Products from Jail in Baguio and Benguet

Some of our Chaplain Trainees have been working with the Baguio City Jail and Benguet District Jail (La Trinidad). They asked if we could put some of the products produced by the inmates (as part of their retraining and income development) would be put on the Web. The items that are brown look like they are wicker, but are actually skillfully made from tightly rolled-up newspaper. You would be amazed at some of the products and how they are made from things most of us throw away. We own a beautiful swan sculpture picture frame made at the Baguio City Jail from gum wrappers. It is inspiring and reminds us how God takes people the world has “thrown out” and makes something wonderful and new from their lives.

We are not a store (and don’t plan to become one anytime soon). Still, we are wholeheartedly in support of helping the inmates in their wholistic growth and rehab. If you have any questions about the products, please forward them to us at, and we will gladly forward them to Sister Tammy.
Jail Products 1

Jail Products 2

But What do you MEAN??

Books are not meant to be believed, but to be subjected to inquiry. When we consider a book, we mustn’t ask ourselves what it says but what it means. -Umberto Eco

The quote above can lead some to say, “That’s foolish! It says what it means, and means what it says!”

A clue to the challenge of the quote is that meaning is more tied to value than to facts. People commonly give facts to support certain values. But facts alone don’t reveal these values commonly. That’s because value is part of the affective part of our being, rather than cognitive or behavioral Also, part of the affective part of ourselves is our emotions. In fact, it is hard to draw clear boundaries between emotions and values— they are intertwined.

If, then, one wants to know what something means to another, listen to emotion or feeling words.  Take the following example.

John says, “My uncle died yesterday.”

Now you know the facts, but what does that really MEAN to John?  You can only guess. Rather than guessing, you could ask, “Oh my… you does that make you feel?”

John could give many different responses.

  • “I’m so very sad. He was like a second father to me.”
  • “Happy! He hurt everyone he knew. I’m glad he’s gone.”
  • “I feel lost. He was paying for my schooling. What do I do now?”
  • “Angry! He was supposed to take care of my auntie. Instead, he drank himself to death.”
  • “I don’t know. I don’t feel much of anything. I barely knew him.”

When we talk to people… we need to focus less on facts than meaning.



A Healthy Faith?

In Pastoral Care and Pastoral Counseling, it is generally believed that the faith of the individual can be a vital part of the healing process. This belief is built from a more fundamental assumption that faith is healthy. Yet, what is faith?

One of the best works I have seen on faith was written close to 40 years ago. Wayne E. Oates, a Christian Psychologist (and writer and seminary professor) wrote a book in 1973 called The Psychology of Religion. The final chapter (19) is titled “Toward a Psychology of Faith.” As a Christian, Oates valued faith. However, as a Christian Psychologist, he understood that some understandings of “faith” (both inside and outside of faith communities) may be psychologically destructive. So Oates sought to find a good understanding of the Biblical view of faith, informed by psychology, while avoiding unhealthy faith (or unhealthy things that are called faith by some).

  • Unhealthy Faith involves allegiance to the irrational
  • Unhealthy Faith involves trust without demonstrated trustworthiness
  • Unhealthy Faith is absence of, or denial of, doubt

The following is an excerpt from the chapter, under the subheading of “Faith as an Act of Surrender.” The chapter looks at faith in terms of faith in God, but also faith in other relationships. Thus it doesn’t look simply at “saving faith” but healthy faith in its many forms.

… faith involves a surrender of one’s childish sense of omnipotence, that is, an acute sense of total responsibility for everything other people do. One sees it in clinicians of every kind— doctors, ministers, social workers, psychologists, and so on— who feel themselves a failure unless they can be everything and totally succeed with persons in their care. One sees it in parents who accept total responsibility for the thoughts, values, and acts of their children. Faith as an act of surrender in such situations can be expressed in the account of a World War II solder who volunteered for combat without his father’s explicit approval. Upon sailing for Europe, his father said to him, “Son, your mother and I have done all for you we can. You’re on your own now. You have made your bed and you will just have to lie in it.” Then nearly thirty years later he says, “I thought he was angry, then. But being a father now, I can see he was telling me that he cared but that there were limits beyond which he could not go in doing so.” He exercised an act of surrender, or a life of faith, in order to survive the pain, the anxiety, and the helplessness of seeing his son in war.

Yet surrender is not a once-for-all giving up of one’s need to be totally responsible and all-powerful. It is a daily, twenty-four-hour-at-a-time exercise of faith. It must be done again and again, not as a work of merit but as a means of spiritual survival as a finite self in one’s own right before God. Without this faith, all sorts of substitutes— drugs, alcohol, work— become the insulation of terror, the inducers of sleep.


When is it NOT okay to say “God is Good”?

People of faith often know the right thing but still end up saying the wrong thing. Commonly, bumper sticker phrases like “It must be God’s will,” “Everything will work out,” and “I’m sure it’s for the best” pepper our conversations with people struggling. I would like to think that we know better than to say this, but somehow fall into meaningless aphorisms when we under pressure to give a word of wisdom.

