Pen Strokes

November 1, 2008

Seven Candles

Christmas in a house with NO ELECTRICITY!

December 24, 2006… It was almost Christmas Eve; the cupboard was empty; the table was without food and we had NO ELECTRICITY! In fact, we’ve had no electricity for the past six months! All we had left were just SEVEN CANDLES… Seven Candles to light our house for the rest of the month… How did we get this low?

Our past Christmases were never like this! They were always well celebrated, well attended and well LIGHTED. We had money back then; but it wasn’t because I was successful… My Dad was successful! In fact, he provided for all of us… my family included. Because of this, we could afford to send my children to exclusive schools and we could also afford travel to foreign lands like Europe, Japan and Australia.

And… I did little to try to get out from under my father’s wing… and why should I? Life was easy back then!

But come to think of it, it was this “easy life” that made us complacent! I lived irresponsibly and my family disrespected me for it. My children only obeyed me out of fear and my wife grew very distant from me. I… I was never a father to my children and I was even less of a husband to my wife! Money had made us strangers. I didn’t know my own children and they didn’t know me!

Yes, we had money; but then one day, the money stopped! My father had lost his “high paying” job and I couldn’t provide enough for my family. My wife tried to take matters into her own hands by putting up a business; but it didn’t last very long and we found ourselves getting deeper and deeper into debt. Poverty was now a reality… and we reeled at its wake.

In a year, everything we had was gone!

And my children suffered the most! Some of them had to stop studying… and those who were able to go to school, went to school hungry… and though they kept their silence; it’s as if I could hear my children’s thoughts in my head shouting: “What have you done to us, Daddy? Why are we suffering? Why did you allow this to happen?” The guilt inside me was simply overwhelming!

My 5 children and I… We could only take this pic during the day!

The years that followed would find us moving from house to house; always looking for a place that was big enough to suit my family of seven, yet cheap enough for us to afford. Eventually, we found this house that was next to a shanty area and had neither an electrical connection nor running water! We had to use candles to light our way during the nights.

For several months we have had no electricity! And now it was Christmas Eve… and we still had no electricity! Can you imagine spending Christmas and New Year without electricity? I’ve officially hit rock-bottom!

Now, we were down to our last SEVEN CANDLES.

In order to save on our candles, my wife would let the candle wax of each candle drip into a bowl that had a wick sticking out of it so that when the bowl was full, we would have another candle… Eventually, we would have created a bigger candle because each of the SEVEN CANDLES that we lit that night would contribute to this new candle’s creation!

That evening, we were seated around the dinner table; celebrating Christmas with no electricity, very little food and no Christmas gifts. And perhaps it was because we had very little that night that we decided to just tell stories or sing songs or just fool around! It was at this point that I noticed something different… I was starting to see my family in a different light! They were beautiful! I had never realized just how beautiful they really were! They were not crushed by the situation! They rose above it! My wife strove to fill up what was lacking in my earnings and my children got very high grades in school despite the hardships… Some of them even became scholars! I must have been so consumed by our poverty to notice that my my family was being rebuilt… and I was being rebuilt along with them as well…

During that Christmas in the dark, I realized that the SEVEN members of my family were just like these SEVEN CANDLES! The fire of hardship had melted away our individuality and created one family.

How ironic that in the darkest and most desperate part of our lives my FAMILY’s LIGHT filled our entire house! It was the BRIGHTEST Christmas we’ve ever had! Friends, I ask you; if hope resides in our darkest moments, why should any of us be afraid of the dark? Wasn’t it Emerson who said: “It is when night is darkest that the stars shine brightest…”?

Today, we are financially just a little better off than before. But this isn’t about money; it’s about how Seven Candles came together to form one candle… and… how Seven individuals came together and formed one family!… My Family!

A Speech by: Enrique Salvador E. San Agustin



  1. Hi Boom,
    I liked your 7 candles very much! I was really touched by it. You’re a good man. You’re not shallow like so many of us, and so honest. Also you write very well. Bravo and may 2009 be a very good year for you and your dearest ones.

    Comment by didier — December 31, 2008 @ 5:47 pm | Reply

  2. This is a lovely story, highlighting just what is most important in life. Thanks for sharing.

    Comment by Norma Jordan-Backe — January 1, 2009 @ 1:43 am | Reply

    • Thank you so much for this comment, Norma! May you have all the blessings this 2009! 🙂

      Comment by boom8088 — January 1, 2009 @ 2:41 am | Reply

  3. Thanks for sharing.Your story puts things in the right perspective for this Holy Season and as we reflect and consider what we will put our efforts toward in the coming year.

    Comment by Jay Heinlein — January 1, 2009 @ 5:04 am | Reply

    • Thanks for posting your comments here, Jay! Yes, it does put things in the right perspective. 🙂 Have an amazing 2009!

      Comment by boom8088 — January 1, 2009 @ 8:39 pm | Reply

  4. You have amazing stories. You have a lot in your life to inspire you. I hope that this next year bring you lots of love, luck and wealth. Even if you don’t really need the last one…it helps make sure everything is running smoothly.

    Comment by Brittany N. Prtuchard — January 1, 2009 @ 6:04 am | Reply

    • Yo Brittany! Did anyone ever tell you that you are wise beyond your years? Well somebody should! So, I guess, I’ll do it… You are wise beyond your years! Done! 😉

      Happy New Year!

      Comment by boom8088 — January 1, 2009 @ 8:42 pm | Reply

  5. That was such a nice story. It touched our family’s heart so much.I will always remember this not only every Christmas, but everyday.

