Freedom Fridays: My Own Little Escape

This blog entry was originally posted on July 4, 2011.

When I was a kid, I could never sleep without hugging a pillow close to me. My mama can attest to the countless times when I would look for something to hug for me just to fall asleep. I never knew why I grew fond of it. As I turned 8 or was it 7, my mama gave me a small teddy bear and even til now I still have that teddy. From the day I received it til the time I got a new teddy bear, I never let go of it. I can never sleep without it.

It was only til now that I realized why I love having a teddy bear close to me when I’m asleep. Sometimes things happen in reality that are too much for one person to bear and sometimes the people you need the most are never there. It’s because you feel cozy and warm without having to give something back in return. Teddy bears never reject you and they are always there for you whenever you need comforting. I don’t have to put on a lot of effort asides from occassional laundry to keep the teddy clean. I can just be plain, crazy and invisible me.  Up until now, I still have a teddy with me in bed. I love being in my room, it is when I am alone that I don’t feel rejected. I love solitude. I don’t have to worry about how people will think of me. I have peace when I see no one and no one sees me.
We all have our escapes, mine is no big secret. You and me are not that different.  Just me, my room and my teddy. Every now and then you have to escape to avoid losing yourself.

Warrior Wednesdays : Bring Out the Better You

Do You Know Yourself Well? Take the challenge!

How well do you know yourself? In a fast-paced world filled with tons of distractions, it is easy to lose yourself in the madness. Day in and day out we follow through our routines the same way as our parents lived (except for FB, foodporn, selfies and all the social media and internet hoohas). Knowledge has never been convenient, no need to go through the library and browse through the Dewey system to search which books has answers. At the tip of our finger tips and in a matter of seconds, Google provides us with answers on different queries. Bored tonight, I asked Google if it knew me and I was feeling lucky. What response did I get? Well, Google brought me to this youtube video. Just shows that Google cannot answer everything but also a reminder that no one in this world (religious people will disagree because God knows) but apart from those immortal, no one really knows you as much as you know yourself.

Who Am I?
Who Am I?

The lack of knowledge on who we are has brought us into a lot of confusion and we find ourselves lost and losing. We take it out on others. We say “Yes” and do things for the sake of likeability. Man is undeniably a social being but the world has put too much emphasis on fitting a certain frame. We try to fit in this box while filling our souls with resentment.

Good news! I am here to help or I’d like to think I am doing the world a favour by writing this out (I would prefer slapping you in the face but then I don’t like violence at the moment). Warrior Wednesdays will remind you weekly to fight back from being swallowed into a sea of insignificance. Each week, I will write out a challenge that will hopefully make you a better person. You are not alone on the battle, I am doing it with you.

First Challenge: Spend Time on Getting to Know Yourself Better

You cannot be better if you do not know what to change. Take 15-30 minutes each day to think and answer these questions:

