“Single Lady” Candy Canga finally says “I Do”

April 21, 2009

candycrisDAUSA’s “Most Eligible Bachelorette” finally gave up the long held title after marrying another Fil-Am from San Francisco, Cris Picar, in a public wedding ceremony in Modesto, California on Sunday, April 18, 2009.  

Candy served as Danao Association USA, Inc. (DAUSA) Vice President for 4 years, during the term of Gemma Montegrande, and as Project Manager of the associations’ Adopt-a-Student Program.  She had her family in Danao get actively involved in the annual DAUSA Medical Mission, particulary her brother, Dr. Gregory Canga and mother Rose, a registered Nurse.     

A resident of Modesto since arriving in California 18 years ago, Candy, a registered nurse, is Surgical Dept Manager at the Sutter Memorial Medical Center. She finished her MBA degree while working at this hospital. 

Several fellow Danawanons from Southern California,  led by Ben & Dr. Anita Cal-Jackson, DAUSA President, witnessed the solemn and beautiful ceremony. 

Cris & Candy Canga-Picar’s Love Story

In November 2007, after 21 days of prayer and partial fasting, Candy shared with her girlfriend her desire to remain single while serving under the Refresh Women’s ministries.  

But God had a different plan!  On December 8, 2007, Candy’s cousin, Mimi, gave Candy’s cell number to Cris, a friend of Mimi’s best friend.  Immediately after the first hello, the couple started to connect and talked for over 2 to 4 hours at a time.

Believe it or not, they fell in love with each other’s soul, mind and spirit over the phone.  It was not love at first sight, since they did not even know how each other looked like.  Two weeks later, Cris drove down from San Francisco to meet Candy at Mimi’s Café in Modesto.  

Afterwards, the couple decided to officially date by attending a church service at Calvary Temple Worship Center.  During that service, Candy asked God for a sign if Cris was the one for her.  To her surprise, Pastor Glen called out Cris to welcome him in the midst of a crowd of over 500.  

The rest is history.  Only July 27, 2008, Cris and Candy got married in a private ceremony.  They were excited to start a new family.  Unfortunately, on September 11, their dream of having a child was not realized.  

They successfully overcame this difficult trial with the support and prayers of family and friends.  The couple found comfort in Jesus Christ, the Lord of second chances.  

On Saturday, April 18, 2009, Candy and Cris had over 200 friends and relatives participate and witness their public wedding vows as they celebrated their love and new life together at the Calvary Temple Worship Center in Modesto, California.

“We need you in our lives just as much as we want to be part of yours,”  Cris and Candy declared.

To view more photos, just click this link:

Cris-Candy Canga-Picar Wedding

The “Curious Case” of Richard Seco

January 15, 2009

13-yr old Richard in 2006 with Ben and Anita Jackson

13-yr old Richard in 2006 with Ben and Anita Jackson

Just recently my wife and I watched the blockbuster movie “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” starring Brad Pitt, who takes on the title role.  The story, narrated from Benjamin’s point of view, is about a boy born an old man who must live his life in reverse.

It is certainly an entertaining movie nominated for Best Picture in the Golden Globe Award, and most likely in the Oscars too.

The story of Benjamin quickly reminded me of a patient in the DAUSA Medical Mission which in some way is somewhat similar to Benjamin’s case.  Now 15-years old, Richard Seco first came to the Medical Mission in September 1999.  He was 5 years old at the time, but looked way too old his age.

Unlike Benjamin who was born old and grew up young, Richard was born normal but contracted a certain kind of disease that made him look old too fast.

Seeing for the first time a rare case of advanced aging, DAUSA volunteers were moved with pity and they gave the ever-smiling Richard some special attention.  The young old-looking boy was so pleased of the special treatment given him responded so warmly to the attention.  Dr. Anita gave him toys and cash.

Dr. Jackson spent considerable time with the mother and talked about Richard’s “curious case” of advanced aging and how to care for the boy’s skin.  She gave the mother enough supply of moisterizing creams to last for months.

