Sacrificed Lives and a Culturally-Relevant Discovery

2014 Florida Bus Crash 1

A bittersweet thing that came out of the Florida Bus Crash last Friday, February 7, 2014 is that more people (including me) now know about Whang-Od, the last tattoo artist from Kalinga. She’s 93 years old. Many of the passengers were on that trip to visit her and her tribe.

The Beautiful Whang-Od

The Beautiful Whang-Od. Photo by Jake Versoza.

Prior to the accident, it seems that only tattoo enthusiasts and bonafide adventurers knew about Whang-Od. Now, people know more about her. That’s the good thing. But it also took a fatal accident to get her name more out there. 15 artists had to die to make one artist more known to her own fellow Filipinos. That’s the sad thing.

I read an article and watched a short documentary on Whang-Od  and the traditional tattoo-making method. She makes the tattoo using a couple of wooden sticks, a small nail and sweet potato ink, with no anesthesia. It looks really painful but interesting. I used to want to get a tattoo for vanity reasons, but I like how my bare skin looks now.

Now that more people here in the Philippines know about Whang-Od, I hope more people would take the opportunity to visit the Kalinga tribe and get a tattoo from her. I think those who died in the accident would want us to continue their journey.

I hope that our Philippine government and private bus companies improve road safety drastically here, because we can’t afford this to happen again. We cannot stop adventurers from being adventurers because of such mishaps that could have been prevented through good and strict public transport governance. We have to make sure that our transport system is safe so that people continue living, discovering and savoring our culture.

That way we can start having a lot #morefuninthePhilippines.

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2014 Chinese New Year Celebration in Binondo

This year, around eight thousand people celebrated the Chinese New Year in Binondo, Manila – one of the biggest crowds the town ever had. The celebration, which was only limited to residents of the area before, has gotten bigger and bigger thanks to the power of photography, social media and heightened publicity that Chinatown has over the past few years. I’ve been to Binondo a few times, and I celebrated the Chinese New Year for the second time there this year.

We started by visiting the Sta. Cruz Church along Bustos. The Church’s Chinese New Year decor including red paper lanterns, images of horses and a big hand-painted banner that said “Kung Hei Fat Choi!”, reflected the marriage of influences from the Chinese and Spanish that create a distinct part of Filipino culture.

2014 Lunar New Year 1

 

2014 Lunar New Year 2

 

Right outside Sta. Cruz Church is Carriedo Fountain. Behind it is the Arch of Goodwill, which symbolizes the friendship between the Filipino and Chinese communities.

 

2014 Lunar New Year 3

 

Our second stop was Escolta. On our way there, I could not help but think of the wonder that it was before. If you’re curious, here’s a photo of what Escolta used to look like.

 

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Escolta isn’t the beautiful, bustling, sophisticated place it once was, but I just have to thank Chinatown’s old guard and their descendants for preserving buildings such as the first Bank of the Philippine Islands building, Regina Building and Natividad Building. The sophistication is gone, but the charm is still there. It helps that there are lot of offices and buildings in Escolta which keeps the place busy.

 

2014 Lunar New Year 4

 

2014 Lunar New Year 6

 

We turned left on Tomas Pinpin Street and walked towards Muelle Del Banco Nacional to take photos of the Post Office, which was just across Pasig River.

 

2014 Lunar New Year 5

As faster modes of communication are increasing in number, the Post Office – with its grand architectural design – is now losing its significance to people. Thank goodness for institutions like Ateneo de Manila Grade School who take their students on annual field trips to the Post Office to send letters to their parents. I do hope more people see the value of handwritten letters and start writing again to their loved ones whether here or abroad. Sending handwritten letters to loved is a good, heartfelt investment.

We walked back to Escolta and entered Calvo Building, a place we barely noticed on our 2013 Chinese New Year Binondo trip. Its lobby was lined with photos of Manila in the 1800s and early 1900s, thus it  piqued our curiosity. It turned out that the Escolta Museum was housed on its second floor which showcased memorabilia from Manila in the late 1800s to the 1960s.

2014 Lunar New Year 22

What we found was a trove of treasured artifacts.

There were newspapers from the 1800s and newspaper ads from the 1920s. Look – a Ford car used to just cost P795.00 or $18.00!

2014 Lunar New Year 7

Wartime photos serve as a reminder of how much Manila went through in the hands of the Japanese and the Americans.

2014 Lunar New Year 23

There were posters from movies from the 1930s to 1960s.

2014 Lunar New Year 8

Different kinds of bottles were also on display.

2014 Lunar New Year 9

There’s an entrance fee of P50.00 (roughly $1.10). There is no guard or caretaker to pay to – there’s only a small box at the entrance where you drop your payment. Employing the honesty system is in itself, interesting.

