Jonlee’s Mission



I’m trying so hard to write something so meaningful and profound yet the only thing that would come out is that I’m totally happy and relieved that Jonlee is finally on his mission. Ever since he expressed the desire to serve the Lord on a full-time mission at the beginning of this year, there were so many steps, both spiritual and temporal, to fully prepare him for this marvelous work. The interviews, medical check ups, dental procedures, mission preparation classes, seminary and church attendance, ordination to the Melchizedek priesthood, acquiring a driver’s license, receiving a patriarchal blessing, sending the papers and receiving the mission call, getting a job at Walmart, shopping for all his missionary stuff, speaking at church, receiving his first endowment, farewell party, and finally being set apart as a missionary, were all part of the whirlwind activities that eventually culminated with him arriving at the missionary training center in Provo, Utah last December  16th.

My heart is overflowing with gratitude to our Heavenly Father for entrusting this sweet spirit to our care. He has always had this peaceful and humble personality that just made him so easy to raise as a son. He loves the Lord, the gospel, and the people around him and is extremely focused in sharing the good news to the world. In one of our conversations before he left, he said that a mission shouldn’t be just trying to baptize people, but to truly change their lives for the better. Changing lives is  inherent in him because he has already touched and changed mine. He listens, he loves and  cares, and gives of himself to his family and friends. That is why I struggle now being apart from him as he makes my life each day worth living. However, it is very selfish of me to keep him, because a wonderful person like Jonlee is needed out there to make this world a better place to live in.


Farewell Party at the Freeman’s December 13, 2015

The Freeman’s were kind enough to host the farewell for Jonlee. There were lots of food, lots of friends, and lots of fun. We’re grateful for all the friends that showed up and supported Jonlee.

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Set apart as a full time missionary – December 15, 2015




At the Missionary Training Center – December 16, 2015



Last summer, I finally visited my hometown after being gone for 15 years. I was so excited that  I stuck my head out of the car window and loudly shouted, “Welcome Davao City!”  It was something that I wouldn’t have done anywhere else. I was so fascinated with the street scenes and people as I traveled around the city and surrounding areas. I could’ve gone to the resorts and beaches to take pictures (the Philippines really has beautiful beaches) but I wasn’t interested in touristy places. My passion for street photography prevailed so I took pictures of the everyday life scenes as they occur in front of my eyes. Those images are more precious to me because they remind me of the strength of the people and their capacity to endure poverty.

Photography Addict

I am an addict. I know you must be shocked with my admission. Most people think addiction mostly pertains to drugs, alcohol, gambling, or something illegal. However, my addiction is a positive thing. I am addicted to photography. I try to have a camera with me at all times, whether it be my bulky SLR or just my Iphone. I panic when I don’t have one with me. When I’m not clicking, I pretend that I’m clicking with my eyes. I’m always composing shots, looking for patterns, and waiting for a decisive moment to occur. So when you catch me just staring as if I’m in a different sphere of existence, I am actually just taking a picture in my imagination. Or maybe I’m just suffering from withdrawal symptoms for not having a camera with me.

picture by Julie Cruz

You Visited Me

Dear Mark,

Last Saturday I went to the temple and asked God to let me know how you were doing. He answered my prayer early this morning because you visited me in my sleep. Thank you so much for reaching out to me from beyond the veil. You let me know that even though I don’t see you anymore, you do watch over me and is very much a part of my life now as it has always been.  You awakened me and I felt your presence in the room. We conversed with each other through our thoughts. These past few months have been a struggle for me. I look like all is well on the outside, but inwardly I am grieving and constantly longing for you to be with me. Many times I am shedding tears when memories of our times together play like a movie in my mind. I even purposely sing Tina Turner songs on the karaoke and imagine that you are singing along with me while pretending to dance like her.  I don’t know how I could ever be that wild and crazy again without you. Hopefully, time will heal my broken heart and I’d be able to laugh again as hard as when we were dancing, singing, and joking together. This I can promise you –  I will try to, because you communicated with me through my dream that you tried in this life to live the best you knew how. So for now I am happy and won’t be as lonely because I know you are always here with me.




Taken at Rizal Park, Davao City, Philippines


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Being crazy with cousins at the family reunion in Las Vegas, 2010

Street Photography – Metro Manila

April 6 – 12

Though it wasn’t the best situation that I returned and visited my country of birth (Philippines),  nevertheless I forced myself to take pictures. My heart was heavy and heartbroken due to the passing of my brother, Mark.  However, photography was one of the outlets to vent my feelings. Amidst my sorrow, I still soaked in the amazing mirage of ironic scenes and images presented before me as I was riding around Manila Manila. I wished I had taken more pictures but those were the only ones I could muster in my grieving state.

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I just loved that purple umbrella and how it contrasted with the darkness.

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Manila American  Cemetary –  what an awesome place to reflect on the sacrifices of the soldiers who fought in WW II. The white crosses seemed to extend to eternity.

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More crosses with the Bonifacio Global City in the background

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How I loved these Star Apples!!!   I haven’t eaten them in 14 years!

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Loved the colors

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Where else can you find a scene like this?


Haunting street cafeteria scene

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Always a cellphone in hand, ready to text


Hiding among the tailor made basketball uniforms


What could she be thinking?  I love moments of reflection.