Yolanda’s Wrath in Guiuan

Before Yolanda hit Philippines , I have posted this in my Facebook account: “Sure ako lilikayan hit bagyo it Guiuan kay an driver hit bagyo- Guiuananon!” ( I am pretty sure Guiuan (Gee-won) will be spared from this upcoming typhoon knowing that its driver is a fellow Guiuananon).

This statement has just came into my mind not realizing how strong and dreadful Yolanda can be. I am confident that we can survive this because we are all used to typhoons- YES we have survived many typhoons! Guiuan, as an island facing the Pacific ocean, is a common path of typhoons. Thus, heavy rains, storm, surge, strong winds are just common scenarios. But not until Yolanda came.

Last November 8, 2013, Friday, the  Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan)  first made her landfall in Guiuan – my hometown. Leaving the place in total ruins, great number of dead and injured. Reports said that 100 percent of structures in the town were all damaged and many families were displaced. The world record-breaking super typhoon isolated Guiuan Eastern Samar and other towns in Samar and Leyte provinces for days where communications were all down.

Hearing such horror, I burst out in  tears knowing my parents, titas and other relatives are there who might be killed and currently suffering from typhoon’s wrath. What added my agony is, I have 3 sisters and nephew and niece in Tacloban who was also severely damaged. Honestly, I prayed hard asking God for their safety. At the moment, I am totally disturbed and unfocused. I cant perform the works I am supposed to do. Thanks to my friends, colleagues who were there comforting and showing sympathy.

Days have passed yet  still no communication but news reports have been showing footage of casualties and destruction in the affected towns highlighting the tragic situation in Tacloban City. I felt terrified and started feeling hopeless. I was planning to go home and personally visit Guiuan but it seems that the whole urge decision was impractical considering the risk and there are still main roads not passable.  I stayed beside I cant just leave and dump my work. It will be much unfair to my company.

And it was only after 5 days, when I received a call from my sister informing me that the rest of my family members are safe in Tacloban. Praise GOD! The next day, I was informed that my parents are safe too but our house was not spared- just like the rest only the skeleton has survived.

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Aerial shots of Guiuan, Eastern Samar after typhoon ‘Yolanda’. Photo by AFP Central Command

The Bullshit Political Bickering

The most painful thing that could happen when calamity stroke is not just loosing someone we love and the assets and other investments destroyed. But the person who wished we are perished. I could not control my disgust to a “Bitch Politician&Epal (BPE)” who described the Province of Eastern Samar as GONE. I do not know what is his real intention of broadcasting this to the national news but for  sure, it for his own interest. God, if you can’t at least show sympathy please don’t use this disaster to uplift your image and to corrupt donations! We will rise with or with out your help. For the record, my father chose supporting him last May 2013 Election- an Ugly Truth 😦

17th Century Guiuan Church Ruined

If you are Guiuananon (locals of Guiuan)  you should be  proud that the Immaculate Concepcion Church  stood and firm since it was  built it in 17oo’s by the Franciscan. The Baroque style church shows the rich catholic faith history of the town. But today, the old building and image preserved for hundred of years was now gone. Yolanda took one of our prides and national treasure. I am regretful indeed but the typhoon only stole the physical tribute of my catholic life NOT  my entire faith.

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Guiuan Church Before (Photo source: heritageconservation.wordpress.com)
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Guiuan Church Today (Photo source: http://www.theguardian.com)

Spirit of Guiuananon

The love for Guiuan is immeasurable. Yolanda might took what we have but not the courage and hope. We will rise. We will re-build the beauty of Guiuan- Bungto ta, Higugma-a ta! ###

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Reaching Magsaysay, OcciMin

Magsaysay, one of the eleven  municipalities in the Province of Occidental Mindoro. It  lies on the southernmost part of Mindoro Island. It is characterized by vast plains, valleys and  rugged terrain with plain areas.

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This rice field shows the abundant agriculture business  in the entire municipality.
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While travelling, I saw this farmer. I  appreciate his perseverance about his daily works.

Where to stay?

The Hill Side Farm  Resort offers the best accommodation in town. Aside from amazing and tasteful  “lutong-bahay”  food, the resort has  its best Videoke you can imagine.

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The welcome sign of the resort is indeed enticing.
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The swimming pool is just of of the amenities of the resort.

The people

Magsaysaynons are very welcoming and hospitable people. Just a simple observation, the whole community maybe has low crime reported. The place is an ideal if you are looking for physical and inner peace.

