are facing tough and uncertain times. No vaccines and medicines were discovered yet to cure this Corona Virus.

 We are facing an invisible enemy, but we have a powerful and matchless God who is our hope, divine healer, protector, redeemer, and savior. But we must seek Him every day and find comfort in His promises that He will save us and help us get through this pandemic. There is nothing impossible with God.

When I feel anxious, scared, or afraid, which I feel every day as many people do these days, I go to Him to seek His comfort and assurance that this situation we are in today, this pandemic will end soon… He will save us and fulfill the number of our days, in the mighty name of Jesus, amen!

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Aia, Barbie and Kitchie to hold an online benefit concert on May 1

Aia de Leon, Barbie Almalbis, and Kitchie Nadal are teaming up with GNN (formerly known as Gabi Na Naman Productions) and Smirnoff Mule for a special digital concert to raise funds for the employees and workers of live music venues in Metro Manila.

Happening on May 1, Friday at 8:00 pm, the Facebook show will serve as the third installment of their critically acclaimed, sold-out concert, Secrets, and will be streamed live on the trio’s official Facebook page.

The initiative is part of the alternative rock icons’ ongoing efforts to help the music community affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and a primer to GNN’s 5th-anniversary celebration.

“Deprived of operating to serve people with live entertainment, music venues have temporarily shut down, and are struggling to manage their overhead expenses,” says Gabi Na Naman Productions’ Milley Habito, one of the executive producers of Secrets III: An Online Concert featuring Aia, Barbie and Kitchie.

Group-19 Photo by Karen de la Fuente

“Thanks to the girls, we’ll be given a chance to cover some of the funds needed to support employees and workers of independent music venues and bars. We cannot imagine a vibrant, bustling music scene without these people who have dedicated their lives to helping run the gigs. The waiters, cooks, kitchen helpers, cashiers, parking attendants, food servers, tech guys, security personnel, and other employees deserve our help too.”

Some of the confirmed beneficiaries include independent music venues such as Route 196, Mow’s, Saguijo Café & Bar, Jess and Pat’s, ‘70s Bistro, 123 Block, Social House, and more to be announced.

The star-studded fundraiser and concert will also feature never-before-heard collaborations among the three award-winning singer-songwriters, as well as individual performances featuring their Greatest Hits and rarities.

 

Black Saturday thoughts

I’ve been singing for our church during Holy Week celebrations for nearly 20 years now, but it was only last April 11, 2020 when I felt like it was my first time – first time to sing in a dark and empty church, except for the presence of the three priests who officiated the celebration, members of the Social Communication Ministry, and very limited attendees.

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Before this pandemic, Black Saturday celebration would usually start where all the lights are closed and only the Paschal candle remained lighted. After four to five readings and psalms, the mass celebrant will start singing “Glory to God in the highest”, to be continued by the choir, which will signal the second part of the celebration. This will prompt all the lights to turn on.

While other readers and psalmists would read and sing in the dark, I will be singing when all the lights are turned on. Suddenly, I felt like the focus and highlight was on me. The pressure was on because the churchgoers would see who the psalmist was so I can’t miss a tune or lyrics.

Unlike if it’s dark, one can hide through the darkness if one missed his/her lyrics or tune. No one will know who that person those in our group.

But that night was different. I sang in the dark and only my voice was heard during the live mass streaming on Facebook. That night, I felt like I honored God and He became the ‘real’ highlight and not me.

Not that I have anything those who post their pictures. It’s just that I felt like for years, I was giving too much emphasis on myself, my voice, and how I looked that day. I need not only to be heard, I need to be seen as well.

It was a heartfelt, very touching and humbling moment for me that I decided not to take any photos of myself. I felt like it’s about time to highlight our Savior Jesus Christ, who died on the cross to save us from our sins and rose again after three days.

When medicines and vaccines are not yet available to cure COVID-19, all we can do is rely on God who is our divine healer and protector to get us through this pandemic.

I felt like I focused too much on myself and material things that I don’t even have time for Him anymore. I thought I did, but I realized it was not enough. We also fail to appreciate what really is important to us – our family, relationships, food, shelter, good health, and our faith in God.