The Chief of Medical Mission explained “the aging process of Richard is accelerated; demonstrated by his dry, pigmented desquamating skin especially on his face and stunted height.”

Anita further said, “his skin felt burning when I applied moisterizing cream, but smoothened and felt good with a topical steroid cream (Triamcinolone 0.1% Cream).

Richard and his mother went back to their far flung mountain village of Barangay Cambubho (close to the boundary of the town of Asturias), very happy though nothing much has been done to control the boy’s abnormal aging process. 

With the cash gift Dr. Jackson gave Richard, his mother bought him some hens so Richard can raise chickens and earn some money.

During succeeding medical mission, Richara and his mother, never failed to come to the DAUSA Medical Mission to meet Dr. Jackson, at times bringing chicken for the doctor, which the hospital cook made into chicken soup with “kamunggay”.

Last September 2008, Richard showed up again at the Danao Hospital with his mother and a niece, very anxious to meet Dr. Jackson and the medical mission volunteers who became his friends.  Unfortunately, they missed the mission due to change of schedule resulting from Bishop’s decision to change the fiesta date. Residents of Barangay Cambubho heard nothing about change of fiesta or the medical mission schedule.

They asked around and found Dr. Jackson at the hme of her regular host, Ricky Mata, on the same day she was flying back to Los Angeles.

Anita related, “he happily dragged me outside the gate to show her his gift – a GOAT! Richard is not only raising chicken but has also gone into goat raising.   Richard promised Anita, God willing in next year’s medical mission, he may give his doctor-friend a horse.

Richard will be a young man then, 16 years old, and it is very likely he’ll be looking 76 unless some miracle happens.

The boy is indeed praying for some miracle.


January 12, 2008

Finally, something positive about Filipinos. Here’s something very positive written by a foreigner named Steve Ray about Filipinos. Steve Ray authored many best-selling books, among which are, Crossing The Tiber (his conversion story), Upon This Rock (on the papacy), and just recently John’s Gospel (a comprehensive bible study guide and commentary). Steve is also currently filming a 10-video series entitled, Footprints of God. The first two videos are out: Peter, Keeper of the Keys, and Mary, Mother of God (now available here in the Philippines) .20080112035802106_1_original.jpg

We stepped into the church and it was old and a bit dark. Mass had just begun and we sat toward the front. We didn’t know what to expect here in Istanbul, Turkey. I guess we expected it to be a somber Mass but quiet and somber it was not – I thought I heard angels joyously singing behind me.

The voices were rich, melodic and beautiful. What I discovered as I spun around to look did not surprise me because I had seen and heard the same thing in other churches around the world. It was not a choir of angels with feathered wings and halos but a group of delightful Filipino Catholics with smiles of delight and joy on their faces as they worshiped God and sang His praises. I had seen this many times before in Rome, in Israel, in the United States and other countries.

Filipinos have special traits and they are beautifully expressed as I gazed at the happy throng giving thanks to God. What are the special traits which characterize these happy people? I will share a few that I have noticed-personal observations- as I have traveled around the world, including visits to the Philippines.FIRST, there is a sense of community, of family. These Filipino Christians did not sit apart from each other in different isles. They sat together, closely. They didn’t just sing quietly, mumbling, or simply mouthing the words. No, they raised their voices in harmony together as though they enjoyed the sense of unity and communion among them. They are family even if they are not related

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Born again: A child’s 9-year journey to a new life

November 10, 2007

By: PHIL STRICKLAND – For The Californian

(DAUSA Editor’s Note: Merylou underwent a 12-hr surgery on Thursday, November 10, 2007, at the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles involving 9 medical-surgical specialists led by a prominent plastic surgeon, Dr. Mark Urata. She is still confined at the hospital. Monching)

20071110184020941_1_original.jpgMerylou’s eyes, bright, even enchanting, as they can be, aren’t the first thing you notice about her.

