Friday, April 29, 2005

reviewing for my compre (again)

After missing to take my comprehensive exams in Nov 2003 and May 2004 and then again last Nov 2004 (for reasons that would take the space of a novel), the daunting task of reviewing again for my studies to earn my post graduate degree of Masters in Environment and Natural Resource Management (MENRM) is upon me once again. For the past weeks aside from work, I have set aside all activities of leisure. One of these is reading non-required readings. But as I pour myself into the details of environmental conservation concepts, ecology and biodiversity, it came back to me again why I am in this field and why I have chosen this life's work. Page by page, as if falling in love again to these things that spurred me to where I am today.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Christmas in April

Guess what?! I received a Christmas package! Yes in the middle of April and indeed we just received a package from a very good friend Taunya! It came complete with a Christmas card that says "May your holidays be merry and bright". It is so great to have Christmas in April (come to think of it, it is Easter time). I love the idea of it. Thanks so much Taun!

Enclosed in this package contains things that bring joy to our lives on a daily basis to qoute Taunya. It has three things:1) Jasmine Vanilla Bath and Bodyworks scented candle 2)Venetian Glass bead necklace (I love glass beads especially the rare ones) she said "so that you can always have a little piece of Venice with you"(remember my entry on Following my muse?)and 3) Fernwood Mints dark chocolate mints that we used to eat at Christmas specially made in Utah ( she used to receive this packages before when we were in Palawan and we treasure this mints--tastes like no other) and she remembered that I love them.

Christmas is not complete without them she said.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Enchanted River

Last April 2nd, Toni and I went to Hinatuan Bay and together with Jovy, Neay and Loida of CERD we visited the different islands in the Bay. Late afternoon after making the rounds, around 5pm, we wandered off to Enchanted River. This was my third visit to the river, my first visit was early morning with Neay and Gary last year and the second one was with a large group during lunch. Each visit was different as the sun defines the colors and the time of day the number of people bathing and getting fresh water.

The delta of the river opens to Port Lamon near Cambatong fishing village. We rode a pump boat and entered into the winding river, the water getting clearer as we slowly moved along. It is a scene right off those movies I watched about researchers and explorers visiting the Amazon river. At the end, there is pool of sparkling blue waters and the river stops at a wall of ferns, rocks and an underwater cave that is very small. Spring water comes out thus making the water in the river brackish- mix of fresh and saltwater.

This particular afternoon, the sun was slanting and part of the deep pool of blue water was shaded. But the sun continues to shine on the other parts where the fern and rocks along the river bank. The locals called it enchanted because there are local folklore that things come out under the pool, old china plates from the galleon trade they say and that it opens up to the other town's river. One would think that it was enchanted by the sudden change of color at the mouth of the river from green at the delta to a sparkling blue at the mouth. Also there is an eerie sense of silence as you swim and move towards the deeper end.

Toni and I jumped into the crisp cold water. The bottom of the pool gets narrower as you go deeper. Toni explored deeper and saw some cigar fishes. A slight current can be felt as you swim along. It was a refreshing break after a long humid hot day on the Bay.

Monday, April 25, 2005

conspiracy theories of my body

Once in a while, people do get sick and more often than not (didn't you notice?) it is during your deadline, peak time on study and work, lots of things to do in the house, meeting here, report there, email now, review this. Now hmmm, just following some of my thoughts on conspiracy theories, I think our bodies conspired with the restaurant owner where you had that looong meeting and when you got home you felt sick and you can't move due to tummy ache. After this, everything is almost on a stand still. It is just one way that the body is asking for some "Rest please, Please!?" and she has no other way to stop you from self destruction but to hit you on the tummy and you have no choice now but to rest. Sigh.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Earth Day

Let us celebrate with our one and only planet Earth! Today is the 35th annual celebration of Earth Day since 1970. Be aware, come and join in the many big and small celebrations in our own locality--I know there will be some tree planting activities in Makati and tomorrow at Eastwood WWF Philippines together with Ink aka Illustrador ng Kabataan will launch the new environmental workbook or you can also visit the Earth Day site. Even in our own homes we can do small things to commemorate this day--like eating organic food! Yum!
If you have the time visit ERT, my organization's website. We are also celebrating our anniversary!

