Yogyakarta? Istimewa! (My first ASEAN)

 

On November 2018, the Philippines through our corporation (along with other power companies) hosted an ASEAN meeting in Bohol, Philippines – the Heads of ASEAN Power Utilities/Authorities (HAPUA) Council, Working Committee and Working Groups meeting.

It was a significant event for power utilities in the ASEAN member states  (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam) as it is an avenue  for sharing best practices in  the energy sector. It also pursues projects toward energy security and sustainability in South East Asia.

With just the sound of it, I really wanted to be part of this event that was supposed to take place in the first quarter of the year. However, when the member states have settled the date for the 2018 meeting, it landed exactly on the date of my flight going to Singapore to assist in and attend my sister’s school program.

Can you imagine my dismay when I learned I cannot be part of Philippine’s hosting of the HAPUA? I was waiting for my boss to tell me to stay and I would stay. Haha! But I thought, there must be a reason why I can’t join the meeting. Besides, family is of more weight than anything else.

Fast forward to February 2019, the HAPUA Secretariat called for a gathering in Indonesia to strengthen bonds among country secretariats. Since I was tasked to join the corporation’s international commitments last year, I joined our Corporate Communications manager, Maria, in attending the event. And this is where I got to know Yogyakarta who is most famous among locals as Jogja.

 

Where is Jogja?

Jogja is a city in the island of Java in Indonesia. It is said to be the country’s cultural capital and I must say it is indeed brimming with traditions and historical sites that have been efficiently preserved through the years.

I can also say that Indonesia is so rooted with its culture and history and this gives them the identity which is vital for a country to progress forward. This is evident in their heritage sites, way of simple living and their loyalty and use of their native language. I hope Filipinos can be as loyal and loving to our native/national language also. (You know, English is important in connecting to other nation but there is beauty in being so rooted in our own.)

One of our hosts said that when you visit Jogja, you have already visited half, if not most of what Indonesia is made of.

Also, our super jolly tour guide said that since Jogja is still ruled by monarchy (Sultan), equality is maintained in the city. This is seen through the similarity of houses. Fancy and big houses are discouraged so as to promote equal opportunity for all.  What a city to live simply!

Jogja can be reached by an hour of plane ride from Jakarta, just like what we did or a 10-12 hour land trip from Jakarta.

Upon landing Adisucipto International Airport in Jogja, we were met by our guides who welcomed us with wide smiles, a bottle of water and pastries.

In the hotel, the receptionist was friendly enough and spoke about the city. I would probably engage in a long conversation with her if I wasn’t tired. But yeah, I had to get acquainted with my bed for a couple of days, eat dinner and prepare for the next day’s meeting.

 

The Bridge of HAPUA

The meeting started with the ASEAN anthem.

Leaders spoke about the challenges and growing need for effective communication among member states. This is where our role comes in – the country secretariat serves as the link or bridge among the states in order to arrive with effective programs and resolutions in securing and strengthening energy supply.

As the entire meeting was unfolding, there were a handful of thoughts in my mind. I thought ‘what am I doing here?!’ and felt like a new student in middle school.  On one hand, I was also happy to be there because I know it will be a new learning field for me.

There had been more presentations and discussions in the afternoon. Maria for one discussed some developments in a project of the Working Group 4 which is chaired by the Philippines.

 

Getting exposed to such meetings, I have seen and appreciate the mutual respect that each state gives to everyone. Amazing ASEAN!

 

Cultural Night

Cultural night is part of any ASEAN meeting. It is where delegates get to experience, taste and see the authenticity of the country host. As for this gathering, Indonesia prepared local dishes and fruits for us to taste; and good music for us to dance along with.  And oh, they also made us wear the traditional Javanese clothes.

I thought that most food will be spicy, on the contrary, most are sweet. It has a distinct taste, like pasty or creamy but sweet. Such a delight that they also have the same tropical fruits I love like watermelon, papaya, mangees (mangosteen)and honey dew. What was new to me was the snake fruit which taste like langka but only crunchy.

snake fruit!

 

Travel is an education of some sort. Likewise, when I travel, I realize how small I am in relation to how vast countries can be. I see how God can put something this vast in order and I find comfort that all is well.