After visiting Escolta Museum we headed out to have lunch.

Part of the “Binondo Experience” is to have lunch at one of their hole-in-wall restaurants which serve authentic Chinese cuisine – with no pretentions. Our food joint of choice for lunch was Ying Ying’s on Dasmariñas Street. It has been our choice for the past 3 years.

 2014 Lunar New Year 10

2014 Lunar New Year 11

As you can see, there is no interior design nor plating for orders. There is no aesthetic nor concept of finesse. It is all about the food and its taste. We ordered fresh steamed shrimps (our favorite), soy chicken, beef, sweet and sour pork and Yang Chow fried rice. Their milk tea tasted slightly bitter and aromatic and better than the other milk tea types that people get from commercial milk tea stores.

That is the more quiet side of Binondo. After lunch, we headed on to Ongpin and Paredes area where all the action was.

On our way there, we saw Sincerity Chicken, one of the other well-loved restaurants of Binondo. We also saw a dragon dance group which was also on its way to Ongpin.

2014 Lunar New Year 12

2014 Lunar New Year 13

The first thing we saw on Ongpin Street was a lion dance performance in front of a small liquor store. In Chinese culture, lion and dragon dances are said to drive away evil spirits and invite good luck and prosperity. Part of the dance includes the lion standing up to eat the hong bao (red packet). I guess this is to bring more good luck?

2014 Lunar New Year 14

2014 Lunar New Year 16

From Ongpin Street, we headed to Quintin Paredes Street, which was the starting point of the Solidarity Grand Parade. The Solidarity Grand Parade is an annual event that includes Chinese schools, Chinese community groups and Chinese-owned businesses among the participants. Among the participants this year were the following: Philippine Tiong Se Academy, Lorenzo Ruiz Academy, Sun Yat Sen High School, Chiang Kai Shek College, Sun Life Financial, Manila Bulletin, and Universal Robina Corporation.

2014 Lunar New Year 17

From Paredes, we walked back to Ongpin to buy hopia and tikoy from Eng Bee Tin. On our way we saw this drum group entertaining people. Drum groups accompanied firedancers who solicited money from onlookers using hong paos. The more money people gave, the longer the fire dance routine would be.

2014 Lunar New Year 24

2014 Lunar New Year 18

We stopped by a shrine to Sto. Cristos de Longos, a cross that is said to have miraculous powers. During the Spanish period, a deaf-mute Sangley discovered an effigy of the crucified Jesus inside a well where the original cross now stands. His senses of hearing and talking were restored immediately after his discovery. You can find the original story here.

2014 Lunar New Year 19

The cross is adorned with sampaguita (Philippine jasmine) garlands and red ribbons. Devotees could offer prayers using long red wax candles or joss sticks, thus infusing Catholicism with a sense of Buddhist culture. The shrine is truly a religious cultural sight to behold and its image will stay with you long after you’ve seen it.

Then we rested for a while and tried milk tea from a shop called The Tea at Mandarin Square. Unfortunately, their drinks tasted like they were made from three-day old ingredients. The only good thing about the store was its interior design which included this cute love notes wall. We consoled ourselves by buying Chinese cup noodles, bottled milk tea, fried rice crackers from the grocery which was also located in Mandarin Square.

2014 Lunar New Year 20

From there, we joined the parade. It was really a memorable parade experience for us as we saw the town mayor  and vice-mayor (Need I say who they are? NO.) and Ms. International 2013, Bea Rose Santiago, got goodies from URC and witnessed not just one, not two but three explosive street firework displays! Finally, we got to the end of Ongpin and walked to Carriedo Fountain which was near where we started, before heading home.

2014 Lunar New Year 21

Here’s a simple compilation of the videos that I took during the celebration. Here you’ll see the lion dance, the crowd at Binondo and a lion and dragon dance with street fireworks.

So that would be it for my Binondo adventure! Thanks for reading my post.

Xin Nian Kuai Le! Kiong Hee Huat Tsai!

Helpful, Healthy and Yummy: Green Pastures

Last night, I had dinner with friends in this place called Green Pastures at the East Wing of Shangri-la Plaza Mall. It’s a relatively new place that has garnered rave reviews because of how good its food is, and that it is an organic farm-to-table restaurant, meaning the food that they serve come from organically-grown plants and free-range raised poultry, cattle, lambs and pigs. It’s the perfect restaurant for people who love healthy food, but do not want to give up meat, like me. And I’m big on supporting businesses that are inherently advocacy-based. Yay for farmers! Yay for Philippine agriculture!