  • Do you complain often of “feeling bad,” and if so, what is the cause?
  • Do you find fault with other people at the slightest provocation?
  • Do you frequently make mistakes in your work, and if so, why?
  • Are you sarcastic and offensive in your conversation?
  • Do you deliberately avoid the association of anyone, and if so, why?
  • Do you suffer frequently with indigestion? If so, what is the cause?
  • Does life seem futile and the future hopeless to you? If so, why?
  • Do you like your occupation? If not, why?
  • Do you often feel self-pity, and if so why?
  • Are you envious of those who excel you?
  • To which do you devote most time, thinking of SUCCESS, or of FAILURE?
  • Are you gaining or losing self-confidence as you grow older?
  • Do you learn something of value from all mistakes?
  • Are you permitting some relative or acquaintance to worry you? If so, why?
  • Are you sometimes “in the clouds” and at other times in the depths of despondency?
  • Who has the most inspiring influence upon you? What is the cause?
  • Do you tolerate negative or discouraging influences which you can avoid?
  • Are you careless of your personal appearance? If so, when and why?
  • Have you learned how to “drown your troubles” by being too busy to be annoyed by them?
  • Would you call yourself a “spineless weakling” if you permitted others to do your thinking for you?
  • Do you neglect internal bathing until auto-intoxication makes you ill-tempered and irritable?
  • How many preventable disturbances annoy you, and why do you tolerate them?
  • Do you resort to liquor, narcotics, or cigarettes to “quiet your nerves”? If so, why do you not try will-power instead?
  • Does anyone “nag” you, and if so, for what reason?
  • Do you have a DEFINITE MAJOR PURPOSE, and if so, what is it, and what plan have you for achieving it?
  • Do you suffer from any of the Six Basic Fears? If so, which ones?
  • Have you a method by which you can shield yourself against the negative influence of others?
  • Do you make deliberate use of auto-suggestion to make your mind positive?
  • Which do you value most, your material possessions, or your privilege of controlling your own thoughts?
  • Are you easily influenced by others, against your own judgment?
  • Has today added anything of value to your stock of knowledge or state of mind?
  • Do you face squarely the circumstances which make you unhappy, or sidestep the responsibility?
  • Do you analyze all mistakes and failures and try to profit by them or, do you take the attitude that this is not your duty?
  • Can you name three of your most damaging weaknesses?
  • What are you doing to correct them?
  • Do you encourage other people to bring their worries to you for sympathy?
  • Do you choose, from your daily experiences, lessons or influences which aid in your personal advancement?
  • Does your presence have a negative influence on other people as a rule?
  • What habits of other people annoy you most?
  • Do you form your own opinions or permit yourself to be influenced by other people?
  • Have you learned how to create a mental state of mind with which you can shield yourself against all discouraging influences?
  • Does your occupation inspire you with faith and hope?
  • Are you conscious of possessing spiritual forces of sufficient power to enable you to keep your mind free from all forms of FEAR?
  • Does your religion help you to keep your own mind positive?
  • Do you feel it your duty to share other people’s worries? If so, why?
  • If you believe that “birds of a feather flock together” what have you learned about yourself by studying the friends whom you attract?
  • What connection, if any, do you see between the people with whom you associate most closely, and any unhappiness you may experience?
  • Could it be possible that some person whom you consider to be a friend is, in reality, your worst enemy, because of his negative influence on your mind?
  • By what rules do you judge who is helpful and who is damaging to you?
  • Are your intimate associates mentally superior or inferior to you?
  • How much time out of every 24 hours do you devote to:

a. your occupation
b. sleep
c. play and relaxation
d. acquiring useful knowledge
e. plain waste
Who among your acquaintances,
a. encourages you most
b. cautions you most
c. discourages you most
d. helps you most in other ways

  • What is your greatest worry? Why do you tolerate it?
  • When others offer you free, unsolicited advice, do you accept it without question, or analyze their motive?
  • What, above all else, do you most DESIRE?
  • Do you intend to acquire it?
  • Are you willing to subordinate all other desires for this one?
  • How much time daily do you devote to acquiring it?
  • Do you change your mind often? If so, why?
  • Do you usually finish everything you begin?
  • Are you easily impressed by other people’s business or professional titles, college degrees, or wealth?
  • Are you easily influenced by what other people think or say of you?
  • Do you cater to people because of their social or financial status?
  • Whom do you believe to be the greatest person living?
  • In what respect is this person superior to yourself?
  • How much time have you devoted to studying and answering these questions? (At least one day is necessary for the analysis and the answering of the entire list.)

It takes a lot of effort but if you take time to answer truthfully (do not dare lie to yourself) then you will know more about yourself than majority of Earth. If you seem uncertain on some questions then ask people who know you well (real friends who will not flatter you, who sees you as who you are. This little challenge will help you start an amazing change within yourself. Awareness of one’s mind is the first step to taking control over things.

Feel free to share your answers and thoughts on this challenge. I will post some of my answers next Wednesday along with the second challenge!

Monday Musings : Give A Little Love

Mondays always have a bad rap, almost everybody hates them and for a while I used to be one of them. I’d like to change norms and make it a better day. Thus, my first post for Monday Musings is a video that I found from YouTube.

With all the negativity being passed around, fueling hatred and narcissism has become the norm.

Remember when a friend, a loved one or a stranger helped you? Remind yourself of how a little love can create a ripple effect. Be that person for someone else now. Give a little love.

Losing Love: Part 2

Years passed and her world grew bigger. A new life in a new city, another shot at reinvention. “I am someone else!”, mantra she kept in her mind as she started college. Once again, she found herself drawn into the beauty and rawness of the wilderness.

Finding yourself in the middle of nowhere.