 

Jogja up close

On the next day, we went to Central Java to explore Borobudur including the famous and grand temple, the community of Ngadi Harjo; the Pawon, home of the Luwak coffee; the Magical Plataran on the hills where we had a splendid lunch and conversations about flight schedules, time differences and power situations in our respective countries (haha!); and the Hamzah Batik to buy souvenirs and ‘Java finds.’

 

Thank you, Plataran for the best lunch

 

On our last night at Jogja, we went to the city’s busiest street – Malioboro. The street was full of stores – from Batik to shirts to souvenirs. Buskers or street performers are everywhere . This is where tourists or even locals can ride the local tricycle or tuktuk or horse carriages.

 

I realized that there is really a special feeling in buying with local currencies when you travel. I always feel a unique taste of freedom whenever I use foreign moneh! Hahaha!

 

Dinner was fun with our young tourist guides from Hocus Pocus Jogja. But I just wish they allowed me to pay for our food because I felt they went out just for us when they can be at the hotel resting. Hihi.  Maybe, I can return the care when PH hosts again.

 

 

 

 

We are one, we are ASEAN. Indeed, my fellow secretariats and I are diverse and different and yet we are related and connected.

 

Flight back home

The last day could have allowed us to see more of the city. However, a professor of mine (from Graduate school) emailed us an exam that is due the next day, so I stayed  at the hotel to write the essays. Thank you to The Alana hotel’s receptionist for giving me bond papers for the exam. Haha!

On our way to the airport, we dropped by to the Bakpia store where local delicacies are found and the grocery to buy last minute treats for our family and friends.

On board the flight back to Manila, Maria and I were the last ones to board (again! We were the last ones to board too going to Jakarta, our baggage were almost pulled out already. Lol).  Our foreigner seatmate who was a retiree going to Manila asked us politely and funnily, ‘Is there a reason why you were late?’  hahaha! We said we took time eating. Then he told us the story of him finding the best mini-pizza meal at only 40,000 IDR. He was such a talker and a funny person.  He asked me where I’m from and when I said Bulacan, he said he had a friend there.  Apparently, he’s been to the Philippines for several times already. He even greeted us with ‘Maayong buntag!’ (Good morning in  Cebuano). Too bad, I have to write some more essays on the plane so we have to cut short our conversation.

Remember how I felt regretful not to attend HAPUA in Bohol? Today I thought, maybe God wanted my first ASEAN to be something this beautiful and memorable. He is truly reasonable, gracious and generous.💛

I would like to thank Philippine Airlines’ roster of movies that I was able to watch for the first time Wonder and of course, listen to Bruce Springsteen.  🎵everybody’s got a hungry heart…

Upon arriving Manila, I went to my class.

The next day, I miss Indonesia already.

It’s true what they said there, I thought. Jogja istimewa – Yogyakarta is special!

 

 

Disclaimer:

Hahaha! I think I have to put this here. Not all HAPUA meetings look like this, especially since this one is arranged for the secretariats only. This was to improve bonds and discuss communication practices to make coordination easier among the states.

HAPUA meetings with the Council and Working Committees are way different. And that is something I have yet to experience soon 🙂

 

Turning and my Three Day Feels on it (aka Brave Goal #1)

 

I turned a year older this week and so I did something special for myself – I traveled alone in the highly urbanized city of Bacolod, the home of the Maskara Festival.

The idea of going there wasn’t planned; I just wanted to take advantage of the seat sale last year. And the act of going there wasn’t well thought-of either; I just packed three sets of clothes, inappropriate clothes to be exact, and went there without a definite itinerary, neither in print nor in mind.

Well, I have searched for places to go, but which one should go first and last, I did not think of. Also, I called my clothes inappropriate because they (plus my hat) basically gave me away to the locals, I mean, it was so obvious that I wasn’t from there. Haha! I think it’s a rule among travelers to always fit in to a place so as not to attract too much attention.

Who would go hiking on a dress? But it did not made the hike harder huh

There were a lot of times though that the locals tried speaking to me in Ilonggo, their native dialect. I wanted to show off a bit by telling, ‘indi ko kabalo mag-Ilonggo’ ( I don’t speak Ilonggo), but I always end up telling them, ‘I’m from Bulacan, Tagalog only.’

