Sunday, September 25, 2005

raining hope!

The rain didn’t stop pouring, so did the spirit of volunteerism which the Philam employees displayed.

It was overwhelming. My texts to my sister and my friends read – “
Ang lakas ng ulan pero these volunteers just amaze me. You’ll hear no complaints instead jokes are still shared. Sobra nila akong pinapabilib - Kakabilib!”

I left my house at 630AM yesterday for the final GK build I organized for the Philam employees. I smiled because the sun was showing. I was praying hard, Thursday and Friday, for a weather that would allow us to have a successful build in our village in Sitio Ruby, East Fairview. As I wait for the other participants to arrive at the Philam Tower in Makati so we can depart for our village, my officemate suggested I just leave my car in Makati because we will all fit in the company vans. About 5 people backed out, so we had more than enough rides. I decided to heed his advice.

As I emerged from the parking space, my heart broke as I saw tiny raindrops fall. It was raining. As we left Makati, I locked my gaze to the sky hopeful that it’s sunny in Quezon City. It wasn’t, the rains were even harder in Fairview.

We gathered in the Chapel of the village. And I asked (in a jokingly but deep inside very disappointed manner) “What do you think? Are we pushing through? Are we ready to get wet and dirty for our village?” And yes, their answer was “YES.” Along with the GK caretaker and Philam Properties Men, we assessed what we could do with the weather not being on our side. After a short site investigation of the materials that were waiting to be hauled from a certain point to another, we went back to the team and asked them again – “Di naman ganun kalayo ang distance, (mga 30 meters lang-a volunteer added) Game ba tayo?” YES was still the answer.

400 hollow blocks and countless number of sacks of sand and gravel later, we were drenched in the rain. Our shirts and jeans were so dirty that if a washing machine could talk, I’m certain it would complain. (I was wearing white pa for some reason. Diane-one of the vols, took a picture of me and Mench –another vol who wore white - after the build. When I get a copy I’ll post it here) But we were all having fun!

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upper-ito si Diane! lower-a boyscout volunteer in a raincoat

As I looked at the volunteers eating their lunch after almost 3hours of working hard in the rain, I smiled. The site was volunteerism at its finest. It was an inspiration, a reminder that there are a lot Filipinos still willing to give it their all for their country - for their Kababayans.

The 2builds I had with Philam employees, I believe, were messages of hope and of love. Their simple acts of kindness remind us of the value of helping our neighbor. These employees strengthen our faith so we can continue to hope for a better and brighter future for the Filipino children.

In this day and age, where egotism is being promoted by media and even by our political leaders, reminders of selfless love are imperative so that people keep their right values and principles intact.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

dad turns 50!

My dad has always claimed that his birthday is on September 20. His birth certificate states it’s on September 21. It’s like this – according to Lola Ima (my dad’s mom) daddy was born on September 20 in, then a very rural town, Macabebe, Pampanga. The person she asked to go to the munisipyo to register my dad’s birth got stuck in a drinking session (inuman) that’s why dad’s birth certificate is one day late.

To satisfy dad’s claim, we often celebrated his bday twice – in September 20 and 21. This year was special, Dad turned 50! It’s the big 5-0. Fortunately, my eldest sister, Dodot was in town for Bar Ops so I advised that we eat out with Dad on the 20th (His village friends were planning to throw a party for him on the 21st). As the only well paid sister, Tetet, I believe, was forced to treat us to dinner.

It was a good and memorable dinner. The restaurant was too pricy (Nu-Vo at Greenbelt) though (thank God I wasn’t paying! I’m so poor) and Dad was the earliest in the resto since he overestimated traffic and I had to pick up Tet first. It was dad’s first time in Greenbelt, too bad it was raining so we weren’t really able to show him around. It was a first in a long while. My dad remembered it right, the last time we were all together, just the 4 of us, was when we were in Hong Kong, after my college graduation and before my JVP year.
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fine, fine! yeah, I look like my Dad!

birth certificate issues
I think my family is unlucky with birth certificates.
1. While I was getting my passport, I had to do a lot of stuff because apparently it took about 2 months before my mom was able to secure a birth certificate – late registration! Don’t ask me why because I asked my mom and she couldn’t remember.
2. When Dodot passed the bar we realized she’s been adding a name to her registered name. She’s been using Chelin Joan Marie when her birth certificate only says Chelin Joan.
3. Dodot is now fixing mom’s birth certificate because the space for name is actually BLANK! Her birth certificate only notes FEMALE but there’s no name. Both Mama and Papa (my grandparents) can’t remember how that happened.

Tetet I guess is lucky, there seem to be no problem with hers.

Monday, September 19, 2005


When a turon does not have langka inside, does it deserve to be called a turon? I wonder.

I just thought about it this afternoon when an officemate offered to buy me one from jolly jeep. I was so excited since I have been craving for it for a month now. It was disappointing. At first I thought, the langka was just probably in the middle part of the turon. But I couldn’t smell it, the langka I mean. Often times when I eat turon, the smell of langka overwhelms the entire snack. So I knew for sure that there was no langka in it. True enough, to the last bite, there was no site of jackfruit.