As Wendy Widder said in her book, Living Whole Without a Better Half, “The God who parts the waters, raises the dead, feeds the multitudes, and heals the sick is not threatened by anything. He is not baffled about the problems that keep me awake at night, nor is He paralyzed by what scares me. God has the power to eliminate any source of fear from my life.”

There is nothing God cannot do. We only have to trust Him, honor Him, and refuse to be fearful about what will happen. God is faithful and He will take care of us if we trust Him.

QUOTABLE QUOTES: Living Whole Without a Better Half by Wendy Widder

I finished reading this book today. It’s actually my second book out of 40 target books to read this year.

Living Whole Without a Better Half
Photo courtesy of http://www.amazon.com

I know, I know. I am way behind my schedule. Goodreads already prompted me that I’m nine books behind schedule. Since I have two more weeks of enhanced community quarantine, I wanted to take advantage of that to read books.

But before I start reading my third book, I gathered all quotes I highlighted from this book that in one way or another touched my heart.

For single people out there, I highly recommend that you read this book to help you get through this season in your life. This book talks about the struggles of being single in this world, the pains of rejection, waiting, hoping, and wishing your time will come to walk down the aisle.

I hope you enjoy this book and find encouraging words to help you go through this season as much as I did. You are not alone! Check my previous post about singlehood (5 Reasons Why I Love Being Single and Traveling)

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“[He] satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” – Psalms 103:5

“No good thing does he withhold from those who walk is blameless.” – Psalm 84:11

“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:19

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28

“First of all, the race was marked out; simply follow the map. Secondly, persevere; things will definitely be tough, but you can do it. And finally, run; keep moving forward and give it all the energy you have.”

“Abraham knew his God was powerful; he knew He could do what He had promised – somehow God’s plan no longer shocked him; what did plague him, though, was ‘When?’”

“This act of faith involved no commands to obey, only a promise to believe. For 25 years, Abraham trusted God to be faithful. I’m sure he was frustrated and impatient a little day or two out of the 9,125. And I’m sure he sent cries of desperation heavenward in moments of despair. To be sure, he had his moments of doubt, skepticism, and even attempts to help God, but the prevailing theme of Abraham’s lie is that he trusted God.”

“What Abraham didn’t know was that in those two and a half dark decades of waiting, God slowly conditioned his faith, working it into shape for an ever-bigger test to come.”

“Abraham didn’t have to know the answer – he knew the antidote, he knew God could fix it.”

“Faith is seeing the invisible, believing the incredible, and receiving the impossible.”

“I’d like to know how to manage maintenance on a car as a single woman. I’d like to know if I’ll ever walk down the aisle as the main attraction instead of as a member of the supporting cast.”

“Isn’t it about time you got married?” He voiced one of those questions that lurk in the hearts of every single adult who desires to be married. It resides next to half a dozen others we’ve been asked over the years – questions for which we either don’t have the answers or don’t like the answers:

  • Do you have a boyfriend?
  • You’re a nice girl; why aren’t you dating anyone?
  • How’s your love life? [Would you dare ask a married person this?!]
  • Are you looking for a husband?
  • So, you’re still single?
  • Do you want to get married?

“She talked of the many things she thought she’d be doing at this point – with her husband. To go ahead and do them without him seemed like an admission of defeat, admitting all of her dreams were dead.”

“As I healed, I began to see God as I’d never seen Him before. Taking long walks with pockets full of tissues and eyes blurred with tears, I did the only thing I could – I cried out to the One who knew what I couldn’t explain to anyone else. He didn’t need details or background information; He knew everything. The anguish of my crushed hopes, devastated dreams, and unrealized expectations reached to the deepest parts of His heart, too.”

“Pain is the storm that strips away the frills of life. Life in modern America is so dressed up in all important technology, convenience, and luxuries that sometimes it’s hard to see through to the needs of the heart. When life falls apart, though, the latest gadget doesn’t bring much comfort or offer many answers.”

“In the struggle to retain my life dreams and somehow make them happen, I’ve sometimes felt like a Rubik’s Cube. Just when I get one side of my life falling into place and making some sense, I realize that so much else is beyond my control. I am helpless to solve things, and in fact, I make a bigger mess and create more pain. It’s only when I hand it back to the Master Puzzler that there is hope. He may twist and change the whole puzzle, and it may appear to me that He’s just created another disaster beyond repair, yet I know that my puzzle is never out of His control. Sometimes the transitions, twists, and turns of life make me creak and groan. I don’t understand, and I don’t see the solution. Sometimes I wonder what on earth He is doing with my life, but I’m so thankful that He understands what I can’t. With a lot of patience on my part and an expert series of twists on His part, life takes on a whole new dimension.”