My AirBnB host, Ate Rudy helped me a lot with my itinerary and in taking public commutes in the city. She also fetched me from The Ruins on my first night and dropped me off to the jeepney terminal going to Murcia on my second day. She even graciously fed me with desserts. (She bakes great cupcakes. If anyone here is to visit, she has a café at the 888 mall.)

I won’t be detailing here the places I’ve been to or the expenses I made, a lot of other blogs can already give you that. But I will be sharing instead the trove of ideas that went inside my head and why getting lost is the perfect way of finding yourself.

 

Traveling – Day 1 Musings

Traveling alone is my Brave Goal number 1 as written in my Brave Goals which I made two years ago. It made sense then and maybe until now that traveling alone is synonymous to being brave. It will bring you to unfamiliar places with a dialect you can’t comprehend and a different culture.

But I realized that traveling alone is more than being brave. Traveling alone is liberating and redeeming at the same time. It frees you from your tight grip from what is certain, from what imprisons your heart or haunts your soul. It likewise redeems who you really are – the real you who follows the soul and not the crowd or what is expected of you.

It can also remind you, through the kindness of the people around and the falling into place of circumstances that everything will turn out fine. Things might be messy or ugly or confusing or just pointless right now, but you will be okay.

 

Dying – Day 2 Thoughts

Going to Mambukal Resort in Murcia from Bacolod City takes about an hour. As I marvel at the scenic views of the sky, mountain and sugar cane fields on my way, I was also reading a good novel. When I reached the resort, I went right away to the office to get me a guide going to the hike for the seven falls.

 

Harvested sugar cane fields x Green fields x Blue hues

I got Nicko, a 23 year old local as my tour guide slash photographer. The hike started with an easy and manageable trail. I got to see beautiful, huge trees that you can’t fully cover in an embrace, bats and wild flowers. And of course, the breathtaking sight that every waterfall gives is such a wonder.

However, after the third waterfalls and a steep hike, I got a sick feeling and decided to rest for a while. My dizzy feeling was probably illuminated on my face and so Nicko asked if I have a heart condition. I lied and said no (my blood pressure soared two weeks ago with no detailed reason).

When my head got heavy and my vision black and blurry, that’s when I told him I can’t probably go on with the hike. He gave me massages on my fingers and hand until I was feeling okay and I did turn out fine, guys. But when the whole thing was happening, the thought of dying is rushing in my mind.

My last sight if ever I died. Ganda no?

I thought about my parents, of how much heart break I will give them if I died right there; my sister who would probably scold me over and over until the very end; and my soul mate who would perhaps end up searching everywhere but to no avail, I died already. 😀

Today I realized that turning a year older is indeed a celebration of thanksgiving for this beautiful life. Yes, beautiful, no matter how your circumstances right now looks like. If we could only marvel at the beauty of our scars that made us stronger, the beauty of being alone that made us know ourselves better, and the beauty of disappointments that make our faith grow wider – then we’ll see, life is a wonder.

 

Returning – Day 3 Feelings

I woke up in the middle of the night on day 3, probably because of the number of people keeping me in their thoughts on my birthday. Haha!

I thought this whole traveling alone thing is scary, I thought. But going back is what scares me the most now.

Maybe I am just one lazy person who doesn’t want to go back to work anymore or maybe I want a different situation when I come back – something I am still pondering on today.

Anyhow, it takes bravery to return to reality again!

 

I realized that this is quite a read! So let me finish by saying, I tried to wander off and get lost. All I got were wonders and finding, loving myself over again.

*apir!

 

Get Lost

There is  thrill in getting lost – the surprising, unknown landscapes to behold, the hidden part of yourself surfacing, the thoughts you have finally had the courage confronting. From the discreet ‘wow’ for the sceneries that meet the eyes to the inaudible ‘uh oh’ whenever taking the wrong turn, surely, getting lost is one of my most favourite teachers.

Figuratively, getting lost allows me to stop and think to gain better perspective. It makes me pray harder on my knees to hopefully open the right door and go right through it with wholeheartedness.

Literally, getting lost makes me feel panic and excitement at the same time. It creates little conversations in my head and stores wonderful memories in my mind.

Today is about literally getting lost in the safest place I have been to and our birthday celebrator – Singapore!