Thursday, April 21, 2005

and my answer came

In my resistance to change, I posted this question of what doesn't change. It was one of those questions that I really do not expect an answer. Well, just some background why I posted resistance to change, there are many things going on that are in my thoughts and complicated in many levels, one of these thoughts was the current news from the Vatican. We do not have TV and we only get our news from CNN website. Yesterday, early morning around 3am Amats said we have a new Pope. Benedict XVI. And in the morning after breakfast, we looked at the image of the Papa that the world is looking at. Honestly my initial reaction was relief that "Yes! Thank God that we have a new shepherd". But after that, a mild ambivalence came upon me and the thought of "I miss my Lolo". Amats knew what I meant.

Then going back to that question I had posted yesterday. What doesn't change? I got a direct answer today to that question as I read the homily that was given a few hours before he became Benedict XVI. (Thanks to Ted for posting) and I qoute a portion of the homily:

The other element of the Gospel which I wish to accentuate is
the discourse of Jesus on bearing fruit: "I have appointed you to go and
to bear fruit and your fruit remains" (John 15: 16). It appears here
the dynamism of the existence of the Christian, of the apostle: I have
appointed you to go... we must be animated by a holy inquietude: the
inquietude of carrying to all the gift of the faith, of friendship with
Christ. In truth, the love, the friendship of God has been given to us so
that it can arrive also at others. We have received the faith in order
to give it to others we are priests in order to serve others. And
we must bear a fruit which remains. All men desire to leave the trace
that remains. But what thing remains? Money no. Also buildings do not
remain; books neither. After a certain time, more or less long, all these
things disintegrate. The only thing that remains in eternity is the
human soul, man created by God for eternity. The fruit that remains is
that which we have seeded in the human spirit love, knowledge; the
acts capable of touching the heart; words that open the soul to the joy of
the Lord. Then we go and we pray to the Lord, because He helps us to
bear fruit, a fruit that remains. Only thus is the earth changed from the
valley of tears to the garden of God.

God indeed answers our questions.

Mabuhay ang Santo Papa!

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Resistance to Change

Today I remembered my college days when I was an applicant to UP Alliance of Economics and Management Student aka UP AEMS. One of the things that is always discussed is "change". There is nothing permanent in this world except change. Well there must be something that doesn't don't you think?

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Ice Buko Man

This afternoon the rained poured. Just after the rain has stopped, while I was reading, we heard a loud voice calling out "Ice Buko! eh Ice Buko" (pronounced Ayyss-bhuu-KO-e) . Amats went out to buy from the local walking peddler. When he came back with the two ice buko which cost about 7 pesos each, then he mentioned that that man was blind.

Then a thought disturbed me, that blind man was earning his daily living, despite his blindness he was able to earn his keep. I guess we ourselves make our own boundaries and limitations of the things we can do and accomplish. We have our own challenges to overcome, yet the decision to let those challenges inhibit us to do the things we are here to do, remains to be our own decision.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Lakays at the Tour

Yesterday Sunday morning we were up at 4 am to get ready for a day of volunteer work with other fellow Lakays. It was the annual "Tour of the Fireflies". We were tasked to help out the Firefly Brigade at the UP College of Human Kinetics where the tour would start. Lots of familiar faces were there. Energies were high and amidst the colorful costumes and jerseys, bikes of all sizes were pedaled by bikers of all ages from 3 yrs old to 60 yrs old. The message is simple every year: clean air for our cities, ride the bike!

did you know that the bicycle is one of the most efficient machines invented for it translates almost all energy into work?

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Following my muse

Behind the screen of my Toshiba, pasted on the wall are two postcards of Venezia and Assisi. These are from Taunya, a friend who works part of the year in Italy and the other half in Utah and maybe before in Germany. She was a Peace Corps volunteer here in the Philippines a few years back and we were housemates in Palawan for over a year. Tucked in are memories of mine. My mind has been wandering around for the many possibilities of the future.

Been able to have some precious time for some musing, just this morning I thought it would indeed be great to continue to work for conservation and be able to travel to Europe and Latin America. Maybe really really learn a new language. I remember I dropped out of my Spanish class just before I moved to Palawan in 2001.

