This article will appear in my parenting column, ROOT&WINGS, in the Philippine Daily Inquirer on June 1, 2008

Working on this book marked many endings and beginnings. On Tuesday, June 3, 2008 my son marks his 10th year in heaven. This book will also be, by God’s grace the beginning of a new chapter in “my year of books”. It also ends, and closes a chapter of my life that began in childhood with the loss of a dear friend. Truly, God is awesome and mysterious in His ways and for that I am truly grateful. To God be all the glory!

I think the most confident stage of takes place when one is in the mid-life years.

Although it can also be the most turbulent and trying of years, a lot of women find their most memorable moments as mothers, wives, and career women, happen during this life stage.

The Maryknoll College High School Class of 1984 (MCHS84), together with Nivea, put together a wonderful compilation of heartwarming and inspiring women stories – takes of women ages 35 – 65 on their life journeys on love, life, courage and success in a book, aptly titled, “Age of Confidence”.

The thread that binds these 4o women is that they were all, at some point in their lives, a student at Maryknoll College. However, one need not have been a Maryknoller to fully appreciate the depth of these women’s experiences. The reader can easily identify, possibly find parts of herself in the stories written here. Lawyer Gaby Roldan Concepcion in her story, “Late Bloomer’ talks about the experience of choosing family over work – “There comes a point in life when one is painfully called to set priorities, to make agonizing choices. To ignore the call would be to lead several frenetic existences where one would not make the cut. More than anything, I could not stand the thought that one day; I would wake up to find I had missed all the firsts in my children’s lives.” Writer and TV host Deeedee Sytangco recalls her husband’s difficult last days in “Love Never Ends” – “I dropped out of the world to take care of my beloved. IT was a choice I wholeheartedly made. We had come to think alike and I knew he did not want anyone else to care for him. I was always within his reach as he demanded, so he could hold on to me during those long dark nights of intense pain and fear.”

Many issues are confronted when one reaches midlife and as Marie Buhain, a developmental psychologist and member of MCHS84 describes it in the book – “If ever we are going to become who we truly are, now is the time to do it. It means letting go of many self-definitions we have made for ourselves and breaking free from those that have been handed down to us. Midlife passage is an entranceway into the deepest recesses of our soul… Allowing this transformation to unfold liberates and empowers life contained within, thus granting confidence and beauty that glimmers.”

There are many gems to be picked up from the lives of the 40 women whose stories comprise this book. For all her successes at CNN, news producer Armie Jarin Bennet still considers raising her children her greatest achievement. Talent manager Girlie Rodis, in her story “Lessons My father Taught Me” shares, “My father’s life reminds me that life being what it is, will not always give us a smooth road. It is a lesson that keeps me grounded.” PDI columnist Isabel Berenguer Asuncion writes in “Full Circle”, “I now understand that one can never love to a fault. The beauty of life is that it unfolds and offers its grace in ways that allow us to find ourselves, in its own time and pace, and only because it moves in tandem with what resonates within us.”

MCHS84 is a class rich with its own share of loss, courage and pain. Jinky Dimayuga Ferrer lost her 10 year old son Inno to an accident on Christmas day. She was only 30years old. Two other classmates – Marge Evangelist Jardiolin and Dr.Yvette Talusan – Tomacruz, both cancer survivors with amazing stories teach us about the blessings of great faith and love in the face of insurmountable odds.

Early this year, when MCHS84 approached me to edit this book, I was immediately drawn to it. However, as most projects go, at some point in the road, I almost wanted to throw in the towel. But things worked out, and with everyone pulling together, the book was completed in record time. This is one truly amazing, group of women. Towards the end of the project, when the final draft was sent to me together with the Dedication page, I was dumbfounded and close to tears with my discovery.

There, on the Dedication page was the name of a classmate of theirs who had passed on early in life. Maria Estella De las Alas. Lala, as I knew her, was my best friend in Kindergarten when I first entered Maryknoll. However, after a year, she fell seriously ill with a kidney ailment and was held back by two years. She eventually returned to school and became a part of what is now MCHS84. Sadly, she passed on at the age of nine. I can still remember to this day how the announcement of her death over the school PA system drove me to tears. I knew she had been sick but her death came as a complete shock. My parents did not allow me to attend her wake because they felt it would be best for me to remember her alive. Life has a way of working things out and closure can come many decades later. I am thankful that through this book I was able to remember and say a proper good-bye to a friend who was a big part of my childhood.

