Thursday, November 30, 2006

Not another Milenyo

Oh no. I just called up my sister and learned that there is another super typhoon coming. Reming is said to be stonger than Milenyo. I did not have time to visit the daily newspaper online until this morning. We did not watch TV for the past 3 days that is why I was surprised to hear that another typhoon stronger than Milenyo is coming.

Oh well, I asked Amats to maybe another pail to store water. Now we're thinking to just fill Isay's new large tub with water. For candles maybe we can use the remaining ones unused from the binyag last Sunday. Anyway, it is a good thing that I was able to buy some grocery yesterday. I remember before during Milenyo we had to cook our one week supply of chicken. We cooked it our favorite way, fried with a bit of chili powder. It was good during that day that one of our friends passed by to help us eat those fried chickens. She was so harassed with the lines formed in Eunilane and Kowloon. It is hard for those who have no kitchens because they cannot even cook their own food when all the fast foods are closed. While, it is a worry for those who stored poultry, fish and veggies because we need to cook them ASAP when the electricity is turned off. Haay.

I was thinking of visiting friends and family this weekend but with this storm in the horizon we might just have to keep warm for the weekend here in our little cubby hole.

Life and Love

Life is too short to be spent in worry, doubt, anxiety and drama. I realized more clearly now that in whatever situation you are in, you can always, always choose to make better the situation you are in. You can always make the decision to make happy memories. This is not to say that we gloss over our other emotions. I believe it is still valid for us to experience a certain level of worry or be sad due to some unfortunate event. But, we can opt not to dwell in these. The many complex emotions that go through us in a day, one can not ever capture all of these in words alone. I believe that we as human beings are given the power to decide for ourselves. To make that decision on how to react to the things around us. In the end we often ask "what does really matter?" for me it would be to love and cherish people who are significant to us. As life is indeed also full of ugly stuff but despite these, we can opt to make happy memories to fill our days and eventually our lives. When I look back I hope that I will have more of the happy ones instead of the drama ones haha!

It is such a beautiful thing that God gave us free will to decide to love Him or not. With all of His powers He could have just made robots that will follow him and love him. But this is not His way. God with all His omnipotence have put in our hands the decision. It is not what people tell us to do. It is not what our religion tells us to do. It is not even what our family tells us to believe. It is for our own free will to decide to love Him, worship Him.

Love in all its forms is always a decision.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Happy Anniversary Tatay

Ang bilis ng panahon, dalawang taon na pala tayong kasal Tatay. Nais kong magpasalamat sa Panginoon dahil sa pagpapala mo sa buhay natin.

Thank you for the blessing that is you.

In Him your joy will be full

Come let us sing for joy to the Lord
Let us shout to the Rock of salvation
Let us come before Him giving thanks
and extol Him with music and song

Alleluia! Alleluia!
Hope in God, O my soul
in Him your joy will be full.

For the Lord is the great God
And the King above kings
In His hands are the depths of the earth
The mountains are His and the sea is His,
He formed all living things

Come let us bow down and worship Him
Let us kneel before the Lord our maker
For He is our God and His people are we,
The flock under His care

Dear Isay this was the gathering song we sung as your family, ninongs and ninangs, lolo and lolas, relatives, cousins, uncle and aunts come together to celebrate and welcome you into God's family.

There is a small box of prayers that contains the written prayers of your Ninong and Ninang, there are also drawings and prayers from Therese and Jerome, Laya and Lib. When you can read, Nanay and Tatay will show these to you to remember this day.

Nanay and Tatay hope and pray that you will always remember that your life, your joy will be full in Him to Whom we have dedicated you to today.

Isusulat ko dito ito para maalala natin sa darating na panahon kung pumuti man ang buhok ni Nanay at Tatay. Pagpalain ka lagi Isay. Alalahanin mo na yan ang dasal namin lagi para sa iyo.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Father of MPAs

Yesterday I had the opportunity to talk, listen and be with Dr. Angel Alcala. He is the father of MPA or marine protected areas. His pioneering work in Apo Island has inspired the work of the recent decade in using the the MPA as a tool for fisheries, biodiversity and protection to the marine environment.

It was a happy bunch of people at the UP Marine Science Institute where there was a gathering of marine resource scientist, practitioners, NGO workers, LGU representatives and conservationist. Since the event was for only two days including today, presentations were timed and the open forum limited. But always Dr. Alcala will always be allowed to comment and share his view(of course). He has this funny way of challenging ideas. It was heart warming to see the kind of respect this special group of people give to our Lolo. Like a true professor he would ask you questions that would make you re-think the presentation you just made. His light and gentle manner in the discussion showed his deep knowledge of the topic at hand. This kind of opportunity is rare.

I just want to share that I was inspired once again in the things that I do right now.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Don't talk to strangers

The past two days I re-learned a very important lesson. Do not talk to strangers. My favorite author Robert Fulghum emphasized this one in his book "All I need to learn, I learned at Kindergarten".