She filled herself with fresh expectations but once again her quest brought new wounds. Wounds far more complex and deadly than the ones before. Daytime, she smiled and laugh like sun at noontime but when night came, she slithered into her cave of  self-destruction. A fish out of water desperately seeking the ocean, living off through small air bubbles. Desperation haunted her and self-pity seeped into her blood. She morphed into a reticent swimmer against the ebb and flow. Her mind filled with a farrago of doubts, fears, hopes, and wishes.  They all thought she suffered from the hectic duties and lectures but it was her ray of hope.

Routines made her feel safe. Just as a passenger desperately seeking for saving from a sinking ship, she clung to people who gave her promises of security. She would later find out that they were nothing more than a mere mirages. A bunch of conspirators scheming her demise. One day as she traipsed on, she stumbled into a river and for the first time, she descried her reflection in perfect clarity. She shuddered at the sight, realising that she was her own saviour. All these time she thought she had no choice, nothing more but a victim hanging on to the claws of cruel fate.

Energised with the new insight, she sought to change her reality. She gave up the prescribed life she had before her. The momentum brought her courage and a renewed focus in life. Packed all her stuff and moved to the metropolis, her goal to make her dream a reality. It was more than a decade ago when she dreamt of a restaurant that would serve nothing but fresh and healthy food produced from her own farm. Employing people and empowering them by providing education to their families. For many years, she hated the thought of business, thinking that money was merely the devil’s creation to enslave men. She now saw things in a new light after meeting a stranger. He woke her up from monotony and talked her out of her cowardness.

Creating yourself.

What was once lost is now regained. She found direction and let go of other’s life mould. All her life, patterned after what others saw. She finally mustered enough courage to live life the way she always wanted, swore to herself never be oppressed into living a life she is not happy with. She finally embraced her own legend and reached for the stars. She stood infront of the road that she created, knowing that it will not be an easy journey. Gone are her days of emptiness.

Beyond Play : Changing the World through Sports

“Sport has established itself as an effective tool for development and peace-building. Sport for development and peace projects around the world have addressed many of the challenges society has faced.”- Wilfried Lemke 

Football for Life children
Football for Life children

Since time immemorial, sports have been the most popular form of recreation for people. Last April 5, 2015 at Patio Victoria, Brgy. San Jose, Tacloban City, the children, coaches and staff of Football for Life programme, joined the rest of the world in celebrating not only Easter Sunday and the International Day of Sports for Development and Peace (IDSDP).

Best egg hunter!

History of International Day of Sport for Development and Peace

In 2013, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 6 April as the International Day of Sports and Physical Activity, to celebrate the contribution of sports and physical activity to education, human development, healthy lifestyles and a peaceful world. The 1st International Day of Sport for Development and Peace was celebrated on 6 April 2014.

The choice of the date of 6 April can be explained by the fact that, in 2002, at its 55th session, the Assembly of the World Health Organization, in its resolution WHA 55.23, urged Member States to celebrate a “Move for Health Day” each year to promote physical activity as essential for health and well-being. The date 6 April has been used since the year 2003 by some civil society organizations for celebrating a “World Day for Physical Activity”.

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Potential of Sport for Social Impact

Sport, as a tool for education, development and peace, can promote cooperation, solidarity, tolerance, understanding, social inclusion and health at the local, national and international levels. Its intrinsic values such as teamwork, fairness, discipline, respect for the opponent and the rules of the game are understood all over the world and can be harnessed in the advancement of solidarity, social cohesion and peaceful coexistence.

For these reasons, states, the United Nations system and, in particular, the United Nations Office on Sport for Development and Peace, relevant international organizations, and international, regional and national sports organizations, civil society, including non-governmental organizations and the private sector, and all other relevant stakeholders are invited to cooperate, observe and raise awareness of the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace.

She shoots, she scores.
She shoots, she scores.

Significance of Football for Life Programme in Tacloban

Football for Life (F4L) programme uses sport, specifically football, as a tool in providing psychosocial support for children who are in the process of emotional recovery. It allows children to have fun at a stressful time, connect with each other, collaborate, play and process their experiences.

Why is it important to allow these children to play? According to researches, early and adequate play therapy can:

  • Prevent distress and suffering developing into something more severe
  • Help children cope better and become reconciled to everyday life
  • Help beneficiaries to resume their normal lives
  • Meet community-identified needs

Play is what children consider as work and with F4L’s approach of engaging children through sports, they are indirectly being influenced to be active survivors not passive victime and to further develop their resilience in dealing with disasters.

Having fun in sand.
Having fun in sand.

