Tuesday, July 31, 2007


I was a bit un-centered the past days. I want to write about many things and most especially about the blessings that continue to overflow my cup. But inspite of all these blessings, a void is forming. I am constantly aware to be thankful for the blessings. Indeed it helps to blog about it. But once in a while I find myself looking at my feet and not at the horizon so to speak. I've come to realize that our learning is life long. I forget that it is better to be more loving than correct. Then, with many questions in my mind lately, He answers my pondering with one of His promise below which I stumbled upon at On the Horizon:

“Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these.

“But if God so clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you? You men of little faith!

“And do not seek what you will eat and what you will drink, and do not keep worrying.

“For all these things the nations of the world eagerly seek; but your Father knows that you need these things.

“But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you.”

Luke 12:2-31

The picture of the water lily was taken along the path towards the house of Susan and Mike near Pui O Wan July 11, 2007.

living it up-- on the beach

About 3 kilometers from Moi Wu near the village of Pui O Wan is this public beach in Lantau Island. Can you imagine a beautiful beach like this can be Hong Kong? Indeed it is, and I thought I can really live here. Our Ninong and Ninang who are originally based in Palawan now lives a stone's throw away from this place. Now I understand why.

I love this pocketful of memories. This is the first time that Isay enjoyed playing and exploring the beach. She wanted to swim as she played with the on coming waves. She rolled on the sand. Feeling her way through the sand...there are more pictures but I can only post a few. We will look at it again and enjoy this moment together when she is a bit older.

We love the beach. Traveling together and exploring the world is one of our joys indeed. Thank God for these blessings.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Women and Ecology

Last week, I was at the Women and Ecology Wholeness Center in Mendez, Cavite. It was a great alternative place where we had our workshop. I believe it was very apt for a group of conservationists, environmentalists and fisher folk alike to have our training workshop. I've always loved spending time in a farm. I guess that is why I took up Agricultural Business in college is for that particular reason. I want to spend more time outdoors surrounded with plants specifically fruit trees. I love santol and sampaloc (tamarind). When I was young I thought, I don't want to spend my time inside an office. I want to be outdoors. I guess this led me to where I am now loving and taking care of the environment. It was great to find this place. I love the idea of women and ecology. I was happily surprised that it is a farm, a venue for meditation and retreat, and workshops like ours.

According to Sis Itty, the girl with the apron in the picture, the idea of women and ecology as the name of the place comes from the similarities of the two, both are oppressed. They are both treated by some the same way. With purple color in most of the rooms, I guessed that these are for activist women's group and yet, this very place is one of St. Scholastica's venues for their women's studies.

The place would not allow us to use any commercially made soap. Only biodegradable soap and shampoo can be used in the center. The reason is that they re-cycle the water use in the bathroom to water the plants. Commercially made soap contains things that can hurt plants. They also have a biogas where all the kitchen wastes and poop goes into an underground digester. They have some pigs to help produce more manure to help hasten the decomposition. No, the place doesn't smell. I was amazed that a place like this exists in Cavite indeed. They said the the old biogas model is cuter because it is above ground with several pools and the digester above ground where a person can actually help rotate. Then at the end pool there are plants and fishes just to illustrate that clean water can actually sustain life after the whole process. But since they encountered some problems, the past years they moved it underground. There is a shack where they illustrate that the biogas can actually generate gas used for cooking.

They also tried wind energy but since wind comes from all directions in Mendez and several storms had them picking up the blades everywhere, they took it down.

We had a short tour of the farm. It used to be an old coffee farm. But now it has a variety of crops which includes, string beans, corn, lettuce, and pechay. They also grow all the herbs you can think off. Cilantro, rosemary, tarragon and peppermint. I bought a small peppermint plant for P50 only. It survived the heat of travel in the van. Thank God it's alive.

We helped ourselves to santol. Sis Itty said they just give it away. Because the last time they sold it, its P8 per sack! Haay! can you imagine.

The food we had was great. All natural hand picked from the garden or fresh from the market. Junk food not allowed in the premises. We had brown rice all the time for all meals. it reminded me of Veda's comment "white rice, my favorite". More on that in another post. We had kutsinta and nilupak and turon for snacks. Then at meal time sinigang and lots of different vegetables. I also learned a new recipe--- pechay salad. Ang sarap sobra specially when it is organic hindi mapait. I will post the food items in my other
blog Pinay Mountain chef.