“The crushing pain of a sharpened heart is intense, but life manages to go on whether or not I think I can. Somehow the days become weeks, the calendar pictures keep changing and I make it through.”

“The obedience of Noah went beyond doing what God said simply because the results of not doing so would be painful. Genesis 6:9 reveals that Noah ‘walked faithfully with God.’ He lived his life circumspectly, carefully walking a path that lined up with God’s footsteps. He didn’t run ahead with his own plan, or trail behind reluctant to follow, or tug stubbornly in the opposite direction. Noah walked with God; he wasn’t walked by God.”

“The struggles of singleness are real, and they are significant. Being single in a world designed by God for partnership brings pain. I fight the feelings of ‘unsettledness’ tempted to wonder if and when marriage will come. I cradle tiny babies in my arms, filled with wistful longings to have my own. I go solo to social events popularized by couples and feel the all-too familiar stabs of aloneness. I get weary of waking up to the furry face of Edward, my stuffed elephant. I tire of digging up dates to attend friends’ weddings. I battle the loneliness of not having a constant, committed companion.”

 “I’m not pretending to know the reasons why I’m still single, but I do know that even in the hardest of situations, God often gives tiny glimpses into some good things He’s doing. Backing away and forcing myself to see the positive helps me press on. Some people call it the cloud’s silver lining or the rose in the thorns. I think it’s a whole lot more. I like to call it walking on the water.”

“Singleness can be a platform, water to walk on instead of a storm to wait out. Without family responsibilities, I am free to pour my energies into local church ministries. With just me and my paycheck, I can sometimes afford to encourage friends with impulsive gifts. Without the encumbrances of someone else’s schedule, I can give extra attention to developing reading, writing, and study habits.”

“Some knowledge is too heavy for children. When you are older and stronger, you can bear it. For now, you must trust me to carry it for you.”

“Some knowledge is too heavy for children. I’m glad I have a Father to carry it for me, and I’m glad He’s got another hand to hold.”

“Loneliness comes easily when you’re not glued to somebody. One of the greatest longings of the human heart is to be deeply loved by another human being, to live side by side with someone who carries you in his or her heart, to be a lifelong part of somebody else. Being single means, I don’t have a permanent ‘it,’ the one special person who is committed to caring about the details of my life. There’s no one who knows me intimately and still likes me, there’s no one who has chosen to stick by me no matter what. It leaves me with a sense of incompleteness and aloneness.”

“It requires great mental discipline to fight loneliness.”

“But sticking close to my ‘It’ is the only thing that gets me through the lonely times.”

“There’s a certain sense of inadequacy that grows out of being repeatedly ‘passed over’ by single guys, but while I ask myself why and wonder what’s wrong with me, those questions aren’t core-shaking.”

“When I’ve given the very best of who I am, when I’ve shared my innermost thoughts and fears, when I’ve trusted totally and unreservedly and then am rejected, there’s a devastating loss of confidence. To be in a relationship where unconditional love is proclaimed and promised, and the revoked, is one of the greatest losses the human heart can sustain. The messages that travel from a broken heart to a logical brain says, ‘Your best wasn’t good enough. You are inadequate and incapable of having the kind of relationship God designed for men and women.”

“God takes what we have (more accurately, what He’s given us), and He provides the power. The tools and talents He’s placed in my hands are wasted until He’s allowed full control of them. Then, and only then, through Him I can do exactly what He has in mind for me to do. He is sufficient, and He’s the one controlling what happens.”

“God’s grace is like manna. You remember the small loaves of bread God supplied for the Israelites morning after desert morning. Do you remember how He supplied it? Just what they needed, just for the day. God didn’t let them stockpile manna in the pantry. Every morning, the wanderers awoke to little loaves outside their tents. If they tried to store it up, it rotted. If they didn’t bother to gather any, they went hungry.”

“He is an ever-present, never-changing God, who wants to pull me out of a couple of barrels, too.”

