Tag Archives: Guinolbay’s sons


My soul yearns for the Lord; for  a number of reasons. My Dad died earlier this year and my Mom is very sick. Further, there are serious health issues which plague our family for which I seek  God’s presence.  This yearning for His presence took me to the Holy Land. I know Most Devout Catholics dream of reaching the Holy Land. This dream came sooner than expected for me and my sons. I go to church almost daily and I must admit places like Mount Sinai, Dead Sea, Bethlehem  and River Jordan are places which exist only in the Bible. I believe that God exists but like ordinary Catholics, it takes one big miracle for doubters like me to have a deeper faith in one Supreme Being who controls all events in our lives. This “Miracle” is yet to be but to walk the places He walked is in itself a big miracle.

Let’s begin where it all started.

The Manger

The manger. Do you ever wonder why we put stars on our Christmas trees? It is a popular Christmas decoration. There are research  which leads  to a German practice since 19th century.  And according to the Bible, it is  the star that led the Wise Men to His Majesty: “When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of King Herod, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage’” (Mt 2:1-12).   But to my mind,  it is the probable reason why the Israelites / Queen Elena, marked the Lord’s birth place with a silver star.

In our Pilgrimage, my sons and I were brought to the Nativity Church, the place which is believed to be the location where Jesus was born. According to research which includes our local tour guide from Nazareth, the Nativity Church was built around the place where Jesus was born.

The silver star marks the spot where the manger was.

This is what the Nativity Church looks like from one side.

When we visited the Church, there was a big Christmas tree in the Churchyard.

According to the local tour guide, the Nativity Church was the only Church left undisturbed by the Moors/Muslims because they saw the images of the Three Kings at its window.  Sadly, I was not able to capture the mosaic picture of the three kings.

Baptism at Jordan River

For most Catholics,  after we are born,  baptism follow shortly. However, the Bible teaches us that  Jesus was baptized at the Jordan River when he was already a full grown man. My sons and I were  fortunate to  be  baptized in the very same River.  It’s actually a very small one.  A glimpse of the picture below would give you an idea how amazingly small  it is.

The water looks green but when I got some and placed it in a bottle, the water was surprisingly clear. When we were baptized it was so cold but my children, specially Miguel, did not mind.

Wedding feast at Cana

The second luminous mystery is the wedding feast in Cana. This was one of my favorite stops because I was fortunate to sing solo in a wedding. Actually 23 couples renewed their vows when I sang. The picture below shows the famous Church which stood in place of the house  where Jesus performed His first Miracle; the transformation of the water into wine.

You might think that the  wine containers are small or portable. Actually the water/wine containers are about this size:

According to the local tour guide, this cement like container is the original water container which held the special wine made by Jesus.

There a lot more of stories to tell.  But, actually  this blog is not intended to cover all aspects of the Pilgrimage.  This is all for now.

A Blessed Merry Christmas to All!

Creative Lawyering

Being a lawyer allows you extensive use of your mental capabilities which are often reflected in your pleadings. The problem lies however if you don’t write as well you talk. You see, legal problems are solved more than half of the time through writing; from a simple demand letter to a well researched, well written petition for certiorari.

What  now if you don’t write well? In my case, I have a continuing struggle with my writing style. Different senior lawyers/reviewers call for different styles. Well, if half of the time a case is solved through creative writing, 40 to 49 percent of the time, I win cases because of my acting. Yes, you heard it right, acting.  You see, lawyers  know how to act too. We are almost theatrical. We memorize our lines well once  we are inside the court. Good for you if you are pretty and you dress well. Judges cannot help it if they listen to lawyers who are very articulate and well, charming.  So if you ask me how does a lawyer become charming? I have a handful of suggestions below:

  1. In our department, we love to dress up and trade ideas.

Colors of the Rainbow

Purple Day. We never intended to come to the office wearing the same  shade. But hey, great minds think alike.

