Espina: Count your blessings

·5 min read

I love the rendition of “Count Your Blessings (Instead of Sheep)” from the movie “White Christmas.”

“In My Diary,” true to its concept and format, mirrors part of life. This is a special year-ender issue of blessings my family, friends and I received in the past few years.

The years 2019 to 2021 brought some blessings despite some family health problems. There were sorrows due to the passing of my dearest sister this year, Lydia Castillo, and friends like Joseph and Gloria Gaisano, Raul del Mar, Norberto Quisumbing Jr., WeCare’s Baby Roden, University of San Jose-Recoletos’ (USJ-R) Fr. Rafael Cabarles, friend Ben Yapjoco, our longtime friends, the Dumons, Zontian Pauleen Deduque, Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s (CCCI) Joe Ng, Francis Monera, Jimmy Picornell and co-teachers like Mench Eturma. I still think of my deceased siblings Zenaida and husband Maning, Esteban and Tina, Ellen Silva, Emm and Bellie Espina, Bing and Baby Saniel.

I appreciate the text messages of concern from my colleague Nelia Neri, my WeCare family led by president emeritus Tony Veloso, and current president Ramon Sebastian, old time colleagues Sally and Peter Dy, and Boni and Lydia Sia. Gary and Chad Muñoz send daily prayers.


For the past two years, I had very fruitful virtual classes in the USJ-R Graduate School where I met very intelligent and interactive students, usually deans and professors from the Visayas and Mindanao, with a few from Luzon. First cousin Margie Visitation sends reminders of our health routines.

I saw how USJ-R celebrated the Recoletos’ 400 Years of Presence in Cebu and founded a new building in late 2021 under the stewardship of current Fr. Christopher Maspara. Benedicto College (BC) performed well in its quest for accreditation. The University of the Visayas (UV), University of Cebu and St. Theresa’s College enriched their programs. The Zonta Club of Cebu 1 organized the Zonta Z Clubs in USJ-R, BC and UV. It has an adopted school, the Tulay National High School, which won leadership awards. Cebu Doctors’ University, Velez College, Southwestern University and University of Southern Philippines pursued their Covid-based special programs.


Both Zonta Clubs of Cebu 1 and 2, led by Gina Garcia and Petite Garcia, respectively, had a successful “18 Days of Activism” campaign, focusing on their advocacy and service to stop ‘Violence Against Women.”

God knew my need for urgent medical advice, so He must have sent doctors Peter Mancao, Gérard Tan, Edwin Lim, Teresa Parcon, my nephew based in Batangas Mimoy Castillo, Yong Larrazabal, and Troy Uy, dentist son of Aida Uy, who readily gave us home service advice amid the pandemic and Typhoon Odette. The Eruf (Emergency Rescue Unit Foundation) came for home service vaccination.

How lucky I was to be part of the Zonta Club of Cebu 1’s special projects in several “18 Days of Activism” initiatives. I was happy to have assisted Stella Bernabe as Area 3 director, for 2018-2020, and all the other Zonta Club 1 presidents in some of their big projects. It’s amazing how the memories of Beling Go Ching Hai are re-lived through the loving attention given me by daughter Nellie Chiu.

Stella Bernabe, and David and Tess Chan sent consoling words. So did Zontians Jane Panganiban, president Gina Garcia. Melita Go, Paulette Deduque, Area 3 director Terry Apistar and district governor Pam Osthanugrah.

Kudos to Me’Anne Alcordo for continuing her programs against cancer. The CCCI, Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Integrated Bar of the Philippines - Cebu, some barangays, and some government agencies conducted a series of virtual workshops about health, business and calamity-directed action programs.

GMA-7 and the Kapuso Foundation gave updates on the Typhoon Odette and Covid. Jun Muntuerto monitored some relief distribution activities. Due to signal problems, I was glued to daily news updates through dySS headed by Bobby Nalzaro, assisted by my former student, Lloyd Suarez. Cebu Gov. Gwen Garcia and Cebu City Mayor Mike Rama convened their councils and local agencies for action programs.


During the good and the bad times, I have been blessed to have my BFF Aida Uy, Frank, Enrique and Helen Benedicto and their children, old friends Anita Sanchez and Merle Cunanan, the late Joseph and Gloria Gaisano and the late Pauleen Deduque. Sonny and I heard Saturday masses at the St. Therese Church in Lahug, Cebu. I missed this last Christmas. Nelia and Julius Neri were always concerned about my family. We were always in the prayers of the Recoletos, especially Frs. Anthony Morillo, Raul Buhay, Cristopher Maspara and Albert Pellazar. I thank Msgr. Alesna and Frs. Ernesto Javier and Rod Salazar.

I will not forget Dr. Amparito Lhuillier for the scholarships given to selected USJ-R college students (1996-2015) who are now sharing their blessings with others; Consul Michel Lhuillier for the last batch of scholars.

For years, I looked for chances to get in touch with my Josenian BFF, teacher education Dean Lucy Bonilla and found her in late 2021. I missed fellow Josenians Alita Laborte, Glo Longakit, Jun and Hazel Sevillas, Eden Tumaliwan, Dean Glenn Pajares, Bart and Cora Tan, Usaffe Requieron, Lydia Cuizon, Mayette Degamo Bontilao, Abet Maximo, Brenda Saliendra, Richard Fernandez, Debbie Gandionco and Annie Castillo.


My USJ-R alumni, scholars and students organized fabulous birthday musicales on July 16—first at Ayala Center Cebu, then a heartwarming virtual program across the globe featuring songs from all the musicales I scripted and directed. Their theatrical and entrepreneurial successes are my trophies too. During the pandemic, my travel and tourism friends (Cherry Callelero, Ann Momongan, Joy Uy, Connie Cimafranca, Janet Nuquit) were there for me.

In Park Vista, Speechcom homegrown talent Clifford, son of Dodong and Sofia Gawchua, was a blessing when I saw him doing the Shopee commercials with Dingdong Dantes.

Josenian Bessie Villamor, Drac Allef president, had seminars and civic projects. Blessings poured through Maria Donna, Giselle Almazan, Cinbeth Orellano, Junjet Primor, Adrian Diongzon, Paulette Rivera, Sakdap and Ronnie Matudan, Ely Manlangit etc. SunStar Cebu editor-in-chief Cherry Lim, and lifestyle, entertainment and sports editor Luis Quibranza III facilitated my columns.

To be continued...

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