Iba-ibang tao, iba-ibang hilig - - - Trina, my ex-officemate and goodfriend, would have loved the turon I ate this PM. She doesn’t eat langka kasi but she likes banana. A good jesuit friend just shared to me that he doesn’t like his langka with anything else. He likes it just by itself but when combined with others, he doesn’t like it anymore.

I think turon without jackfruit in it does not deserve to be called Turon. It’s just banana wrapped (in lumpia wrapper I think) with sugar coating. That’s it!

Sunday, September 18, 2005


I do not appreciate it that it hasn’t been raining since yesterday.

Considering my 3 week planned work-trip for my bosses in our GK village in Bulalacao, Mindoro got cancelled because of the bad weather. The GK caretaker in Mindoro advised us to cancel trip because the roads will be too dangerous. That was it, 3weeks worth of hard work and coordination down the drain. Badtrip! I was actually also looking forward to it because it was a chance to get out of Manila. Haaay..

But then again, I was with the top 4 people of Philam Group of companies. I also wouldn’t want to risk their lives, the life of Philam group, just because I didn’t listen to the advisory of the people who were already at the site we were supposed to go to.

Rain has never been kind to me. A day before my 20th birthday, my supposed to be newly renovated room (my mom had it fixed while I was away for my JVP year) had a leak in the side ceiling and soaked almost all the pictures, and negatives of those pictures, I have taken ever since I was 10 (the age I started photography). During my last Area Visits and Site Investigations for JVP (Feb2005), on the way back to Manila, I made the mistake of transferring important papers and interviews over the 2 months I was at fieldwork in the bag I checked in. I didn’t believe there would be a problem not wrapping the folder in plastic; it was terribly hot in Iloilo the whole day. Apparently, it was raining in Manila the morning of the same day. None of the other bags got wet, just my bag and my files.

The thing is, yesterday, I was reminded about a sad reality. The reminder was that not all people have good shelter for the rain. That some get terribly sick because of the cold, because the water gets in their house made of cardboards or thin-used plywood. How can I complain so much about a trip that got cancelled because safety was the primary concern when I know for a fact that some people are unsafe even in their own homes? How can I get so sad over a fact that I missed a chance of getting out of Manila when some people are like prisoners in their own villages because of flood or landslide?

So I stopped . . . and prayed. And I continue to challenge myself – to use my life in manner that will be meaningful not only for me or for my family, but for others as well.

It’s a tough challenge!

Sunday, September 11, 2005

1 down, 2 to go

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PhilamVols at the site! (Sir Jess wearing a vest)
(I realized I didn't have a single picture of me in this build, too bad.)
Some parts of my body are aching. . . I forgot to stretch before the GK build I organized yesterday for Philam Group Employees.

It was an early start for a Saturday but it was good drive to Makati. It was a fast drive. I was running 100 in EDSA. (I wonder when will that ever happen on a usual workday?)

Anyway, it was a great, successful build. It was fun too. 30 vols from the different affiliates of Philam group enthusiastically heeded the challenge of painting, landscaping and hauling in the Philam village in Sitio Ruby, East Fairview.

It was great to see 3 members of the senior mancom (atty.ortega, mr. sotelo and mr. hofilena) stretch their muscles for a whole day. Sir Jess Hofilena in particular, also Philam Foundation’s President, was one of the best workers in the team. Not once did I hear him complain (not even jokingly) and was always on the go when I would ask for the male volunteers to do this or that. He was game for anything. And did I mention he drove one of the vans that took all the volunteers to the site? Well he did and to top it all, he treated everyone to pizza after the build. Talk about a great President at work.

The build yesterday was the first of the 3 builds I’m organizing for Philam Foundation. The next one, next weekend will be in Bulalacao, Oriental Mindoro and the other will be on the 24th at Sitio Ruby again for another set of volunteers. I just wish the next builds will be as successful as the one yesterday – with the weather cooperating and with people really working.

Friday, September 09, 2005

A Jesuit Goodbye

8 formal years of Ateneo education plus almost 5 years of directly working for the Jesuits has allowed me to accumulate a number of Jesuit friends all over the country. Since I have been based in Manila for over 3 years now, most of them are also based here in the Metro (more specifically based in Katipunan).

One of them (and to a huge to extent a favorite Jesuit friend) is Fr. Mario Francisco, SJ. Our great friendship started when I joined the Jesuit Volunteers Philippines (JVP). He was the National Chaplain during my service year in 2001-2002.

Back then however, I just knew him as that Jesuit who gave recollections not only with passion but with style. (no JVPs, I don’t mean the famous shortsJ ) I’ll never forget the Orsem line – "Handa ka na bang Paligaw sa Kanya?" The use of videos and songs (and not your usual Bukas Palad, Hangad songs ha, R.E.M!) gave a different meaning to reflection. He was also that cool priest who danced in parties during seminars. He had a signature move I so wish I can show you. Lastly, he was also that chaplain who sunbathed and swam a lot.