Building Back Dreams and Communities

There are only a number of psychosocial support being provided post Haiyan. Across the Philippines, there is still a rampant misconception among Filipinos on how there is little need for caring about mental health. Disasters, conflicts and health problems have severe psychosocial consequences. These emotional wounds are less visible than destroyed infrastructures thus it is often looked over. Fact is, it takes longer for people recover from emotional impact than to rebuild buildings and houses. It affects the community and weakens productivity.

Early support and adaptation processes – which respect local customs in mental health or psychosocial healing – allow an affected population to cope better with a difficult situation. Seeing the F4L children taking leadership roles and evolving into better citizens, Taclobanons are realising that sports is not merely recreation for childrenwhere they display their physical skills but also as a way for social change.

My Lifelist

We all have our ambitions and dreams in life, I was born with an intense one which included owning a Nobel Peace Prize, being one of the best in the field of Science and solving world peace. Although I still pine for making the world better, I became a bit less idealistic.

Here is my Lifelist:

  • Dress like a samurai during the Sakura Festival and learn how to do archery on a moving horse in Japan.
  • Learn how to cook at least 10 dishes and see all the temples in India.
  • Go on  food trip around Vietnam in an Ao Dai.
  • Walk around the Mandalay Palace in Myanmar.
  • Dive with the infamous Mola Mola in Indonesia.
  • Learn some Muay Thai skills and dance the Khon  in Thailand.
  • Run around the great wall of China and know all the illegal things in the Forbidden City.
  • Win over a local in a beer drinking/sausage or potato eating contest while dressed as a bar maid in Germany.
  • Take a panorama shot of the Aurora Borealis from an igloo in Alaska.
  • Row a gondola and be like Casanova in Italy.
  • See Van Gogh’s work and places of inspiration in France.
  • Learn the right way to make good pasta and pizza in Italy.
  • Dive in the Red Sea and have a selfie in the pyramids of Egypt.
  • Try to live like a Dane for a week in Denmark.
  • Look at the world from the highest peak and talk to a monk in Nepal.
  • Learn about the different holy places in Israel.
  • Do a head stand in front of the Petra in Jordan.
  • Kiss a koala, run after a roo, shout from the top of Uluru and dive in the Great Barrier Reef of Australia.
  • Go around New Zealand dressed like an elf.
  • Spend a week diving around Tubattaha Reef.
  • Live like a sea gypsy at the north end of Palawan.
  • Dive in all countries included in the Coral Triangle.
  • Travel in different countries with a man who will convince me to get married and have awesome kids.
  • Own a coffee, chocolate and cheese farm that helps locals.
  • Be the best Filipina technical diver
  • Go on a crazy road trip across U.S.A.
  • Set up my camp in Burning Man festival.
  • Save a life.
  • Publish 10,000 blog entries.
  • Learn Spanish, Chinese,French and German.
  • Play at least 5 songs with the guitar.
  • Start an animal haven.
  • Stay awake for 3 days straight.
  • Represent the country in an international competition.
  • Climb a coconut tree and open the coconut without help.
  • Start a fire using bamboo.
  • Finish university.
  • Sew a dress using my barehands.
  • Solo backpacking across Southeast Asia.
  • Hitchike in the Philippines.
  • Create a food trail across the Philippines.
  • Create a website from scratch.
  • Learn three programming languages.
  • Sky dive next to the Burj Khalifa.
  • Freedive in the Blue Hole.
  • See all the shark species. (Already saw the thresher shark, white tip, black tip and whale shark)
  • Swim with a big school of manta rays.
  • Be a good public speaker.
  • Drive a McLaren in a F1 circuit.
  • Own a black Ducati.
  • Have a supporting role in an episode of a foreign travel show.
  • Stay healthy until I reach 80.
  • Ride a camel through the desert.
  • Go on an African safari.
  • Run next to Usain Bolt.
  • Watch the World Cup live.
  • Read 5,000 books.
  • Visit all the tea farms and collect all the tea varieties.
  • See all the swords of the world.
  • Have a New Year’s Eve countdown in Times Square.
  • See the fireworks over Sydney Opera House.
  • Spend Earth hour under the Eiffel Tower.
  • Have an action scene in a movie.
  • Do an underwater photo shoot.
  • Talk to a stranger daily for an entire month.
  • Be a vegan for a year.
  • Be good at yoga. (Currently a beginner)
  • Receive one post card from all the countries in the world.
  • Dive in all 5 oceans.
  • Swim with narwhals.
  • Walk with penguins.
  • See 100 sea horses and sea dragons.
  • Visit Galápagos Island.
  • Talk to Bill Gates.
  • Win a grant for a personal project.
  • Meet a member of the Costeau family.
  • Visit NASA space station.
  • Earn my first million by 30.
  • Live together with a nomadic family for a month in Mongolia.
  • Fly a plane.
  • Take photos of all the national costumes.
  • Own my own sailboat.
  • Visit all this unusual beaches: http://whenonearth.net/24-unusual-beaches-youve-never-heard/

