Sunday, March 30, 2014

Monochrome Visions.

Exactly what I'm feeling right now... Black and white. Please save me

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Wave That Changed My LIfe.

A week after my Iloilo volunteer work, I flew in to Siargao Island... It's been a life-long dream to finally experience Siargao and boy, the weather wasn't inviting at all, our flight almost got cancelled because of a storm. Fortunately, it passed and we flew in just in time. That feeling of being in a new place with so many things to see and explore is just plain priceless. I love the unknown.

When we got there at Matanjak Guesthouse, which is owned by our local friend there Bunsoy Agudo, who I met there at General Luna through my friend, Zirk, we then got greeted by expats here and there, most of them were staying at the guesthouse as well. Upon settling my stuff in the room with Zirk and her friend Netz, who I met for the first time that day (and eventually we grew closer), I was more than excited to see what the rest of the island has to offer. I had complications with my schedule with volunteer work so I was only there for 3 days (Sucks, I know) but those days were packed with awesomeness. The first night was amazing, we were all together because it was Bunsoy's birthday, so I met tons of surfer dudes and dudettes from different parts of the world, went a bit tipsy and drove motorcycles like crazy searching for an open Karaoke spot, and for more beer, it was a bit late.

The next morning around 11am, we didn't waste time, got our asses up and went to the beach so the boat heading to Dako Island could take us to the surf spot. Me and Netz didn't get the chance to eat breakfast and I, who haven't surfed for a long time, was startled when I saw how big the waves are. They told us that the waves are just little and soft. Wow... for them it is, but for me? Hell no. It was nothing like the ones I surfed before. I didn't even know if I could do it! What I love in this surf community is that the people are only here to surf and they are serious about surfing, no one cares about the status of your surfing skills. But really... out in the water, paddling my heart out and pretending not to be scared (but deep inside it scared the shit out of me), I didn't expect that these guys would really leave me alone! ...At the last set, I was at the right place at the right time, I paddled out and then a few paddles more, this local boy passed by me and pushed my board (thank God he did!), so I rode a big wave for a few seconds then BAM! I'm wiped out. While I was redeeming my surf swag (hahaha), here comes another HUGE wave! Ellen, a Canadian dudette who I met the night before screamed "Oh my God!!", made a turtle roll... Then BOOM! I'm wiped out again. Ellen, almost hit me with her board, but we were both okay after being almost out of breath. Honestly, I thought I was going to die that moment. But the adrenaline rush was like no other. I was stoked... The thought of just being in the pristine waters of Siargao excites me, what more if you got a chance to surf a spot? Just one spot and there are loads more...

My surf and wipe out ratio - 2:1 ...nah, maybe I just got lucky. It's really 3:1 hahaha

That wave/s changed my life simply because it is the biggest one I've caught alone and it changed the way I see myself in surfing and surfing itself. It taught me to be brave and to be stronger. It made me do what I thought I couldn't do. I wanted to push myself more that day but I didn't because I was really tired that my muscles were in shock and might stop responding plus no breakfast, it is risky for me. But above all, I was really happy.

On my 2nd night, I just enjoyed the crowd at the acoustic night at Buddhas Surf Resort just beside Matanjak Guesthouse, where we stayed. And the next morning I just went to the famous boardwalk at Cloud 9 with Netz and new found friend, Pierre-Luc, a French Canadian dude. Then when we got back, I said quick goodbyes to the people I met who became friends because they were rushing to get ready and leave for another surf sesh that day. I wished I stayed another day so I could join them. But I know I will have lots of time when I get back there :)

The things I will never forget are the memories we made there. I may not meet again in my entire lifetime these people I've encountered, but I definitely won't forget them... The breakfast, lunch and dinner get-togethers, going to the market looking for a huge Mahi-mahi, the jokes, the life-stories, seeing everyone at the line-up, the crazy drunken moments and most especially the bond I have with them... To actually feel like you belong, like a family. Only difference is, it's united colors :)

I've been doing surf trips since I started surfing (I'm not saying I'm a pro, I am still learning! Haha) and searching for that perfect spot. Question is... Is Siargao the perfect spot? I don't know, but it is the best one yet... I haven't seen it all but I will know when I see it. I'll go through this process... I'll keep you posted! :) 

Oops, sorry, I don't have surf photos because everyone was out surfing... But I grab a few ones from friends' Facebooks :) enjoy...

Ikit - Bunsoy's little sister :)

My friend Zirk haha

Just chillin at the hammock at Matanjak after getting stoked.
 I got a few reef cuts and just noticed when we we're done.

With these peeps, Netz and Pierre-Luc at the 
famous boardwalk at Cloud 9 before I left.

Bunsoy and breakfast haha

Shiny beautiful people :)

Sitio Nabaye: A place of HOPE.

About a couple of weeks ago, I joined TeamHOPE (Helping.Other.People.Endure) in Carles, Iloilo for their rebuilding project in Sitio Nabaye.