 

Lost in Bras Basah

In April 2016, I did one of the noblest acts a sibling can do (hahaha!). I accompanied my sister to SG to help her settle in a new house there. (Although she would probably argue that I wasn’t helpful enough.) On our fourth day, while she was fixing documents with the Ministry of Manpower, I decided to see some parts of the city on my own. With map on hand, I hopped on the train and got off in Bras Basah. I intended to go to the National Museum of Singapore. At first, I was confident that I would find it easily on foot. Then after hours of walking and checking out some amazing architecture along the way, I realized I might be lost.

It was a hot day and so I thought of giving up already. I have seen a lot of places anyway – I saw the National Design Center building, St. Joseph Parish and convent along Victoria Street, the National Gallery, and the colourful Old Hill Police Station turned into Ministry of Information, Communication and the Arts (MICA) Building. (I love saying Ministry, it’s like I’m in Harry Potter. The Philippines used to call it Ministry too, I wonder what caused the change.)

 

MICA Building
MICA Building

However, if I go back to our temporary home in Eunos, I felt that I will also be taking with me the badge of defeat. And so I pursued, asked some strangers and walked a little bit mooore. I was ecstatic when I finally found it!

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Such joy to finally find the sign!
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The National Museum facade 🙂

 

My visit was timely for the visiting/four-months-only Treasures of the World Exhibit of the British Museum. The exhibit features objects from 800,000 thousand years ago up to year 2013.  I also learned about the rich history of Singapore from the 14th century where it was first mentioned to have a thriving trading port to being a British colony to Japanese occupation to its merger with Malaysia and to its independence in 1965.

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After touring the entire museum, I faced the challenge of hopping on the right bus number to go home. Haha!

 

Lost in Tiong Bahru

In my second visit in the country, I already prepared an itinerary of the not so usual places I want to see. I even prepared questions to ask should I bump into Singaporean singer-songwriter Corrine May (would you believe, I send her a couple of messages on Instagram and through email to ask her?! Hehe) Believe me, I have rehearsed a lot of details in my mind. 😃

Part of my prepared itinerary is a visit to the quaint neighborhood of Tiong Bahru. I went there while my sister went to her usual day at school. While on the train, I was thinking what awaits me there. I was also thinking if I can find the bookstore I saw on Instagram since I have no phone to search with.

I got off the Tiong Bahru train station and found a mall outside. I instinctively went to the farther side where I think a magical bookstore can be found. On my way, I asked an Aunty if I was on the right direction and she confirmed that I was.

When I reached the street where there are a handful of restaurants and cafés, I felt I was near already. After half an hour of walking around, I could not find what I was looking for. I met a Filipina on the way and asked her about the local bookstore, she told me to go to the mall where I have come from, probably thinking of a different bookstore or place.

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An alley in Tiong Bahru

 

I kept looking at my watch because I was going to meet a dear friend for lunch. And I don’t want to be late to our ‘tagpuan’ (meeting place) because, again I have no phone to send SMS with. I decided to just return to the train station and go straight to Chinatown for our meeting.

When I noticed that I will be quite early, I got off in Little India and stride along the colourful structures in it. Hehehe! Little India does not only offer a lot of sceneries but also several merchandise for shopping enthusiasts. I wish I was hungry enough to grab something Indian to eat, but I don’t want to be full for my lunch date.

 

My friend Minnie and I had lunch in Song Fa Bak Kut Teh where the popular Chinese soup called Bak Kut Teh is being served. The dish’s name literally means ‘meat bone tea.’ It’s unli-sabaw right here 😀

Minnie searched the way to the Tiong Bahru bookstore for me and instructed me which bus to take after lunch. Yes, I never gave up with my search. I photographed the map so as not to get lost again.

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Bak Kuh Teh and chikin feet
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Directions!

 

So, I reached the place again, the same place I visited earlier, only this time, I walked farther and finally found the hall of stores I was looking for. There was a children’s bookstore there which did not allow taking of photographs. There was also a novelty store of everything cute called Strangelets. There was, of course, BooksActually, the indie book store that sells classic and home grown authors. The bookstore also sells vintage trinkets, stationery and postcards, and has cats as part of the team. Cool!

I had the bookstore all by myself for a time and so I browsed through everything. I bought an Alain de Botton book and read it right away at Tiong Bahru Café. The day was such a sweet experience!