“For Joseph, it didn’t matter that the job description didn’t fit his dreams. It was the job God has placed in front of him, so he majored in it and forgot the electives.”

“Wait on God to work through the adversity.”

“There’s a huge difference between waiting and waiting on God. Waiting is passing the time, wondering and worrying about what might happen. It’s wishing upon a stationary star while the world keeps turning. Waiting on God is proactively living in the middle of His ordained circumstances, confident of purpose in the process. It’s running the race even when every muscle ache and every limb throb.”

“The unpopular truth is that God often does His greatest work while we wait. It’s when He puts us in prison, when He traps us inside the cold, clammy walls of a stone cell, that He gives us the greatest opportunity to experience His deliverance.”

“Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today…The Lord will fight for you.” – Exodus 14:13-14

“When his dreams seemed more like a joke, a mockery to a man mistreated, mistrusted, and misused, Joseph waited on God and kept moving.”

“The frustration and pain of being single is nothing compared to the frustration and pain I would cause by meddling in God’s business. My life is His work. I am His workmanship. He’s in the middle of an incredible masterpiece, and only eternity will reveal the full extent of His plan. In the meantime, I’m going to keep my eyes on the road, maintain an even speed, and head in the right direction.”

“It doesn’t matter what a baby looks like; loving parents don’t discard children based on appearance and temperament.”

“The future held terrifying uncertainties, yet the humble couple was not afraid. They had dialed heaved and handed their predicament over to Someone who could deal with it. Cradled in their arms was the greatest demonstration of God’s power and person, a constant reminder that He was big enough to take care of it. Fear disappeared.”

“I’m afraid of rejection by someone I was to meet at the end of the aisle. I’m afraid of turning down a really wonderful guy who thinks I paint the sunset. I’m afraid of doing my taxes, tending my car, and planning my retirement by myself. I’m afraid of close friends moving on or moving away, leaving me to replace them – again. In a sentence, I’m afraid I’ll never get married.”

“The God who parts the waters, raises the dead, feeds the multitudes, and heals the sick is not threatened by anything. He is not baffled about the problems that keep me awake at night, nor is He paralyzed by what scares me. God has the power to eliminate any source of fear from my life.”

 “God may not guarantee happy endings in this side of heaven, but He does promise to make a way through the darkest nights and the deepest waters.”

“Whenever life threatens me, I can be afraid, or I can choose to trust. Fear comes naturally, I see my whole life in one glimpse and think I have to solve all the issues. I want answers for the unknown and solutions for the problems. The scary parts loo over me, and I struggle for control. I fight to get what I want, but somehow, I end up losing more than I gain. I lose peace of mind and enjoyment of life. I waste time and opportunities. I forfeit the richness of life that God can still create on this fallen planet.”

“The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid?” – Psalm 27:1

“Without a heart ‘fully devoted’ to the Lord his God’ (1 Kings 11:4), Solomon couldn’t keep it all together. He lost focus, his priorities shifted, and his extraordinary life slowly crumbled.”

“Distractions just seem to happen. I don’t have to go looking for them.”

“To remind myself of the reality of His eternal love, I wear a little gold band on my right hand. It helps me remember that the Father chose me as part of the bride for His son. It keeps fresh in my mind that when I was 10 years old, I accepted His offer. It says to me that I am deeply loved and longed for by Someone who is eagerly preparing a place just for me. Someone who can’t wait to be with me face-to-face forever! I wear it because it helps me remember whose I am.”

“Belonging to the Bridegroom changes the way I live. I may not have a diamond ring, a wedding date, or a bevy of bridesmaids, but I am loved. When I choose to love in return, it affects my passions, adjusts my perspectives, and dictates my pursuits.”

“Instead of wallowing in my ‘unweddedness,’ I choose to love Him. When I long to be cherished by a husband, I choose to love Him. At those difficult times when I want to quit the race, I choose to love Him. I choose to love Him because He loved me first. In the security of that love, I can run with perseverance the race marked out for me. The finish line isn’t far away and just beyond it is a wedding feast that’ll be worth the wait. Remember whose you are.”

Push DOH to use donated test kits ASAP! — health reform advocate

Dr. Anthony Leachon, a cardiologist of Manila Doctors, is urging the Department of Health to use the donated test kits in hospitals with an increased number of COVID cases as soon as possible.