Sulit is the proper word for it. For three complete meals and two snacks and lodging we only paid 700 pesos per participant per day. Great deal. The beds are soft and rooms clean. Although it was a shared bathroom, there were two in one floor. We are also encouraged to use a different slipper inside the rooms and function areas which they provided. I realized it is really different to use a slipper that is not yours even if you used it for 3 days. it doesnt feel right in a way. I guess the idea that the inside of the house is a sanctuary. It is also very Asian to remove one's footwear when going inside.

Indeed it was a good experience. Sad that I wasn't able to bring Tatay and Isay this time.

Ah yes, the roof and windows are designed that way to better collect water and for the air to go inside the rooms.

I want my own farm and garden filled with herbs. Haay.

the 3 photos above by Jane Continente. The Photo below by Daisy

Saturday, July 14, 2007

On our way to Disneyland

Big Buddha, Ngong Ping

The Tian Tan Buddha (Traditional Chinese: 天壇大佛) is a large bronze statue of the Buddha, located at Ngong Ping, Lantau Island, in Hong Kong. Also known as the Big Buddha, as it is the world's tallest outdoor seated bronze Buddha. The statue is located near Po Lin Monastery and symbolizes the harmonious relationship between man and nature, people and religion.
Source: Wikipedia.
It was our second day in HK. We took the train to Central MTR station and we existed near a walkway. We were instructed to just follow the walkway to the pier. We sort of lost our way but eventually found Pier 6. We took the 9:30 fast boat to Mui Wo ferry fare is about HK$22. The fast boat look exactly the the fast cats that ply Puerto Galera but since it was a weekday there were very few people on board. We used our "octopus card" for fares which deserves a whole blog entry. More on the octopus card in future post. The trip was a scenic ride towards Lantau Island.

We arrived in Mui Wo where we met Susan. We took a bus to Ngong Ping where the Po Lin Monestary and Big Buddha is located. We climbed the 268 step up to the Big Buddha. It was not as hard a climb as I expected. The area are lined with prayer flags of every color. It was a warm and humid morning. Underneath the statue is a circular museum with some illustrations depicting the life of Buddha. A small store where all proceeds go to maintenance of the site, I got this small jade dragon which I plan to give to Isay when she grows up to tell her about our trip there.

I wrote down this verse I read from the shrine:
May all beings have happiness, wisdom, good fortune and longevity--Tian Tan Buddha

Lantau Peak, Hongkong

Thursday, July 05, 2007

St. Mary's Cathedral

This place is very significant for me. In 2005, I lost my backpack including my laptop in one of the train stations in Sydney. It was a Saturday in the middle of Australian winter. I just flew in from Auckland. I met my friend and later in the train, I realized one of my packs were missing. The next day, Sunday, we went to a solemn mass at 10:30am here at St. Marys. I prayed and found peace. Two months later and many stories to tell, my pack and laptop found its way back. During my trip to Melbuorne two years ago, I passed by and picked them up. My friend Olive and James who live in Wooloomoloo just 3 blocks from St. Mary's help me through and through.
And last week during my trip to the islands, I had to stop by and pay my respects to one of my most favorite places on earth. God is good indeed .

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Kava drink

Kava is the traditional drink in Fiji and most areas in Melanesia. The most potent ones they say are from Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu. This is used for village ceremonies. We visited the village of Kandavu and we brought the the Kava root above to the village chief and elders. One cannot visit a village in Fiji without offering the roots of the Kava. A presentation of the visitors are made to the chief or "ratu". It is required that all introduce themselves. Then the chief and elders make a speech and then the kava ceremony starts with the pounding of the root and then placed in a cloth then pressed in water in the Tanoa --the wooden bowl you see below. It is served with a ritual. It is served on a common coconut bowl to each one. The one offering will clap 3 times, then the one receiving is required to clap before receiving with both hands. It is protocol to drink the first bowl as a show of respect to the village.

Where have I been in the Philippines

My Lakbayan grade is B!

How much of the Philippines have you visited? Find out at Lakbayan!

Created by Eugene Villar.

Lunch time in Fiji Islands

I was excited to have a taste of local cuisine again. On our first day, lunch was served buffet style at the Seaside Bistro at the University of South Pacific. Here is a sampler of the delicious local food we had that day. The local staple is taro or "gabi" in Filipino, see the ones on the blue plate. This is the equivalent of rice to Pinoys and potatoes to the Americans. The next one is fresh fish flakes in coconut milk with vegetables. Taro leaves are also used in many local dish. There is evidence of Indian influence, roti is freshly made everyday and available at the local canteen. I love roti. And last but not the least curried beans to go with the roti. This is my third time to visit Fiji and this is the only time that I am able to take photos of local food. More stories to come in future post! Enjoy!