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Magical moment! I could live here.
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All by myself
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The book and may pastry take away have the same colors! Reading at Tiong Bahru Cafe

 

Looking back now to these two experiences, I can say that I get braver each time I am lost. I guess that’s what getting lost teaches us – that everything is figureoutable (Forleo, 2016). Getting lost may give us the rush and fear, but it also gives us confidence that we shall find our way soon.

So here’s me ending with, don’t be afraid to explore and get lost!

And yeah, Singapore is a great place to get lost in. 😉

 

 

Another ‘F’ arrives in CAMANAVA

No classes. Will there be an announcement of ‘No classes?’

The rain poured hard the previous day and so my classmates and I were exchanging text messages inquiring if there will be suspension of classes. After all, our university is no foreigner to floods and inaccessible roads. However, no announcement came and we all knew what it meant – we still have to go to school.

In school, a short conversation ensued between me and my friend:

Catherine: Kumusta Nerisa? Binaha ba kayo? (How are you, Nerisa? Was your house flooded?)

Me: Hindi kami binabaha, yung ibang barangay lang na malapit sa ilog ang binabaha sa’min. (We do not experience extreme flood in our area, only those areas near the river get flooded.) How about you?

Catherine: Well, hindi naman baha sa bahay namin, duon lang sa dinaanan ko, hanggang bewang ang baha. (There’s no flood in our house but on my way home, I got to traverse to a waist-deep flood.) But there’s this cute guy who assisted me to get through (giggles).

Me: (Though I want to be interested with the cute guy, I have to ask first -) Waist-deep flood? Is that even real? Where is your house located again?

Catherine: Valenzuela.

 

My good friend Catherine was the one who introduced me to extreme flooding in Valenzuela and in its neighboring cities, Caloocan, Malabon and Navotas.

Collectively called as CAMANAVA, the cities have low-lying flat terrains and are frequently affected by interconnected rivers like the Tullahan River. The cities are also located in the northern part of the Metro Manila Bay. All these factors contribute on how CAMANAVA is almost synonymous with the word flood. However, there are some other good things that can be found in CAMANAVA.

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A bus braves waist-deep flood in Marulas, Valenzuela, after the nearby Tullahan River swelled due to heavy rains brought by Storm Maring. PHOTO BY MARK CAYABYAB  (Photo and caption from Google: valenzuela.gov.ph)

I no longer remember the occasion, but an officemate went to work with large pizza-like boxes one day. (It wasn’t her birthday, maybe she got a raise.) When I opened the box, I thought I was going to see slices of pizza. But what I saw is a rice cake swirled in circle and has different colors! I ate it and it tasted good as its looks!

If you’ve tasted it already, you know that I’m referring to the delicious and colorful Dolor’s Kakanin of Malabon!

My officemate introduced me to ‘Dolor’s’ which happens to be my favorite already ever since I was younger, I just didn’t know the name. haha!

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Photo from Google (casaveneracion.com)

CAMANAVA does not only have the famous Dolor’s Kakanin and the pansit but also boasts of famous nooks for food lovers like Phetron Restaurant in Navotas, Little Beijing Chinese Cuisine in Valenzuela and the City Cake Coffees and Pastries of Caloocan.

Nonetheless, CAMANAVA does not and will never begin with floods and end with foods just like that. Something bigger and better will invade this densely populated area of Metro Manila.

 

Starting September 3, 2015, The FEAST, the weekly Catholic gathering of The Light of Jesus (LOJ) Family, will be embracing CAMANAVA to bring inspiring talks, lively worship and God’s joy.

FSANGANDAANAD2

 

With this additional family added to the LOJ community, I can’t help but reminisce the first time I attended the Feast in our town in Bulacan in 2010. (It was also the first day of The Feast!)

It was July 2010, more than a year since I finished College and also a year since I started looking for a job. I just also came out then from the hospital, physically, emotionally and spiritually drained. I felt hopeless after so many job interviews and job hunts. I felt helpless that I was already jobless and yet incurred another expenses to our family.

The Feast helped me get through my situation, little by little. As every series ended, I kept on asking a servant if there will be another series. Will there still be a Feast next week? was my question to the servant e-v-e-r-y Saturday. And the servant just keeps on saying yes. The Feast in our town keeps on coming every weekend until I was able to stand on my feet again and earned my first job.

