Chef Jessie Recalls Her Encounters With Pope Francis

Around this time three years ago, from January 15 to 19, 2015, Pope Francis visited the Philippines. It was a wonderful affair with Filipinos from all over the country flocking to the streets just to catch a glimpse of the Holy Father. Unfortunately, I didn’t see him in person, but I was glued to my television screen that whole week, drinking in every word he said. I loved his speech for the youth at the University of Sto. Tomas and was particularly struck by this quote: “Allow yourselves to be surprised by the love of God. That will guarantee a good life.”

A few months ago, I had the privilege of meeting a woman who got up close and personal with Pope Francis. Chef Jessie Sincioco prepared all the Holy Father’s meals during his time in Manila. I interviewed her for My Pope Philippines’ November issue and was so inspired by her enthusiasm and love for the Pope. (She even visited him in Rome to personally deliver his favorite fruit: Philippine mangoes!)


Photographer Victor Guerrero captures the ever-smiling chef on camera

Chef Jessie wasn’t just inspired by the Pope—she was also moved to action. Since a lot of people had been asking about the meals she prepared, she decided to offer all the Pope’s menus at her restaurant, Chef Jessie Rockwell Club. During the shoot, we were able to try some of the dishes and they were mouth-watering. Not only did she use premium ingredients, she also prepared them with love. She personally served the food to me and photographer Vic and this really touched me. I felt so special because I was being served by the woman who served the Pope!


Beef consommé with herbed dumplings, roast U.S. black angus beef au jus served with baked potato and steamed broccoli florets, and Chilean sea bass in tomato artichoke heart sauce served with grilled vegetables and wild rice risotto—these were just some of the Holy Father’s favorite meals during his Manila visit.


When Chef Jessie served Pope Francis the flambéed mango with mantecado ice cream for dessert, she said “simot na simot” and he was even scraping the glass. It was that good.

If you’d like to try this sumptuous meal, the Holy Father’s menus will be served in Chef Jessie Rockwell Club (G/F Amorsolo Square, Amorsolo Drive, Rockwell Center, Makati) from January 15 to February 15, 2018. Not only will your bellies be happy, your heart will be full too because 100% of the proceeds will be donated to Tulay Ng Kabataan, a foundation for street children that Pope Francis visited.

And as if this whole experience wasn’t a big enough blessing, the My Pope team informed me that Il Mio Papa, their Italian counterpart, picked up my story and ran it in one of their issues. How cool is that? I have an article published in an Italian magazine! Woohoo!


It was such an honor to meet Chef Jessie and hear all about her experiences with the Pope. Thank you, My Pope Philippines! Check out the article published in the November 2017 issue.

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14-17. Everyday Heroes p2And for more inspiring stories to lift your hearts and spirits, grab a copy of My Pope Philippines in book stores and magazine stands nationwide.My Pope Jan 2018


A Brave New Year

I can still remember the time I sat at the airport in 2004 with eight virtual strangers, waiting for our flight to Singapore. I had just graduated from college and was about to participate in an ASEAN exchange program for five months. I was excited, sure, but mostly I was terrified. It was the first time I was traveling without my family, the first time I would live away from home. I was tempted to turn back, but despite the fear, I left anyway. It turned out to be one of the best experiences of my life—and those strangers turned into some of my best friends.

When I joined AMCI Mountaineering Club in 2005, I had no idea what I was getting into. I didn’t know I had to run every training day, climb the toughest mountains, and push myself to the limits. I was afraid I wouldn’t survive. But after all the hard work, I made it! And I wouldn’t have traded the experience for anything. Plus, that’s where I met the love of my life. 😉

I’ve always been a fearful person, but when I was younger, I managed to push through those fears and take big leaps of faith. But as I grew older, it became harder and harder to take risks. Somewhere along the way, I got stuck. I got lazy. I got too comfortable. The fears grew so big that they blocked my path. They said, “Just stay where you are. Stay where it’s safe. There’s no need to move forward.”

Last December, I celebrated my 35th birthday. It was fun being with family and friends and eating to my heart’s content. But deep inside, I had this gnawing feeling. I felt anxious about the future. What was I going to do with the rest of my life? If I died tomorrow, could I honestly say that I lived life to the fullest? That I reached my full potential?

So when 2018 rolled around, I knew I had to do something about it. I couldn’t just sit around and let my fears get the best of me. I had to BE BRAVE.

I know it’s going to be challenging. I could just as easily slip into old habits. That’s why I’m committing to a few things to help me stay focused.

1. Write in my journal once a week.

I love journaling because it helps me make sense of the things going on around me. This year, I got two unique journals.


The Best Year Ever kit is a tool to help you review the past year, set new goals, and set your intention for 2018. Made by my good friend Micah Sulit, together with life coach Aurora Suarez, the kit is also filled with surprises you can open when you hit your milestones. (Spoiler alert: The inspirational stickers are a part of it!) Available at

Also crafted by Aurora, the Sunday Night Journal is a weekly “self-care ritual.” It contains insightful questions to help you reflect on the past week, and start the coming week with gratitude and positivity. I’m hoping to make this a weekly habit! Available at

2. Join The Purposeful Creative’s Braver Goals Bootcamp.

When pursuing a goal, it always helps to have a mentor and a supportive community cheering you on. I joined Arriane Serafico’s Purpose Driven Branding class last year, and it was so useful in terms of helping me define my personal brand. Since I joined the VIP community, I was also able to meet wonderful new friends who took the class with me. This year, I decided to invest in her Braver Goals class—it’s just perfect since my intention for the year is to be brave! Care to be brave with me? It’s not yet too late to join! Just log on to

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3. Stay healthy, stay TRUE.

Last year, I had a host of health problems so one of my main goals this year is to lose weight and lead a healthier lifestyle. To ease myself into it, I’m doing Adriene’s 30-Day Yoga Challenge on YouTube. I love how her theme is to be TRUE—as she says on her site, the challenge is designed to “trim, tone, and circle you back to YOU.” And really, what could be braver than staying true to yourself?

4. Pray daily.

One of my favorite bible passages of all time is Matthew 14:22-33, Jesus Walks on Water. Whenever I feel anxious or afraid, I always take comfort in the words of Jesus: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” If you need a guide to prayer, I’ve found the Sacred Space app to be very helpful. Or if you simply want to meditate, Insight Timer has plenty of guided meditations on different topics. My favorite is the one entitled “Transforming Fear” by Sarah Blondin. You can also listen to it here.

Have you set your intention for the New Year? If you have other tips on how to face your fears, I’d love to hear them. Cheers to a #Braver2018!