EVERY time I am asked to share about my life, I honestly say that I used to dream of becoming a nun.
Throughout the years that I was single, I was doing search-ins about convent life, even applying to be admitted to some convents.
Today, I am far from being a mother in a convent. Instead, I am a mother to abused girls, beneficiaries of our Jeremiah Foundation where I now serve as executive director.
That’s because along the way I realized that God had another plan for me– His way of giving me three precious blessings: Family;
Two Careers; and Missionary Life– branching out to more blessings!
First Blessing: Family
I was born June 9, 1977, in San Carlos City, Negros Occidental– where in His perfect tine, God connected me to a man who showed me the way and helped me say
“I love You” to Him.
The signs were too clear when I met Mar Apuhin.
Our families were common acquaintances in the city of San Carlos, Negros. Since we were of the same
high school batch, we somehow knew each other’s shadows and faces. Fast track to post-college bachelor life in the big city of Manila. It wasn’t until a mutual friend reintroduced us at a party that we truly connected and our love story began in early 2000. Eventually, we started talking and getting to know each other better, leading to a deep and lasting bond that would shape both of our lives forever.
In 2005, we migrated to Hong Kong for a career opportunity. There, we were blessed with three daughters. In 2011, we came back here in the Philippines for good. In addition to our three girls, we prayed for two boys, and God granted our wish.
So, we now have five, all still students: Mary Mirth, 20 years old, studying at the University of the People in Pasadena, California; Aya Martha,18, Ateneo University; Kaitlin Maria, 16, St. Paul College; Martino Loreto, 10, Dunwoody Academy; and Marius Aquilo, 5, also in Dunwoody Academy.
Second Blessing: Two Careers
I went to schools in our hometown, in San Carlos City. I first went to the Vicente Gustilo Sr. Memorial School in San Carlos, graduating in 1989. For high school, at the Colegio de Sto. Tomas Recoletos also in San Carlos, 1993. And for college, University of Negros Occidental Recoletos in Bacolod City, thinking of studying Mass Communication.
But throughout the years that I was single, I was also doing search-ins about convent life, even applying to be admitted to some convents.
I was so determined to become a nun that I decided to forget about Mass Communication in favor of courses where I would be able to help bring about positive change, especially for those in need.
Social Work and Nursing
Even though I wanted to go into Mass Communication, I didn’t push through with it. I worked for my Bachelor of Science degree in Social Work. I graduated in 1997 and got my license in 1998.
I started working on my Master’s degree in Social Work at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City, but I was unable to complete it because my family moved to Hong Kong in 2005.
I worked as an assistant teacher at Carmel School in Hong Kong (a Jewish school) for about three years.
When we came back here in the Philippines, I pursued my Social Work career.
My life as a social worker has been fulfilling, and I attribute significance to my profession since it is in line with my ideals and values. I had several jobs when
I was a social worker: As a child advocate for the children on the streets of Quiapo, Recto, and Avenida; a community social worker for the informal settlers in Pandacan, Manila, areas; case manager serving sexually abused and exploited girls in Ermita and Pasay City; women’s project coordinator organizing the women in some parts of Quezon City for the Gender and Ecology Program.
I also served as a social worker Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) program coordinator at the Socio-Pastoral Institute in 2011 under the leadership of Bishop Julio Xavier Labayen and Bishop Broderick Pabillo.
In 2016, I started a career in Nursing. I worked for a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing. At the time, we didn’t have a driver. So, I drove my kids to school, and while they were in their classes, I also attended my Nursing school and then picked them up after my classes.
And since this was my second course, most of my minor subjects were credited. Hence, I had to take only major courses. Before I knew it, I’d finished my second degree in 2019 and got my license that same year.
I’ve been serving as Operating Room Nurse reliever at the Salve Regina General Hospital, since January 2021.
Third Blessing: Missionary Life
My husband is a God-loving person. The one endearing quality that I like most about him is his sense of humor and how it brought joy to our relationship, as well as the way he showed genuine interest in my passions and dreams, fostering a strong sense of partnership.
Mar introduced me to several spiritual renewal movements during the early 2000s. Our first community as a couple was the Couple’s for Christ (CFC) based in Resurrection Parish in Quezon City, together with the Loved Flock Charismatic led by Bro. Bingbong Crisologo. But since we had to move to Hong Kong , it did not take long for us to find a new community to join.
We were active members of CFC Hong Kong up until 2011. We were actively involved in various church and community activities and events organized by CFC Hong Kong.