The Feast introduced me to Jesus more. From then on, my life, no matter how hard it can get at times, remains beautiful and worth living. 😊

I was jobless then and it seemed like no company would like to have me. An insurance company even rejected me twice! (I applied again after six months because I thought they made a mistake. I mean, how can they not take me? Hahaha! I forgive them now. haha!)

Today, I work for and with the topmost official of a corporation, as in President and CEO. How is that for a story? 😉

 

I am excited to hear and write more stories of victory, love, joy and mercy with The FEAST CAMANAVA at SM Sangandaan!

I am excited to witness how lives will change in these cities!

C’mon everyone, let’s taste and see how the Lord is good and faithful. See you on Saturday, 5:30 pm at Cinema 4 of SM Sangandaan.

Spread the news!

 

 

 

Provincia de Tawi-Tawi

Note: This will not be another travel blog with hotel and food ratings or recommendations where to go since I was only able to visit the place on official business, meaning, I was there to work. I was just blessed to squeeze in, as in squeeze in, some side fun trips.

 

The first time my officemate Cariz asked me to join the trip in Bongao, Tawi-Tawi was also the last time. I said yes right away. Though I had bits of apprehension, my curiosity about the province pervaded.

On Sunday before our trip, I asked my Light Group (friends from the Feast Bay Area) for their prayer that we may be safe in Bongao. After all, I don’t know what lies in the most southern tip part of the country. Will there be armed men like what the media tries to portray at times of the places in Mindanao? Is there a comfortable place? Will it be safe?

My day in Bongao went so fast that I forgot my little apprehensions. The truth is, my only worry was taking a bath with the hotel’s water supply. It was as if the water was recently pumped straight from the soil. The water was grainy but it’s safe to take a bath with. I would recommend though bringing extra bottles of water for brushing teeth and washing face. Anyway, I am not sure if it’s the same with other hotels, maybe not.

Going back, my boss, officemates and I took the first flight to Tawi-Tawi from Zamboanga City. We arrived in the island’s small and simple airport at around 8 am. There was no conveyor for the luggage and so we had to wait for them in a huge cart and try not to grab a stranger’s luggage.

After a quick breakfast in the hotel (our friend and tour guide Ms. Lisa was in a hurry because she wanted us to have more time to tour around the place), we headed to our first destination – to the town’s electric cooperative. (By the way, I work at the National Power Corporation, the government agency mandated to power up the farthest islands in the country. The corporation operates 291 small power plants in 207 municipalities across 35 provinces in the Philippines. Yeah, I could recite facts like this with eyes closed. 🙂 )

In the bus on our way to the coop, my hands were itching because I wanted to take photos of the streets but I can’t open the painted window! Then I saw  Atty. Patrick parking a motorcycle when we arrived in the coop’s office, I have to catch a ride with him, I thought, for the sake of good photos.

The dialogue with the electric coop lasted for maybe two hours. While I take photos of the meeting, we were also eating more delicacies and hearing stories about the place from the employees there.

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Cariz eating Pitis. It’s like our typical kakanin but with coconut bits inside.
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Lyza being enlightened on what is it like in Sitangkay. hehe. 

After the dialogue was my boss’ visit and interaction with the personnel of Bongao Diesel Power Plant which is just a stone’s throw away from the coop.

For me, it’s really inspiring to meet the corporation’s employees in the islands. They do not have the convenience of the city/Manila but they still give 100% service to the people. Imagine, plant heads from the small islands of Tawi-Tawi had to travel for hours on boat just to meet us in Bongao. Sitangkay for instance is four hours away.

The next destination was the Power Barge located in Barangay Lamion. We rode motorcycles to capture photos of the streets going there. My boss meanwhile got busy talking with the employees of the barge. I took photos of the discussion, took notes of the statements for my story, downloaded photos in the laptop and tried to write the story in my mind to upload it on the corporation’s Facebook page within the day. This was my routine every event. Yes, it was like juggling colorful balls, except that I was not trying to be funny. hihi.

Lunch was next. But before that, Atty. Pat and I drove for an extra mile to take photos around. We stopped by in an area by the sea to just capture photos of the wood houses and DIY foot bridges. While one kid was shy to have his photo taken, a family did not only strike a pose but also welcomed us in their homes.