SEMINARS --- Our friendship deepened when I started working for the JVP central office in 2003. Perhaps because I was the "crazy, gaga" program officer (compared to my partner in crime TQ who is to an extent gaga herself but not as crazy as I am) Fr. Mario and I, along with frustrated Showbiz personality-formation staff Jope and sometimes with JVP resident Campus Minister Diva Chris, partnered in "scheming" for the daily masses and formation staff presentations. Sometimes during plenary sessions, we would totally be "pasaways" and hold crazy conversations that would make us laugh loud enough for the other formation staff to remind us to be quiet.

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FOOT SPA --- For someone who is a sosyalito, I couldn’t believe that last Summer, when I decided that my late birthday gift to Fr. Mario will be a date in the foot spa, was his first foot spa ever! It was funny to watch him pay close attention to what the lady was doing to his feet. It was even more funny when the lady realized that it was his first time, she commented "Ah Father, kaya pala ang kapal nung sinuscrub ko." Father suggested to the spa manager to also place magazines which cater to male clients. Makes me think he had plans of coming back to the place. (that afternoon was just so much fun!)

FREE STUFF --- lunch at Sentro, Unlimited use of EAPI conference room/s, food anytime at EAPI, LCD projector, Punta Fuego, lechon and tequila for parties – those were just some of the free stuff we/I got from him. His wide connections made things easier for us in the JVP. One can also easily get free consultations on Spirituality, Family and Lovelife with Fr. Mario. Just don’t expect a cheesy, counselor reply from him though. I once got an "Ingat ka Beauty" reply from him after pouring out my anger and feelings of hurt toward God. Inis noh!? But it made me think God might just be saying the same. Simply teasing me and allowing me to just pour it all out knowing one day soon I’ll understand. Be careful too with what you share to Father. He’s not very good at keeping secrets, trust me!.. (Speaking of free stuff) Yes, I’m still waiting for that long overdue book which was supposed to be his Christmas present to me last year.


I was in Ateneo yesterday afternoon for an important meeting for a video documentary when I realized he was leaving the day after (which is today). Yes we threw him a despedida a week before (which lacked so much planning by the way, and I totally place all the blame in my current job) but it didn’t sink in that much then. So I sent him a final goodbye text. And after 4 years of friendship I finally got that cheesy "goodbye-will miss you" reply from him. (Which I don’t intend to delete, so I have something to tease him with when gets back.hehehe)

I realized however that saying goodbye to a Jesuit friend (volunteer, scholastic, novice or priest) is not as sad and as tear-filled as bidding goodbye to other friends - it’s a Jesuit goodbye, bitter sweet I believe. Because in as much as you are sad that he is leaving, you know and you are sure that his leaving is a necessary departure. That he has to go because it’s essential to fulfilling his mission as a servant of God. And you also know and you are also sure that he will come back. And when he comes back, despite some (major) changes, you know that he will still be that same person you can talk to, fool around with, dance with and pray with.

Despite being in the same campus, I didn’t even decide to pay Fr. Mario a last visit to give him a last hug. The text was fine, the party last week enough. He can go; we will just wait for his return.

(written-September 7,2005)

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Saturday, September 03, 2005

Shifting Gears

I have so much to do. Today is a Saturday but I’m supposed to be writing an article on the activities of the foundation I work for. The article is for the company’s internal magazine. It is to serve as a report to the employees on where their money is going and how the company is continuously heeding the call for corporate social responsibility.

I’m so uninspired. I can’t write. The pressure that I actually asked for an extension on the deadline, which was supposed to be yesterday, is not even working because my mind just doesn’t respond.

Instead my mind wanders about the recent developments in my “career.” I never thought I’ll have a job as short lived as this one. Less than 2 months! I resigned after 3 weeks and it’s actually the 30-days notice in my contract that makes me last here longer. To other people, it seems it’s too short of a time to make such a huge decision. Did I really think about it already? Well I did. I thought about the decision to resign long and hard. And I prayed about it too.

Because driving is one of my regular activities these days, I’d like to compare the change to that when one shifts gear. (I know, I know. My friends who usually ride with me will comment that I drive an automatic! But I did learn how to drive in manual stainless jeep and I still can drive a manual car.) In as much as one needs to be attentive to the speed and sound of the engine to know if its time to change gear, the shift must be quick as well. When you hear it and you feel it, you have to step on that clutch pedal and move the stick to the appropriate gear. That’s how fast it’s supposed to be. When you know it’s time to change, you better hit it or else your engine might die on you or you’ll create long term damages to your car.

Deciding to resign 3 weeks after working for this foundation was quick. But the thought I put into it and listening to what both my heart and mind was telling me about it, was like being a good driver who knew it was time to change gear. Because if not, my passion to work might just die on me or I’ll create long term damages in my life.

Then, I continue to cruise along this road they call - life.
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look closely, you'll see TOLITS! my new baby.