Thursday, March 24, 2005

A passionate X-men

Finally we have finished a back-to-back-to-back regional workshops. March 10 to 14 we have the Indonesia-Vietnam-Philippines Regional Capacity Buidling workshop, then right after the NCT Meeting with all my counter part country coordinators from Fiji, PNG, Indonesia, Palau, Pohnpei, Hawaii and Solomon Islands- March 16 to 19. Then right after the Data Analysis and Management workshop 20 to 23. It was only with divine intervention that I am able to type here right now and still find the energy to tell the story.

It was grace that good friends helped a lot along the way to make all this possible. Yesterday at the end of the workshop. Dindo showed us the X-men powerpoint in tribute to Mr Jim (aka prof X of the LMMA Network) in recognition of super human efforts by the team. It was indeed a challenge and we are facing so much more this year.

Personally I was moved by the team building we had last week Mar 17th. I braced myself and expected myself to just to go through the motions of having a team building. But caught unawares, it just hit me that, indeed what I am doing and working for and being in this unique and brilliant dedicated team of the NCT is a reward in itself. A realization that have deep personal meaning why I work for conservation and our communities in the Philippines.

I came to realize that I am passionate (to a fault sometimes) with conservation work.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

International Women's Day today

Let us celebrate Women's day today with thanksgiving and expressions of love to our mothers, sisters, women friends and even to that lady who waits on us as we eat. As we are continually challenged in our everyday lives, it is good to know that even once a year all women are given special recognition to their glorious contribution to the family and the world we live in.


I've been thinking lately of getting a new pair of glasses. The pair of specs I have is about a few years old. I also have a few sets of contact lens but it is such a chore to clean them and then put them on. I only wear them for some occasions.

If I don't wear my glasses, I can only read those things that are near. If I try to look and read the sign boards on buses and jeeps, I need to strain my eyes and eventually hurt them. Headaches will follow. I've been thinking it would be great for diving and all those outdoor activities if I can have my 20/20 vision again like Marci Angeles. Well, right now I do not have the money to do that.

It would really be great if I can be cured of my own blindness like the one in the Gospel last Sunday.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Still human

Two or three years ago, I am elated to actually meet the authors of the books that I read in graduate school. Back then I thought, it would be great to meet these people and some of them I adored because of their writings. Recently in hindsight, there are very few (actually less than the number of fingers in my hand) are as beautiful as their published books. Up close and personal, still they are human.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Jars of Clay Live in Manila

I haven't watched any major live performance of any band for the past few years. Last night, the Jars of Clay concert at the Big Dome was a blast! Astig. And the best part our free General Admission ticket was upgraded to Patron. Could you imagine, like a few weeks ago we were thinking of where to get the money to buy our tickets. Yesterday, I almost lost hope to get to the concert until Honey (we love you!) texted that there are tickets for free. Wow. God is good indeed! I felt He has once more been a very generous Father without us asking, He gives us our small wishes. Thanks also to He Cares and Kuya Joe Dean for his generosity. The Araneta was almost full to the bleachers. I haven't dance to really good clean music in such a long time. Amats and I danced. My feet was aching from jumping and my hairdo (if there was any) was in tangles by our head banging. Jas and Melo took the lead. The kids from He Cares rocked the floor. And you know what? Ella, Maye and Sheila was there also and rocked with us. Grabe! ibang klaseng worship. (see also what Ella has to say about them)

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Jacob's well in Banahaw

It has been a few years now when I visited "Balon ni Jacob". In the mid 1990s, I was part of a mountaineering group that guides students to the Sta Lucia complex in Dolores Quezon in the foot hills of Mt. Banahaw. In a months time I would be there almost every weekend at the end of each semester. I brushed up with my Kasaysayan 1 (History 1 a GE course) to be able to relate what we encounter in Banahaw to the lessons of the students. This immersion to the community in Sta. Lucia gave me an appreciation of the richness of the history, nationalism, religiosity and intense way of life of the pilgrims and the community in Banahaw.

The whole complex is comprised of different "puwestos" spread accross waterfalls, caves like balon ni jacob, crack on the ground (husgado), kalbaryo, kinabuhayan and up to "durungawan" the summit of Mt Banahaw where you will see the promised land.

Each one of these puwestos have a rich story behind them and one can be swept into the concept of cleansing both physical and spiritual. Jacobs well is one of these sites. It is a cave rather than a well. it has a stair where the pilgrim can slide into the cold slab of stone into the icy cold water inside the claustrophobic chamber where only two or three persons can fit. One has to prepare mentally.

Another puwesto is the husgado a long twisting dark chamber that you would need candles to be able to negotiate yourself out of it. The locals describe husgado as the most difficult and if one is unrepentant some will not be able to go through. The first time passed through husgado, it was not without difficulty. The whole excercise the local pilgrim says represents the belief that one has to go through darkness and difficulty before seeing the light. And indeed, it was such a relief to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

At present, I believe that Mt Banahaw complex now is closed for the public and even pilgrims. The DENR officials declared a 5 year closure to let the mountain which is a national park, recuperate.

Fifth Mountain reflections

"It was none of these that Elijah was sent, but only to a widow in Zarephath in the land of Sidon" Luke 4:26

When I was reading the Fifth Mountain by Paolo Coelho about 2 years ago, I encountered this same verse from Luke which was part of the Gospel yesterday. Each of us is being called somewhere to do something, and to know and accomplish that mission is our purpose. It may very simple but as always, there is drama involved. What better way to learn than from experiencing these tragedies ourselves and learning from the heart.

Tragedies are temporal, like the town of Akbar and as it is described the mountains gaze silently down on the ashes of Akbar. Like the mountain, timeless are the lessons of the tragedies in life we cannot avoid.