beach blues

Summers around the world vary, clearly. Don’t worry I won’t dork out this post by subtly discussing seasonal differences all over the world (although it’s very tempting). For me though, as soon as you can walk outside in one layer of clothes without feeling like you’re about to become the next flavor or Ben and Jerry’s, it’s summer! Which means that right about now, I’m having those urges to frequent the beach or go on hikes or even book a spontaneous international flight (to Bali, maybe).

Are you having the same thoughts? Tell me all about it on the comments below. I’m planning to write another summer bucket list and must tries. Do you guys have anything in mind? To be honest, I wanna be super active and try new things this summer like water sports (surfing, wakeboarding)

1-Misibis Bay

or go on an unplanned road trip to somewhere I’ve never been before

and try local delicacies I’ve never seen or heard before (good luck tummy).

Whatever my summer plans (or the lack thereof) are, my goal is to live it and enjoy it. Come try it with me? *wink*

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we are one

As I’ve been exploring the blogging world the past year, I’ve met (and this is very relative as I’ve not really PHYSICALLY met most of them) the most amazing, intimidating and inspiring people and I’ve shared with you some of them in the past entries (like my fashion blogger friend who motivated me to start this blog).

Before I graduated college, a teacher discussed one of the more influential e-commerce/ social media gurus in the Philippines, Ms. Janette Toral. I promised myself that if given the chance, I’d dispense of all hesitation and introduce myself so I did. I also found out that she’d be speaking for a cause later today at Vista Center, UGF Worldwide Corporate Center, Shaw Blvd., Mandaluyong City. It’s a benefit seminar to raise funds for Yolanda Survivors. They’ll be discussing issues regarding youth empowerment especially as one balances personal and professional life. If you have time, drop by. It’s only for 1,000 bucks and you will not only get your money’s worth from the country’s diverse speakers but also you’ll be helping people from all over Visayas who are in dire need of aid. Win-win right?

Click on this http://trainings.ph/weareone-session4/ or this https://www.facebook.com/events/393339350799094/ for details.

From now on, I’d be be posting more seminars, speaking engagements and advocacies that she’s involved with to keep you guys in the loop too.

And to those who’ll be coming or donating, in behalf of WE ARE ONE. | One Nation, One Purpose, One Voice, a very sincere and hearty THANKS.

November 1st

A few months ago I did a tribute entry for my grandfather who passed away. Well here in the Philippines, we take celebrating All Saints and All Souls day to heart. It was something Papa (that’s what I call my grandfather) inculcated in us very well too. We’d go to the cemetery bearing flowers, candles and food on the first of November. We’d spend the night praying and talking about how the people who passed away lived their lives and how it affected ours.

It’s a time of recalling, honoring and celebrating.

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This is the first time we won’t be able to do it with Papa instead we’ll be doing it for him. I can’t say it’s easy when this time last year he’d be the one fuzzing over the preparations. Where are the candles? Did you buy the flowers yet? What time are we leaving? He’d keep badgering us til we’re finally ready. This year, no more questions, no more badgering, only the quiet knowledge that we have to continue this tradition in his honor. We have to continue to celebrate his life and everything that he has taught us.

So to all those who are celebrating their loved ones’ lives with us, my prayers are with you and I’m hoping that you’ll pray for us and those we’ve lost too.

 

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By the way, I know you guys must be thinking that November 2 is all Souls Day so we should visit cemeteries then but for other people that date isn’t a holiday. They’d have to skip work to pay their respects so most of us just decide to do it on November 1st.

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earthquake in the Philippines

While having lunch, I heard my uncle’s fiance say there has been an earthquake in Visayas (that’s a group of islands south from where I live, Luzon). I couldn’t process it at first thinking we couldn’t be going through another calamity right after the series of typhoons and landslides in the past weeks. But then she started saying how she needed to call some of her relatives just to make sure they’re okay. That made it very real for me. We didn’t feel it from here in Manila but I was extremely scared for those who were there, my friends and their families.

According to the news, the intensity 7.2 earthquake that was greatly felt by majority of the Visayas provinces left many structures destroyed and has so far claimed 85 lives. It has greatly damaged few of the oldest churches in the Philippines like the Basilica Del Sto. Nino in Cebu and the Church of San Pedro in Bohol. Malls, bridges, homes and other buildings were also damaged.

SEVERE DAMAGE. The centuries-old Loboc Church in Loboc, Bohol shows its collapsed roof after a magnitude 7.2 quake in the region, 15 October 2013. Photo courtesy of Robert Michael Poole (@tokyodrastic)

photo by Robert Poole

It’s terrifying to keep watching these videos while knowing full well how scared the people in the area still are because of the aftershocks, the fear of not knowing which areas are safe evacuation centers and the all around brownouts that disallow them from contacting their families and friends.

