Woman of Substance: Lily Libo-On


Photo by Eros Goze, Styling by Ushi Sato and Make Up by Ginno Alducente, “Mariposa” wrap by Dita Sandico-Ong and Diamonds from Liali Jewellery


Lily Libo-On

Spiritual Servant

Very few could claim to have been touched by something as life-changing as a miracle; Lily Libo-on is one of those rare people.

In 2005, then based in Brunei Darussalam, Lily who had a flourishing career in journalism was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and was given two months to live.  After seeking a second opinion and being given the same findings, she decided to go to Mindanao, where her family lives, and where all of them – her mother, five sisters and a brother – were involved in an evangelism and healing ministry.  Lily travelled there to wait for death to come.

But it wasn’t Lily’s time to go.  When her family members preached spiritual healing and laid their hands on her, she had a profound experience that allowed her to rise up and changed her life forever.  Lily remembers that defining moment.  She shares, “I felt so blessed. Gone was the excruciating pain. The unbearably distressing feeling suddenly turned into a feeling of relief.  I knew from that time on that I had to devote my life to become a spiritual servant and a prayer warrior for others in the same situation to be free.”

A regular member of the National Press Club – Philippines, and the Filipino Press Club – UAE, Lily is also a United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) accredited environmental journalist since 1987. She was one of four Filipino journalists commissioned by the UNEP to write a four-country book on ecology, which included the Philippine Environmental Situation in 1991-1992.  She presented a paper before the UN delegates entitled “Eco Tourism: A Boon or A Bane in the Philippines.”

This mother of four has been an Overseas Filipino (OF) since 1995.  She started her expat life working as a Technical Director to the Asian Institute of Development Communication (AIDCOM) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. She then moved to Kota Kinabalu, Sabah to join Borneo Post as Feature Editor.  After that, she shifted to Brunei Darussalam to work for News Express as Business Editor for two years, then as Deputy Editor.  Her last post was Chief Editor at online newspaper brudirect.com before her life took a different turn in 2005.

Six years on, Lily reflects on how she decided to stop working and live her life fully by faith.  She shares, “My two sons were still in college and could not understand my decision. They were worried about how they could finish their studies. I could not give them clear answers except that God would do it.  Somehow, scholarship offers came and we were able to manage.”

Lily studied to join the spiritual community, both in Manila and in Kuala Lumpur and served the healing ministry.  During her free time then, she could be found at Luneta Park and all over Luzon, even as far as Mountain Province sharing the good news of salvation to everybody she encountered.

By a stroke of destiny, she ended up in Dubai in October 2007 to aid a friend who needed healing.  During her trip, she saw many distressed Filipinos who needed spiritual direction, assistance and comfort.  At the same time, without any plans of working or staying in the country, fate led her to a job offer at Khaleej Times.  She took the latter and accepted to humbly work, not as an editor but as a staff reporter for the first time in her life, so that she could also pursue her spiritual advocacy.

With a ministry combining journalism and spiritual servanthood, Lily did her bit to help in the local community – writing about the situation of Filipinos and other expats to call the attention of the authorities, and at the same time, feeding the souls of the needy.

Together with other well-meaning Filipinos, Lily helped a lot of compatriots in distress; among them were 61 construction workers in Sharjah left by their employers with no food and salary, 86 abandoned cleaners in Ajman, runaway maids, as well as women who were forced into the flesh trade. Each time they helped, Lily’s group provided not only assistance and food, but also hope and spiritual comfort.

At work, while keeping a low profile, Lily has achieved quite some success.  Last year, she received an “International Media Award,” as one of 23 awardees from different countries, the only journalist from the UAE honored at the 8th Thailand Tourism Awards.  In the same year, she also received the “Best Prolific Writer” award from the Dubai Events and Promotions Establishment (DEPE) – a feat she replicated just recently when she won the same honor in February 2011. Her latest is the “Best English Press Coverage Award” from the Global Village, handed to her by Shaikh Majid bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum also in February, the fourth award she got since arriving in Dubai.

Still, with the recognition, Lily says nothing keeps her more motivated than the drive to sharing the love, light and life that she has received from above.

She says simply, “God has blessed the works of my hand as He has promised. He is amazing and faithful. He made greater things happen to me. Many times in my life before, I felt emptiness inside me even in the midst of a tremendous success in my career. I used to ask myself why without finding any answer. Now, I have found what I have been searching for: the fullness of life in my Creator.