I initially planned to order their octopus-and-bone-marrow fusilli, but since my aunt recommended that I order the 80/20 Wagyu burger, I ordered that instead. I told myself that I will just go back and order the octopus-and-bone-marrow fusilli next time.

Green Pastures' 80/20 Burger

Green Pastures’ 80/20 Burger

The 80/20 Wagyu Burger is composed of 80% Wagyu beef, 20% double smoked organic pancetta (Italian bacon), stratiacella (Italian soft cheese) and buttered brioche (bread). It came with a hefty serving of fries with dip.

I wasn’t too happy with the burger at first since it seemed bland, but it began to taste fuller and better after every bite. I finished the burger fully satisfied, then downed the fries almost completely. The last time I was that satisfied with a new restaurant was last March, after I visited Poco Deli for the first time. Other dishes we ordered were the Carbonara, Duck You!, Ricotta and Headcheese. The dishes ARE a bit pricey, but that I think is okay considering you are helping the country and its farmers through Green Pastures.

2013 was a year of awesome culinary discoveries – from Ying Ying in Binondo, Aria in Bonifacio Global City, Plantation in Makati, to Haru, Poco Deli and Charlie’s Burgers in Barrio Kapitolyo and Spatzle in the East Wing of Shangri-la. So I’m glad that I kicked off 2014 with another awesome culinary discovery. I will definitely come back and find out more about their other dishes. 

My 2013 Ylocandia Adventure (Mangan Series)

So this is the last post on my Ylocandia adventure, and it’s all about food! Click on the restaurant’s addresses to see where they are located exactly.

We had lunch AND merienda at Abuelita’s on the first day. As it was one of my friends’ first time in Vigan, I just had to introduce her to the best bagnet and empanada in town! We also had duyduy, kaldereta and fresh ginger and onions which were all equally good.

2013 Ilocandia - Abuelita's 1

2013 Ilocandia - Abuelita's 2

Abuelita’s39 A. Reyes St, Vigan City, Ilocos Sur, Philippines 2700

+63 77 722 2368

Dinner was spent eating more bagnet and more pork in Bolusan Restaurant. It was my first time to taste Pork Insarabasab and I truly, truly enjoyed it as it was only salted lightly but still had that rich taste! Actually I enjoyed it more than Bolusan’s bagnet, which was also actually not bad.

2013 Ilocandia - Bulosan Restaurant 1

Bolusan Restaurant and Catering Services, Ablan Ave., Laoag, Ilocos Norte 2900

I didn’t get to take photos of our lunch at Hannah’s. But compared to all the other places that we’ve eaten in, it was the most expensive yet unfortunately, least satisfying.

But thankfully, we enjoyed our dinner from Chicken Ati-atihan which tasted really, really good cost us half the price of meals from Hannah’s! Chicken Ati-atihan is a Filipino restaurant so it serves dishes also known outside the Ilocos region. We had chicharong bulaklak, chicken skin, kinilaw na tuna and chop suey. This was the only place where we took a break from having bagnet.

2013 Ilocandia - Chicken Ati-Atihan 1

Chicken Ati-Atihan, General Segundo Avenue, Laoag, Ilocos Norte, Philippines 2900

If you’re wondering where we had our breakfasts, then let me tell you where – we had all our breakfasts at Saramsam Ylocano Bar and Restaurant which is located right beside our hotel, Balay da Blas. The food was really delicious and energizing. I particularly loved their longganisa.

2013 Ilocandia - Saramsam Ylocano Cuisine 8

2013 Ilocandia - Saramsam Ylocano Cuisine 9

Saramsam Ylocano Bar and Restaurant, #10 Giron St. Brgy. 7-B Laoag City Ilocos Norte, Philippines 2900

Our last food stop for the whole trip was La Preciosa, where we had lunch on the third day. We ordered bagnet and lumo-lumo. The bagnet here was also good. What surprised me was Norte’s lumo-lumo that looked and tasted a lot different from the lumo-lumo of Sur that I was accustomed to, but in a good way. Its broth was a beautiful rich yellow, and had scallions and native tomatoes in it. Glad I ordered it as I discovered something new and really savory.

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La Preciosa, J.P. Rizal Street, Laoag, Ilocos Norte, Philippines 2900
+63 77 773 1162

I’m finishing this entry by writing about Balay da Blas Pensionne House, where we stayed.

The hotel is composed of 2 buildings, with each one representing the best of the old and the modern. We stayed in the modern building which looked really small and simple but actually has rooms that are spacious, clean and relaxing. What I liked most about Balay da Blas was that its staff was very patient, accommodating and friendly which added to the really happy and positive vibe we had throughout the trip.