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A peaceful nap. This kid sleeps serenely while his parents is away.

Best Food

Magsasay is absolutely not the  least town when it comes to food. Below are few delicacies best offered.

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This delicious crabs known in town as ‘talangka’ will satisfy your food desire.
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Fried fish for lunch.

Though I have stayed in Magsaysay, Occidental  Mindoro only  for two days but the experience was great. Knowing the potential and beauty of this small town. For sure I will be back to explore and enjoy more. ###

A Raging Client

RedCross

I am writing  because I  want to express my disgust and agony to a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO)- Red Cross, Philippines, who is very unfair and biased.

This is  based from my experience where it all happened when my sister was brought to a hospital due to eclampsia (A condition in which one or more convulsions occur in a pregnant woman suffering from high blood pressure). She was seven months old pregnant then. Her  unhealthy pregnancy caused the  sudden delivery through caesarean.

After the caesarean surgery she needed two bags of A+ type blood. Unfortunately, my blood type did not match and basically I am not the ideal donor. And the saddest thing is, we are not from Metro Manila so it made difficult for us to get blood from other family members or relatives who can possibly donate.

The President Diosdado Macapagal Memorial Medical Center (PDMMMC) in Caloocan City  had no available blood at that time but has requested already a supply of blood from this NGO. We waited for a whole day from them but there was still no response. As the only relative present aside from my sister’s live-in partner, I made a lot of follow-ups about the status of our request to the said NGO but the hospital staff kept telling us to wait.

It was only in the next morning when we were told by the hospital staff that there was no A+ blood available at the NGO. Hearing the bad news, I almost cried and asked for options. The hospital coordinated with other blood banks and hospitals requesting the said blood, this according to them. But at the end of the day, there was still no positive response from them and I was starting to lose hope.

Feeling depressed, I posted in my FB and Twitter accounts about my sister’s situation. Luckily, few replied and expressed their willingness to be the blood donors but unfortunately none of them is an A+ blood type. I just realized this  A+ blood type is like a gem.

Time’s running, and my sister was lying in the hospital bed still no blood-transfused. Out of depression, I took a copy Blood Request Form from the hospital and went to different blood banks in Quezon City, different branches of this NGO and even public and private hospitals. Sadly, most of these hospitals are dependent to this NGO. I did not stop, I kept on trying. So, I went to its main office in Manila City and begged for 2 bags of blood. But I still got nothing, not even a single drop of blood until in the fourth day.

My co-worker who knew my problem told me she has a relative working in a Representative Office that could help. She immediately contacted her relative and told my story. The said relative contacted the Chief of Staff of the Representative. The chief of staff called someone in the NGO who holds higher position.

The next morning, we received a call from the staff of Representative’s Office telling us that we could buy now two bags of A+ blood at the NGO’s main office. Imagine that, I was there the whole time looking for blood yet they kept on denying. I don’t understand why they have to hide it when my sister’s case is an absolute emergency. For the record, we are not requesting blood for free, we are buying it.

After a five-day and long search of blood, my sister was successfully transfused.

Now, every time I saw volunteers of that said agency asking donations from commuters inside LRT and MRT, I can’t help to be disgusted and irritated. Literally, just a glimpse of that agency’s logo can ruin my day. By the way, I used to give them coins but now I  won’t.

I know that this NGO can save more lives through giving blood to those who are in need. But the reality, still it’s all about politics and connections. If you are weak, you may lose, but if you have the power you can enjoy and continue your existence. And to let you know, my sister died. She didn’t make it.  ###

Living the Mangyan way

I am posing a question: “What do you think it will look like if were not colonized by the Spaniards?”

Thinking all  possible answers, I would assume that I don’t have  the concept of computer, internet and blogging. Maybe, I am not able to understand nor write English. And I am less hygienic (Eww) and not gay, absolutely not a homosexual.

Giving satisfaction of this query, then I am giving  scenarios to help you imagine how it will look like if we are not once colonized. Definitely,  my experiences with these Indigenous People will provide with you  answers on the above-mentioned question. I hope I can describe it justly.

Mangyan: A native tribe

The mountains  of Abra de Ilog, Occidental Mindoro are inhabited  by the  Mangyans. Extensive tribal settlements of Mangyan in the municipality belong to sub-group known  Iraya. The Mangyans are simple people. They  have that dark skin and curly hairs but some of them have straight hairs.  History revealed that they were once coastal dwellers driven into the mountains to avoid religious conversion by the Spaniards, raids by Moro pirates, and the influx of recent migrants.