Life seems to begin anew with thoughts of unexplored places. I guess I've been bitten by wander lust.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Shift to Simplicity (a revisiting thought)

Last Sunday after mass, we had lunch at Elnora's and we ate pasta aligue and had some indian mangoes from Zambales. It was good to connect with friends after a long absence. It was good timing that we spent time because El together with Carina are going to Batanes the next day for a shoot. After watching a portion of an old film, the three of us El, Amats and I, walked to a nearby garage sale. And what a great find I had. Elaine St. James book on "Living the Simple Life", it was a really good find for I have been missing my two treasured books of Ms Elaine "Simply your Life" and "Inner Simplicity" which I had since 1993, but due to several changes of residence, I think I lost them. It was the divine universe I guess that led me to find this book. I had been reading up last week on Honey's blog which mentioned about simplicity and today I visited Lex's blog. I just realized that since March that the same theme of "simplicity" had presented itself once again in my life. It was perfect timing today because this morning I felt that a shift is starting to take place in my own personal universe. Sigh. Many things are indeed in progress.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

The Secret Beach

During our last day at El Nido town, we decided to visit the Islands in Bacuit Bay, this time on the other side which includes Matinloc, Tapiutan, Hidden Beaches inside limestone cliffs and secret beach. This trip is not my first to the islands but this will be my first to visit the famous "secret beach" that you'd have to swim under a hole and come out to a limestone wall locked beach discreetely hidden from most tourists in Bacuit Bay. On the boat we talked about the film The Beach casted by actor Leonardo, it was made in Thailand but the secret beach is very like that in the film which was shot in Thailand. I also remembered that Dindo and Angela saw huge mantas on these parts.

We passed by clear blue waters and pristine coves, we took a turn towards Matinloc and Tapiutan channel where the water suddenly seen there was this dark maroon huge patch of swell in the ocean. As we threaded through, I was thinking this must be seagrass area but upon close observation, I thought it couldn't be because it was too deep. I asked our boat crew if they knew what these things were that gave the dark red color of the water. They also thought that it could be floating eggs of jelly fishes or remnants of seagrass of sorts. Anyway, we came upon the entrance of the secret beach and thanked heaven it was low tide and we did not have to swim underwater and resurface on the other side. The water was murky red. I thought "maybe we should not" but a splash broke my thoughts and there goes Armi, my Lakay sister, without any mask or snorkel swam towards the small opening in the cliff wall. Then the boat engine died. Oh well, since we will be here for a while might as well go inside. Jas jumped in. Then me, without thinking put on my mask and fins and I jumped and swam towards the opening. Upon seeing the entrance, I called out back to the boat "Nine!!! You have to swim here! It's beautiful. Its now or never!" and "Dali lika na!" (come quick hurry) and all our friend came swimming in. Amats, Melo,Christine, Nine and Ian followed.

It was amazing. Swimming and entering through a small passage, a totally different scene presents itself into view. The water inside is clear just inside the small passage. It was late afternoon when we entered. Small pools of water were found with reef fishes, in the jacuzzi-like formations made by the dimishing tide. The dark slanting walls speak of solemnity and the eons that passed as it formed into this magnificent cove hidden inside these limestone cliffs. We sat on a small patch of white beach inside. Armi and I wandered behind some rock formations to see the tide mark and amazingly some parts of the beach is definitely dry with fallen leaves from trees that grows on the side of the mountain cliffs. Everyone seemed enthralled for the moment as time itself seemed to stand still. Our hearts were filled with a sense of joy brought about by Mother Nature’s charm.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Capsized in Bingag