2013 Ilocandia - Balay da Blas 2013 Ilocandia - Saramsam Ylocano Cuisine 3

Balay da Blas is located at #10 Giron St. Brgy. 7-B Laoag City Ilocos Norte. Its contact details are the following:

Office: +63 (77) 770 4389
Sun: +63 (922) 882 6907
Smart: +63 (920) 968 6695
Globe: +63 (917) 550 7522
Email: balaydablas@yahoo.com

So that would be it for my Ilocano adventure! Until my next travel!

My 2013 Ylocandia Adventure Part 2 (Ilocos Norte)

After visiting Vigan, we went back to Ilocos Norte to visit the Paoay Church and have our dinner. The Paoay Church was built by Augustinian priests. They built it in such a way that it would withstand natural calamities, particularly earthquakes. Its design is known as “earthquake Baroque”. Many other churches in the Ilocos region have the same design, including the churches in Sarrat, Ilocos Norte and Sta. Maria, Ilocos Sur.

2013 Ilocandia - Paoay Church 1

2013 Ilocandia - Paoay Church 2

2013 Ilocandia - Paoay Church 3

Beauty at Dusk

2013 Ilocandia - Paoay Church 4

2013 Ilocandia - Paoay Church 5

2013 Ilocandia - Paoay Church 6

A Magnificent Sight

DAY 2

The next day was spent going to one site to another, making it our trip’s most tiring yet best day. We started by going to Cape Bojeador, then Kapurpurawan Rock Formation in Burgos, the Windmills in Bangui and finally Pagudpud.

Cape Bojeador is an old lighthouse that Spanish soldiers used to man the sea. The whole place has weathered over time. The main lighthouse’s stairs have rusted so badly that you can’t climb it anymore.

2013 Ilocandia - Bojeador Lighthouse 1

2013 Ilocandia - Bojeador Lighthouse 2

2013 Ilocandia - Bojeador Lighthouse 4

2013 Ilocandia - Bojeador Lighthouse 5

2013 Ilocandia - Bojeador Lighthouse 6

The best thing about Cape Bojeador is the seascape. From atop the high hills of Ilocos Norte, I was able to take photos of rolling waves from afar. The experience of actually seeing that with the wind blowing in my hair in the morning truly started my day right.

2013 Ilocandia - Bojeador Lighthouse 7

Then we drove to Burgos’ Kapurpurawan Rock Formation. Walking towards the rock formation was a challenging yet fun experience. I braved winds that almost carried me away to get near a beautiful natural wonder that every Filipino has to visit and be proud of.

2013 Ilocandia - Kapurpurawan Rock Formation 1

2013 Ilocandia - Kapurpurawan Rock Formation 2

2013 Ilocandia - Kapurpurawan Rock Formation 5

2013 Ilocandia - Kapurpurawan Rock Formation 4

No photo can ever do justice to this sight. Ever.

 I was able to take only one photo of Bangui’s windmills  because it was starting to drizzle and we didn’t want to stay long so we wouldn’t get wet. Haiyan was battering Eastern Visayas that day, and we also got a taste of strong rains on our way to and during lunch time in Pagudpud. That’s also why we took a few photos there.

2013 Ilocandia - Bangui Windmills

2013 Ilocandia - Pagudpud 1

2013 Ilocandia - Pagudpud 2

2013 Ilocandia - Pagudpud 3

We went back to Laoag to relax after our lunch in Pagudpud, and spent the whole time there. We didn’t tour any site the day after as it was the day of my friend’s wedding. 

DAY 4

We had a little time left, but we paid Ilocos Norte’s lakay’s home a visit. It was the last site that we visited before having lunch and heading back to Manila. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Marcos loyalist or critic –  – the “Malakanyang ti Amianan” (Malacañang of the North) or any Marcos shrine is something to that you should do to know the extent of the man named Ferdie and his family’s power over the Ilocanos of Ilocos Norte, and the love that they continue to bestow upon him.

2013 Ilocandia - Malacañang ti Amianan 1

2013 Ilocandia - Malacañang ti Amianan 3

The painting on the left is a portrait of a teenage Bongbong Marcos riding a white steed and carrying a sword. It looks like a mild version of the propaganda art created by North Koreans for the Kims. Too bad I didn’t get to take a photo of it!

2013 Ilocandia - Malacañang ti Amianan 2

2013 Ilocandia - Malacañang ti Amianan 4

2013 Ilocandia - Malacañang ti Amianan 5

It isn’t as enchanting and haunting as the the first time I visited in the early 2000s. The hospital bed was gone, and it looked more like a tourist spot than a genuine historical artifact, unlike Cape Bojeador.

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The family photos and “shabby chic” color is one of the significant changes from the last time I went there.