Living in the Philippines my whole life, I’ve experienced a couple earthquakes myself- none as bad as this one, thank God. That feeling of being helpless, even if we’ve gone through dozen of drills, still shakes you and keeps you paranoid for some time. Although the government has made plans already on how to handle this, the civil society’s help and prayers will still be much needed and appreciated.

healthy conversations

One of the many reasons why I love coming home is the amount of time we spend still sitting on our chairs around the table long after we finished breakfast.  I was raised by two academe-loving parents, with a dad that always encourages discourse so imagine how that translated to my extra curricular activities all through out school.

breakfast

Just this morning we started talking about the PDAF Scam, arguably the most embarrassing issue plaguing the  Philippine Congress today. We discussed facts, what we thought about them, where the government should go from here, how this issue affects legit foundations and so on. It’s a frustrating topic considering how much casually the accused are taking it and how fearful the witnesses are for their lives, WHAT A ROLE REVERSAL. Shouldn’t the crooks feel the least bit ashamed or distraught if not afraid? Shouldn’t the witnesses feel more relieved and hopeful? That’s clearly too much to ask in a society where thieves are put on pedestals while the rest of us look up to see their bum excreting billions of stolen money. (See how hyped I get because of this? It’s almost funny.)

*calming down* Anyway, it’s reassuring to have people around you who you can discuss absolutely anything with and not feel as if you’re overstepping or acting like a total dork (which I am, by the way). I don’t know if many people have this with the their families or friends but if you do then you know how important it is to feel heard, to feel understood. Those long breakfast conversations may seem like boring routines we can get rid of but to me they’re boosts I need to get me through many more discouraging days.

So here’s to being heard and being understood.

the jeepney allegory: TRUST

For those who are not Filipinos, never been to the Philippines or have never seen travel shows featuring this living art of a country, a jeepney is our version of the famous, roughneck American Jeep. It can traverse any terrain and is durable. In contrast to the jeep that most are familiar with jeepneys are public utility vehicles meaning they function like buses or subways or toktoks in other countries. They’re one of the most popular means of public transportation and also one of the cheapest.

Pinoy Jeepney

Photo from a blogger friend, photosfromajuanderer.wordpress.com

There’s a lot to learn from a jeepney ride. I decided to devote a few entries every now and then to tell you about them.

This first entry is on trust.

Like most developing states, blue collar workers- jeepney drivers included- have to work extra hard to make ends meet. Most of them spend over 12 hours laboring intensively to earn minimum wage salaries often devoured by inflated prices of food and other staple commodities. It’s no sob story, just the truth. 

You would think that a jeepney driver would guard his earnings closely and ferociously considering his and his family’s sustenance for another day depended on it but he still exhibits an admirable degree of trust. Seldom will you see him accompanied by a conductor to collect fare from passengers. It will rest upon your conscience whether you pay or not. It’s fairly easy to get away with not paying but I’ve heard of very few successful attempts. It’s just the culture we grew up in. We pay whether the driver is aware that we did or not.

The driver allows us to make a decision for ourselves and trusts enough to make the right one.

We, in turn, are raised to prove him right.

I’ve heard many stories of honest drivers returning bags full of cash and valuables to their owners, even making the effort of visiting radio stations to find who lost them. I’d like to think the trust they have for people, those who would pay their fare even when no one’s checking, strengthened their moral high ground to remain honest even in the face of material temptation.

My moral for this one: trust is a value worth keeping even in the face testing circumstances like collecting money or people doing what’s expected of them.

You have to see the best in people, just like what a jeepney driver sees in his passengers.

you KNOW how YOU VOTED

While on the line earlier, waiting for my chance to vote, I overheard a conversation between two guys behind me.

Guy in a RED shirt: Pare, kuanon mo na sana tapos dai iboto. Pwede man baga. Alangan man maglaog sinda diyan tapos basahun ang balota mo.

Guy in a WHITE (almost cream) shirt: Iyo ano? Saen ngani sinda nagaabang?

Guy in a RED shirt: Diyan baga sa may luwas. Itong nagtatao ning sample ballot.

(English translation)

Guy in a RED shirt: Just get it then don’t vote for the candidate. It’s doable. They won’t go in and check who you shaded on your ballot anyway.

Guy in a WHITE (almost cream) shirt: That’s true. Where are they again?

Guy in a RED shirt: Outside, they’re   the ones giving away the sample ballots.

It’s frustrating because quite frankly this seldom happens in my city, most of the voters are learned and have high respect for the system. Compared to the rest of the country, we were as safe as a walk in the park. I was so close to coming up to them and telling them off; I was that pissed (partly due the heat too) but I decided against it. Today I’ll let them make that decision for themselves. I cannot keep coaxing people to do the right thing when they themselves are not convinced they should do it.

But just to get this off my chest, here’s what I would have said:

Yes, people will not know who you voted for. Those who paid you off will keep their fingers crossed that you stay true to your words and they get the votes they need. Those who process your vote will be oblivious to the fact that you sold out.

They won’t know but YOU WILL.

You will know at that very moment that you lied, you sold out and you gave in to a broken undignified system. While  a hard earning construction worker refuses for his vote to be bought despite his obvious need for money, here you are squandering your chances to make a difference. Granted, you may think, “What is one vote?” How is it going to affect your country? I can construe a dozen arguments why it does but that won’t matter as much as HOW YOUR VOTE CAN AFFECT YOU.

You have a chance to prove to yourself that you are worth more than a few hundred pesos. We don’t get chances like that very often.

If knowing that you just sold your vote isn’t torture enough, then you have a bigger problem. You are numb to people trampling on your dignity, callous to overglorified politicians walking all over you and treating you just like any other purchase he’s made- disposable and insignificant.

You’re better than that. WE are better than that. Once every 3 years we get to prove it.