2. We even throw costume parties just to be able to pick an idea or two. Parties are a perfect avenue for observing the most successful lawyers.

Pardon the grimacing faces of my sons. My boys were eating  corn dogs when the camera  snapped.

3. Of course preparation is always the key. In my case, I have a secret folder where I list down all the objections I could possibly think of. Further, to impress my audience, I include the actual citations i.e, OBJECTION! Leading based on Section 10 Rule 132.

4. lastly, we PLAY.

In the series of pictures below, the author of the crime (clue: he is wearing stripes) surreptitiously and  obviously without notice to the owner, snatched a jar of candies. The lady lawyer who refused to be identified, witnessed the unlawful gain but did not want to be involved. The victim, likewise a lady lawyer with a sweet tooth, desperately cried for justice. The white outline, well, that is supposed to represent the body of the crime.

Lawyers should know how to imagine. Most successful persons tend to be extremely creative thinkers and imagination plays a huge part of that thinking process.  First we should imagine, then next, we engineer. Imagineering is actually a term coined by Walt Disney, the great pioneer of American animation.

In my fifteen years of legal practice, the best lawyers are those who  come to Court not only prepared, but  also know how to play around by applying some of the wackier possibilities to see what might actually work for their case. Surprisingly, those wacky things solve the case.

Black Belt

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Rg,MM and Me with Shin Nosuke Suzuki

I remember being the butt of jokes because of my height. I am barely five feet. Since I can’t do much about my God given measurement, I might as well become strong and improve my asset-my strength. Height is might but being small also has benefits. When my brother forgot his ID and wasn’t allowed to enter the school, I simply crawled under the gate and gave mine. He was allowed to enter; while I simply crawled back inside-unnoticed.

When High School was ending, I figured how to improve my lot.  Everyone else towered above me. Feeling a sense of insecurity, I joined TaeKwonDo. Back to the time when Bruce Lee was popular even twenty years after his untimely death, I was finally “in”.

I chose Taekwondo because it is very fancy and resembled Bruce’s Kung fu.  Further, you rarely find an authentic Chinese Martial Arts School unless you live in Chinatown.

During my white belt days, I stood out not because of my form but because I kicked hard. I was very fortunate to train under the Olympian Bronze Medalist, Stephen Fernandez.

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Back to the Basic Side Kick

When I finally gained my black belt, I felt invincible, and yes, TALLER.  You see, I am so fortunate to be born in a family where martial arts was much revered and required. Considering that I am now a black belter, I occupied the front row, closer to the Master.

When I entered law school, butt and head kicking days had to be archived, in the meantime.  The days that followed were thought provoking and more sedentary. I gained legal knowledge and POUNDS.  I remember the laws, but completely forgot my TKD forms. I even lost half of my sense of humor.

Twenty three years after I became a black belter, I came back (Well, I had to find a bigger dobok[1]  and run around the oval for two weeks straight to  shed unwanted fats earned during law school).   At the TKD Central Gym, the children were taller and faster. How does a forty year old lawyer spar with teenagers who have longer legs and at the prime of their youth?  Simple. Being small, I get closer and kick higher so their legs would not hit my little frame. After a week’s training, the coach lauded my old school moves.[2] You see, being a black belt does not mean it’s the ultimate level, there are several degrees/dans to reach. In order to be promoted to a higher degree, you have to break more boards and spar with several black belters as well. This is a very formidable task because age and height are never considered during promotion.

This is not just about me. It’s all about my sons too. You see, they recently became black belts too. Two years of hard training finally paid off.  The happy part is we three get to occupy the front row.

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Coach Ric giving instructions.

When asked if something inside them changed, my eldest replied, Mom, I think I will become more popular. Let’s see.

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RG, Shinosuke Suzuki and Miguel with Coach Ric Canlas taken on June 28,2016.
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Miguel, Shinosuke and Ruben wid Coach Ric, taken in June 2014.

[1] Dobok means Tae Kwon Do uniform.