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I honestly don’t think “shabby chic” and Marcos mix. It just doesn’t. A for effort to rebrand though! I exited the house feeling a bit more endeared to the controversial family that I am critical yet not a hater of.

 

Overall, my Ylocandia adventure was a great one, and I’d gladly go on another trip to these sites and make it even more memorable by visiting the other places we didn’t get to visit like the Sand Dunes.

I’m writing about the food we had in my next post.

Post-Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda Thoughts (And Ways You Can Help the Victims)

It has been a week since Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda battered the Eastern Visayas region in the Philippines. And by now, it is clear as to how much damage it has created.

I was actually on vacation in the Northern part of the Philippines when it struck. When I got back from vacation, that’s when I thoroughly updated myself on various social media networks. Seeing photos and watching news reports of how Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda reduced buildings and houses into shreds, how it rendered thousands and thousands of people homeless, desperate, sick and hungry and how it reduced a population also by the thousands left me shocked, speechless and unable to write. I had planned on writing this post earlier this week, but I couldn’t bring myself to. Although the Philippines is an archipelago, it is a small one, so everyone knows someone who hailed from or was in Central Visayas at that moment. Filipinos are also scattered all over the world. For this, the story hits home, one way or another.

It is heartbreaking to know that this happened to our country. Year after year, we experience torrential rains and strong typhoons, as well as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions – albeit not as much as the typhoons. But we have never experienced something so strong, and so its psychological and emotional impact are as strong as the winds and rains brought by the typhoon itself.

And for this, we are all doing our best to help each other out. This is why other government units have sent in financial aid and their staff to affected areas to help out.  This is why volunteer registration lists are filled until next week at the Department of Social Welfare and Development. This is why operations at the Ateneo de Manila University grounds are nonstop, twenty-four hours. This is why beyond the aforementioned relief operations, I cannot give more as there have been so many, I can’t remember all of them. Just refer to Rappler for an extensive list of relief operation sites. Apart from that, there are kind individuals who conduct door-to-door relief good donations and delivery operations. They are not affiliated with any group. They just want to help.

And speaking of helping here are other ways that you can help:

For those living outside the Philippines, you may give to reputable nonprofit organization that work or will be working directly for the communities involved. Please click on the name of the organization to know more how you can donate.

Typhoon Haiyan - Ways to Donate - NAFCON

Image Source: NAFCON Website

NAFCON (National Alliance for Filipino Concerns)

Typhoon Haiyan - Ways to Donate - Mercy Corps

Image Source: Mercy Corps Facebook

Mercy Corps 

Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders 

For those here in the Philippines who wish to donate, kindly refer to this list of ways on how to donate from Rappler.

Here are some more creative ways you can give:

Typhoon Haiyan - Ways to Donate - YolandaActionWeekend

Image Source: Pepper PH

Eat and drink in one of your favorite restaurants / bars. Several restaurateurs have come together for #YolandaActionWeekend, wherein participating establishments will donate either 20% of gross sales or 100% net profit to the victims of typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda. Read more about the said campaign on the Pepper PH Website.

Buy styled donated clothing. One of the memories I have from childhood post-Mount Pinatubo-volcanic-eruption was seeing a child on TV walking and wearing a flower girl’s gown in the midst of lahar-torn Pampanga. That image stuck because it seemed bizarre to me that someone would donate something like that. But I learned this happens often. I’ve also personally experienced unloading a bag full of donated clothing including prom gowns, parkas and full office suits.

For this, the Philippine Red Cross, in partnership with stylists and clothing care products Downy and Ariel, have taken these uhm, “pre-loved” clothing, styled them and are putting them up on sale. Each item has a corresponding donation equivalent, like a set of ten hot meals, or a number of tents. For more details visit the campaign website: Aid Couture.

Typhoon Haiyan - Ways to Donate -Makati Medical Center

Or if you don’t want to go out or spend, the best you can do is sign this petition asking Makati Medical Center in Metro Manila to put up a mobile hospital and provide medical care for those in need.

We’re a strong people, so we’ll definitely get back up again. But hopefully after getting up, we would be able not only to stand, nor walk, but be capable enough as a people to run ourselves independently and responsibly, and lead all those who have helped us to look our way and smile at the changes we have made in our government, in our infrastructure, in managing our people and most importantly, in our relationship with the environment.

First Time Poll Watcher

tally sticks

I was blessed to be part of this year’s Barangay Elections as a candidate’s poll watcher.

I’ve been interested in participating in the elections as a poll watcher since I was in college. Unfortunately, all the training sessions were scheduled during school and work hours so I was never actually able to be one until now.