For information on AGE OF CONFIDENCE, please email miatarrayo@gmail.com

Email the author at cathybabao@gmail.com

For more photos on the book launch, please visit my album here.


” Not all love stories are epics. Some are just short stories. But that doesn’t make them any less filled with love.” - Carrie Bradshaw

I had a blast at the first-day screening of SATC last night at the Glorietta 4’s Cinema 1. The Medical City, the hospital where I am a consultant at, sponsored one of the screenings together with 106.7 Dream FM - the midlifer’s radio station.

I went with one of my best girlfriends, a mid-life-ing psychiatrist herself and we came out with a wonderful high :) Thumbs up, five stars for this heartwarming, insightful, and yes, sexy movie that is a must-see for every woman above the age of 30 but more so if you are 40something.

The main characters, now all in their 40something years, have definitely “mellowed”. Well, except for one, but not quite really. Carrie, Miranda, Samantha and Charlotte still rock! Kristin Davis is still the loveliest, Kim Cattrall, now pushing 50, still the sassiest, Cynthia Nixon, still the best actress and Sarah Jessica Parker, well, older, but still Sarah Jessica Parker, still Carrie.

Jennifer Hudson as Carrie’s very able assistant Louise does a great supporting role. Look out for the Brooklyn Bridge scene, it had me in tears.

Catch this romantic movie — I guarantee that you will see parts of yourself in it -mid-life-ing or not :) Check out the official site here.


It was the kind of magical, memorable, musical evening that you remember for the rest of your life.

“Lea, My Life On Stage” was a one-of-a-kind musical experience wherein you are left with a high that reverberates into your very soul for several days long after you had left the theater. God knows how much I needed to see that show and how it was a badly needed break after several harried days. Music is truly a balm to one’s soul — soothing and healing.

What an awesome talent! I pray that you use it even more over the next three decades — bringing joy to your legions of fans, and that includes me. Congratulations to your momma for raising you and Gerard so well. I can only imagine how Ligaya’s heart must have been brimming with joy on those nights. In fact, I overheard her say to our seatmate, “I couldn’t ask for anything more…”

Yes, it’s been such a blessing to journey through life with the music of Lea Salonga.

More pictures from Lea’s show here in my Multiply site.


This is one of the reasons why if I were American, I woul not vote for Hillary Clinton…

In Sioux Falls, South Dakota yesterday, while responding to a question from the Sioux Falls Argus Leader editorial board about calls for her to drop out of the race, she said: “My husband did not wrap up the nomination in 1992 until he won the California primary somewhere in the middle of June, right? We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California. You know I just, I don’t understand it,” she said, dismissing the idea of abandoning the race.

Of course, in this Associated Press report she immediately apologizes for making such a seemingly insensitive remark in the face of the recent illness that has struck Senator Edward Kennedy. Turning the tables, and not trying to appear insensitive she says, “The Kennedys have been much on my mind the last days because of Senator Kennedy,” she added, referring to Sen. Edward M. Kennedy’s recent diagnosis of a brain tumor. “I regret that if my referencing that moment of trauma for our entire nation and in particular the Kennedy family was in any way offensive. I certainly had no intention of that whatsoever.” Well, maybe it’s true. Maybe the Kennedy’s have been on her mind. However, to publicly remind a family, and a nation already grief over the latest tragedy to strike the Kennedy clan, does not speak very well of her over-all emotional quotient. Loss permeates the very fiber of a family, or a nation, in the case of a well-loved political icon such as Bobby Kennedy. No matter how far away or how long ago it has been, a family or a nation will always remember the circumstances surroundng the loss.

I’m sorry Hillary, this remark, was, to my personal opinion, in really bad taste. Next time, think AND feel, long and hard, before you try to make yourself look good in public. In trying to “save” yourself, you instead, struck a raw nerve among many of your country’s Democrats and publicly reminded a family, already reeling from the events of the last few days, about a 40-year loss that I am sure, they still carry in their hearts to this day.

Photo from Reuters.


