VI Living Wisdom:

Be it Known: There's No Secret

Wisdom is as old as biblical times that flowed from God and exemplified by Jesus Christ when he was on earth. Similarly, God has gifted us wisdom that is ready to unfold anytime in our life. There’s no secret about it, but a natural inclination to understand everything from the standpoint of God and His teachings. When we reach our age of reason and become capable of understanding life from that perspective, we have activated our gift of wisdom and we are ready to choose between right and wrong. We will feel this free will experience from our hearts as touched and enlightened by the Holy Spirit. This is our greatest power of the highest faculty and the ultimate reason that will explain everything based on what is good and evil, our conscience. As Irene grew up without a mother, she needed to find answers to as many question as possible on her own, but of course, a loving, kind father, and a lot of siblings and upbringings based on godliness. She learned the facts of life from a young age that persists throughout her lifetime, improved, and perfected as she got older and matured in a God-centered environment. Upon learning the truth, she took it well and lived it, that whatever you ask, you will receive, not all in one time but in a beauty of a puzzle that we ourselves will create into a beautiful mosaic of our lives. We will find enjoyment and pleasure in picking the pieces as they appear in the order of the Universe for us in this journey of fate. And that this very normal and natural occurrences will become the very philosophy of our highest state of being wonders of the Great Creator.


When we build our dreams in the reality of solid grounds and live our lives based on the Golden Rule, and perfecting the right virtues, we will enjoy this earthly life and fulfill our higher missions. Let us be grateful, sincerely thankful, so it will lead us there, in perfect peace with ourselves. Let us make life beautiful and share with those we love; then build a barrier so strong to repel the elements that destroy the fortress of strong wills, beautiful minds, and untainted spirits. Living wisdom is knowing and understanding God, as the theory behind everything. It is where our legacy is built upon if it must, or simply leave something that our friends, families and communities can learn and live by. To live wisdom is to live a rich spiritual life. Knowing Irene is living wisdom. ~Myrna D. Santos


Me and Irene: One-on-One

There is probably nobody who knows Irene more than I do. I live with her and see her twenty-four hours a day all year round. How can I miss anything, except for my insensitivity? As the book is nearing completion, my relationship with Irene has gone deeper as well. As she reminisces on her life, I take the honor and pleasure of picking up lessons on her life full of treasures and living wisdom. I am getting excited with the thought that we will go and tour to talk about her book. One evening, she asked me to release the book after her death. I asked her and her response is the sincerest, yet truly worrisome as she said softly, “My family will get mad at me.” The thought of her dying is enough to make me sad. My excitement was suddenly turned off. How can I obey this request? I want to feel and share with her whatever will happen to this adventure, a dream we both never have. I felt that I have developed a genuine friendship with her. There is always a pair of us, not exactly compatible but obedience and respect from my side. As her Personal Assistant, we became closer to each other. It was a challenge to know what she likes, as I prepare her meals, I should know how many sugars will satisfy her sweet tooth. I must perfect the way she likes her egg over easy, or I will end up eating it, because I want to give her a perfect sunny side.


Her movement and physical activity may have decreased greatly this past year and months, but she has remained independent, clear minded and in-control. She stayed a respectable authority in everything. Her vanity has kept her composure, fully dressed up and made up every time, be it in her bed or a trip to the doctor’s appointment and “Samba”, church services. Her classy taste is always clear in everything, from her clothing to jewelry and woman’s accessories. My sincere admiration to Irene, a beautiful woman, in and out.


I could still picture how she giggles as she recalls how Juaning stole the first kiss; her excitement to ride the Ferris wheel like a kid, while her husband is hiding so hard from his doctor friends; and how she has seen pregnant Juana give birth so easy before the midwife comes. As a young girl, she cannot help but laugh naughtily, still irking at the touch of the soft, blood-laden umbilical cords. She has an impressive knowledge base of Medicine, that she takes an active role in her health maintenance and overall health care under Client Directed Personal Assistance Program. She is very sharp, intelligent, and well-read. She belongs to both worlds of the East and the West, Old and the New who live six generations, from pre-war of WWII onto this millennium. She is a very willing and eager learner, and love information of any kind, from news to movies and movie stars. She loves politics and history, my built-in library of reference on any subject. Unlike a book that gets obsolete over time, Irene’s is always current and up-to date, evolving and realtime live, and has always included wisdom to share and lessons to be learned. Between us, there’s always something to talk about intelligently, to discover and learn from, wisely. She reveres the name "Moraga" and requested me to write it fully as her maiden name. As for technology, I gave her a cheap phone that she treasures as her connection to the world, her friends, and her church across the miles away from home. Like a young kid, she keeps her phone so close as her life’s company and security line. She was never as close to her friends all over the world, until I have set up her Facebook and Messenger to enjoy talking to her friends any time of day. She has an Apple tablet, a gift from Dyuelle our volunteer, that gives her company around the clock.  With her, there are no dull moments, she has told me stories over and over, I just need to discern the consistency of her facts especially if these need to be included in this memoir.