Municipal Hall
The Municipal Hall of Abra de Ilog, Occidental Mindoro

The travel

It is our goal to reach the native’s community. Maybe you  are wondering what’s with this travel? Well, I am part of that government project which advocates the right of these  Indigenous People.

So lets start then.

At early dawn, I think that was 4:00 in the morning when  we started the  journey.Tiring and sweaty, these two words are just few to describe our travel to Sitio Lagnas, Lumangbayan Abra de Ilog,  where a community of Iraya exists.

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Our team climbing this mountain at early dawn. Extreme.

On the way, there are hills after hills, mountain after mountain. The walking and hiking is something new  we have to endure.  After hours of travel, the sun had started to climb to its zenith and  we felt terribly hot and totally exhausted. We are craving for cold water and of course for a rest. To add the agony, the heat of the  sun is burning our skin. But we have to move on, there’s no room of turning back.

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Though the travel is tough, yet we have that chance to enjoy the bird’s eye view of the whole town of Abra de Ilog.
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Of course you can see how terrible the travel is. But if you are looking for extreme activity like this, then better climb the mountains of Abra de Ilog.

The place called Hasaan

Around 3:00 in the afternoon,  we have arrived Hasaan. We can now see the fog and sort of clouds going down the mountains.

“Hasaan” is a local term for whetstone. The place is located between the two mountains with stream and brook with different sizes of sort of black marble rocks. The rock formation is another fascinating feature of the place.

Hasaan is derived from the word ‘Hasa’ which means to sharpen. According to locals, during the World War II, the Japanese army used the place to sharpen their bayonets.

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These are the sample of the rocks that were scattered in Hasaan.

Our team has decided  to build tents in Hasaan. The availability of water supply is what we considered.

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The parallel view of Hasaan.
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This little tent shelters us from rain and cold for almost 5 days during our stay.

Exciting challenges

During our stay, here are some remarkable things hard to forget. First,  coping with the food and water. The sardines, noodles, dried fried, Fish Paste “Bagoong” and  edible fern (paco)  saved us from extreme hunger.

 The water we drink came from the spring with unusual size of tadpoles (measuring head-size of 1-2 inches diameter ) swimming in it. Safe or not? We don’t mind what is important is to quench our thirst and to survive.

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Have you seen cooked rice put inside a sack? There you go, in the absence of kitchen utensils, we have to maximize what’s available. Note: it is still delicious.
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The noodles played a vital role in our existence in Hasaan.
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Imagine with out dried fish (tuyo), then we have no protein at all. I am thinking, I’ll be malnourished for once.

Second, the Alimatik or leech (Hirudina medicinalis)  attack. This little pest is sucking our blood. And the problem is, we have no clue it’s there because we feel nothing. Gross.

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This little pest is now full of blood. And “Alimatik” loves to suck the soft part of a human foot. Ewwww.

Third, the place gave us no choice but to use an open defecation for our sanitation. Fourth, the very cold place that could kill us. Shocks, we are almost chilling  to our bones.

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This bonfire warms our bodies and help ease the cold evening.

Knowing Iraya

Irayanons look very primitive though their culture of wearing ‘bahags’ have  faded. They are chewing the mixture of buyo locally known as ‘nga-nga’. Their lifestyle has been modified with the technology. Few of them are already using cell phones for entertainment.

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An Iraya man looks very prominent in his community.
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A simple way of caring- this father has to carry his son.

We can observe that they live in simplicity and now they value the importance of education. Though most of their tribe members have no grade completed.

Irayanons are all farmers in occupation. Vegetables like , squash also sweet potatoes are their main productions.  They are also engaging in making grass brooms.

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These Iraya men have to walk for two days from their community before reaching the Abra de Ilog town proper to sell their products.
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Sweet potatoes- the fruit of the native’s labor.

This experience made me realized that I am lucky enough living in the urban center and experiencing the fruit of civilization compare to these native people.

So the these are the answers of the question: What do you think it will look like if were not colonized by the Spaniards?”

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At young age, this woman has already kids. And I learned from them that there are incest cases. Unfortunately.
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If still we are not civilized, maybe we all look like him.

Withdrawing from our comfort zones is  helpful in many different ways. This make us grow, motivate, inspired and sometimes experience the freedom that we are dreaming of. As said by Brian Tracy, “You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.” ###

Exploring Romblon, Philippines

Have you been to Romblon? If you answer ‘yes’ maybe you can relate to me but if not, then allow me to share with you my amazing experiences with the place. Romblon, is an island province of the Philippines located in the MIMAROPA region.  Its capital is also named Romblon. 