The Barangay is the smallest administrative unit in the Philippines. In English, Barangay means ‘village’. It is governed by a Barangay Captain and a Barangay Council composed of 7 Kagawads, who are assigned to develop and implement projects under various committees. The populations of barangays range from two thousand up to two hundred thousand. Thankfully, we reside is a small barangay, so there weren’t much people. The teachers who assist in the voting and counting, members of the police force and volunteers from the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) actually felt relaxed during the voting hours.

The excitement came when voting was closed and vote-counting commenced. Unlike the national elections wherein voting is done manually, but tallied through a machine, both voting and tallying are done manually during Barangay elections. I guess this is because there is a large multitude of Barangays and it would be too costly for the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) to distribute or ship PCOS machines again, collect the names of candidates, lay them out and print ballots for each of them.

As this was the case, the teachers posted a large tally sheet on a white board (Tally Sheet 1) – with one tally sheet per precinct. The tally sheets had a long box on the left for the candidates’ names, and had boxes to its left for the vote tallies. The boxes were enough to fit five tally lines.

We had three precincts, so there were three counting paper sheets.  Another tally sheet was prepared on a table adjacent to the precinct’s ballot boxes and white board (Tally Sheet 2). Then they listed the names of the candidates down on the tally sheets with a black marker. One teacher was assigned to read the votes, another one was assigned to tally the votes on Tally Sheet 1 and another was assigned to tally the votes on Tally Sheet 2. Prior to the counting, PPCRV and the candidates’ poll watchers were also made to sign documents to validate their participation.

Each poll watcher was required to bring his or her own tally sheet. Before the official tallying began, I wrote down the names of the candidates on my own tally sheets.

The tallying soon started after I wrote all the candidates’ names down. The teacher assigned to read the votes in the precinct I volunteered for read the votes at a fairly steady pace so I was able to count along with them. For each 100 ballots, we tallied the partial results before proceeding onto the next hundred. After about an hour, vote tallying was done and the total for each candidate was written down on the official tally sheets and validating documents were signed. Soon after, the winners were proclaimed.

During the vote tally, voters are free to go to the polling place and watch the process. I wasn’t aware of how many watched the tally until it was over. I was delightfully surprised to see many people there. The Barangay is the smallest unit – and for some – the most useless. But I am thankful that people in our community continue to see its value.

My Poll Watcher I.D.

My Poll Watcher I.D.

I want to thank the COMELEC and DepEd’s teachers for the smooth voting and tallying processes. I would like to especially salute the teachers who were assigned in larger barangays – I am more proud of our public school teachers than ever! With that experience, I hope to participate again as a poll watcher for the coming 2016 elections.

I am very happy to say that the candidate I volunteered for won. As part of the team, I was very nervous, even as I was counting. I could not imagine how that person must have felt! Thank God for the win, now we can all rest and look forward to a new chapter for our community!

Help Bohol and Cebu Rise Again

I’ve been to Cebu twice, and I enjoyed both of my trips there. Knowing how beautiful and culturally-rich Cebu is, what they are going through now makes me feel extra sad.

I’ve never been to Bohol, hence my regret for not having had the chance to visit Chocolate Hills or its churches. And I promise to visit the place as soon as things are in order again.

I, like many Filipinos and people around the world want to help these beautiful islands rise so that we may see them in their splendor once again. Here are ways you can help bring back joy and security to Boholanos and Cebuanos:

For more ways to help, please visit the follow links:

Aboitiz – http://aboitizfoundation.org/AF/index.php?p=2502&type=2&sec=114&aid=11377&pg

Gawad Kalinga – http://gk1world.com/walang-iwanan

Rappler – http://www.rappler.com/move-ph/41461-relief-visayas-earthquake-victims

Renewing Faith, Saving Our Heritage

Today is a Sunday. And I found it apt to look back at the damage caused by the massive 7.2-magnitude earthquake to a natural wonder and fourteen heritage churches because of how much it tells us Filipinos about our heritage and the Catholic faith, which many of us are part of. Pardon if I haven’t posted something on helping the Boholanos and Cebuanos rise, I have another post especially for them.

Before looking at the photos, allow me to enumerate a few of the lessons I learned from this natural calamity:

  1. The earthquake is a call to us Filipinos to appreciate our heritage and the history that comes along with each artifact. It is a call for us to visit our own historical sites before jetting off to other places. We have always thought that the churches would be there, and that “all of them are the same so why bother visiting?” At the end of the day, hills and churches are made of earth, and they will crumble back to it.

  2. The earthquake is a call to our heritage preservation agencies, the Department of Education, Department of Tourism, the private sector and even the UNESCO to support rebuilding these sites and promoting them to the public through education and local tourism. These sites are meant to be appreciated, by Filipinos and non-Filipinos, Catholics and people of other faiths alike.