“Joy,” Kay Warren once said, “is the unshakeable assurance that God is in control of all the details in my life. It is the quiet confidence, that ultimately everything will be alright; and the determined purpose, to praise God in all things.”

I had written those words in a blog entry, dated July 26, 2006. My life was in a very good place at that time I wrote that piece. I had just heard Kay Warren speak the day before and was most inspired by her teachings. Little was I to know that a month later, I would be hovering between life and death in emergency surgery due to an ectopic pregnancy. So much has happenned in my life since then.

We never know what life will bring us. I’ve seen this happen in my life so many times. Over and over again, the unexpected happens. However, the one true constant that has helped me get through the most difficult times is the love and faithfulness of our Lord Jesus Christ. He has never failed me.

I also like to believe that where we are now is always in preparation to where God will place us next. Over the last few days, I have seen His hand upon me so mightily. Steering the course of my life, opening doors and answering seemingly impossible prayers. These last few days have been so emotional for me but in a good way. I marvel at His goodness, I am in awe of His greatness — of how nothing is impossible for Him. And how when we are at our lowest and most heartbroken, He lifts us up and we are “whole” once more.

Today my life is in a good place but there is also great sadness in a way. And once again, I return to what Kaye Warren said about how life is like the railroad tracks and that joy and sorrow run parallel to each other. “in your life there are things that you can be both happy and sad about. The trick is in knowing that both come at the same time.” And that is where I am right now. And suddenly, all the places and spaces in my heart where I have been over the last 20 years come into play into a major way. Though one broke my heart, several others have embraced me wholeheartedly, shown great love and appreciation and it has all been worth it. Sometimes we do not understand why we have to go through such pain but eventually, God is gracious and gives us glimpses of why we had to go through what we went through. And we are blessed, terribly blessed. It all makes sense, somewhere on the journey, at some specific point in time. And we are able to find closure.

I thank Him for the many joys and at the same time I thank Him for the privilege of pain. Serving Him, doing unto him makes one subject to persecution and labelling to the point when your motives are questioned. Can I not give simply because I want to? Can I not just show my love because it comes naturally as an act of service and compassion? At the end of the day, I keep reminding myself that my life is in His hands. You can slay me with your words but they no longer sting because this is above you and me. I sleep soundly at night, and live with no regrets. I have the blessed assurance knowing that whatever may come, He will see me through. I stress not because I am confident that he will equip me with what I need for the road and the challenge that lies ahead. He will never fail me and because He is fully in charge of my life, I simply choose to remain in His flow.

The events of the last few weeks have sapped my energy.
Myanmar. China. And now the RCBC bank robbery.
So many lives lost. Too many bereaved parents. So many orphaned children.
Suddenly, so many widows.
Yes, life is difficult. Worldwide. But when you think it could be worse, you stop and count your blessings.
Still. So much sadness. I think of all those children. All those parents. I do not question God but I cannt help but feel sad.
I hope they catch those murderers. You have to be insane to do something as grisly as that.
Say a prayer please for all the lives lost these couple of weeks. May they find the comfort and the courage to move on.
In my own life, two people, very dear to me, struggle with major health issues. I think of them constantly, keep them close in prayers. I ask God to wrap them both under His mantle. Many things in life are so hard to understand. When one cannot see His hand, you just have to learn to trust His heart. All for a reason, always.
When things like these happen, you realize that life is too short to be petty. Really. There’s so much going on in the world.
Then you also appreciate that life is short and that you must do things that will impact others, no matter how small. Impact their lives in positive ways. Spend time with the people that you love and create those “perfect moments”.
I’m tired. And hormonal. I know how to kick back my heels and enjoy myself but lately, I’ve just had no patience for “kababawan” and seemingly affected people. People of the lie as M.Scott Peck calls them. Patawad po. Girl, so many people are hungry and sick and dying out there. Lord, stretch my patience please. This too, shall pass.

Please allow me a little bragging rights today. After all, it’s my special day as a mother :) It’s evening now in Manila and my day has ended on a sentimental note because of my daughter’s letter to me. It’s been a quiet, lovely day, spent in the company of family, including my own mother of course, who had dinner over at our house tonight.