“Kahit may plano kayo kung mabagal ang execution, wala pa rin. (If you have a plan but if the execution is slow, it’s no use). We need a sense of urgency and agility right now. Kakaunti ang test kits natin. Sa buong Asia, tayo ang pinaka-kaunti kaya dapat gawin na natin ng mabilisan ‘yan (We don’t have enough test kits. In Asia, we have the lowest number so we need to do something about it),” said Leachon during his Facebook live where he regularly updates his followers on COVID.

As an independent health reform advocate, Leachon saw the need to enhance community quarantine by staying at home especially those people who have diabetes, heart problems, and cancer.

“Kapag na-ventilator po kayo, 50 percent mamatay! (If you’re in a ventilator, 50 percent dies),” warned Leachon.

“‘Wag na wag kayong magkakasakit. Kapag nagkasakit kayo, alagaan n’yong mabuti kasi kapag nagkasakit kayo at pupunta kayo sa ER (Emergency Room) (Don’t ever get sick. If you get sick, take good care of it. If you get sick, you’ll go to the ER) that is now the haven of illnesses inside the hospital,” he added.

He predicted that even newly installed chief implementer of government policy vs coronavirus and retired Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff Sec. Carlito Galvez will only lift the quarantine only if the cases will show flattening of the curve.

“Don’t declare victory too soon. Look at what happened to Hong Kong? They started welcoming tourists again but they realized that it was the tourists who were bringing in the virus,” said Leachon.

But in order for the government to sustain the fight against this pandemic, Leachon urged the government to increase the capacity of the healthcare system and also to expedite the delivery of personal protective equipment (PPEs) especially to hospitals that are already in full capacity.

“We need to take care of our front-liners. If possible, let the military (trucks) pick them up and send them back to their homes from their workplace and vice versa. Deliver their foods,” he added.

Leachon also recommended the need to have a Central Command Center that could be set up at the AFP. It shall be composed of representatives from the Department of Health, Naval Special Operations Group, Philippine Army, and the media.

“There should only be one music. Isang boses, isang direksyon (One voice, one direction). We need to tap doctors, experts, researchers, epidemiologists, academe, planners, actuarial analyst, system engineers, or those who have witnessed the same crisis. Delegate responsibility to other authorities,” he said.

Leachon shared what renowned cardiologist and mentor Dr. Raffy Castillo once said: “To become a good person and leader, you need character, which can be seen in times of crisis; and wisdom that can be good for everyone. All people have character and wisdom which are being lost when one starts getting big opportunities in life, he starts forgetting his values.”

Castillo is the past president of the Philippine Heart Association and one of five members of the Global Hypertension Council.

“Resilience is a passionate desire to do what’s best even if you’re tired. Your being successful is your reward. But you have to use that reward to have the energy to do your best. If you have resilience, you will have the passion and you won’t get tired easily because you love what you’re doing and it’s for a higher cause.”

While Leachon noticed the increasing number of people who want to help, his question is:

“Do you have character, wisdom, leadership (even at home), resilience, and perseverance? Now is the perfect time to reflect on that.”

During this time of the world health crisis, Leachon said we shall discover who our true leaders are. He also challenged leaders to stand up and take full responsibility.

Leadership is one trait that you will learn in time. Leadership is having a vision, compassion, respect for people, open and candid on communication, and being brave. Tapos na ang pagpaplano. Ang hinihintay natin ngayon ay desisyon (It’s not the time for planning. We are now waiting for your decision).”

For regular COVID updates, watch Dr. Tony Leachon on Facebook live every day at 2:00 pm GMT +8. 

 

Bullet Dumas, Gloc-9, Morisette, Chito Miranda to perform and raise funds for COVID-19 relief

After a successful first few days of Bayanihan Musikahan featuring Ryan Cayabyab, Ebe Dancel, Karylle, Sponge Cola, Top Suzara, Noel Cabangon, Bayang Barrios and Mike Villegas, Jazz Nicholas, Davey Langit, Keiko Necessario, and more, the concert series continues for another round of online performances this week.

The marathon online concert is the biggest citizen-action juggernaut to raise funds and immediately address the food and personal protection needs of the most vulnerable Filipinos in the National Capital Region.

