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.