#BibleExpo: Biblical Wisdom through a Hashtag

News, Events and Second Glances

From music to money, the flexible pound sign (#) has been making  lives easier since the 12th century.

And it was that one fateful day in August of 2007 when a mere suggestion by Chris Messina turned out to become the start of something that would change the face of the # forever.

Photo courtesy of InternetMediaLabs.com, from the article entitled The Hashtag: A Door to Discovery on Twitter. Link: http://internetmedialabs.com/twitter-hashtags-101-guide/

Today, the hashtag is everywhere – Twitter pioneered its usage while Google + and now Facebook has followed suit. Thanks to one symbol, social media users are now able to follow and track what topics interest them.

Just as long as a topic is preceded by the #, it is archived in the vast recesses of the Interwebs and will be there waiting patiently for you to peruse it until you get to the nearest Wi-Fi hotspot.

Fast forward to six years from the first hashtag created: August 2, 2013 – a group of people who believe in sharing God’s wisdom to others via technology will be making use of this popular symbol to impart biblical logic to the world.

God willing, these people will be using the hashtag #BibleExpo on Twitter, Facebook and Google + for the Members Church of God International’s (MCGI) Worldwide Bible Exposition.

The official Bible Exposition hashtag: #BibleExpo. Photo courtesy of Ang Dating Daan's Facebook page.

The official Bible Exposition hashtag: #BibleExpo. Photo courtesy of Ang Dating Daan’s Facebook page.

Just like the hashtag, Bible Expositions were created to bring people who would like to learn more about an important topic together – salvation. Visitors from all over the world get to ask their questions on the Bible – and they would get a Bible-based answer from international preacher and MCGI Presiding Minister Bro. Eli Soriano and Vice-Presiding Minister Bro. Daniel Razon.

During Bible Expositions, guests and online followers who may be stuck in traffic or their work desks benefit from the live blow-by-blow account of the questions and answers from the live Twitter feed from the Church’s official Twitter accounts –  @TheOldPathTV (English) and @AngDatingDaanTV (Filipino), as well as from visitors who join in on the live blogging using the #BibleExpo hashtag.

There’s a lot of use to the #. And for a group of humble believers the world over, its use is of something great:

#Salvation

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

References:

1] http://socialmediatoday.com/kevin-basset/1545426/history-hashtag-infographic

2] http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/04/magazine/in-praise-of-the-hashtag.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

3] http://www.mcgi.org/about/leaders/

4] http://internetmedialabs.com/twitter-hashtags-101-guide/

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It’s More Beneficial in the Philippines: A New Brand of Healthcare Reform Powered by UNTV’s Unique Public Service Firsts

News, Events and Second Glances

While democrats and republicans are still battling it out on the famous Obamacare, debating whether if it’s a good idea or otherwise, a man with a big heart somewhere in the small yet beautiful islands of the Philippines is busy bringing his own brand of healthcare reform in his homeland.

And for the thousands of Filipinos who will benefit from this landmark public service endeavor, this is more than just a good idea. It’s a great, lifesaving idea that has never before been attempted in the whole nation.

The man behind this is Daniel Razon, broadcast journalist and CEO of Breakthroughs and Milestones Productions, Inc and UNTV and he is bringing free healthcare to Filipinos who need it most – in all parts of the country. This is part of what was announced on the 9th anniversary of UNTV 37 on July 18, 2013.

UNTV 37's 9th year anniversary held on July 18, 2013 with the theme: Inspiring Change, Building Better Communities. Photo courtesy of UNTV 37'S Facebook Page

UNTV 37’s 9th year anniversary held on July 18, 2013 with the theme: Inspiring Change, Building Better Communities. Photo courtesy of UNTV 37’S Facebook Page

Sit back, stop arguing, and watch how it’s done, America:

 Free Healthcare In Manila and Nearby Regions..

The UNTV 37 station in Edsa, Quezon City, Philippines is the only station in the Philippines with a built-in clinic. This is where people get free medical services from Mondays through Fridays, as seen on the network’s morning show Good Morning, Kuya!:

  • General medicine consultation
  • Optometry
  • Dental
  • ENT
  • Gynecology
  • Pediatrics
  • Dermatology
  • Dental
  • Orthopedic
  • Physical Therapy
  • Minor surgeries
  • Free medicines

Aside from this, another free clinic is situated in the Ang Dating Daan Convention Center in Apalit, Pampanga, ready to aid those in the area for free. UNTV ambulances are on standby 24/7 for emergency situations, ready to transport and give first aid to those in need without asking for a single penny.

…And to the rest of the Philippine Islands

Debuted just this July 18, UNTV Health Coupons will be distributed to those who are in far areas. Holders of UNTV Health Coupons may go to nearby affiliated hospitals in their area to avail of free medical services.