I will not go into details about what happened. After coordinating simultaneous activities within a week, I also realized that one can not control things that will happen. It is a jungle out there and the only way we can make sure that our children will be safe is to teach them basic truths that will help them survive. Do not talk to strangers. Do not accept candies from people you do not know.

Things could be very basic but sometimes we forget as we grow old. But this basic truth is still applicable even if you are 7 years old or 70 years old.

So when do we learn how to trust people? Trust and good judgement come hand in hand. At the end of the day, I learned that I can not always be with my child but I hope and pray that she will remember the words that Nanay told her. Basic truth-- do not talk to strangers.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Cagayan de Oro

This past week was full of activities that I cannot blog about it in just a couple of entries--many insights will be reserved for another time. I will let it marinate first in my memory bank and let the learnings take in its flavor before anything else.

The major activity of last week was the Cagayan de Oro 1st PLMMA convention on data management. It was really great to see the Phil. LMMA network evolve into this group of people who has nurtured the friendships from accross the nation and then bringing in new friends from communities. I was inspired by the work they are doing on the ground. The sharings about learning to monitor their marine resources.

I feel for Daday and Jessica sharing that they had a very diffucult time learning to snorkel just to gather data. Another is Jun who shared about his first time to talk to a national audience and to international friends from Fiji --Tawake and Ron.

Solidarity night was karaoke night. For the past years that there were sing-along and Karaoke this one night was a class of its own. Its was a major rock and roll night with everyone from the group singing. It was like Pinoy Dream Academy performance night. Even the most quiet of the bunch from the far flung islands of Hinatuan were belting songs that could kick the behind of anyone from the tv shows going on. Ron said "I've never seen any group have so much fun with karaoke". There was no dead air--Nada. They were dancing and digital cameras were a dime a dozen clicking away. I heard Kagawad Ronel said "Ay wag nyo po ipadala yaan sa amin kami'y iginagalang sa amin". You can imagine that how this folks partied hard that night.

The next morning, we all went back with a smile and while doing our data management and analysis, remembering that we really had a great time the night before inspired us to go on with our more serious work. A clear example of work hard, party hard people.

It was always a core value of the network to have fun. Rakenrol!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Pacific Islanders arrive

After several months of preparation finally next week our national convention will push through. Just this past month tons of information exchange, data follow up in-country work, lots coordination going on, logistics work etc etc. But I love what I do and I work from home which is a plus because I can be with my baby most of the time. Sometimes I feel my plate is always full but because I love what I do, it always seems to be really manageable--of course with lots of help from local partners and friends.

Tonight my friends from Fiji arrive and one from Canada. At least now I am confident that this culminating activity for the year will be unfolding soon. In the rush of things early this evening upon arrival, ticket, rooms, meeting time, shopping, data etc. Then they ask what time is it now in London, at 8pm Manila it is 1am in London if not mistaken because--the one important thing that these guys asked me--"Ok now, where can we watch Rugby?". Wales vs Pacific Islanders tomorrow-- the workshop will not push through if these guys can't watch it they said in jest.

The lady in the front desk said they have cable and ESPN and you can just see them smile.

Beautiful Old Soul

Sometimes in our lives we meet people that will make an impact in our life unexpectantly, one who will inspire you to live your life to the fullest.

I first met Mr Jim Reynolds at Antipolo in 2005 when we had our workshop at MMLDC. Then in Suva, Fiji through LMMA network. He was a peace corps volunteer at 60 plus golden years. He volunteered under the University of South Pacific working with villages help manage their marine resources. I was really amazed at his spirit of generosity. While spending time at a welcome celebration in Navakavu village I got to spend more time to get to know our professor. We danced with him in his Bula shirt of bright red and I learned that he was an aerobic inctructor before in his younger years.

He is professor emeritus of the University of Alaksa in Fairbanks. But to us, in our small circle, he is professor X of the X-men and we are his legions of mutants hahaha from all over the Asia Pacific. After his service with peace corps at USP he went back to the US. Then, last Feb we were In Bali for yet again another series of workshops for data management of the x-men. Anyway, kidding aside we are truly inspired by the way he unselfishly shared himself to us all. And Bali was the last time I saw him.

The other day we received a care package from the US. We were happily surprised that the small box is a gift for Isay from Lolo Jim. It was a warm nice Nemo blankie. Also enclosed is a card with Indians and early Christmas present for Isay--her first ever Christmas card and it was not from Nanay and Tatay--it was from Lolo Jim. In my thank you email I explained to him that "lolo" means grandfather. Truth be told I was really moved and cried tears of joy to be at the receiving end. A gift from such as beautiful soul.

He wrote us back that he was happy that we received the gift then he signed it--Lolo Jim.


I just love to see the now small tribe of Aitu Cook Islands win back to back in their reward and immunity challenges. At this time of the season when they get the "love" reward receiving letters from home and pictures of family--it was one of the best group hug I've seen on all of Survivor 13 seasons-- I really hope they make the final 4. I am really a fan of survivor, mostly because of the challenges. I really do not like the part when they talk behind each other. But the amazing thing is that this game can be played with honor and integrity.