Leytescapes: Beguiling Biliran

Nothing but nature
Nothing but nature

I wanted to stay at home that day but it did not take that long to convince me to go on spontaneous adventure. Our destination, one of the less traveled islands in the Philippines.  A historic island paradise nestled less than a kilometer away from the northern coast of Leyte. Half asleep, my friends and I left Tacloban around 9’o clock in the morning. We passed through several farmlands under the sweltering heat of the sun. We were lucky that most of the roads were already paved after several typhoons. Two hours later, we reached Biliran Bridge, completed around 1975. It is about 150 meters long and its central span, held in place by an arched steel structure, hovers above a short and narrow channel of water measuring about 40 meters wide at low tide.

Hello Biliran!
Hello Biliran!

We finally reached Biliran! We could not help but stop to see Biliran Strait, one of the passages where the Japanese had their checkpoints during World War II.

A view worth taking a minute for.
A view worth taking a minute for.

According to historical accounts, Biliran was site of the first large-scale shipyard, built during the 17th century where the Spaniards built galleons  support the trade between Manila and Acapulco in Mexico. Several boatmen passed by as I peered into the clear sea. It was so inviting that I wanted to jump from the bridge.

Bangkeros passing underneath the bridge.
Bangkeros passing underneath the bridge.

Biliran’s economy is largely based on fishing. Most of its towns, especially Naval and Biliran, have excellent seaports. As we made our way to Naval, Biliran’s capital, I could not help but feel a certain nostalgia for my hometown Ormoc, Naval reminded me of the quaint aura that Ormoc exuded before malls started sprouting up. Realising that our other friends are still far we decided to stop at the first gasoline station we saw. We loaded up on fuel and washed our face covered with sweat and dust. It was already 12 noon and I could hear my stomach complaining, we stopped at the port to grab some barbecue and puso a.k.a hanging rice ( I could not help but eat with my barehands).

GETTING LOST

After a hearty lunch, we decided to head to one of the coasts to search for white sand. Little did we know that our friends signed up for a habal-habal challenge.

The challenging dirt road that turned my friend into a certified habal-habal driver!
The challenging dirt road that turned my foreign friends into a certified habal-habal driver!

After safely driving through dirt roads and getting chased by hyperactive dogs, we found ourselves in a secluded cove. Our sore butts begged for some rest time and bored me decided to climb a coconut tree and get some coconuts for me and my friends.

First time opening a buko using a small knife and the edge of a rock.
First time opening a buko using a small knife and the edge of a rock.

While I was channelling my inner monkey, the rest went for a dip. I looked like the squirrel from Ice Age trying to open the buko, so I took a break and joined them.

When you see it!
When you see it!

I found little shrimps while swimming around. I remembered when my mother used to buy live shrimps and I would play with them before my mom cooked them (sad I know) but I couldn’t really be totally depressed because she cooks them well (I just pray for the shrimps’ souls and thank them for giving their lives to nourish and make us happy).

IYUSAN RICE TERRACES AND BAGONGBONG WATERFALLS

After we had our buko juice, we decided to go to the waterfall at Brgy. Caucab in the town of Almeria (named after Almeria in Spain). We drove through a long winding paved road. The view over the Iyusan Rice Terraces made it one-of-a-kind. Imagine a smaller version of Sagada terraces but with better roads.

Iyusan Rice Terraces
Iyusan Rice Terraces

 Kalabaw (Water Buffalo) enjoying a dip.

Kalabaw (Water Buffalo) enjoying a dip.

Path to Bagongbong Falls
Path to Bagongbong Falls

We reached the end of the paved road and made our way down the dirt trail, the locals told us it would take about 30mins. but unable to contain our excitement, we made it down half the time. We dismissed the narrow muddy and rocky trail and walked liked a boss. As the sound of the waters got stronger, we walked faster. We marvelled at the 30-foot high cathedral-like falls covered by forests.