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The half-shy, half-willing -for-a-photo boy.
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This family welcomed us in.

We wouldn’t be returning soon for lunch if it wasn’t for the man behind me fetching us. hehe. 😊

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Behind me is the famous Bud Ponga/Bongao Peak.

We grabbed a quick bite so that everyone who waited for us can go back to the hotel to freshen up. The forum with the local government unit and some stakeholders starts at 2 pm.

After a swift rest in the hotel, we headed to the provincial capitol for the forum. But again, Atty. Pat and I went again for a visit in another street. We went to the street where big boats are being constructed.

The forum went for three hours. I did my juggling routine again to be free to roam around the place after. 😊

The motorcycle ride after the forum brought us to more faces of the place and the locals.

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Refueling for longer ride.
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Taken from the capitol grounds where one can view the Bongao town.
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Posing with the boat makers’ kids.
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Overtime work (it was already 5:30 pm)

For dinner, Governor Nurbert Sahali prepared a sumptuous buffet with the best pieces of seafood the town has. But more than the food, Tawi-Tawi’s culture was presented to us through songs and dances. It was a great night to top off our day.

Tawi-Tawi is just like any other province, there is a distinct place, a special delicacy and of course, its people. But unlike other provinces, Tawi-Tawi is a peaceful place where both Christians and Muslims live together, a warm place where everyone you see smiles and waves back at you (I kept smiling and waving at strangers while riding the motorcycle! haha), and a place of beautiful beaches and mountain.

Tawi-Tawi made me feel I was living in my early years again as a kid when life was simpler. I want to come back there again, this time for pure pleasure.

Tara, let’s come to Tawi-Tawi! 😊

I’m Moving In with the Girls and I’m Freaking Out

The traffic in Metro Manila has gone terribly bad these past few months. I know I don’t need scientific calculations or evidence to back that up since everyone has experienced the traffic’s ill-effects in one way or the other. In the morning, I need to get up at 5 am sharp to avoid getting late. When I beg my alarm clock for 5 more minutes, I would already be playing tango with the traffic. In the afternoon after office hours, I would spend a whopping three hours of travel from the office to our home in Bulacan. Did I mention I just work in Quezon City near Eton Centris? I couldn’t imagine the hell some people who work in Pasig or Makati area go through every single day of their working life. How I envy the other country’s public transport!

This now leaves me and my office mates in considering, actually, we are already pushing through of renting a condo unit near the office. Officemate A just won’t get healed from her persisting cough and so she needs a lot of rest while Officemate B also spends quite long hours in commute. I don’t know if they initially wanted me to join them since it was only by chance that I got to accompany them in surveying the condo unit. I also don’t know if living near the office is something I want. Nonetheless, I said yes to them and I am now freaking out.

I said yes without battling an eyelash though I made them see my apprehensions. (Ang gulo ko ba? Haha!) First, I don’t know if we could work out as housemates since we have different and dynamic personalities. Though I have told them directly that I can be extremely introvert at times, I still have lots of cards on my sleeves that they will only get to see once we live on the same roof. (This now sounds like I turn into a monster at night. Well, I can’t explain it further but I know some will get it.) I need quiet times a lot, I wanted to tell them. Also, please don’t laugh at me when I talk by myself at times.

Second, I remember the first time I lived outside of my home maybe five years ago. It was in Makati where I lived with my college friend and her sisters which is the best part. The hard part was the anxiety I experienced and the urge for me to go home every day. I remember I would always render over time at work just to stop myself from going home in Bulacan and I would also go in the comfort room to cry my heart out. I have many more reasons to freak out but maybe to sum them up, I’m just scared if I will survive emotionally and gastronomically.

I wanted to prolong the process of thinking over the choice I made through a list of pros and cons. But I know, it will also prolong the worry and the agony of thinking things over and over. To cut the process short, I just tell myself this: YOU ARE NOT GOING TO DIE FOR THIS.

Living out of my home and my comfort zone can make me experience a different kind of learning. It can make me see some portions of myself that I have never seen before. It can make me arrive at ideas I have never thought of.

I can try this today and if I don’t like it, I can always go home.