BIRTHDAY GIFT FROM A SISTER One of my favorite birthday gifts was a book given to me by my sister Ofel. In September 29, 1987 I received a book entitled "The Art Of Life" written by Edith Schaeffer. My sister wrote in the front page this unforgettable words: "Dearest Ebb- I hope that this book will be a blessing to you as you learn more about Him who is the Greatest Artist.- Lovingly, Ating Ofel. I loved this devotional book. This book taught me to lean and to learn from the Greatest Artist, GOD. I have donated many books to the Goodwill, but this book is special. For about eighteen years I still read it over and over and never get bored. This book became a lasting heirloom for me.
BIRTHDAY GIFT FOR A SISTER Today (July 14th) is the birthday of a favorite sister named Ofelia. Now it's my turn to give her something beautiful. I'd like to show my appreciation for her loving kindness to me in the past and I am dedicating this blog space to her. I know this gift is something that will not add clutter her life and her house, since she almost have everything a sister could wish for."
"HAPPY, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU AND MAY GOD BLESS YOU WITH MANY MORE YEARS TO COME.
BOUQUET OF ROSES FOR A SISTER This lovely long steamed-red roses were given to me by my husband during our 25th wedding anniversary. I'd like to share these roses with my sister. I know she's always busy and I hope she will take the time to slow down and smell the roses.
Of all my sisters, Ofel is the most successful in terms of achieving her many goals in life. She accumulated multiple scholarships, awards, grants, recognition and many more. It will take a book to write all her life achievements.
So many news were written and published about her. On my blog, I'd like to dwell on the simple beauty of family-sister theme and tidbits and commonplace family scenes in our ordinary and extraordinary events in life, as we are touched by the Supreme Artist and Creator.
WHAT A BEAUTIFUL NAME! I have no idea why our mother picked this name Ofelia for her second child. Ofel for short. But I call her "Ating Ofel," as she's older than me. Our mother probably had an instinct that someday this daughter will be an outstanding woman and will bring her many honors in the future. As an artist here's my sketches and perspectives of a sister named........OFELIA:
L...................Loving and Lovely
OUTSTANDING............Yes! Ofel is always academically outstanding in our family. We are all proud of her many outstanding achievements. In return, our family became popular because of her. She has been a consistent scholar. She graduated with honors in high school (PWU) and was a college and university scholar at the University of the Philippines, where she obtained her BS Degree - RD (nutritionists/dietitian). She won the UH (University of Hawaii) East-West Center Scholarship in graduate study and finished her Masters. She was a scholar of the FilAm Alumni Association at UCLA and received her doctorate. WOW! She did it all on scholarships and fellowships. What a great blessing to our parents who were struggling to give good education to six more children!
THE DIRIGE FAMILY This beautiful and memorable photo was taken during the 50th wedding anniversary of our parents (Atty. and Mrs. Gregorio Dirige). Ofel was standing on the left side, third row (in blue gown). Ofel is the second daughter while I am the third. Our family have a good equation (3 daughters + one brother + 3 daughters = 7 children). Since our family is mostly dominated with daughters, with a strong mother, of course they are the "Speakers of the House."
FAITHFUL............? Yes and always! She's smiling right there on the center. She reminds me of the "Old Faithful" in Yellowstone National Park. Old Faithful is the most famous geyser in the park and erupts faithfully on an average of every 73 minutes. The geyser sends a stream of boiling water more than 100 feet into the air. Ofel is as faithful as this geyser but without the volcanic outbursts. Ating Ofel was my maid of honor when I got married. Like my faithful husband, she is also faithful and devoted but........to her career, calling and most of all, caring for our elderly parents. She's never complain nor the critical type. No wonder our mother loved her so much.
Oh come all ye faithful..... and oh yes, she faithfully adores the Supreme Artist (God). Before she came to the United States, she served as missionary in the Philippines. She has a big heart for spiritual mission. Today, her mission is more on the secular level, but she's very faithful no matter what mission or vision God wanted her to do. She is dynamic and versatile community advocate whose expertise in several fields has benefited thousands of people. She is a teacher, grant writer, project director, health educator, researcher, nutrition consultant and author. Filipinos are exceptionally fortunate to benefit from the ongoing contributions of this outstanding, professional and compassionate person, who has given so much of herself to the university, community and the world.
ENERGETIC! Retirement is not in her vocabulary. She's so busy with her many health projects. Maybe someday? When limping and exhausted, she continues to be an energetic woman, trying to live at the age of 65 +, as though she is only thirty six. It's good to be energetic and enthusiastic and continue to live a full life after 60 +. What's the secret? Ask her. She's an expert in health and nutrition.
LOVING.......No one has given greater love and devotion to our parents than our sister Ofel. She postponed her love life and romantic life and remained single for the sake of our elderly parents. She supported and took care of them. What a great love!
LOVELY.......? Of course, you can't have everything in life. She may not be as lovely as Lindsay Lohan, but what matters most is what's inside. Inner beauty is more lasting than external beauty. Having a lovely heart is more lovelier and will last forever.