A hidden surprise between the cliffs.
Bagongbong Falls

After settling in for a bit, I started feeling my leg muscles complaining. A reminder to get back in shape. While the rest went it for a dip, I felt the asian compulsion and took a selfie (normally takes me more than 10 tries before I get a decent one).

Selfie time
Selfie time
Sunlight beaming over us.

Surreal moment as I looked up.

I wanted to take a better photo but we were on a rush so this was the best one from a moving vehicle.
I wanted to take a better photo but we were on a rush so this was the best one from a moving vehicle.

We enjoyed the moment and we barely noticed the minutes flew swiftly. Realising that it was almost sunset, we rushed back to the motorbikes to try to catch the sun before it says goodbye on that day. We wanted to catch the sunset over Agta beach but we figured we did not have enough time so we went into one of the nearby barangay.

Little girl playing by the shore.
Little girl playing by the shore.
Kid showing me his winning post
Kid showing me his winning post
We were on the wrong side but it was still a sight to behold.
We were on the wrong side but it was still a sight to behold.

Sunset by the shore with a cold drink on hand, it was almost perfect if not for the crazy kids trying to wrestle each other and kicking sand at our backs. Nonetheless, it was one of the best sunset moments that I experienced this year. I can only imagine how it looked like from the right side.

Night time came and we got separated from the rest of our friends, we went back to Naval to find a place to stay. The town did not have a lot to offer when it comes to accomodations, we found a backpackers place that charged P600 for a fan room. It was not bad until we woke up to a bunch of people talking loudly right outside the door. I dozed off quite quickly after the trekking and the bumpy ride to the beach.

Magtanim ay di biro.(Planting rice is no joke)
Magtanim ay di biro.(Planting rice is no joke)

We woke up next morning and went for some bread and head to Agta beach where the rest of our friends ended up. They decided to sleep on the shore with their sleeping bags. I missed the fun part that night. As they grabbed some breakfast, we thought of where to go next. One of the guys wanted to go kayaking to the nearby islands but the woman told us it was low tide and they do not rent out. I do not get the point but we couldn’t really spend time debating so we resolved to find Busai Waterfalls.

More of the road
More of the road

We drove for 30 minutes trying to figure out where Ungale 2 (dos) was. I asked more than a dozen of people for directions (luckily Biliran speaks Visayan).

BUSAI WATERFALLS

In search for the other waterfalls
In search for the other waterfalls

We followed a path right through different barangay and as we ended up on a dead-end of a dirt road. On the left side was a barely noticeable trail where we had to walk over boulders and metal pipes (Busai Waterfalls is a water source for nearby dwellers of Kawayan). My slippers gave up on me so I walked on barefoot for 15 mins. (like a local). We crossed streams (you need to have a lot of leg power) to reach the mouth of Ungale River. Hidden among the thick foliage and slightly obscure from all angles was the tranquil Busai Waterfalls.

Busai Waterfalls
Busai Waterfalls

I was a bit disappointed seeing that it was not as grand as Bagongbong but I realised Busai had its own uniqueness because it is quite tricky to find there were not a lot of visitors. If you are coming from Naval, you would need to travel the Biliran Circumferential Road via bus bound for Tucdao, Kawayan. From the main road of Tucdao, you can hire or rent motorcycles for Php 25. Visitors may also ask the locals to guide them to the falls ( we had a little girl who volunteered to take us to the falls).

Cascading waters
Cascading waters

I had a serene dip in the cold waters. I saw a bunch of local guys climbing on top of the cliff and jumping into the middle. They are crazy I thought to myself, I got scared as hell for their safety and they started doing it like their lives did not mean anything. The water slowly glides over the mossy bedrock and you can see a bunch of frogs leaping from rocks to rocks. As we took our time to take in everything, we thought of pushing ourselves further and going for another waterfalls at Brgy. Cabibihan, Caibiran.

TINAGO WATERFALLS

From Naval, it would take around 30-45mins. Ironically, Tinago (which means Hidden in Visaya) was the least hidden among all the waterfalls. From the highway, you will find a loop trail that is 10 minutes away from the falls.