Irene lives with God every day. If she can advocate for Christ in any way, she will do it. She always invites friends to join her in Samba or organize bible studies even in her sick bed, never losing hope that she can still save a soul. As she remembers the story of this old woman, who she met in the past. She heard that the woman is not friendly, but when Irene approached her, she said, “We are just leaving this Pasugo (Messenger)for you to read.” to Irene’s surprise, the old lady invited her inside. In the end, the ministers carried her to the nearest beach and the old woman was baptized. ~Myrna D. Santos   


Spirituality: Finding God from the Highest Consciousness

There is nobody who can speak of spirituality and all these than Irene herself. At a young age, she found God on her own, as He unfolded things in Irene’s midst. Her age of reason came earlier than any child her age, because she did not see her mother, and found answers to her questions, with the guidance of a loving father and wonderful siblings. Her Godliness guided her in everything to live wisdom until this day in her sick bed. Her mission to bring anyone to salvation is always there; her wisdom flows as written in the Bible and how she has lived with it. She told me of her experiences with God, she believes and feels that God is with her always, I see it and I believe. She has no fears except to God as she exclaimed “God does not want to see me cry.” She remembers clearly experiences she can’t explain, except the teary eyes from the joy and eternal peace it brings.


As we search for God who is as wide as the universe, we narrow even our ways to find Him. How can we make God a reality in our lives? How can we find true answers to our deepest questions? What is the way to God? Our God is within us whose presence we carry in our hearts and soul. We do not need to search everywhere for God as He is our nearest and dearest friend, teacher, coach, partner, and life whisperer. The only way to find and catch God is by just remembering Him in everything we do until He will become active in our life. This is our spirituality or God experience, feeling His Presence and Love through another being among us. Our spiritual practice is to relate with God as we go through the experiences of life. Just go through its ups and downs with God by our side and God’s wisdom will grow unto us. Like a tree that blossoms from a single branch, our life grows from God’s vine. Then we naturally understand the mysteries of the inner-life and the universe. The understanding of Truth that arises by relating with God is not something we can get through study or learning. It arises from within us as our mind attunes with God. Then Truth simply manifests itself. However, there is a false identity within us, the ego-self, which will resist our effort to make God’s Presence a reality. It will continuously distract us with petty concerns and void pursuits. We must be watchful against our own selves as our greatest enemy. But God is kind and merciful, and so at these times of weakness and doubt, God reaches out as we seek for Him. There is no other time but the present to receive God’s grace. The practice of finding our spiritual inner self and connecting with one another being through divine intervention; the finding of God and putting Him in our highest consciousness, our daily living putting Him amongst us in our midst, this is God and my conception of who He is. Do not look for Him far and wide, find Him once and stay. He is not with the millions of false gods we value and worship out of fear, but the one true God we worship out of faith. I found God once and will stay forever! I see it in Irene, how can I be callous? ~ Myrna D. Santos


Entrepreneurship: Making a Million One More Time

Before they call it entrepreneurship, we mean business just the same. However, we call it now, will be the same idea of making money. Some call it an art or luck, “I call it destiny, and spiritual adventure with God. Let us see, will I still make money the second time around? I have no doubts, I still have God!” One important element of entrepreneurship is a clear vision and understanding of what you want. Praying over your plans, consulting God for wisdom and guidance “panata” follows. Making a million at that time post war, is a commonsense genius of practicality, hard work and of great challenge. When she started her own business from nothing but faith in God, she tells us how she did it in the simplest, most naturally generic, free flowing common-sense genius and creativity to make money and wealth. Terminologies will vary from the present time of technology and evolving rules of the twenty first century’s culture, but the bottom line remain the same principles and theories of everything. If today, entrepreneurs will say, “How to Make Money” or “How to Become Millionaires” Irene will say, “Making a Million One More Time.” 


At my age, in my good days, I am still thinking of earning, no longer for me but to the cause of the aging seniors. In my association with the Philippine Community Center Services for Aging (PCCSA), I believe that we can make a difference in the lives of the seniors whose plights I was in, until God sent my caregivers to me. It may not be late for me to see, but I trust the association to deliver these services and mission. Through this book as a labor of love from the community, will rise a building, a housing for the aging and the homeless. It is not an attempt to recreate the idea, but to make a difference in the lives of entrepreneurs, to use the same style and principles and make millions. May the experiences I had, inspire them. May they get ideas on how to create industries as big as a Poultry Farm, or as small as the “turo-turo carinderia”. I did it all with fun, with God looking from above. It can be done again. There is no magic but faith, will and industry.