  3. Lastly, the earthquake is a call to Filipino Catholics to go beyond attending mass in a physical church and performing rituals. While attending mass and performing rituals are meaningful and us Catholics must understand the meaning of performing them (I have yet to dig deeper on this again), our faith is beyond that. The Christian faith is beyond that, and so we are called to not just attend mass at churches but actually attend to Churches – the Christian communities whom God called us to engage with to praise Him and live out The Word and people in general. As these physical churches will be rebuilt, we must also rebuild ourselves outside of the pews, away from the altar, and from within. And I think engaging God’s Word in written form is a great way to start.

Now on to the photos.

Viewing Deck, Chocolate Hills, Bohol via @tokyodrastic

Viewing Deck, Chocolate Hills, Bohol via @tokyodrastic

Chocolate Hills, Bohol via @tokyodrastic

Chocolate Hills, Bohol via @tokyodrastic

Chocolate Hills, Bohol via @harold_geronimo

Chocolate Hills, Bohol via @harold_geronimo

Nuestra Señora de la Luz Parish Church/Church of the Lady of Light, Loon, Bohol

Nuestra Señora de la Luz Parish Church/Church of the Lady of Light, Loon, Bohol via @tonyocruz

Church of St. Peter the Apostle (San Pedro Apostol), Loboc, Bohol

Iglesia de San Pedro Apostol/Church of St. Peter the Apostle, Loboc, Bohol from NHCPHistoricSites

Nuestra Señora de Inmaculada Concepcion de Baclayon/Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception of Baclayon, Bohol via Wikimedia Commons

Nuestra Señora de Inmaculada Concepcion de Baclayon/Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception of Baclayon, Bohol via Wikimedia Commons

Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción/Church of the Lady of the Assumption, Dauis, Bohol via Wikimedia Commons

Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción/Church of the Lady of the Assumption, Dauis, Bohol via Wikimedia Commons

Iglesia de Santa Cruz/Sta. Cruz Church, Maribojoc, Bohol via @jhigzveloso

Iglesia de Santa Cruz/Sta. Cruz Church, Maribojoc, Bohol via @jhigzveloso

St. Isidore the Farmer Church, Tubigon, Bohol via Wikimedia

St. Isidore the Farmer Church, Tubigon, Bohol via Wikimedia

Iglesia de Santissima Trinidad/Church of the Most Holy Trinity, Loay, Bohol via Turning Boholano

Iglesia de Santissima Trinidad/Church of the Most Holy Trinity, Loay, Bohol via Turning Boholano

Iglesia de San Nicholas/Church of St. Nicholas via Wikipedia Commons

Iglesia de San Nicholas/Church of St. Nicholas, Dimiao, Bohol via Wikipedia Commons

Iglesia de San Pablo Apostol/Church of St. Paul, Inabanga, Bohol via Wikipedia

Iglesia de San Pablo Apostol/Church of St. Paul, Inabanga, Bohol via Wikipedia

Basilica del Minore del Sto. Nino/Minor Basilica of the Child Jesus, Cebu City, Cebu via BjornCebuano

Basilica del Minore del Sto. Nino/Minor Basilica of the Child Jesus, Cebu City, Cebu via BjornCebuano

Cebu Metropolitan Church, Cebu City, Cebu

Cebu Metropolitan Church, Cebu City, Cebu via Wikimedia Commons

Iglesia de Sta. Catalina de Alejandria/Church of St. Catherine of Alexandria, Carcar, Cebu

Iglesia de Sta. Catalina de Alejandria/Church of St. Catherine of Alexandria, Carcar, Cebu via Kabyahe

UPDATE: Photos of five more churches that were partially or totally damaged by the earthquake:

La Iglesia de San Vicente Ferrer/St. Vincent Ferrer Church, Calape, Bohol

La Iglesia de San Vicente Ferrer/St. Vincent Ferrer Church, Calape, Bohol via CDRImagesFilipinas

Iglesia de San Miguel Arcangel/Church of St. Michael the Archangel, Clarin, Bohol

Iglesia de San Miguel Arcangel/Church of St. Michael the Archangel, Clarin, Bohol via Bohol Info

Santo Niño Parish Church, Cortes, Bohol via@ CDRImageFilipinas

Santo Niño Parish Church, Cortes, Bohol via CDRImageFilipinas

Cathedral of St. Joseph the Worker, Tagbilaran, Bohol

Cathedral of St. Joseph the Worker, Tagbilaran, Bohol via Libotero

Iglesia de Nuestra Señora del Santo Rosario/Church of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, Lila, Bohol via CDRImageFilipinas

Iglesia de Nuestra Señora del Santo Rosario/Church of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, Lila, Bohol via CDRImageFilipinas

Choosing Your Battles Wisely

When we are uncomfortable with thoughts, words and actions inconsistent to our beliefs, it’s either we choose to keep our thoughts to ourselves, or we voice out our disagreements until our throats become sore.