Tinago Waterfalls
Tinago Waterfalls

Unlike the first two waterfalls, you cannot enter Tinago free. Adults have to pay P10 and P5 for children (expensive! not…) Tinago Waterfalls is a perfect hideaway for bigger groups being the grandest among the Biliran Waterfalls. The battery in my camera gave up at this point (thus the sole photo of Tinago, click here for more photos). Frustrated by the inability to take photos (first world problems), I just took a dip into a seemingly natural jacuzzi and tried real rock climbing. I took my moment as I know it would be another 3 hours motorbike ride back to reality.

Truely underrated.
Purely underrated.

Biliran is not getting the reputation it should have. For one of the smallest province in the country, it has a lot to offer. I found out later that we missed 4 other waterfalls, not to mention we did not even make it to one of the 4 islands, the rich history Biliran has from Moro invasions to aiding the Americans during World War II and the dormant volcanoes and hidden springs. For all this reasons, I will definitely go back!

Iyusan Rice Terraces
Iyusan Rice Terraces

TRAVEL TIPS:

  1. Bring drinking water (saves the planet as it lessens water bottles floating in the ocean) and food ( lots of them specially bananas) as some parts of Biliran do not have sari-sari stores for more than 5 kilometers.
  2. Rent a motorbike for a day if you do not want to wait for buses as commuting around the island is not that easy and would take a lot of your time.
  3. Bring your powerbanks, there are a lot of things to take photos of. ( This is more of a note for myself.)
  4. Do not forget your sunscreen or cover up with long sleeve shirts and pants as driving around the island can take a toll on your skin.
  5. Bring cash as there are only a few cash machines and that time when we were there none working.
  6. Most of the stores in Naval close by 8p.m. so it is best that you stock up earlier.
  7. Wear comfortable trekking shoes as trails can get slippery (Do not imitate me, I’m a local).
  8. Do not bring a friend who likes to complain a lot (general travel tip, you would not want to ruin awesome moments just because of a negatron, maybe you need to start thinking about your friendship…).
  9. Make sure you or your friend have habal-habal driving skills as the roads of Biliran will test you from time to time.

Hope At A Time of Digital Reality

Hope. What does it mean for you? In a fast-paced world, there is always a need to keep up. Technology has made life easier and time go faster. Day after day, you check Facebook, email, Huffington, Clash of Clans, Instagram and other sites. You find yourself drifting through the digital world and missing out on life. Is it our way of holding on to hope?

When the things we have in front are far from reality, we try to cope up by escaping it. For those who feel powerless and out of control, they venture into online games. Introverts cope up with their weakness in socialising via various social media sites. While those who do not feel loved or significant find allies by posting photos or statuses that can get them attention. It is such a pity to see these things happening. They forget to realise that they can also do the same thing in life. As we get sucked into the worldwide web, we are slowly changing the real world. We break our relationships by building walls. We start to become mean and narcissistic thinking that the world owes us attention. We spread words that hurt and demean the spirit as a way of feeling better about ourselves. I am certain that most of us would prefer to live online. Although it is a beautiful breakthrough for humanity, we live too much in it that we end up empty beyond it. We put ourselves too much online that we deprive the real world of us. The influx of different ideas and thought from this media has affected us greatly but in a silent way. We become intolerant of imperfection, we criticise mistakes so quickly. We think relationships now can just be solved through chat or video messages. We want crave for connections yet we avoid getting disconnected from our social media. Family time now has transformed into a bunch of people staying in one area all looking down on their own phones. What has become of us?

Internet was created for hopes of making things better but at the rate that we are going, we are slowly dehumanizing ourselves and changing norms. Where likes and follows are all that matters. It seems that we have become more hopeless with ourselves. We put things about ourselves to feel accepted instead to celebrate diversity. We leave barely nothing to the imagination, just to get attention from strangers. We are far friendlier to strangers than to our own family. We try to escape what is and draft a false sense of normalcy. We would rather miss out on live moments just to see what the rest of the world is up to.

Why am I saying this? I too have fallen into this pit. A couple of years ago, you would see me posting about my feelings over Facebook. Venting out to people who have no clue on the situation to get sympathy. It was a passive aggressive way of solving things and it did not make me better. I tried meeting people through random sites but I would never say hello to people around me. I stayed in front of the pc day and night, wasting away hours to see places when I could have worked more to afford a flight to visit them for real. The first guy I liked was through a mobile compatibility game and the entire time he made me think that I really knew him. I felt like I really knew him well that I missed out on my college life. My friends called me “Ms. Monologue” at the university because I preferred talking to him on the phone than hanging out with my friends. I am lucky though that my real friends are still with me after we broke up but I have regretted all the moments I missed just because I disconnected from what was happening at the very instance. I randomly added people when I joined Ms. Cebu thinking that I needed to despite the fact that they only wanted association with a “beauty queen” and not interested in interacting with me. It became a numbers game. In the book, Man’s Search for Meaning, the Nazis assigned numbers to their prisoners. It is happening in this generation, people do not care about who others are and what they are about instead we care that they are among the likers. We do not ask about how they are feeling, how we are feeling always takes precedence. We post photos to get them to like us more. We succumb to this norm where if you do not have numbers, you are insignificant. What happened to us?

