Leytescapes : Babatngon Con Brio

During one warm April afternoon, in our one-of-a-kind shared office (where a bunch of people from Philippines Communitere are working to create Tacloban Youth Hub) me and my colleagues suddenly felt the need for a dose of nature and water to clear our minds. We pondered for a while and then a Eureka moment came and it was to have a quick motorbike trip to Babatngon (hooray for humans with travel machines!).

Babatngon? The name of the town sounds complicated, more like a tongue twister. I lived in Ormoc City for 16 years but I have never really ventured away from my hometown (as a self-confessed introvert, it is a daily ordeal to force myself out of my room so go figure).

There are only a handful of places in Leyte that rings a bell such as Palo, Biliran, Kananga, Palompon, Bato, Maasin and Tacloban, the rest seems alien to me each time someone asks about it (imagine my face with question marks for eyes).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Lush greens always please my eyes.
Rice Fields
Vast rice fields, showing why Eastern Visayas is one of the top agricultural hub in the country.

In the northern part of the island of Leyte, along the shore of Carigara Bay lies Babatngon, a small plain enclaved by an arc of mountain ranges, in the northern mouth of the San Juanico Strait.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
A lot of places remain to be discovered.
Horizon
Nature therapy never fails.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
The sun shining bright over us.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Roads we good for most part of the trip.

It was a refreshing trip away from Tacloban City, the roads were wide although not all were in good shape (some were literally dirt roads).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Lush stretch of mangroves.

What I enjoyed the most (apart from not having to drive) was the endless horizon of greens alternating from rice fields to forests along with the sight of children heading home from school.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Countless waterways, if only they can come up with more eco tours.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Children on their way home after classes.
Having clear blue sky is enough reason to go out.
The weather was on our side that day.

After about 30 minutes of drive, we finally reached the town proper. We had to ask the locals where the waterfall was located. It was apparently next to the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources site.

Babatngon Falls on a weekday.
Babatngon Falls on a weekday.

The perks of going on trips on a weekday is you avoid the crowd and you have the entire place to yourself (almost). There was an entrance fee once you reach the area. They charged P10 and if you want to use the pool, you will have to pay an additional P10. Quite a cheap deal and the water was refreshingly cold. The downside of Babatngon Falls were the trash some of the visitors left in the area and it needs a bit of sprucing up.

We spent a couple of minutes and decided to go around the town proper.

I wouldn't mind studying with this background.
I wouldn’t mind going to school daily with this scenery.

I was quite impressed by the recycled bottles that they used as decors in the campus. I remember how my highschool classmates and I would hangout after class. We simply just sat on grass and talk for hours (no mobile zombies then), sometimes we would organise a pick-up game of volleyball or Japanese game.

Children playing football.
Children playing football.
Goal keeping!
Goal keeping!
Part of the fun is the chase.
Part of the fun is the chase.
This pretty little girl was trying to bully me.
This pretty little girl was trying to bully me, she went near me and smiled then said, “Maraksot ka”.
Little girl walking home.
One of the most scenic school that I have seen in Leyte.

We left the campus and bought

This boy reminded me of my old pastime.
This boy reminded me of my old pastime which involve sitting idly and just watching the sea.
Out to fish
Out to fish
Babatngon's fishing community.
Babatngon’s fishing community.

After seeing the waterfront, we realised that it was 30 minutes past 5’o clock. It was a pleasant quick getaway, I wish I had more time to explore the historic places around Babatngon.

Monday Musings: Fall Seven Times and Stand Up Eight

How many times have you hit rock bottom? Have you ever wondered why?

I am probably one of the few people, who earlier in life already went through a series of unfortunate events. End of 2014, when I fell flat on my face (figuratively speaking, though the falling flat on my face really did happen in a busy intersection of Cebu during my university days), I wanted to give up. I figured, I have already fought many times why just not embrace it. My quest for perfection sometimes lead me to mistakes. It could be from wrong priorities. Giving too much of yourself to others and forgetting to take care of yourself. Human error, no one is ever immune from it unless you are AR2D2 but we forget this simple fact and blame ourselves harshly.