The star-studded fundraiser expected to run for at least two weeks with three to five concerts a day heightens momentum with individual showcases from a wide range of genre:

March 24, 2020 – Tuesday:

4:00 PM – Jim Paredes

7:00 PM – Lara Maigue

8:00 PM – Gloc-9

9:00 PM – Ice Seguerra

 

March 25, 2020 – Wednesday

TBD – Morissette

TBD – Martin Nievera

 

March 25, 2020 – Thursday

7:00 PM – Tim Pavino

8:00 PM – Jett and Rafi Pangan

9:00 PM – Juris

10:00 PM – Chito Miranda

 

March 25, 2020 – Friday (Visayas / Mindanao artists)

7:00 PM – Jewel Villaflores

8:00 PM – Jacky Chang

9:00 PM – Eamarie Gilayo

 

March 26, 2020 – Saturday

7:00 PM  – Joseph Gara

8:00 PM – Johnoy Danao

9:00 PM – Chud Festejo

10:00 PM – Kent Charcos

 

March 26, 2020 – Sunday

8:00 PM – Sitti Navarro

9:00 PM – Hopia Tinambacan

 

As the pandemic threatens to affect the most vulnerable Filipinos, the digital concert, streamed live on Facebook, represents quick citizen response to catastrophe. The project creates an opportunity for ordinary Filipinos to be at the forefront of efforts to help their kapwa-taumbayan find the strength to survive, and hopefully best, the lethal impact of the pandemic.

“We call on our citizenry to heed the call of the times, to stay at home and to prevent at all costs the spread of this virus that has wreaked havoc all over the world,” National Artist for Music and lead organizer Ryan Cayabyab shares in a statement.

Ryan Cayabyab photo

“And while doing so, be reminded that there are many, many of our brothers who are in dire need of assistance in the form of food and medical supplies. This is a call for citizen action. All of us are in this together. We the artists are there to throw a lifeline to the most vulnerable among us: Bayanihan na tayo! Any amount you can donate will all help our kababayans who are in dire need. Tulungan natin sila sa abot ng ating makakaya.”

Share your love and send your donations to: pymy.co/pbsp

The initiative, started by Ryan Cayabyab, Trina Belamide, Dan Songco, Jay Adlao Block, and Marian Pastor Roces, is partnered with Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSB). The NGO’s Likhaan, Samahang Nagkakaisa Pantawid Pamilya, Caritas Manila, and Oxfam Pilipinas are undertaking to target survival kits delivery.

 

All Eyes on Ben&Ben’s upcoming new single and 2 music videos this month!

Ben&Ben is showing no signs of slowing down. In terms of consistency, the nine-piece outfit continues to break streaming records and dominate cultural conversation with releases that resonate with people from various walks of life.

Last January 2020 alone, the acclaimed folk-pop band won Wish FM’s Group of the Year and Urban Performance of the Year for their chart-topper “Pagtingin.” On top of this milestone, the band is currently at number one on Spotify Philippines Top 50, with their cover of “Make It With You.”

With overwhelming support from music fans and industry peers, there is no doubt that Ben&Ben is simply defining the times that we live in: the band pours their energy in uplifting our fellow countrymen with their brand of accessible but well-crafted music.

“It really boils down to the heart behind the song,” Miguel Benjamin, vocalist and guitarist points out. “When a song is written as a vessel to carry a message that is beyond ego or prideful intent, and simply mirrors the feelings, experiences and lessons that come from a higher place, then somehow it may find its way from the artist’s soul to at least one other person’s heart, and that is always enough. We fully know that it isn’t up to us to produce these works out of our own will, but we are simply vessels for some greater message to fulfill itself through us.”

Striking a balance between relatability and raw honesty, the band has managed to push things forward with songs that not only capture an emotional spectrum, but also throb at the core moment of one’s personal experience.

To give back to the community responsible for contributing to the group’s unrelenting success, the award-winning ensemble is releasing two new music videos from the best-selling full-length album, Limasawa Street and a brand new single this month, under Sony Music Philippines.

“We just really wanted to put out new material that reflects the blissful and bittersweet experiences we’ve been through over the past few months, both visually and sonically,” Miguel Benjamin stresses. “All these we want to do for our fans, in the hopes that they get through whatever rough patch they are in. It was a spur of the moment decision, really. We felt that we owe it to them, cos they have been pouring out so much love for us in the past few months.”