[2] Old school meaning fancier more Bruce Lee like kicks which include turning head kicks.

Camp Mt. Carmel, Lake Caliraya

Last weekend, my sons and I were given the  rare chance to visit mother nature. Welcome to Camp Mt. Carmel located at Lake Caliraya. Lake Caliraya is a perfect camping site. Stretching across three towns- Lumban, Cavinti and Kalayaan within the Laguna Province, this  man made lake according to our host and tour guide,  Mary Ann Lee, was made possible by the Americans sometime in the 1930s.

Although camping  belongs  to the paternal department, in my attempts to become a supermom, I  decided to give my sons a first class camping experience at Camp Mt. Carmel.  For two days, my boys were delighted to FINALLY experience camping, kayaking, paddle boating and lake swimming. I would say that we were among the privileged to  visit Camp Mt. Carmel (previously Camp Eco Saddle) thanks to Tita Maan, who is actually a registered nurse by profession but  by twist of fate, was assigned at the Legal Services Group.

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My Family with our host Tita Maan (wearing a blue rash guard)

As you can see, the rains did not prevent the boys from  enjoying the lake. Although it was raining when we arrived at the place, my sons were not at all discouraged. See the pictures below:

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MM and RG kayaking at 6:30  in the morning of 28 May 2016 .
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Kuya Ruben bringing the paddle boat to the lake  shore.
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Miguel standing  by the tent where we slept in.

ROPE: Rescue Operation Prevention Endeavor

Tita Maan, as affectionately called by her office mates, is married to Judge Ralph Lee. Judge Lee literally made waves in September 2009 by rescuing over a hundred residents trapped in their homes amidst the raging floodwaters of Ondoy. The Lee Family including their sons Ram and Pong usually conduct their rescue training  here at Camp Mt. Carmel, Lake Caliraya. They are part of the group called ROPE -Rescue Operation Prevention Endeavor.

Father and son tandem: Judge Lee with his son Pong Lee
Father and son tandem: Judge Lee with his son Pong Lee (above).
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This was the jetski used by Judge Lee to rescue flooded residents in 2009.


Lake Cruise:

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The author with her sons. The floating house is visible at the left side.

Camp Mt Carmel  also has a floating house propelled by a jetski motor. Well, this house can accommodate up to 25 persons. At one point, the floating house  stops to allow the visitors to take a  refreshing dip at the lake.

In closing, nature adventure does wonders for the brain, because after our two day camp at Lake Caliraya,  I was able to finish three pleadings.  My boys  and I cannot  wait to go back next summer.


Tis the season to be holy.

Living in a predominantly Roman Catholic country, we celebrate holy week this way:

  1. Palm Sunday. The moment you see people scamper to get their palms wet at the church yard, it’s Palm Sunday, the start of the holy week.RG AND MM-PALM SUNDAY 2. No meat week or seafoods galore. Resist eating burgers. Further, your subway sandwich should contain vegetables or tuna or crab stick-only. The funny thing about the no meat policy, the idea is to stave off meat cravings or to sacrifice your favorite meat preparations. However, instead of sacrifice, Filipinos buy and eat a lot of seafood-defeating the very purpose of no meat policy. I must admit, I am soo guilty of this.CRAB3. Visita Iglesia.  This is known as  the Seven churches visitation.This is an ancient Roman Catholic pious tradition which is usually done on  Maundy Tuesday. There are two versions of the Visita Iglesia-one is  you visit a church and pray the traditional stations of the cross or you visit seven churches praying short prayers every time. My family prefers the seven church pilgrimage including the meals  in between-as long as it’s not meat. 

    4.  Sacrament of Confession.This is the act of acknowledging some personal fact/s to a priest which a person would rather keep hidden.This is actually the hard part because some people would like to hold on to their guilt or too ashamed to confess.CONFESSION




    5. Seven Last words. Because of this, I learned the significance of the 3:00 clock prayer.   Because of this, I learned that Jesus died on the cross at 3:00 pm. For reference purposes, here they are:

    “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”Gospel of Luke 23:34

    “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” Gospel of Luke 23:43

     “Jesus said to his mother: “Woman, this is your son.”