Fall seven, stand up eight (damn Japanese philosophy always haunts me each time I think of laying on the floor in self-pity). But that time, I was on the verge of losing hope. Luckily (thanks to FB), I managed to have a heart-to-heart talk with my good friend from college who was already living in Australia. She told me that I had no reason to, that if I made it through the previous misfortunes, I do not have a valid reason for giving up.

There are no guarantees that I will not fall again tomorrow but each time I do, I learn from my fall and stand taller than before. You should too!

Keeping Count

You wake up in the morning to start another day, what comes into your mind first? Is it worry or gratitude? I was in my usually geek mode over TED website and I came across with this video.

In the almost 18 minute long talk, hotelier Chip Conley discusses how most of us forget the human aspect of things. I tend to do the same at times.

When you meet people, do you first ask about how much they earn for living and what their positions are in their company or do you ask who they are and what they are happy about?

Most of us today are overly engrossed about measuring tangible that leads us into a perpetual rat race. We start competing with others on who has better incomes and positions and yet we fail at measuring the intangibles that makes us more human.

Reasons to be grateful.

For this Wednesday, the challenge is to write two gratitude list daily in your journal. First one is written in the morning. Before you start your day, list 5 people, things or whatever you can think of that you are grateful for. The second list is about 5 other things that went right or made you happy during the day.

Here is a guide to creating your gratitude journal: http://personalexcellence.co/blog/gratitude-day-0-journal/

It maybe be hard at first seeing that it is always easier to see those that pissed you off or made your day bad but eventually practising gratitude daily will grow into you and become a habit.

Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.
― William Arthur Ward

What are you thankful for? Feel free to share your lists in the comments!

The Art of Walking

How often do you walk? Do you walk just to reach from point A to B or do you walk as a practice of mindulness.

The other part of seeing what is on the block is appreciating how limited our own view is. We are limited by our sensory abilities, by our species membership, by our narrow attention — at least the last of which can be overcome.

I normally do not go for a walk dressed like this or with heels.
I normally do not go for a walk dressed like this or with heels but I had no other photo. 

I am one of those people who use walking as a way to go somewhere and yet nowhere. When I was living in Makati, I would normally walk around the CBD area from Ayala Triangle to Legaspi Park. It was a form of escape from the daily grind. My pace slower than the usual, taking in all the details of my surroundings from the gentle breeze blowing through my hair to the little leaves falling off the trees. It is through regular walks that I am reconnected with myself and with the moment. Walking can never be without looking.

I guess most take for granted the benefits one can get out of the simple act of walking. Here is an excerpt from Rebecca Solnit’s Wanderlust that can help you think about the art of walking and how it is an act of reconnecting and being in the present.

Most of the time walking is merely practical, the unconsidered locomotive means between two sites. To make walking into an investigation, a ritual, a meditation, is a special subset of walking, physiologically like and philosophically unlike the way the mail carrier brings the mail and the office worker reaches the train. Which is to say that the subject of walking is, in some sense, about how we invest universal acts with particular meanings. Like eating or breathing, it can be invested with wildly different cultural meanings, from the erotic to the spiritual, from the revolutionary to the artistic. Here this history begins to become part of the history of the imagination and the culture, of what kind of pleasure, freedom, and meaning are pursued at different times by different kinds of walks and walkers.

Walking, ideally, is a state in which the mind, the body, and the world are aligned, as though they were three characters finally in conversation together, three notes suddenly making a chord. Walking allows us to be in our bodies and in the world without being made busy by them. It leaves us free to think without being wholly lost in our thoughts.

[…]

The rhythm of walking generates a kind of rhythm of thinking, and the passage through a landscape echoes or stimulates the passage through a series of thoughts. This creates an odd consonance between internal and external passage, one that suggests that the mind is also a landscape of sorts and that walking is one way to traverse it. A new thought often seems like a feature of the landscape that was there all along, as though thinking were traveling rather than making. And so one aspect of the history of walking is the history of thinking made concrete — for the motions of the mind cannot be traced, but those of the feet can.