I’m the type that would voice my own opinion, rather than keep it to myself. I also made the mistake of thinking that being opinionated means being correct. So many times did I think that shoving my beliefs on politics, gender equality, racial equality and acceptance of various faiths down others’ minds was correct.  If someone thought otherwise, I felt like I had the moral obligation to correct them in a strong, determined voice, and rid the world of every type of oppression. If they disagreed, I immediately thought that their thinking was the reason why humanity has failed to be human.

I have always thought that if everyone was politically correct and liberal in thinking, then life would be a lot better. I hold true to that belief. Yet I have also learned to not fight it out every time until someone concedes to my side. I have learned to keep quiet, understand another person’s history and reasons for holding onto such beliefs, respect their preferences, and am finding ways to engage them better for the good of all.

It’s a challenge, but through choosing the battles I wish to fight, and by learning to engage people in the conflicts I chose, it has made me feel more relaxed, calm and well, happy. I’ve also learned how great this has been to me in terms of maintaining good relationships. Overall it’s a good thing for me.

How about you? Did picking battles work for you?

Thanks again for reading my post! Hope you’re having a great weekend!

Setbacks and Moving Forward

Setbacks Help You Move Forward

Image from Learn NC

As in anything in life, organizations go through ups and downs. And what makes an organization strong, and what makes it leadership work is the organization and its people’s capability to withstand major challenges and rise up from difficulties.

Numerous books, articles and talks have discussed the power of positive thinking in helping organizations and businesses reach success. Thinking positively and moving progressively is most important after going through certain setbacks, let’s say, incurring losses after a failed business deal, product recalls and legal crisis. To start, it is important to ask questions that lead to forward movement, such as, “What lessons have we learned from this experience?” and “How are we to apply these lessons?”

The first question reflects the bright side of even the worst types of setbacks. It tells us that setbacks don’t render ourselves, our people or our organization hopeless. It can make us better. A setback could just be the rubber string on a slingshot pointed upward, that pulls us back a bit, but then propels us to greater heights. I also believe that setbacks don’t just happen because of operational or organizational mistakes. There’s a deeper reason for the occurrence of setbacks, and personally, I ultimately believe it’s that Being (in my case, the Christian God), putting us through them to make us into better creations.

The second question reflects our ability to become better by following through and living out the lessons learned. It tells us that we can make the most out of anything, and move with considerable and logical speed to bring ourselves and/or our organizations to greater heights that where we were, complete with wisdom.

Where we land and stabilize ourselves is up to how much we fix ourselves to become a better organization, or person. With the help of God, of course.

What setbacks have helped you and/or your organization become so much better? I’d be glad to hear from you.

Thanks for reading my blog!

Risks, Success and Happiness

I’ve never thought of myself as a risk-taker because I don’t gamble nor engage in extreme sports like bungee-jumping or scuba-diving. It was only until a few days ago, when a personal experience lead me to examine myself further. I have realized that I am somewhat adventurous when it comes to making career-building decisions, and this characteristic of mine lead me to many opportunities, of which I am happy to have. I’m also adventurous when it comes to food choices and exploring different places.

Now this lead me to ask myself: “Are risk-taking, success and happiness correlated?” Yes, according to WebMD and Psychology Today. In the Psychology Today article entitled “Happiness is a Risky Business”, writer Angie Levan advocates healthy risk-taking. She says, “risk-taking is essential to learning what your limits are, to growing as an individual and to cultivating a thriving life. Risk is something to be fully embraced and celebrated! Without taking risks, it’s impossible to learn the skills that enable you to thrive in life, like learning to manage emotions in uncertain circumstances – which life is full of.”

For every risk, there is an inevitable loss, and that’s what scares people away. On the other hand, for every risk, there is something good to gain, which makes risk-taking very important for business,  as risk-taking is organic for any good entrepreneur out there. A study by Mckinsey shows how businesses that are more inclined to reallocating their resources and changing their strategies every three years are more successful than those that retain the same business strategy for a longer time. Based on the Mckinsey report, it seems like these organizations’ leaders are more adventurous than others. And personally, I think good leaders – whether they be in the private industry, the nonprofit industry or public governance – are smart risk-takers.

Earlier on, I mentioned that I’m somewhat of a risk-taker when it comes to work and career opportunities. How about you? Are you a risk-taker? What kind of a risk-taker are you?

Hope you can share with me your thoughts. Thanks for reading my blog!

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