I went there alone on a weekend as time permitted me; it took me a plane, a taxi cab, a bus, a tricycle and a boat to get there. While on the road trip, you could smell nature under your nose... Dried grassland, sweet corn and coconut trees. I loved it. It feels good to be in the province (as a Southern girl, I grew up in the province with lots of greens surrounding me, sad to say, in 20 years, my hometown is now a city...). 

After finishing around 2 or 3 playlist on my iPod, I got there finally to see my fellow volunteer, Malu, at the port to introduce me to the local people there and guide going to the island. At the island, what I saw first was Merry with a bunch of kids having their face painted and then of course, the dogs and puppies :) what a sweet welcoming gesture these lovely earthlings have (haha!), such a nice view... It's like a big bite from the food for the soul. I joined in with the face-painting and then took a few snaps of the lovely animals that greeted me. At night, when I woke up around 3am I saw a gazillion starts, it was AMAZING, because never in my life would I imagine myself sleeping under the sky...... Okay, that was exaggerated, I could imagine of course and I can do that. But really??! A plywood on the beach to sleep on or if you're lucky to have the spot I had, a bamboo daybed with just your blanket and literally being under the universe! We weren't on vacation but for us, it is paradise.

The next day, the only whole day I had to work with, we did some murals at the school stage at Talinting Elementary School, where the kids at Sitio Nabaye go to, and in between breaks I played football (soccer) with the kids, I must say, I see the potential because they got skills. Then the next morning, Merry, Z, Malu, Sinaj and me taught the kids how to properly brush their teeth and how to treat head lice, I brought a few sachets of the shampoo treatment with me so we did a demo on the process and tips on how to get rid of that annoying filthy things. 

I, too, experienced crossing the 2-feet, sometimes 3-feet ocean waters just to go to school everyday. It took us volunteers around 20 minutes to cross it, but for the kids being used to it, only takes them around 5-10 minutes. It makes us laugh but it is a serious matter because it is dangerous when the water gets high. 

After maximizing the time I had there with the kids, the volunteers and the whole community, I finally said goodbye to them but told them that I will be back. I had a bit of separation anxiety leaving them but I was alright. I wish I had more time. (Oh well, next time!)

Whenever all the volunteers were together (well, some come and go but it is fine) and complete, it felt like home. My heart was full. God knows that if only I have all the money and time, I would give it all. It is really a calling, but responsibilities and priorities come in the way, that's my reality. Even though with all that drama I have in my bag, I still do find a way to help my fellow volunteers and serve the people in need - in little ways or the best way I know I can, there's no stopping... This is my fire. For me, it's more of these people helping me and not me helping them. In these broken places, I find peace... Here, I find love. I find happiness in simple things, the simple life... Yes, I still choose to grow at a broken place. It is so beautiful to think and to see that with these people, whom you are not related with treat you as family... And together we are united, together we will rise. Day by day, we know deep in our minds and hearts that staying hopeful will help you to succeed.

So let's stay hopeful kids...

This is one of my best experiences in volunteering even if I just stayed for almost 3 days. This one is definitely post-worthy. I have to say, I am so proud of you Miguel, Sinaj and everyone else, for doing it and for being there since day one. I love you guys! :)

If you want to voluntter or donate to TeamHOPE's rebuilding project, you are most welcome, it will be much appreciated. Your 3,500 pesos could make a house, that's right, ONE HOUSE already! But any amount will be a big help.

Here's Miguel Rivera's contact and bank details:

Mobile #: +63 917 545 4535

Security Bank
BF Homes Paranaque Branch
Account name: Jose Miguel A. Rivera
Savings Account
Account Number 0322488450472
Swift Code (for international donations) SETCPHMM
Bank Code Chips UID 010457

For international donations thru Paypal:

"Never Stop Caring, Never Stop Helping!" :)

10-peso spaghetti burger? Only in the Philippines.

Miguel's daily commute to get supplies to the island...

Tatay :)

Sunset at Sitio Nabaye... Beautiful.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Higher Consciousness.

I convey my suppressed thoughts and emotions always in photos and writing, it is a wonderful feeling once everything inside is all poured out... Much more if it is recognized.

It really amazes me how this inner power links us all together... We, people of the world have this selfless connection that conspires our energies and emotions when disaster strikes. We are united as ONE. 

When the typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) hit the Philippines, as I described it in my previous blog entry, I couldn't sit still nor sleep at night, because I know in my heart that something needs to be done. I have to see it for myself, I need to be there first hand to serve the people. Understanding higher consciousness, I knew even before that helping is my moral obligation to humanity. 

I'm posting this not to promote True Manila but to express gratitude and credits to the people who donated goods (you know who you guys are, I can say this over and over again, THANK YOU!) for the relief operation, to my fellow volunteers who went with us on the mission in Eastern Samar and Tacloban City in Leyte; And also to the people who made this story heard... Thank you TJ Ibay of Expat Travel &a Lifestyle Magazine, altogether with the whole Expat team! I hope this will make my mum proud. 

This is my first blog entry for 2014... Happy New Year again Mum!

Expat Travel and Lifestyle Magazine - Humanitarian Issure Feb-Apr 2014