Last year, I visited China and when I got there I forgot that they restricted various websites. On the first day, I felt restless. Coming from the Philippines where checking Facebook is the first thing you do when you wake up, I felt like I did not belong to reality, that I did not exist when in reality, I did. I felt helpless and clueless. I then realised how reliant I have become. The world does not end when you do not have these websites. It took me about four days before I got comfortable with the fact that I only existed where I stood. With Instagram not working, I savoured each sight and flavour. Without Google, I figured out how to travel through subways. I talked to others instead of posting those thoughts online. I realised how little I time I spent for those people who never failed me. It felt like dying online and being born again into real life, liberated from the boxed virtual reality. It then hit me, how many of us are really living? We have invented so much distractions to keep us from doing something offline. You see a lot of people in restaurants looking down into their phones. Family time means being in the living room and just chatting online when they can talk face-to-face. How many digital zombies are out there who are putting life on hold for something that wouldn’t exist if electricity stopped? Think about it. Are you one of them?

Labour Day: A Reminder of Intolerance for Mediocrity

Today marks the 112th celebration of Labour Day in the Philippines, a celebration of recognising the Filipino worker’s triumph during the American occupation wherein thousands of members from the Union Obrera Democratica de Filipinas, the first labor federation in the country marched from Plaza Moriones in Tondo to Malacañang chanting anti-American capitalism and imperialism songs to demand complete independence. The celebration emphasizes the significant contribution of the country’s workers in  economic development and positive social changes. The century-old outcry remains as workers remain poorly compensated.

I remember working as a company nurse having to commute 4 hours daily to and from the workplace and receiving 7,500 pesos for a month’s worth of efforts. The salary was enough for me but I cannot imagine how life would be having children to send to school and feed daily. Not only did we have to deal with being overworked, we constantly had to face the threat of work insecurity. Given that the country produces thousands of nurses yearly, companies thrive on this fact to always keep us on our toes. Every time we try to ask for better salaries and benefits, they remind us that there is always someone desperate and willing to take our job so we succumb to threats and put up with second rate treatment. Other nurses are forced into agreements waiving their right to separation pay and they cannot voice it out or else they will not be given credit for years of employment. These are a common struggles most nurses face and it gets worser for people working blue-collar jobs. Increasing cost of living is not proportional to the daily minimum wage.

Updated Wages Across the Nation
Updated Wages Across the Nation

Employees treated like animals in a zoo wherein companies expose us to unhealthy working conditions without fair compensation. We tolerate and put up with a lot of things than be unemployed. We accept it as it comes and we fail fight for our worth. Nurses swallow their pride thinking after 2 years the suffering will be over. They temporarily try to forget how much they spent to get decent education. After being used as cash machines by universities, we are faced with the same fate after graduation.

Stop being content with the current situation. Workers deserve better than mediocrity. We should aim for fairness and better work conditions.

“I no longer have patience for certain things, not because I’ve become arrogant, but simply because I reached a point in my life where I do not want to waste more time with what displeases me or hurts me. I have no patience for cynicism, excessive criticism and demands of any nature. I lost the will to please those who do not like me, to love those who do not love me and to smile at those who do not want to smile at me.

I no longer spend a single minute on those who lie or want to manipulate. I decided not to coexist anymore with pretense, hypocrisy, dishonesty and cheap praise. I do not tolerate selective erudition nor academic arrogance. I do not adjust either to popular gossiping. I hate conflict and comparisons. I believe in a world of opposites and that’s why I avoid people with rigid and inflexible personalities. In friendship I dislike the lack of loyalty and betrayal. I do not get along with those who do not know how to give a compliment or a word of encouragement. Exaggerations bore me and I have difficulty accepting those who do not like animals. And on top of everything I have no patience for anyone who does not deserve my patience.” —José Micard Teixeira