A good example of this is the bumper sticker phrase “God is Good, All the Time.” Rather than get into the question of whether God IS indeed always good (from our perspective), let’s consider if there are times when the phrase is not useful in conversation. Try the following Blog Post for this question:

The preacher shouted out, “GOD IS GOOD!” And the congregation responded, “ALL THE TIME!” At which point the choir picked up it’s cue:

God is good all the time
He put a song of praise in this heart of mine
God is good all the time
Through the darkest night, His light will shine
God is good, God is good all the time

But Christians have developed the bad habit of saying “God is good” in a way that suggests that sometimes God is not good. This is because, whether we like it or not, some elements of the prosperity gospel has seeped into the wider Christian subculture.

The rest of the article is HERE

Denominational? Non-denomination? Ecumenical? Interfaith?

We get a fair bit of confusion regarding who we are with respect to issues religious denomination and faith. Maybe this will help somewhat.

1. Bukal Life Care & Counseling Center is “Non-denominational.” That means that we, as a group, do not ascribe to a single denominational creed, nor require our members to be a member of a specific denomination.

2. Members of Bukal Life Care & Counseling Center (staff, supervisors, board members) are members of different denominations/churches and are expected to serve within their faith communities. Thus, members are expected to serve “Denominationally” within their church setting, but are expected to serve non-denominationally with Bukal Life.

3. Bukal Life Care & Counseling Center is also “Ecumenical.” This term has different meanings to different people. We understand the term to mean sharing in a common Christian faith. For us, we ensure this by requiring members of Bukal Life to concur with the Apostle’s Creed… an early historical encapsulation of the Christ faith.

4. The College of Pastoral Supervision & Psychotherapy (CPSP) and Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) are “Interfaith.” Interfaith means that the CPSP and CPE does not limit themselves to those of the Christian faith. Rather involvement as trainees within this group and program can occur regardless of their faith/creed/religion.

5. Bukal Life Care & Counseling Center, is a non-government organization (NGO) based in the Philippines. The College of Pastoral Supervision and Psychotherapy (CPSP) is a separate organization based in the United States. CPSP-Philippines is a separate organization linked with the CPSP but based in the Philippines. Thus, these are three separate organizations. Bukal Life is connected with the CPSP and CPSP-Philippines through mutual agreements, but are legally independent.

Since Bukal Life is a training center for CPE as certified by the CPSP, we provide CPE training to all and do not discriminate based on the religious faith of the trainees. However, Bukal Life carries out other ministries within the context of non-denominational historic Christian faith.

Special Needs Parenting

Special Need Parents have it difficult. Often it is even more difficult in the Philippines. The support system is spotty at best. The school system, even where it does accommodate special needs children, is overcrowded, teachers overworked, and children are put together in the same classroom who should not be. There is also a cultural tendency to keep special needs children hidden away at home.

Much of these problems are world-wide. With that in mind, here is a blog article that we think you might enjoy. It is called “11 Things I’ve Learned Since Becoming a Special-Needs Parent.”  Here are the first three items. To read the rest, click on the article at the bottom of this post.

1.  Not knowing is a lot harder than knowing.   Yes, there is a lot we can do via therapy to help our children walk, talk, learn, etc.  But the hardest thing to admit is that most of it is simply up to their brain and its wiring.  There are no certain predictors that a special needs child will develop speech, be able to read, be potty-trained, or become self-sufficient .  Good signs, yes.  But nothing is certain.  The not knowing can drive you crazy if you let it.

2.  The internet is a blessing and a curse.  On one hand, there is valuable information out there.  Yet, information overload can get you stuck.  You end up reading too many awful things — that often don’t apply to your child at all — and it can deplete your hope and make you paranoid.

3.  Connecting to the special-needs community (whether it be acquaintances, support groups, or the internet) can be both a lifesaver and bummer.  It is vital to find people who know what you are going through.  Yet, sometimes it can produce even more negative feelings.  Since there is always someone who has it worse than you, it can make you feel guilty for complaining.  And, since there is always someone else who has it much better, you can sometimes forget that, when it comes to parenting, stress and worry are relative.  Those people are just as immersed in their concern over their children as you are and, understandably, aren’t grateful simply because it could be worse.  It can always be worse.

To Read More, Click on THIS ARTICLE


We have been getting some inquiries regarding residential counseling and care services. So as a point of clarification:

1. We do not have residential services. Our present services are limited to outpatient counseling in Baguio and Manila (and soon to add Bacolod). Questions regarding outpatient counseling sessions may be made to 0933-302-0373.

2. Additionally, we do chaplaincy services as part of our CPE and CPO programs at a number of places. These include (but are not limited to) hospitals (such as Benguet General Hospital, Baguio General Hospital, and Philippine Children’s Medical Center) and detention centers (such as Baguio City Jail).

3. We should note that we are in the VERY EARLY stages of discussion regarding setting up a Residential Counseling Center in the Baguio City area. However, it does not exist at this time and cannot promise when (or if) it will be done.