Thanks to broadband I was able to watch almost all of the previous 12 seasons of survivor online. My favorite Survivor season was held in another Pacific Island is the Survivor Marquesas when Vee won as sole survivor. Marquesas was an example that survivor can be played with your honor intact. I like Cirie of Survivor Exile Island in Panama. In her final words she said do not listen to the underestimators of this world, go out, leave the couch and don't listen to your own self doubt. Cirie made it to the final four in a season when the tribes were segregated by gender and age. Stepahnie from Palau is an amazing woman she was the lastone standing in her tribe Ulong before the merge. Then her reincarnation in Guatemala where she was in the final 2.

Surviving is not just providing nourishment to oneself. More importantly is how you interact with the people around you. It could be heaven or hell-- it all depends on how you react at the situations that is presented to you. Despite hunger and exhaustion there is always a choice.

I just like the productions of Mark Burnett. I should make a mental note to watch all the other eco-challenges next.

Thanks to for the images

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Uphold Civil Liberties

We were reading the online Inquirer and I was appalled at what I read today:

THE Sisters of the Good Shepherd yesterday filed a complaint at the Commission on Human Rights against the PNP officers who barged into the Contemplative Sisters’ convent in Butuan City on All Saints’ Day.

complete story here.

I have an aunt who is a member of this congregation under the RGS. The sisters in Butuan are the SGS. The SGS is the contemplative branch of the RGS and is devoted mainly to prayer and contemplation. The RGS is the active counterpart involved in various ministries. Founded in France, it is one of the largest religious congregations in the world and has been in the Philippines since 1912.

Growing up my aunt was a mentor to my humanitarian views. The way she is living her life as a servant for others within the different ministries of the RGS. The news today made my blood boil literally and made my muscles involuntarily shake containing the anger I am feeling.

The blatant disregard of civil liberties in Butuan's SGS convent made me realize that there is a small group of individuals who are behind this and can only point to the commander-in-chief. Command responsibility doesn't end to the immediate superiors of the soldiers.

I lived in Tawi-tawi for almost a year in, I lived among Muslim community and it has broadened my perspective how peace loving these people are. I also have friends in the military service. Many of my preconceived notions I was able to re-think during those months living on the field working for conservation.

How we all are in search of peace.

Naiiyak ako sa nangyayari sa ating bayan ngayon.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Water Baby

Welcome to Baby Kailani. Congratulations to my friend Toni for another happy underwater delivery of her second baby. She gave birth at home. This is the second time that she had this very natural way of giving birth.

Our close friends Ryan and Cherrie De Pedro were also blessed with a beautiful baby girl Celine.

There is just a deep joy that goes around when a newborn is in our midst. Before I thought all those Hallmark qoutes were just that but it is true. Little babies are a bundle of joy. The initial difficulties of adjustment is temporary and more often than not it is easily forgotten when you hold that small human being in your arms.

The greatest miracle of all. The miracle of life. (kesong keso hehehe)

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Sagada on Fire

Years ago, my friend Elnora visited Sagada during November 1. I was amazed to see her pictures of a hill on fire. She said the hill appears to be on fire because the local highlanders use firewood to light the grave of their ancestors instead of using candles. An image that got me interested in visiting Sagada during this time of the year. On Nov 1, 2002, I visited Sagada. I think it was my 5th time to this wonderfully peaceful town hidden in the mountains. But it was the first time that I visited during the rainy season at this time of the year. At dusk coming from a trek in Bomod-ok falls we literally saw smoke rising from a hillside.

Thank you to aiel of multiply for the image

Visiting Our Ancestors

November 1 and 2 are holidays here in the Philippines. All Saint's Day and All Souls' day. Commonly known as "Undas". The whole country is on the move to go back to their provinces, to their families, to their ancestors. It is a time for most people to have family reunions at their ancestral houses. Families together with children bring flowers and light candles at the cemetery. All over the country the landscape of these desolate places become pulsing with activity come rain or shine.

When I was a child in Alaminos in Laguna, I remember my lola and aunt will teach me how to arrange the flowers we bought a day earlier (so that the price is still lower). We arrange the flowers usually white calla lillies and gladiolas in old empty cans filled with fleshy banana trunks or gabi (taro) stems to keep them fresh the whole day in the usually scorching heat. Some relatives arrive. After lunch we take a short jeepney ride to town and walk with the masses and masses of people flooding the small eskinita to the "sementeryo". We get to see relatives that we rarely see. I am told that this is my great grand lolo and that my grand aunt. I can do our family tree just this time of the year. It is like reconnecting with our ancestors.

Upon arriving at our small lot where my lolo and sister and other relatives are buried, we offer up our prayers for their souls. Even at a young age every year I am reminded of our humanity. About life and death. One cannot comprehend the pain that goes with the passing of a loved one. But there is hope as we are continually reminded.

The memories of my youngest sister Vicky, Mama, Lola Abeng and Inay Tita Ching. Women very very close to my heart. I am happy now that they do not hurt anymore. Their lives are an inspiration and their love molded me to who I am today. I offer my prayer to their souls. God bless my dear ones!

my photo of the underwater sementeryo in Camiguin Island in 2005.