    Then he said to the disciple: “This is your mother.” Gospel of John 19:26-27

    “I thirst.” Gospel of John 19:28

    They put a sponge soaked in wine on a sprig of hyssop and put it up to his mouth.
    When Jesus had received the wine, he said,
    “It is finished;”and he bowed his head and handed over the spirit.  Gospel of John 19:29-30

    Jesus cried out in a loud voice,
    “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”
    Gospel of Luke 23:46

    6. Easter Sunday. Egg hunting yehey! Sunday is the last day of the Holy Week thus it should be happy.  I know egg hunting is not the usual Filipino lenten tradition. But somehow I have managed to let my children experience easter egg hunting.Last year, I chose the theme Alice in  Wonderland.Check out my decorations for the tea party.ALICE IN WONDERLANDEGG HUNTING.jpg

Pictures say a thousand words

Like what I always say, I am not much a of a writer. It’s a good thing  photography supplies my  inadequacy for words. In my case, call it insecurity but  my blogs become more readable and more valuable because of the pictures. Unlike my son RG who occasionally has a writer’s block,  I always have mine perennially. Thus, I should have an endless supply of pictures.

MM intrigued by the hat.
MM totally lost inside the hat.
MM totally lost inside  the hat.








Just by  looking at the pictures below one  could  tell that these four children are comfortable around each other.

RG Guinolbay (second from the left) and David Maglente with Chio sisters.


Look at the nice splash of water!

In the two pictures below, instead of writing  Dad and his sons are communicating, there is no need to say the obvious…

In closing, I would say that photography is a major help to budding writers or trying hard to be writers like me.


What I got My Kids for Christmas

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My husband, Col. Ruben B. Guinolbay, gave our children these bikes for Christmas.


After reading my previous post, maybe you are wondering what I gave my children for Christmas.   Apart from books and polo shirts, I  gave my sons these:

Black Ops Junior Sniper
Black Ops Junior Sniper Pellet Guns

Honestly, the last thing I want my children to be, is a soldier. I have nothing against soldiers ( considering that I am married to one)  but the thought that I would be seeing them less while they are studying until they become full-fledged soldiers NEVER appealed to me.

My children and their dad.
My children and their dad, Col. Ruben Guinolbay.

Anyway, the reason why I bought them these pellet guns was simply to  provide them an alternative hobby. Considering it’s Christmas time, going to the TaeKwonDo gym is very discouraging given the horrendous traffic. As their mom, I am responsible for taking care of their eyes. Every time we go to my parents’ house, my boys can’t get enough of gadgets.  My parents’ house is actually a gaming zone with free wifi. Further,  my cousin Dino gave them SEGA console each.  Anyway, being the supportive mom that I am, I printed them gun targets  which I posted all over the garden.  Look at these pictures:

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My first born, RG, is testing his sniper gun. My other son, MM looks on.
 This is my younger son Miguel, firing his sniper gun.
This is my younger son Miguel, firing his sniper gun.

As a toy advocate, I encourage  the use of toys to reach  out to children. I am fortunate  to grow up in  a place surrounded by gardens. The environment is very ideal for children. My father who is himself an officer, bought four contiguous lots and surrounded them with  walls.  When we were children we also used the place to fire air guns.  Now that I am a mom, to bond with my kids, I bought a pellet gun for myself.

This is my pistol/pellet gun.
Mm is trying  my pistol/pellet gun.

Are you like me, an adult who never gets enough of toys? Sometimes I feel guilty because I  buy toys not only for my children but for myself as well.  A reminder though, even if these are mere toy guns, playing with pellet guns should  be  adult supervised. By adult supervision, meaning I have to be present whenever they play with these guns. Now that’s my perfect excuse to get a toy gun for myself.