It is the first mother’s day I have spent without H, who is posted in Vietnam, and though it wasn’t complete, I was comforted by the great number of text messages from family and friends, and the love of my two children who of course, haave half their father in them :)

As a mother you always wonder how you are impacting your kid’s lives and every mother’s day, it is always so affirming for me to receive a letter from my daughter entitled “10 Reasons why L and I have the best Momma in the WORLD”. Allow me now to quote some parts of her letter to me this year…Of course my heart was simply overflowing after I had read her letter. And I could not thank God for blessing me with such wonderful children. Here are nos. 2, 8, 9 and 10…

2. You always make time for us. Because you are the type of mother who will spend hours and hours watching Grey’s Anatomy marathons with your odd and obsessed children, and will dive into the chaos that is SM Megamall on a Saturday afternoon just to be jologs and watch the latest Judy Anne movie with your favorite daughter. You will take a few extra minutes at the dinner table as she finishes her Goolai, before you go back to writing in the computer. You make every single minute with us count.
8. You taught us that we must grow up to be people who have missions, and reasons for living, just like you. In as much as I think what Oprah and Angelina do are wonderful acts, I know that I need not look far to find my own inspiration in doing my best to make a difference in this world. Without a Brad by your side (although I believe an H, a P, and an L are even better) you made changes in the lives of thousands of children, giving more color to their probably darkened-because-of-circumstance worlds. You taught me that in life, it is not about making as much money as you can, or being able to claim you are the best at everything. It is about finding that drive in you to make the world a better place. To find that mission in life and have FROG* in everything that you do. Only then do things fall into place.
(*Full Reliance On God)

9. Because you are an artist, we grew up surrounded by the best and most beautiful words of affirmation any child could ever get. I remember when I was seven years old, you took me to the Greenhills tiangge to buy my first ever journal. It was magenta, had those little Korean Morning Glory characters on them, and had some strange, grammatically wrong English phrase like, “The sun shining bright because there is you.” But what matters isn’t how that journal looked, but what you told me when you bought it for me. You told me that it would be my chance to start pouring out things straight from my heart and not be afraid to say anything. You even said that maybe I could develop a talent for writing! An absurd idea then, but I haven’t really put down the pen ever since. That instance was just like so many others in my relationship with you, where you gave me hope by affirming me and making me believe in myself. From little notes, to surprise devotional books, sappy but well appreciated Birthday cards, you always found the best ways to encourage us and make us feel like yes, we could do it!

10. Because we love you, and you love us. Unconditionally, 24/7 (and this is where it starts to sound like a sun cellular ad), at every single moment of every single day. Yes, we may drive each other crazy sometimes, or argue when it comes to petty things like car schedules, curfew or the number of clothes in my closet. But I don’t focus on those moments. Because I have never felt unloved by you, never felt like I could ever question how much you love L and I. And I live for those moments when I can show you just how much we love you too.

Happy Mother’s Day to all my mom readers and all the mothers of my readers :)

May you all be blessed even more!
Thanks to Deej, for the lovely illustration above that came with P’s letter :) You are a very bright, and talented young man who does your mama proud.


Haunting. Lyrical. Poetic. And yes, it lived up to ALL my expectations.

“Ploning” is a beautiful, beautiful and sad movie that leaves you breathless with its amazing cinematography. I think that this has to be the most beautifully photographed Filipino movie I have ever seen.

However, it also leaves the viewer with soooo many questions long after you have left the cinema. For example, sino talaga ang nanay ni Digo? The film can be viewed through somany layers and can be interpreted in a hundred and one ways. I am sure the next time I watch it, I will see something that I did not see the first time. Feel something that I did not feel the last time.

If only to see the beautiful Cuyo, Palawan, this movie is worth watching over and over again. Judy Ann Santos was soooo good as Ploning. You were watching Ploning with nary a trace of Judy Ann. And the little boy who played Digo? I wanted to take him home with me.

This is the type of movie that should be entered in the Oscars foreign film race and I am pretty sure will have a great chance of winning. Simple yet haunting and so well-crafted. Okay, some glitches in the dialogue. Like, bakit biglang nag Tatagalog sila in one scene. The shift from past to present was initially confusing but after a while you start to get it.

Congratulations to the Panoramanila production team. Director Dante Nico Garcia and cinematographer Charlie Peralta are Philippine cinemas newest wonder boys. Thank you for giving us the gift of this beautiful film.