Hopefully, I can convince you to travel and allow yourself exploring Romblon the best way you can. I’ll be describing the place in my own words based from what I have seen and felt.

Man in Looc

After the 2 – hours of boat travel from Caticlan, Aklan, I have reached Looc, the first municipality I’ve touched in the entire province. It was 10 AM when I arrived. So, I was really excited to unveil what’s lie ahead in that simple and peaceful town. Hungry on the other hand, I satisfied myself at the Maxvirs Restaurant located at the center town.

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Fresh crabs helped restoring my energy. Yummy!

After that one day exploration of  Looc, I realized that  town whose economy strives for growth. It still seeks for modernization. A place who offers less opportunities. Nothing unusual,  I was disappointed a little bit. But the dull moment was saved by a guy whom I met. He was cute and has that typical ‘probinsyano’ looks. Just to shortcut things, we did the deed.

Fortunately, until today we have  the communication. We are constant text mates in  fact.  Maybe if I’ll travel back, then we could meet and have more fun with this man in Looc. Looking forward.

A quick glance of San Fernando

After the less exciting moment in Looc, I immediately moved to San Fernando, Romblon. In my travel, I have passed by  the municipalities  Odiongan and Calatarva.

We're soaring high. LOL. The highway road of Romblon is more on mountainous.
We’re hiking high. LOL. The highway road of Romblon is more  mountainous.
During our travel, we came in to this view. And this amazed me  so much- the light house and the shore.
We came into this view. And this amazed me so much, the light house, the  shore and the blue sky.
The view of the mini-boulevard in Magdiwang where it is a place for lovers and group to enjoy the sunset and relax as the sea breeze touches the skin.
The view of the mini-boulevard in San Fernando,  a place for all locals to enjoy the sunset and relax as the sea breeze touches their skin.

The night life of San Fernando is somewhat less exciting.  They have these small videoke houses which cater drinks and songs near at the port. I hate the chastity of the daily evening life there but since I had no choice I  stayed and spent the night singing out loud. The good thing is, the neighborhoods did not complain.

Magdiwang Port.
San Fernando Port- Cannot help to have my first Montenegro ride.

The next morning, I packed my things and then  catch my ship trip. At the sea,I have   savored the relaxing mood. The calm and blue ocean depicts the peaceful place. The  wind gave me  that freshness I cant have in the big city. At the back of my mind, I wish I could stay like that forever. And what added the excitement was the view  of  migrating flock of  dolphins.

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The ship’s tail creating a water trail.

Stop-Over at Romblon, Romblon

It’s not really redundant.  To  clarify things, the name of the municipality is Romblon and the name of the province is also Romblon. The two Romblon’s are very different.

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The classy port of the municipality of Romblon. the Montenegro Lines just landed at the port and decided for a quick stop-over (maybe waiting for more passengers). So we had that time to discover and wander Romblon, Romblon. And see what we got- amazing marbles!
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The welcome sign of Romblon made from pure marbles. The structure of the man show their rich  marble industry.

Creativity without limits- that’s  how I described the amazing creations of Romblonanons. If you are really looking for base plates, tiles, bricks in different sizes and colors out from the blocks of marble. As well, small pendants with dolphins, manta rays, hearts, crosses  and mortar, ashtrays and vases in various shapes and many more. Visit Romblon and customize your choice according to your design.

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These are the sample of products and designs made by the local artists.
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Have marble balls.
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These mini-headstones are just for fun. Dont take this seriously. You can buy this as a gift.

Finally, Magdiwang

After that quick stop-over in Romblon, the Montenegro ship started sailing to our final destination. It was noon time when we arrived in Magdiwang, Romblon.

I was welcomed by the quietude  of the place.  Compared from other municipalities, the people of Magdiwang are funnier and nicer. It’s like I am connected with the place. Such a weird feeling.

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The Magdiwang port that  entice me more.

In my effort of walking, I have came to the town’s Catholic church. The people of Magdiwang perhaps are devoted Christians.

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The Magdiwang Church, the symbol of the people’s strong catholic faith.

Along with my travel, I have seen this house. I stopped. I couldn’t help the urge to check it out. Why? Because it looks like our house in Samar.  The plants that surround and of course the cellar are the same features. I reminisced my childhood days when I was  playing ‘bahay-bahayan’ in that  cellar. So cute and funny. LOL.