Perhaps walking should be called movement, not travel, for one can walk in circles or travel around the world immobilized in a seat, and a certain kind of wanderlust can only be assuaged by the acts of the body itself in motion, not the motion of the car, boat, or plane. It is the movement as well as the sights going by that seems to make things happen in the mind, and this is what makes walking ambiguous and endlessly fertile: it is both means and end, travel and destination.

Freebie for bookworms! You can get a free digital copy of Henry David Thoreau’s Walking here.

2015 Check

After the time spent for self-assessment last week, you had a chance to get to know who you really are and now a new leaf has turned. June just started and you are now halfway into 2015. What now?

It is time to check your progress towards your New Year’s resolution. Here are the usual resolutions most of us have:

Now ask yourself:

  • Are you working to do all of it?
  • Do you still have the same goals?
  • Are you still on track? If not, what is not working?

List down which resolutions you have achieved. Spend time evaluating what you have and haven’t done for the past 5 months.  Start acting on resolutions that are important to you that you have neglected. Be more specific and breakdown each resolution to small achievable tasks.

Time to catch up!

“Good resolutions are like babies crying in church. They should be carried out immediately.”
― Charles M. Sheldon

Happy Picnics by the Sea

Mama is packing the plates and the eating utensils into the basket, Papa is adding lime juice to the ceviche and Honey is changing into her colorful swimsuit. Sunday was my favorite day.

Sunday meant family day when I was still young. My parents woke up by 6a.m to buy fresh fish from Palompon and meat from APL store. As soon as clock hits 9a.m., we made our way to church to hear mass (typical Catholic practice which involved me dressing up) after that we changed into summer clothes and packed the food then head to the local beach.

Fresh fish is truly divine (luckily I am from a country where seafood is abundant) and Papa knew how to make good ceviche from Tanigue (local name for King Mackerel). The taste of lime juice, vinegar, coconut milk, ginger, onions, salt and sugar played an angelic symphony in my palate, one of my favorite seafood dish. He usually paired it with grilled pork that’s marinated overnight in soy sauce, black pepper, sugar and kalamansi juice (a.k.a. Calamondin). The sweet and tangy flavours were wonderful contrasts to the white rice. As a rice loving Asian, I consumed more than 3 cups specially when I ate with my bare hands. My sister and I devoured food like monsters while Mama controlled her appetite in fears of gaining weight. Papa never liked the idea that he would remind Mama that she looked good.

Picnic
Those were the days.

The memories of simple picnics by the sea never fails to make me smile. It reminds me of times when we were complete as a family, where everyone seemed happy, free from worries and resentments. I sometimes miss those moments but I know those times have passed.

My definition of family is broader now and to cope up with zero chance of reliving those moments, I take every chance I can get to have happy picnics with friends and even strangers.

 

Monday Musings: An Open Letter to the Silenced Ones

Break the silence.

I know you think that keeping your secret is the best option. I know it is hard to take a stand. Do not be afraid of what people will say. They will judge and blame you for everything. It was not your fault and you should not give in to what they say to you. You already lost when you trusted the very person who inflicted abuse.

Please do not give them more power over you. Do not let tthe public break you down. You should not burden yourself with ignorant people’s judgement. You did not asked to be taken advantage of. You just wanted to be you.

Do not listen to them when they say that you were asking for trouble. That claim is far from truth. You did not make the conscious choice, the abusers did. You were young and unaware of what the situation was.They saw it as an opportunity to force you, like vultures waiting for their preys.

Avoid thinking that they will not believe you if you voice out what really happened. Be brave enough to fight for what is right and just.

I know it is hard to go against family but real family would never hurt you. They will support you through your battle.

Do not devalue your life just because a guy told you that you are no longer a virgin or that you are damaged, that no one will ever love you for this. True love heals and does not scar.

They could be doing the same thing to someone else with each day you keep quiet, do not allow them. Do not think for a second that speaking up will not change things. It is your first step to say to the abuser that you do not accept what they did. Challenge them.

It may not be easy and the world does not understand the young more than the adults. The crowd will insult your being. They will degrade and call you names like slut or whore.

You are not one.

You are not alone in this.

I share your heartbreaks.

Silence will not help.

Let’s break silence together.