We were off to Bingag Marine Sanctuary last week in Panglao, Bohol. Because it is low tide, we cannot use the bigger outrigger boat which would scrape some of the corals in the shallow areas within the sanctuary. As a better option, we paddled on to these small outrigger boats. Ka Gilbert went with Toni and I went with Ka Salgy. We paddled towards the floating guard house and went around where the table corals were and then went towards where Toni motioned us to follow. Mid-morning and the sun was scorching hot. The surf was a bit strong that morning and we swayed along. We got our digital cameras in their underwater housings and snorkelled. Fishes were abundant and the corals well intact and more diverse than I expected. There were lots of jellyfishes that started to sting and I was having difficulty to focus the camera due to the constant movement of the surf and movement of the current against the wind. I swam towards Toni and told her I will be going back to shore. We had a very small paddle boat and I realized that it takes some acrobatic moves to get my self back on board. I put my feet up first, then as Ka Salgy tried to counter balance his weight towards the other side while I pull myself up the boat. After much effort, at last, I was able to sit on top and we gave a sigh and as soon as I said "Thank God", this huge wave hit us. And as if in slow motion, my thoughts went "Oh no..." and slowly we went down and boat was over turned in less than 5 seconds. Good thing I still had my snorkel on. I thought "where is the camera, its not mine, it belongs to the office" and as I looked underwater, Ka Salgy was trying to upright the boat and he scrambled towards a massive coral head. I saw his foot sink into the middle of a beautiful group of branching acropora corals. I was trying to speak and shout "no no no *&%$$88%$#@" and they all thought I saw a sea snake or something. At that moment Toni said she got the camera which was floating towards her. We were all laughing at the whole scene. This is the first time I capsized and I can't stop laughing through my snorkel. Eventually, Ka Gilbert and Salgy was able to upright the boat and we swam and pushed the boat to shore with all this invisible jelly fish on the way. All in a day's work.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

My second home

Back home at last, rest is such sweet luxury better savored after a long extended road trip. The six hours road trip from Candelaria, Zambales through Subic Bay yesterday was the last in a long string of site visits with Toni. She is now on her 25 hours flight back to Florida today. Reflecting back on the three project sites we visited from Surigao to Bohol and then to Zambales, I've always looked forward to our opportunity to be in the water, now I consider as my second home. I had a great time taking underwater photos of the beautiful fishes and corals. The ocean's salt water was a balm to my skin, a relief to the summer heat, as we paddled along these past weeks. It was also good to see old friends from the islands. Indeed, the work trip was exhausting yet refreshing in a way. I feel very blessed to be paid for work like this. Not to be confused that there are no challenges in conservation work, politics, commmunity dynamics, various human induced threats are just a few of the things we encounter. But it is all worth it when you realize you are a doing a something that is part of a plan to help keep our planet liveable for our children's children.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

JP2 we love you

I want to express my respect, love and prayers to Pope John Paul II. My personal tribute to the only Pope whom I have known in my lifetime. I remember him when he visited Manila I was with my late Lola Abeng and Tita Ching in Luneta waiting to get a glimpes of him. I remember the crowd and the atmosphere joyful and expectant. When we saw him, it was a unique and different experience that I shared with Lola and Inay. The second time I saw him was in 1995 at the Manila World Youth Day and even in that mobile that they made for him, he still emanates that particular aura of a person filled with compasion and peace not just for Christians but for all humanity. To this day, I still remember our chant "JPII we love you" echoing in Quirino grandstand in 1995.

Last April 2nd, at breakfast in a remote town in Surigao Del Sur, I learned that he died. Even in that remote island of Mindanao, people in the barrio joined the world in remembering Pope John Paul II.

This morning on my flight back from Bohol, I read in the paper with words I cannot improve upon so I qoute Malaya's front page story today "nearly 200 world leaders will gather, some of whom rarely if ever meet, a fitting tribute to a Pope who fought for world peace and unity."

Friday, April 01, 2005

On the road, in a bus, on a plane

Yesterday, we just got back from Palawan it was 8 days of traveling by ferry boat, rickety bus, outrigger boat, by tricycle, by bike, by car and by domestic air plane. It was an exhausting trip come to think of it. But as I browse through the pictures, looking at the images saved where Amats and I was snorkelling in the beautiful blue sparkling waters of the small lagoon of El Nido, walking on the warm sand with towering walls of limestone cliffs behind us, I thought, it was a great trip. Another bag-full of memories to unearth during weary days to energize one's soul.

In every trip there are many discoveries, of one self, of people you thought you knew and you thought knew you. I believe traveling makes you a better person. Out of your comfort zone, having to deal with the elements and your own fears, many things are revealed. Indeed there are many morsels of thought that I need to get back and reflect upon this trip, many lesson behind each scene that unfolds. But for now, it has to wait because in an hour or two I will be on a plane again, today for Mindanao.