Kuya Daniel Razon, dubbed as Mr. Public Service, as he tells everyone of the new health services UNTV is offering for all Filipino indigents across the country.

Kuya Daniel Razon, dubbed as Mr. Public Service, as he tells everyone of the new health services UNTV is offering for all Filipino indigents across the country.

If that weren’t enough, UNTV is also giving away UNTV-sponsored PhilHealth insurance cards in all parts of the country for Filipino indigents. Those who will be eligible for these medical freebies will be determined in cooperation with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and local government units.

These are of course, in addition to the regular medical missions carried out by the network – which brings a team of medical professionals along with medical equipment and medicines to far-flung barrios and villages. As promised by Mr. Public Service Kuya Daniel, the medical missions in partnership with the Members Church of God International, will be more extensive this year.

In partnership with MCGI, UNTV holds medical missions in provinces of the Philippines. Photo courtesy of MCGI.org

In partnership with MCGI, UNTV holds medical missions in provinces of the Philippines. Photo courtesy of MCGI.org

This just blows me away. Not only are these healthcare programs ingenious, but also, a budding network is behind them.

These health reform ideals are proof that the relatively small can create ginormous ideas for the good of all.

Living away from my country of origin, it makes me all the more proud to see how progressive Filipinos are in thinking of ways to help improve the plight of others.  UNTV 37 is one big, lifesaving reason why it’s more beneficial in the Philippines. And ultimately, just more fun.

9 on the 9th: Nine Reasons Why UNTV is Inspiring Change and Building Better Communities

News, Events and Second Glances

Just one year shy of a decade, UNTV 37 has successfully redefined Philippine public service – and is continuing to do so on a daily basis. In a short span of time, a television network has become something more than just a mere media presence. It has become something that the country desperately needed – a real, no-nonsense public service machine like no other.

In celebration of its nine years of Inspiring Change and Building Better Communities on the air and in the lives of Filipinos, we count down nine of the reasons why UNTV stays true to being the Philippines’ undisputed public service network.

 No. 9 – Real Infotainment Minus the Ugh

What needs to change: Shows that showcase the short, the skimpy and the skintight with not much substance.

UNTV’s Answer: UNTV is dedicated to making sure that its programming are not only enjoyable but are informative and wholesome.

 

No. 8 – Kid-Friendly Programming

What needs to change:  Cartoons are rampant, but there aren’t enough shows  on TV that are actually centered on rearing good, God-fearing children.

UNTV’s Answer: Good programming that will inevitably help kids grow up to become smart, goodhearted and conscientious adults. Just like what yesterday dreamt of. Did we mention that UNTV is the recipient of 13 Anak TV awards? 

No. 7 – An Entrepreneurial Hand at Hard Times

What needs to change: The notion that being your own boss is tedious and that starting your own business is hard.

UNTV’s Answer: Shows that serve as easy walkthroughs to small and big-scale businesses, sharing need-to-know secrets of the trade while entertaining audiences both young and old.

No. 6 – Get Fit In and Out

What needs to change: A lack of television programs that will encourage the maintenance of healthy bodies from the inside and out.

UNTV’s Answer: Shows that will inspire us to keep being fit so we could utilize our strength and abilities for the greater good.

No.  5 – Get Inspired with Real Life Stories in the Real World

What needs to change: More learnings about important national issues, inspirational stories of hardworking folks who made it to the top of their fields and heartwarming stories of goodwill shared with people who need it most. Less of shows that brandish mostly cloying rumors and exploit the poor under the guise of helping them.

UNTV’s Answer: UNTV’s roster of public affairs programs are intent on informing and inspiring the public. The more the public’s hearts are touched with truthful and heartfelt stories, the more they are aware of what realities others face. This will hopefully create more people who would be standing up on the side of justice.

No. 4 – Journalism with a Heart

What needs to change: The notion that helping others has to take a back seat to news reporting and that a news item is a bigger deal than the lives of others.

UNTV’s Answer: Training media men and women to become certified lifesavers so that they can put public service first, reporting later with Tulong Muna Bago Balita.

No. 3 – Unique Public Service

 What needs to change: Public service for ratings’ sake.

UNTV’s Answer: The many public service deeds on and off the camera. Aside from these programs…

It is at the UNTV station where the Clinic ni Kuya and Law Center ni Kuya are. In partnership with the Members Church of God International and Kamanggagawa Foundation, UNTV supports the first free Transient Home, which also offers free food and social services. Not to mention the free rides, livelihood grants to indigents, free education and other services for the benefit of the public.

No. 2 – Kuya Daniel Razon

What needs to change: Broadcasters who don’t walk their talk.