    Comment by Kerwin — January 1, 2009 @ 3:20 pm | Reply

    • SOL Kerwin! Thanks Bro! I’m glad you and your family liked it! Here’s to an amazing 2009! Cheers! 🙂

      Comment by boom8088 — January 1, 2009 @ 8:44 pm | Reply

  6. Hi Boom,

    First of all, I also think you have a gift with your excellent writing skills It is indeed a very touching story to share with everyone. I remember what Fr Jun Sescon homily was in Greenbelt Chapel last Dec 25, we have to be broken just like in the breaking of the bread before consecration. He added that change and transformation follows after our as long as we do not lose hope. He repeated again the same message this New year’s day homily on hope giving life. (instead of the usual saying “na habang may buhay may pag-asa”).

    Your story only affirms that God does not give us challenges we cannot overcome. As a father I can emphatize on your role as a provider for the family. How well we perform this role is perhaps incorporated in our mission in life. I am happy to know that your family were one to overcome such challenges. You all have seen the light,… memories of our high school days singing of how it is better to light just one little candle comes to my mind now. …. than to stumble in the dark.

    May your story become a inspiration to others as it affected me when I read it !

    Thank you.

    regards to you and your family.

    Comment by Martin Copon IV — January 1, 2009 @ 7:02 pm | Reply

    • SOL Martin! We’ve come a long way from our high-school days, Bro! It’s not what we experience that matters; it’s what we learn from our experience that makes all the difference.

      Happy New Year! 🙂

      Comment by boom8088 — January 1, 2009 @ 8:47 pm | Reply

  7. Boom, please share this magical story with my/our group members here : FACEBOOK FORUM – What Is Important To You?

    Comment by Chris Bell — January 2, 2009 @ 12:32 am | Reply

    • Hi Chris! Thanks! I’m glad you liked it! I already shared it with your Facebook group. I hope they like it as well.

      By the way, I really appreciated your calling me yesterday! That was really cool! 😉

      Comment by boom8088 — January 2, 2009 @ 2:09 am | Reply

  8. Boom,

    What a great piece – I think that your writing serves to inspire others into action, leading you to set higher goals for yourself and take even more focused action. The process repeats until you have a) achieved all of your goals b) inspired others to achieve theirs. Perhaps you did not know it, but your motivation is already global in scope. Thanks so much and Happy New Year to you and your beautiful family!

    Comment by Scott Dennison — January 2, 2009 @ 12:46 am | Reply

    • Hi Scott! I never really thought of it that way! Good point! Now that’s why you’re the guru and I’m the student. Have an awesome 2009! 😀

      Comment by boom8088 — January 2, 2009 @ 2:10 am | Reply

  9. Boom,
    I commend you for your courage in sharing your story. A positive story that edify – we need more of this. You are a better man because of your experience.

    Please allow me to share with you an excerpt from an interview with Rick Warren – author of Purpose Driven Life:

    “We were made by God and for God, and until you figure that out, life isn’t going to make sense. Life is a series of problems: Either you are in one now, you’re just coming out of one, or you’re getting ready to go into another one. The reason for this is that God is more interested in your character than your comfort; God is more interested in making your life holy than He is in making your life happy. We can be reasonably happy here on earth, but that’s not the goal of life. The goal is to grow in character, in Christ likeness.”

    God gives us joy and peace beyond all understanding.

    God bless,

    Comment by Angel Morales — January 3, 2009 @ 3:21 pm | Reply

    • SOL Angel! I love that book! And that was one of my favorite verses too! Happy 2009! 🙂

      Comment by boom8088 — January 3, 2009 @ 10:30 pm | Reply

  10. Thanks so much for putting the link to this story on twitter.
    I’ve heard so many stories of hope and they are all different and wonderful.
    have a great year and God bless you and you’res

    Comment by ryan — January 9, 2009 @ 11:35 pm | Reply

    • You’re welcome, Ryan! Thanks for this comment! Here’s to an amazing 2009 for all of us!

      Comment by boom8088 — January 10, 2009 @ 1:08 am | Reply

  11. lest you are broken, you can never be shared.

    May the Lord bless you and keep you, show his face to you and have mercy on you, turn his countenance to you and give you PEACE.

    May the Lord bless you with a truly JOYFUL year.

    Comment by alex — January 13, 2009 @ 11:17 am | Reply

    • SOL Alex! Thanks for the blessing! That’s the blessing for the New Year. I deeply appreciate it! 😀

      Comment by boom8088 — January 14, 2009 @ 3:37 am | Reply

  12. Brod Boom,

    I am very proud of you Brod.
    And I am so honored to be associated with your short stay in Bahrain.

    I know you are a survivor.
    I have seen you survive.
    You will make it Brod.
    You already have.
    With the 7 candles that you possess.

    May God bless you with the all the beautiful rewards you and your family so deserves.

    Cheers and God Bless.

    Comment by Alex Ginete — May 19, 2009 @ 3:27 pm | Reply

    • Hi Alex!

      I’m very happy to see your comment here in my blog. How did you find it? Anyway, thank you for your kind words. And may God shower his blessings on you! 🙂


      Comment by boom8088 — May 21, 2009 @ 2:35 am | Reply

  13. Boom,

    I have witnessed those 7 candles shines brightly and now I’m officially missing you all.

    Continue to shine Boom, you have it in you so naturally and your family – remember that nobody can put off that fire that is potently blazing from within. I so believe in you – someday you will be celebrating Christmas with chandelier. I hope to see you all soon.

    Tito Royce

    Comment by Royce — January 19, 2011 @ 3:18 pm | Reply

    • We miss you too, Royce! Your Christmas gift is still at home. Bisita ka naman. 🙂

      Comment by boom8088 — January 19, 2011 @ 3:42 pm | Reply

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