In the next few weeks, Ben&Ben is set to debut the music videos of their hit songs “Fall” and “Masyado Pang Maaga”—directed by filmmakers Raymond Dacones and Jorel Lising, respectively. According to Miguel, the treatment for “Fall” represents them “as a band and the themes and moods” their art stands for, while “Masyado Pang Maaga,” depicts “a real story that most of us have found ourselves in at one point of our lives.” The talented musician-performer adds, “Both of them aim to paint a visual universe that is uniquely Ben&Ben, with whatever sabaw ideas we’ve come up with so far.”

As finale for the string of releases this month, Ben&Ben will be dropping the new single “Sa Susunod Na Habangbuhay” very soon. The Sindikato-managed outfit debuted a performance of the highly anticipated tune at the Samsung Awesome Concert last February 5, 2020, which trended on Twitter Philippines for several hours. “We don’t want to say much about it yet, but it’s our most personal, painful song so far,” says Paolo, the other half of the Benjamin brothers.

“Miguel wrote and sung it, and we’re playing it in our live shows. We’ve heard that lots of videos of the live version are going around, and we find that super cool.”

Expect more surprises from Ben&Ben after February’s wave of releases. As Paolo puts it, “everything is outward at this point, and whatever outpour of energy we give out is not because we want the love to be given back, but because ours overflows.”

AJ Mitchell live in Manila

American pop sensation AJ Mitchell is set to serenade and meet his Filipino fans for an upcoming series of mall tours.

The 18-year-old pop singer-songwriter will be performing in select Megaworld Lifestyle Malls, from January 17 to 18, 2020 with the following schedule:

  • January 17: Uptown Bonifacio (Friday, 7pm)
  • January 18: Venice Grand Canal Mall (Saturday, 3:00 pm)
  • January 18: Eastwood City (Saturday, 7:00 pm)

“This will be my first time in the Philippines,” the teen heartthrob reveals in an interview. “I’m so excited to experience the culture and see as much as I can while there. I can’t wait to eat the amazing food and hopefully see some of the beaches as well.”

With Nathan Huang of Nathan & Mercury and featuring Any Name’s Okay as opening act, the American recording artist will perform some fan favorites, including the mid-tempo jam “All My Friends” and the global smash “Slow Dance.”

Getting to know AJ Mitchell

 With a slick and show-stopping voice, charismatic personality, and sharp songwriting chops, it’s no surprise that the fast-rising star AJ Mitchell has already charted three hits on the US top 40 radio chart in a span of less than two years: “Girls,” “All My Friends,” which peaked inside the top 25, and the Ava Max duet “Slow Dance,” now ranked #29 and still climbing.

In terms of streaming, AJ Mitchell has racked up more than 100 million streams and 4.15 million monthly listeners on Spotify, cementing himself as 2019’s most promising male artist.

Outside the US, the Philippines is considered to be one of the biggest music markets of AJ Mitchell, whose latest single “Slow Dance,” a collaboration with hit-maker Ava Max, is currently making waves in local streaming playlists and top 40 radio stations.

“I was pleasantly surprised when I first learned this and I’m so excited to finally get to meet some of my Filipino fans,” the young musician/performer opens up about the warm reception on his previous and recent releases.

As for Ava Max, the pop phenom who has shown significant international attention with “Sweet and Psycho,” which topped the charts in 26 countries and landed a top 10 peak at the Billboard Hot 100 last year, the All My Friends singer has always been vocal about admiring her work ethic and talent.

“Working with Ava Max was such an incredible experience. After sending her the track, she sent back her verse within hours. Even on the very first take she sounded so amazing that we immediately knew she was the one for the song.”

New album in the works

This year, AJ Mitchell will be releasing his debut full-length album under Sony Music.

“This has been a wild ride so far and every day I think of how blessed I have been,” the budding pop personality reflects.

“Over the next few years, I have so much more I hope to accomplish. Right now I can’t wait to finally release my first album called Skyview. Beyond that, I hope to have a #1 song, win a Grammy, go out on an international tour, and so much more.”

AJ Mitchell’s latest single “Slow Dance” is now available on all music streaming and download platforms worldwide.

You can watch the official music video of “Slow Dance” on Youtube, and stream the track in its entirety on Spotify.