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This house amazed me. It shows the simplicity yet strong and healthy foundation of a home.

Of course, I am  not going to miss the experience with the famous Lambingan Falls.  The falls is  a beautiful series of cascades in the foothills of Mt. Guiting-Guiting. The crystal clear water is a perfect venue for swimming. And the rock formations intensify the breathtaking view.

Lambingan

This water collector is designed for tourist and locals who want to shower. The water is cold and can be used also for drinking.

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This water collector was made for showering.
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That water running down is a mystery- where does it come from?

Love to swim and picnic? Then,  visit Lambingan Falls and be amazed.

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The crystal clear water in Lambingan Falls. That’s not me FYI.

Lastly, I have that grilling moment. See that  fish, Oh I am dying having it because  I am too tired from swimming. Anyway, Lambingan is also a perfect place for family and friends outing.  For sure you will enjoy the moment just like I did.

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Well, that ended my Romblon exploration. Knowing the best and entertaining experiences, I am sure I’ll be back soon or later. Bye bye Romblon. ###

Cagayancillo: A hidden paradise

I have been into different places, but my experience with Cagayancillo, one of the farthest island municipalities in the  Province of Palawan is far different. The travel is indeed a nerve-wracking. Oh, the big big waves  flavor more the adventure. By the way it’s a 6-hour trip from Anini-y, Antique by boat, if the weather is favorable but if not prepare to be devastated. #JK.

Just typical waves.
Just typical waves.
The happy passengers.
The happy passengers.

 

Upon reaching the place, the locals known as Cagayanen, and is considered as an Indigenous People (IP) are very hospitable and nice. The community shows the simplicity of the Cagayanens lifestyle.

The simple yet proud Municipal Hall of Cagayancillo, Palawan
The simple yet proud Municipal Hall of Cagayancillo, Palawan
The daily living of  most Cagayanens owe their survival to the gift of the sea and the fruit of the land.
The daily living of most Cagayanens owe their survival to the gift of the sea and the fruit of the land.

 

Apart from the serenity of the place, Cagayancillo is abundant with the wonders of nature. The marine life  is just a piece of the amazing features of the town.

Big big fish.
Big big fish.

 

Luckily, I have spotted the farthest island  sitio of Cagayancillo, Cawili. Again, Cawili is a 6-hour travel from the town proper thru a boat. Still I am not used to big waves and long sun exposure.

The tranquility of the sea shore in Sitio Cawili is indeed relaxing.
The tranquility of the sea shore in Sitio Cawili is indeed relaxing.
The clean  shore of Sitio Cawili, Cagayancillo, Palawan.
The clean shore of Sitio Cawili, Cagayancillo, Palawan.

 

Aside from the perfect view of the sitio, it is also gifted with local birds called ‘Ku-ok’.

More birds, locally called as Ku-ok can be seen in Sitio Cawili.
More and more birds soaring can be seen in Sitio Cawili.
These birds nested in the wild trees.
These birds nested in the wild trees.

Cagayanens Food

The Cagayanens love to cook and eat. So here are their best delicacies I have tasted.

Kinapayas, a local food delicacy: from a papaya cooked into semi-Adobo. Hmp, the taste is very distinctive but if you are really looking for peculiar taste, then you must try this.
Kinapayas, a local food delicacy: from a papaya cooked into semi-Adobo. Hmp, the taste is very distinctive but if you are really looking for peculiar taste, then you must try this.
Whoah. This fish looks very big and delicious. Slurrp.
Whoah. This fish looks very big and delicious. Slurrp.
I forget the name of this, but this is like an octopus cooked in Adobo.
I forget the name of this, but this is like an octopus cooked in Adobo.
The yummy Coconut crab.
The yummy Coconut crab.

Strong Faith

Cagayancillo is rich of Catholic faith history and the town’s Church stood evidently.

These  shells  serve as a decoartion and was made since 1800's when the
The shells  in the Church ceiling are preserved. The said shells  were used as designs when the church was built in 1800’s.
The newly renovated Cagayancillo church.
The newly renovated Cagayancillo church.

The 5-day stay in Cagayancillo is remarkable. Well, the long sun exposure totally burnt my skin but definitely the experiences were all at its best. If I have that chance, for sure “I shall return”. I know Cagayanens adhere to this: Melled Kaw or Welcome. And they will be happy to accommodate me once again. ###

Perfection is next to insanity.