UNTV’s Answer: Kuya Daniel Razon is the driving force behind the many unique and fruitful public service efforts of UNTV. The strong and confident figure behind “Get It Straight with Daniel Razon,” Kuya Daniel gets to the bottom of important issues by asking the questions everyone is afraid to ask. Kuya Daniel is a broadcast journalist who is most comfortable when he is on the streets, seeing the plight of the masses.  With all of the public service projects he has created and is still creating, no one deserves the title “Mr. Public Service” more.

 No. 1. – Bro. Eliseo Soriano

What needs to change? Religious shows that do not focus on what’s important — Christ’s teachings written on the Bible.

UNTV’s Answer: Bro. Eliseo Soriano or Bro. Eli for short is not only the international preacher who is tirelessly sharing God’s words to six of the seven continents, he is also the big heart behind this public service network, being the primary champion and supporter of all the public service endeavors of UNTV and beyond. His award-winning religious program “Ang Dating Daan” or “The Old Path” is being broadcasted via radio, television, satellite, and the Internet. What sets Bro. Eli’s religious programs from the rest is its truthful, Bible-based format: anyone can ask any spiritual question and it is guaranteed a biblical answer. Spirituality at its finest, just what our country needs — and UNTV is home to this longest-running religious program in Philippine broadcasting history.

Cheers to UNTV 37 on nine great years of making a difference on Philippine broadcasting and most especially, in the lives of countless Filipinos.

With the number of unique public service efforts that continue to inspire change and build better communities, I can honestly say that there is no other network like UNTV on the face of the planet.

One More Reason to Heart This Place: Finding Apalit in New York – Day 2

News, Events and Second Glances

It’s safe to say that if there’s one place in the world I so terribly miss, it’s the Ang Dating Daan Convention Center in Apalit, Pampanga.

Believers from the Add Convention Center in Apalit, Pampanga wake up to a special day -- Day 2 of MCGI's International Thanksgiving. Photo Credit: Rovic Balunsay, PVI

Believers from the Add Convention Center in Apalit, Pampanga wake up to a special day — Day 2 of MCGI’s International Thanksgiving. Photo Credit: Rovic Balunsay, PVI

Every so often, I would regale myself with memories of ADD Con – traveling by bus very early in the morning from Baclaran to get to Apalit, smelling the freshly cooked arroz caldo and champorado from nearby vendors, walking the aisles of the convention center to find the perfect seat, singing at the wide stage with the rest of the brethren, the jamming sessions after the international thanksgiving celebrations.

And of course, the people I share those memories with.

By fate, it seems, I’ve found myself living in America. And though I am thousands of miles away from that special place in Apalit, somehow, I have stumbled upon Apalit here in New York. This is a realization that came to me during the second day of the Members Church of God International’s (MCGI) International Thanksgiving to God celebration.

To get to Apalit before 7 a.m., I used to have to make it to Baclaran at around 4:30 a.m. with my family and friends. Here in NY for the second day of the ITG, I travel with friends from New York, Connecticut and Canada to our ITG venue a little over four in the afternoon.

On our way to the ITG venue!

On our way to the ITG venue!

Arriving early at Apalit years ago, I always see choir members practicing before the congregational singing commences. In NY, choir members do the same, making sure that they perform their best because God deserves the best — a bit of wisdom we have learned from our preachers Bro. Eliseo Soriano and Bro. Daniel Razon.

Choir members practicing their opening song number in NYC. Pauline Arellano, PVI NY

Choir members practicing their opening song number in NYC. Pauline Arellano, PVI NY

The beautiful and colorful presentation of choir members and the Teatro Kristiano never failed to astound me as I sat in one of the ADD Con’s white monobloc chairs. I may be sitting on a different kind of chair in NY, but the feeling upon watching these talented individuals remains the same.

Starting day two with music. East Coast USA & Canada Choir members together with the Teatro Kristiano on MCGI's International Thanksgiving to God on July 5, 2013. Pauline Arellano, PVI NY

Starting day two with music. East Coast USA & Canada Choir members together with the Teatro Kristiano on MCGI’s International Thanksgiving to God on July 5, 2013. Pauline Arellano, PVI NY

With the bountiful wisdom being unfolded with each topic delivered by Bro. Eliseo Soriano and Bro. Daniel Razon, rejoicing is inevitable. I have experienced it seemingly endless times in Apalit, and I, together with the believers in America, feel it still, even from afar; simply thankful to God for His wisdom and kindness.

Rejoicing in New York for the many biblical knowledge learned. Photo courtesy of Members Church of God International official Facebook fan page.

