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Christmas Letter

Dear Friends,

For many years, I would personally handout or mail Christmas cards to my friends and relatives during the Christmas season.  But this year, I decided to do away with Christmas cards for a change and instead write this Christmas letter.  So, to those of you who have not heard from me for quite sometime, this letter is like my personal update. I hope that with this medium and style, I will still be able to be a part of your life as we celebrate the joyful season of Christmas.

Several events which I consider milestones happened this year.

Last May, my daughter Laya got married to Arnel Saludares here in Seattle.  My other daughter Mutya was the maid of honor. It was a beautiful, memorable and fun wedding followed by a 7-day family cruise to Alaska that included the newlyweds, the groom’s family and my family, together with some relatives.  Come April of 2014, Lynn and I will finally become grandparents. I can hardly wait to see my first grandchild. I know that being a grandfather is another journey that I am excited about and look forward to.

May was also the month that I resigned from work.  I don’t want to call it ‘retirement’ because I will never retire from work. I intend to keep myself busy. In fact, my plan, as I told some of you, is to teach part-time in Naga City, Philippines, hopefully the beginning of next school year.

From June to early October, I was in the town of Canaman in the Philippines and lived in our newly-remodeled ancestral home. Lynn followed in July. Our house there is small and simple, nothing fancy.  And, the neighbors are great.  While in the Philippines, I experienced close to five typhoons, but nothing in comparison to typhoon Yolanda that recently devastated Central Philippines.

I am back in Seattle because my mom-in-law passed away last October. Her death reminded me once again of what really matters most in life.  Nothing can substitute the power of family and friends as a source of support and strength in times of sorrow. Our family is lucky to have so many good friends.

What’s in store for me in 2014?

What I see in my crystal ball is a hodgepodge of activities: play basketball, ride my bike, watch TV, listen to music, talk by phone to my daughters, shop and watch movies with Lynn, text and email my friends, try to stay healthy, and enjoy “happy hour” with friends. I hope I land a part-time job in Naga City because I love to teach.

There is one project that I am excited to do next year. Rolly Borjal, a high school classmate, and I will be co-editing a book temporarily entitled, “Through Boyhood Days and Manhood Years.” It is an anthology of short stories or reflections written by Ateneo de Naga graduates selected from different batch years spanning Ateneo’s 75 years of history. Ateneo de Naga University is celebrating its 75th year as a Jesuit educational institution in 2015.  The book is slated to be published by the Ateneo de Naga University Press early 2015 in time for the big celebration.

It’s Christmas in a few days. Christmas means different things to different people. For me it is that time to spread joy to everyone, the joy that emanates from Christ becoming like us in order to show us by example how to love. Whatever Christmas means to you, I hope it brings joy to your family and deepens the love that each family member has for each other.

In the spirit of Christmas, let me greet you and your family a joyful season, full of memories that will last a lifetime.