What you first notice is that where there ought to be a child’s smile is instead a freakish card dealt her at birth. Between Merylou’s eyes, brow to chin, is a deep opening that is her mouth, cleft palate and all.

It’s not easy to look at, which accounts for the ever present, rarely removed, white surgical mask that hides from the world the 12-year-old Filipina’s affliction.

The surgery necessary to even begin to make some difference in her appearance is nonexistent in the Philippines. And, even if it were, Merylou’s family —- her mother sells food in the streets of their squalid slum and her father paints when there is work —- couldn’t begin to afford it.

A turning point in Merylou’s life came more than nine years ago when her mother Merilyn took her to a clinic in Danao near the one-room shack where she lives with her mother, father Rosendo, an older brother and a younger sister.

It was there that Merylou Barriga and the members of the medical mission team from Danao Association USA, a nonprofit organization composed of Filipinos who have emigrated to the U.S., first came together.

Among the Filipino immigrants in America volunteering their time for the mission that September in 1998 were Dr. Anita Jackson, a Temecula physician who is Merylou’s primary doctor in this country and was chief of the medical mission, and Ramon Barriga, a state-employed legal secretary who is no relation and lives in Winnetka, and was then president of DAUSA.

Jackson and her fellow volunteers immediately set about trying to find help for Merylou.

It proved to be a daunting task, said the Temecula doctor.

Treatment was sought in Japan and South Korea, but “for one reason or another, it just wasn’t available,” Jackson said.

“At long last,” she said, what began that day now will play out in a series of major craniofacial reconstructive surgeries to be performed on Merylou at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles thanks to the determination of DAUSA members, assistance from the International Craniofacial Children’s Fund at the hospital and Mending Kids International, and the generosity of others from whom help was sought.

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High School Filipino Kathleen Ferraren wins Latino Essay Writing Contest in DC

October 2, 2007

Kathleen’s Dad, Patrick Ferraren (in Virginia), a long lost friend, 30 years ago a co-staffer of The Forward at Colegio de San Jose-Recoletos, after we got reconnected wrote:

20071002063715677_1.jpg“How can a young contemporary Filipina lay claim to Hispanic Heritage, compete with other DC area high school Hispanics in an essay contest about how being Latino is the best of both worlds in the USA, and win? Answer: By weaving a connection that is indisputably valid, drawing on her life’s experiences that enhance the connection, and expressing her feelings about the significance of that Spanish connection–utilizing her unique personal style of literary writing that appeals to her audience. She made it light reading and interestingly anecdotal, with relevant facts. The dozen or so judges approved and gave it to her. Who would have known? Pardon my “estoy muy orgulloso” father attitude, but this makes for an interesting English Lesson because it is true. Here is an example of how to write a winning piece! In the real world!” (I asked Patrick that I post Kathleen’s winning piece as I find this very inspiring for our young Danawanons in California as well as all other young Pinays. – Monching)


Kathleen is my given name but I recall my parents called me by my Spanish name, Catalina, when I was four years old. Both my parents are Filipinos of mixed origin—mostly Spanish and Asian. Having immigrated to America from the Philippines, they brought their colorful cultures to the melting pot that is America. I was brought up in a Roman Catholic household where the Santo Niño and the Virgen stood on an altar.

Although my parents’ home country, the Philippines, is located in Asia, it has a lot to share with other Latino countries. Named after Madrid’s King Philip II, the country was colonized by Spain from 1565 to 1898.

My parents decided that I would grow up learning English only. However, they would often insert Spanish words—embossed into their culture from 333 years of Spanish rule—into daily conversation. I was used to hearing other people muttering about my and other children’s foibles, complaining with sacrilegious words of Jesús y María, and when we were especially clumsy, Jesús, María y José. Refusals to eat my empanada or drink my leche earned me a slap on the arm and an order of habre.

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The Filipino Spirit is Rising

April 30, 2007

Antonio ‘Almi’ Almacen, a long lost cousin I have not seen in 35 years, who like me was a Guinacot “askal”, now the big boss running the operation of San Miguel Corporation in Beijeng, China, emailed me to share a very inspiring story which he thinks every Danawanon must read and reflect on.