Rejoicing in New York for the many biblical knowledge learned. Photo courtesy of Members Church of God International official Facebook fan page.

And the same way as it when I was in Apalit, I am blessed to enjoy hearing such biblical brilliance with God-given friends.

Time will come, in His will, that I will get to walk in ADD Con’s aisles once more and sing, listen, and praise with the rest of the brethren in Apalit. But for now, I am truly grateful for having found a version of Apalit right here in NYC.

Time flies when you’re learning spiritual wisdom! Day 3, up next, God willing!

Faith and Fireworks: Celebrating the International Thanksgiving to God in Sunny New York – Day 1

News, Events and Second Glances

July 4, 2013.

While people from all over New York go to Times Square to watch the yearly fireworks display for the Independence Day celebration, members of the Church of God International in New York enjoy a different kind of fireworks from inside one event hall in Queens, New York.

Six hours before the big event, I, together with two sister-friends boarded the Q17 bus to get to the Thanksgiving location. On a hot, humid day, people wore short shorts and sleeveless tops.

Our “outfit of the day” looked somewhat different, eliciting looks as we passed by residents and commuters alike. No matter, we were proud of what we were wearing: Teatro Kristiano uniform and the usual modest, Thanksgiving garb – like what we were taught in the Church.

The sun shone down and heated pavements at a high 88 degrees Fahrenheit as I checked my old phone’s clock. It proudly told me that it was 1:09 p.m. At last, after about an hour of traveling, we reached the venue – all set, waiting for everyone.

Group by group, brethren from Canada, Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, South Carolina, Massachusetts, and even Oklahoma arrived – with suitcases, duffel bags, and their adorable kids in tow. Despite the long travel hours, they all had something in common – they all brandished excited smiles.

Before I knew it, it was 5:55 p.m., and the music ministry choir led the congregants in singing songs of praise in Apalit, Pampanga. In New York, the East Coast USA Choir led us in singing.  Finally, after three months of long wait, the International Thanksgiving to God has finally begun!

The East Coast USA choir, together with choir delegates from Canada, lead the brethren in singing songs of praise during the ITG. Pauline Arellano, PVI NY

The East Coast USA choir, together with choir delegates from Canada, lead the brethren in singing songs of praise during the ITG. Pauline Arellano, PVI NY

Cheers resounded in the small hall where brethren are in Queens, as Bro. Eli, in his signature turtleneck and coat, spoke to brethren all over the world. Bro. Eli Soriano, Presiding-Minister to MCGI welcomed the brethren on the first day of the ITG, immediately after the choir and teatro offered a song of praise to start off the event.

Two topics were discussed on the first day. Vice-Presiding Minister to MCGI Bro. Daniel Razon gave the first part of each topic, while Bro. Eli delivered each topic’s climax.

During the International Thanksgiving celebration, believers from our neck of the woods turn night into day so we could listen fervently to spiritual knowledge that we won’t be able to hear anywhere else.

While some of the brethren in the Philippines drank coffee because it is the morning time norm, the brethren in the Americas did too, at night, to keep awake and focused while listening to the wisdom being unfolded during the three-day spiritual feast.

To make sure that all are up in the wee hours of the night, each short break was used to eat and recharge with power naps. At midnight, while brethren in the Philippines took a break for lunch, we here in New York prepared to take a short nap.

Before I closed my eyes, at 1:09 a.m., I stole a glance out the window. A couple of hours ago, traces of green, red, and blue muted fireworks peppered the ebony sky.

The night turned into day, and with their notebooks and Bibles in hand, the brethren were still up with God’s help and mercy, listening to Bro. Eli up until the very last biblical wisdom shared for the day.

Brethren from East Coast of US and Canada gather in New York to celebrate our International Thanksgiving. Januel Arriola, PVI NY

Brethren from East Coast of US and Canada gather in New York to celebrate our International Thanksgiving. Januel Arriola, PVI NY

Looking out the window, the sun was already high, and no trace of fireworks can no longer be seen from yesterday’s Independence Day celebration here in America. But inside the small hall in Queens, the fireworks are still very much alive.

The fireworks are the exuberant, excited glow of the brethren’s eyes. And as the International Thanksgiving is happening, the fireworks become stronger, more vibrant, and more extravagant. Never fading, never waning; despite the long travel, heat, and exhaustion, the fireworks don’t end.

Happy International Thanksgiving to God, from the brethren in East Coast USA and Canada! Pauline Arellano, PVI NY

Happy International Thanksgiving to God, from the brethren in East Coast USA and Canada! Pauline Arellano, PVI NY

These kind of fireworks may very well last forever.

HAPPY INTERNATIONAL THANKSGIVING TO BELIEVERS IN ALL PARTS OF THE WORLD!