Seeing The Light
At the time we were in Hong Kong,
the popularity of Bro. Bo Sanchez’s preaching and teachings started to grow rapidly and piqued Mar’s attention. He started following Bro. Bo’s events frequently, absorbing his messages in his podcast, Preacher in Blue Jeans.
Bro. Bo’s teachings on the practical application of the Bible to daily life inspired Mar. His understanding of the Word of God and how to apply it to daily life deepened. I remember those days when Mar would show the episodes of Preacher in Blue Jeans on TV and we watched them with our friends. It became a way for Mar to share the valuable insights and lessons he gained with those around him, fostering a sense of community and connection.
This spiritual formation exposure has introduced me to various practices such as community praying, Life in the Spirit, and the Catholic Mass. These experiences led us to explore different aspects of his faith and find a deeper connection with God.
As we continued to journey together within the spiritual renewal movement, he also discovered the importance of community in his spiritual growth.
When we got back to the Philippines for good, Mar promptly looked for Bro. Bo and learned about the Light of Jesus Family and The Feast where eventually, we have become members.
I count two precious gifts we’ve received since we joined LOJ.
1. Spiritual Nourishment at The Feast
The best blessing: the spiritual nourishment my husband and I receive at The Feast.
Since we joined LOJ, we just took a few more steps to be at The Feast starting in September 2011. We live in Pasig, so, we joined Feast Valle Verde held at the Valle Verde Country Club, Pasig City, led by Bro. Obet Cabrillas.
We’ve been blessed to attend The Feast regularly joining the throng filling the Club’s ballroom every Sunday, both the morning and afternoon sessions.
And with time, we became fully immersed in the movement’s teachings and practices. We’ve attended LOJ gatherings regularly and found friends who shared our beliefs and values. Together, we served as the Couples mission head of Bro. Obet’s Feast Valle Verde from 2012 to 2014.
The mentorship that senior LOJ members offered was a crucial factor in my husband’s spiritual transformation, such as sending him to the LOJ’s school of leadership in 2015 as sponsored and recommended by Bro. Obet, his coach and spiritual mentor. He guided Mar through difficult times, offered wise counsel, and helped him navigate the complexities of his faith.
In addition to personal growth, my husband’s involvement in LOJ also extended to acts of service. He actively participated in various initiatives organized by the movement, including couples’ seminars, charity events, outreach programs, and volunteering opportunities aimed at helping those less fortunate.
Over time, being part of LOJ not only transformed me and my husband spiritually but it also had a profound impact on other areas of our lives.
It influenced our relationships with family and friends positively as we learned how to approach them with compassion, forgiveness, and understanding rooted in our newfound spirituality.
By God’s grace, even as we took care of our children, we have been able to live a Missionary life, serving the Lord through a couple of ministries.
As a married couple, we’ve served the Catholic Church and joined various church-led organizations. Today, my husband serves as a lay minister in the Christ the King parish together with our 10-year-old son as altar server.
We are also active as a couple in the Worldwide Marriage Encounter Movement in the Diocese of Pasig.
2. Fulfilling the Jeremiah Prophecy
I joined the Light of Jesus Family in 2011, and I’ve been so blessed joyfully serving the Community with co-servants (right). And then, eventually,
I got to know about the
Jeremiah Foundation, our Mercy Ministry taking care of abused minor girls.
In 2012, our mentors in the Feast Valle Verde Couples Ministry, Tita Glo and Tito Del Viola learned that I am a social worker with experience working with sexually abused girls. It happened that the Jeremiah Foundation needed a licensed social worker, so they introduced me to Bro. Rey Ortega (left), founder of the Foundation.
Bro. Rey persuaded me to join Jeremiah’s team. Because my heart belongs to children, I did not hesitate a bit and started working for the Foundation as its first social worker.
I joined the Jeremiah Foundation, then led by Sis. Rissa Kawpeng (left), in 2013, serving through various designations:
November 2013-October 2014 – as Center Social Worker; November 2014-January 2021–Volunteer Social Work Consultant; February 2021 to present – as Executive Director.
And as we have experienced in our Community, even as we give our all to Him, God will not be out-given. I’ve received more blessings– much more than what I’ve given to Jeremiah. Jeremiah Foundation has allowed me to express God’s love and make a difference in the life of each of those we serve in the Foundation, one girl at a time.
Jeremiah is an amazing grace to me because humbly, even in a little way, I’ve become part of fulfilling God’s promise of healing for His people as expressed in the Bible verse where we got the Foundation’s name:
“I will heal them and reveal to them abundance of prosperity and security.”
All Glory to God!