Watch the trailer here.

P.S. If you’ve seen the film, please tell me how you think it ended. Who Digo’s real mother is? And is there any relevance or symbolism at all to the cans of lychees? And where do you think Tomas went? See, I told you it would leave you with so many questions. Or am I just over-analyzing it as my daughter likes to say :)


My adrenaline is up and my mind is wide awake.

Neverthless, I’m feeling a bit under the weather after all the excitement over the last few days and the interviews I had tonight. I also managed to get myself drenched in the rain walking back to the hospital this rainy evening.

One is greatly humbled when faced with such stories of resilience and grace.

Consider the mother who will do anything and everything to keep a child with a rare disorder alive. You marvel at her courage as she draws from her own pain to help other mothers walk the same journey. You become mesmerized by the strength shown by a mother who has three children all born with the same disorder, now parenting all by herself. You see Jesus in their eyes and the hand of God at work in each and every one of them.

You marvel at the humor shown by a fireman who has miraculously survived being hit by a 35000 kilowatt live wire while answering the call of duty. He has no bitterness nor rancor, only a stromg desire to live for his family and draw attention to the plight of fellow warriors like himself. Who toil and risk life and limb under such dire working conditions. You are amazed by his mother who seems unfazed by the ordeal that her son has been through. Her faith keeps her steady. Yes, she will admit to many shaky moments but she had always known in her heart that God would see him through. Motherhood is a never ending responsibility, no matter if the child is three or thirty.

These are the stories I came face to face in the hospital tonight. It was like living through my own personal episode of “Grey’s Anatomy”, only better.

These are stories that I need to put down on paper. Lord help me to give justice to their extraordinary and inspiring lives so that others may be moved by their stories of hope and faith and in the process, come to know you even better.

Tonight I think about my friend D, and her three kids, now back home without husband and dad. The saddest night after a death in a family is always the evening after the funeral when you finally return back home to a house that will never again know the laughter of the one who has gone. Things will never be the same again and the loss hits you with full force. It is a mind-boggling, body numbing sort of pain. In time you need to create the “new normal” so that you can move on. Only God can see you through something as great as that.

I have a rush, something I haven’t felt in a long while and I am grateful to God for allowing this feeling to return. Thank you for the stories Lord. Guide my hands so that your glory may be made manifest through my words. And keep all these people that I have met tonight, safe. Cover them with your unconditional love and protection. I saw you many times tonight through their life stories and I am blessed.


I’m back home and among the first things I did was to go to the wake of a dear friend’s husband.

D is gone to soon. He had just turned 50 this January and now he is forever golden. His wife, D, in spite of her pain is gracious. “We were given the grace of nine months. He was so ready to go but it’s still very painful.” In spite of what one calls anticipatory grief, death when it comes, still hurts like hell. There is just no way to prepare yourself for it.

Diagnosed with lung cancer with metastasis to the brain in August last year, they thought he only had a month to go. The scans were horrible and since the couple were both doctors, they were fully aware of what lay ahead. “There was no room for denial,” D says thoughtfully. Because her husband was a psychiatrist, he had prepared them well. And when I looked at him tonight, he lay so peacefully with a smile. It was as if he was only sleeping.

My thoughts turn to D’s three teen-aged children. Among them is Den, their 17year old middle child. I look at her and see parts of me. The circumstances are the same. I tell her that 26 years ago, on a summer just like this, before my Senior year in high school, my father too, at age 49, was gone in the blink of an eye. Her eyes light up momentarily, “My dad made it to 50…” she smiles, and quickly says, “So Tita, you can totally relate to this.” There is a an instant kinship that exists among those of us who lost our parents at an eary age. An immediate bond is formed. I am glad that Den has her music and her sports to help see her through. It is a long journey yet that lies ahead.

“God especially loves the widows and the orphans. He has a special place for them in his heart.” My mother liked to say that to me and my brother all the time. When I look back on our lives, I believe so. For it is written James 1:27 “Pure and lasting religion in the sight of our God our Father, means that we must care for orphans and widows in their troubles and refuse to let the world corrupt us.” Please say a prayer for my friend D and her family. Prayers will lift them up and God will take care.

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