~Irene Moraga Lumbrera


In the book written by a nurse, Annette Tersigni, “How to become the richest woman in Babylon”, any woman who is limited in her skills and capacity to do any business, can do, and succeed by getting the orchestra of the best team to provide these skills and capacities, utilize proven strategies to do any business. With Irene, she worked in this principle; when she went into the cow business, she took partnership with the man who has special ability to assess which cow will be good and potentially gain weight in few weeks for a better price. With her fishing business, she took the captain of the boat to manage the ship and recruited the best fishermen and earned million in a single trip. She studied the basics of her business and employed the help of people she trained. How can or did she manage her enterprise without these people as her very important resource and manpower? How did she own her farm without mentorship from the top of the line, Dr. Leviste, the right connections to the bank and capital? In whatever business she did, leadership and management were superb. Her virtues of patience and persistence coupled with her good judgement. She was always in the company of good men. God was always her guide to her North Star. ~Myrna D. Santos


Leadership and Management Her Style:

The Art of Her Deal

At a very young age, Irene has already shown the qualities and traits of a leader and manager. How she negotiated with her Impong Polin for her classmates and whole class to eat lunch in that dream long table where people of positions and dignitaries eat, served by the butler himself for a weeklong? When she rode in the car of her Aunt Sabrina to tell her that the car is her family’s because Aunt Sabrina did not return the title of the lands she borrowed from her mother, Antonina? What kind of guts and justice to tell the truth and firmly believe and stand for what is right?  What does she know to make these kinds of deals with adults?


"With booming business, I cannot do it alone, I needed people to work for me and with me. I learned that finding trustworthy people is very difficult. There will always be temptation with money. I have learned from Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) that in business, you should always be hands-on and ever present. As I need to attend “samba” every Wednesday, I leave my trusted person for at least two hours. Sure enough, she built her house and bought a car at my expense! When I was recruiting fishermen for my boat, I gave them all the reasons why they should join me: a thousand pesos each family, and a cavan of rice.  I treated my fishermen and workers to good times in between fishing schedules. I brought them to Luneta Park every night."


Money is bad and root of evils and temptations. She has seen it so many times, with her textile business, her trusted person was able to buy a car and a house. In her chicken farm, his worker was able to steal a jeep full of chicken, her neighbor was able to build a house with materials stolen from her, and these four maids who stole her money slowly, she put them all to justice, with her wisdom, without fear, but the truth and her God.


With an employee of one or a thousand, she must be tough and disciplined, no family, no friend to favor and exclude. Rules are for everyone without exception, but the extreme. With a big business as the chicken farm, she was ready for the enemy anytime, be the New People's Army (NPA) or the thefts that come in the middle of the night or broad daylight doing inside job among themselves. She gets the best protection, from police and other authorities. She makes it known of who she is, what she has and that is her edge over the rest. She knows how to display power, connection, authority. While she has a gun and a balisong, (double edged knife) nothing scares Irene. No employee is indispensable, with her tough rules, people come to confess misdoings, she finds her enemies, right there on the act, and with her gift of wisdom, each culprit gets their due punishment with heads bowed, in deep shame. She is not scared to lose a bad employee, there will always be somebody. One day, there were so many people in the gate of her chicken farm, when she asked her guard to check them out, those are people trying to apply for any position available.


When she boldly knocked at that gate in Riverside and asked Ka Felix to help her at four ’oclock in the morning; when she asked Dr. Leviste to give her the land without money to build her farm; when she built her chicken farm, her dream house, the road, because they are charging her more than the value of her land. When Ka Felix’s body was being transferred to his home to be buried, she led to direct the traffic. She is blunt that leaves a deep mark forever, direct, sincere, kind, yet strong in her composure. There is no doubt at all, the millions she made and everything that she has done as a social activist, philanthropist, a deaconess, are testimonies of her great visions, faith, leadership, management, entrepreneurship on her own style that rose to be her legend today~Myrna D. Santos


Social Justice and Human Rights

She is a just human rights activist who does not want to see anyone being treated unfairly. Once visiting in Calaca, there was a poor, young wife, around fifteen years old, who was victimized with an attempted rape, one night while her husband went fishing. They live by the hut near the sea, so poor. The perpetrator was able to jump out of the window, however, he was caught, he’s the son of the local government official. They sought a good lawyer for him, while nobody wants to help the girl. When Irene came, she asked what happened and she stood for the girl. The judge said that on first questioning, the girl would not speak, Irene exclaimed, “How can she talk? She’s still in shock! And I made her speak up. We reached the higher court, without a lawyer, just the Truth. Justice was served and the defendant served eight years in prison. His lawyer was so embarrassed to meet the judge, so that he flew to America to save his face!” Her message was simple but strong: Even if you are poor and innocent, if you have God who is all Just, you are Blessed. Truth shall set you free. 


Life as a Game

Life is a game we play every minute in a day, making sure of genius moves like in a chess; putting the ball right in the goal; flying high like a golf ball over the vastness of that green course and lakes, in the swiftness of chasing a tennis ball with that racket; and hitting that baseball with a firmly held bat to make a homerun. It has its ups and downsEach day is moving toward perfection until we learn and master its rules. Every movement is a meditation, experiencing God everywhere and trusting Him without doubts. Learn your game, play well and be happy. When you fall, rise. This is how I play mine; it keeps me going confidently calm and surely a productive, self-directed, and God-guided, no fear life.

 ~Myrna D. Santos