20070430162351805_1_original.jpg“Tony Meloto, the visionary and driving force behind the Gawad Kalinga movement, was conferred with a Doctorate of Humanities, Honoris Causa, by the Ateneo de Davao.

He then delivers a speech to the graduates of the university, a challenge actually, for patriotism and heroism. The same message will be given to eight other colleges and universities who have asked Tony Meloto to be their commencement speaker for 2007.”

‘The Filipino Spirit is Rising’

Antonio Meloto
2007 Commencement Exercises
Ateneo de Davao University

Today, I feel intelligent. Not only am I addressing some of the brightest minds in Mindanao, but I am also being honored by this prestigious university with a Doctorate in Humanities, Honoris Causa. This is the first doctorate that I have received and I am accepting it in all humility and pride as a recognition of the nobility of the cause and the heroism of the thousands of Gawad Kalinga workers that I represent. Thank you Fr. Ting Samson and Ateneo de Davao for bestowing the highest academic degree on a man who was born without a pedigree- the ‘askal’ (asong kalye) who went to Ateneo and came back to the slums to help those he left behind.

To a person like myself who did not excel in Ateneo in my pursuit of a college degree, receiving this Ph. D. is extremely flattering being fully conscious that my principal role in this movement is to be the storyteller of the many who put in the sacrifice and the hard work and yet have remained mostly unrecognized. It is also exhilarating because it builds on the growing global awareness, triggered by Gawad Kalinga and other movements that have not given up on our country, that the Filipinos can and will build a squatter-free, slum-free and hunger- free Philippines by committing their collective genius, passion and strength towards restoring the dignity and the potential for excellence of the poor, the weak and the powerless.

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Mai-Mai Barriga Domaboc & Co. – A Day with the Orphans

February 4, 2007

20070204170832858_1_original.jpgAs soon as my morning alarm cracked up my entire house, I went straight to the altar and prayed my visit would somehow be successful.

I have a lot hang ups in my mind and I always wished my day with the orphans would make me forget about my daily-yet-shallow-problems. I took a quick shower and did all my finishing touches.

The weather was perfect. The chocolates were already in the party bags and the toys were already piled up and were good to go. I was hoping I could catch up with my mom who happened to go to work as early as 7 am.

I was a bit nervous as to how the kids would accept me knowing how much they enjoyed the company of the DAUSA members who visited them last September.

20070204170832858_2_original.jpgI was at least happy because I would be giving out the toys and chocolates from PJ Mallari who was one of the DAUSA members who visited the kids.

I heard my friend honking her Starex Van and I knew we were good go. I was amazed how my highschool friends responded to my invitation when I saw the boxes of Juice, the tuperwares piled up with hotdogs, spaghetti, marshmallows and sliced bread. I didn’t expect they have the sincerest intention to help.

The day was bright, the sun was warm and I can feel my heart pounding while I was walking down the tiny little aisle going to that little house. The kids welcomed us with a warm hug so I guess they knew we were coming over to visit.

It was like around 2 in the afternoon when we got to Danao and the kids were in their tantrum moods since we disturbed their afternoon nap. I told them who I was and they were smiling when I told them the toys I have are for them from their Kuya PJ.

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August 14, 2002

Mga Taga KalubianWay back in the Old Danao the residents of Baryo Kalubi-an had been stereotyped by most people back home as ‘mga siga, tigas or hawak sa merkado”.

If you were from Suba, you were crazy to walk around Baryo Kalubi-an after dark or you could be hanging and shouting ‘tabang’ up in the electric post or perhaps end up in the ihawan or slaughterhouse and made into a kasahos.

Barrio Kalubi-an is a very small area of town (barely two blocks), bounded in the west by Rizal St., on the east, the slaughterhouse, on the north, the public market and in the south is a creek, but is notoriously known as little Tondo.

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