INTELLIGENT...............This is our beautiful family without my parents. They both passed away many years ago. Here is our family at present - still six sisters, one sister-in-law, and one brother. Ofel is wearing green t-shirt. I am standing second from the left. Our family is blessed with many different personalities, talents and IQ's. Of course, Ofel is still the most intelligent among us based on IQ's and achievements. Here are additional highlights to her many more achievements. Here's the most recent than I can remember. She was one of the recipient of the (TOPA) Twenty Outstanding Filipino-Americans in the United States and Canada (2004). The TOPA award is given to individuals who have improved the Filipino American image through their professional success and excellent community services. I missed the award ceremony because it was held in in Washington D.C. Later she also won the UPAA (University Of The Philippines Alumni Association in America) - Lifetime Distinguished Achievement Award (2005). I was very happy and proud to be there with some members of the family. When I saw my sister Ofel received this pretigious award, it was a great honor and thrilling experience.
What is Ofel like inside our family circle? She's intelligent but very humble and not opinionated. She's not self- centered although she's often on the limelight. She has the mark of real intelligent person. Intelligent people don't have to be outspoken, to impress others. Their achievements and awards speak volume about them.
ADMIRABLE.......Ofel has that kind of personality that is amicable and likable. This photo shows part of my family, sisters and in-laws, during one of my birthday celebrations. I am wearing hot pink and my sister Ofel ( next to me in black top). She's my closest sister. I will always remember her kindness to me when I first came to the United States. She supported and helped me until I found a job and could support myself. At the urging of my mother, I decided to stay and live with her. It was a good decision that I never regretted. As far as I remember, we never had a single fight. We lived together for 3 years, before I got married and we got along pretty good. We clicked together and lived happily ever after.
DEDICATED..........Our family name "DIRIGE" was derived from the Spanish word "dirigir" meaning to direct. Ofel truly lives up to her family name as the Executive Director and co-founder of KCS (Kalusugan Community Service). This is her unique contributions in public health. KCS has impacted the Filipino-American communities and other undeserved groups in and outside of San Diego. KCS is a non-profit agency, whose mission is to improve the well being of Filipino-Americans by promoting positive lifestyle changes through proper nutrition, physical activity, and multi-faceted social programs. For her dedication , she also received numerous awards for community services from: June Burnett Institute for Children, Youth and Families, COPAO, Scottish Rite in Mission Valley. She is a recipient of congressional awards from Bob Filmer and Randy "Duke" Cunningham and was listed as one of the 150 notable Filipinos in Veltizesar Bautista's book entitled "The FilipinoAmerican - from 1763 to the present."
Kudos and congratulations to her. As always we celebrate together not only during award nights but also during Christmas time and other holidays. Ofel and I have many photos together over the years. This photo was taken one Christmas Day in her house in San Diego.
INGENIOUS............."Dr. Ofelia Dirige" - that is what she's often called outside the family. Dr. Ofelia Dirige has great abilities to make her goals and dreams come true. The founding of KCS was an impossible dream but she was endowed with ingenious mind and ability to meet the challenge by writing grants. In close collaboration with KCS founding president Dr. Riz Oades, Dr. Ofelia Dirige wrote winning grant proposal (over $3 million) for the organization. That's ingenious!
My sister shared me her vision and dream for KCS when we attended a women's retreat in Visalia, California. I remember, we prayed about it. What a surprise that in just a few years that vision became a reality. The God who gave her that vision had already prepared and gifted her
for that great task of pioneering KCS.
And now........ let's celebrate with a "lechon" (roasted whole pork). This was double celebration as we celebrated Christmas Day too.
RICH........Ofel is rich with abilities and talents but also in resources. She has musical talent and could play the piano and organ. Can sing too! Can cook! C'mon Ofel, you can't have it all. I still remember, when she came to to United States on a student visa, she worked part time with limited income. Despite of her limited resources, she gave me $40.00 for pocket money when I immigrated to the United States. I felt so rich because that was my first U.S dollar that I didn't work for. Today our lives have changed for the better. With bigger income, she often gives me $100.00 for birthdays, anniversaries and Christmas gifts. This is now the house where she lives. What a progress from our small studio apartment in Westwood Village, California!
INSPIRING............ Who wouldn't be inspired by her many achievements? Others might be intimidated or get jealous by her success but not me. My sister became my inspiration and model to have positive goals in life and to use my artistic talent and creativity for God and others. It is commendable to inspire others to be creative and useful with their lives. I may not surpass my sister's achievements, but I am happy to share in her successes. I practice this verse from the Bible- "Rejoice with those who rejoice."
GENEROUS............ She's always a generous sister and auntie. She's generous to the whole family from the youngest to the oldest. Since she is unmarried with no children nor dogs, her generosity flows toward her own family. She's very thoughtful and generously remembers me during my birthdays and Christmas time. What a GEM !
EXCELLENT............ My sister Ofel appreciates art and collects paintings. She is also a great traveler. During her trip to Spain she bought me an art book entitled "Picasso and Cubism."
The "Girl Before Mirror" is one of my favorite paintings by Pablo Picasso. He is an excellent artist and famous for modern and cubist art. When I look at the above painting, I could see the reflection of my sister Ofel. Like the painting, she's a symbol of the modern Filipino-American woman. She's not afraid to be different. She's liberated, bold, competitive and excellent in her field of expertise.
LIFE IS AN ART......Let's make our ordinary lives into a work of art that will shine forever like a beautiful "MASTERPIECE."