"a caterpillar doesn't just grow into a butterfly. a caterpillar must undergo metamorphosis, and a cocoon is where a caterpillar risks it all: enters total chaos, undergoes total rebuilding, and is born to a new way of living. only in taking the risk of entering that inert cocoon can the caterpillar go from dormancy to potency, from ugliness to beauty."

Saturday, September 30, 2006

the storm and my little adventure

"It is only in adventure that some people succeed
in knowing themselves - in finding themselves."

--André Gide

haha. i'm so proud of myself. i braved the storm! i braved the storm!

i went out alone while milenyo (international name: xangsane) was raging and saw with my own two eyes how big, big branches cracked off and fell to the ground and how a lot of them effectively blocked the campus roads. i went out and experienced the fury of the winds that successfully uprooted many big, big trees which had no choice but to kiss the earth after losing their hold on the ground which had nourished them for so long.

i had my umbrella with me the whole time that i was out (about two hours) but judging at how drenched i was by the time i got back to the comforts of my dorm, my five-fold umbrella was good as useless. the winds directed the rains and the leaves in all directions, so no matter how i positioned my umbrella, the waterdrops got to me... and blurred my vision. right there and then i toyed with the idea of having my eyeglasses fitted with miniature windshield wipers.

i found it difficult to walk the short distance between the shopping center and my dorm... the winds were too strong and branches were falling all over. the perils of third-world living got represented by the sight of electrical cables too exposed to the falling branches! fortunately, none of them wires got cut while i was making my way to safety. la la la... lucky!

while i was temporarily taking shelter under a waiting shed, a strong gust of wind came by and almost knocked me and the other fellas around me down. that made us share nervous laughter.

"welcome to survivor philippines!" i heard one guy say in a mocking manner. seconds after, the wind caught his umbrella and he had no choice but to battle for control. it was in vain -- his umbrella ended up resembling a mangled satellite dish! call me bad, but that sight amused me. hell has no fury like a woman scorned? maybe hell has no fury like an underestimated storm.

too bad i did not have a high-end digital camera with me... even if i was clearly aware of the dangers, i was tempted to take pictures and document what i was seeing and experiencing. good thing i did not give in to that temptation -- i did not have the means to.

too many green leaves scattered on the ground. howling wind. heavy rain. cracking and falling branches (big, big branches). uprooted trees (small and big, big trees)... natural chaos. i thought i'd only get to read it in magazines and books and see it in mayhem movies. i never thought i'd experience it first-hand.

i found it thrilling to be out there and really experiencing the storm. (a different kind of trip, i must say!) at one point, i was tempted to try playing in that rain (okay, storm!) and just be unmindful of what others will say... but, of course, i thought better and focused on returning to my dorm in one piece. i had no wish to be mistaken for a complete lunatic!

don't worry, i won't do it again. i got scared, too, you know. once is enough.

uh, maybe.

the calm after the storm...

p.s. we have been forced to go back to stone age living -- electricity has not yet been restored to the campus. from the grapevine, we heard that the outage might last 'til sunday. uh oh. i don't wanna go through another boring and very dark night.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

death has a purpose...

"teng wala na si lolo."

this was the message that i got from my youngest sister at 12:26 am (philippine time) last sunday.

the moment i read the message, i couldn't help but cry. i did not know which of my two sick lolos died but my tears just flowed... sadness can be so instantaneous, death is such a thief.

before last sunday, i had four living grandparents. now, i only have three. my lolo, my father's father, has been taken away.

the last time i really experienced death in the family was back in 1989, when my cousin ayn died of brain tumor at the age of 6. i lost my very playmate, the only girl cousin (from my mother's side) who was about my age. it happened when i still couldn't understand death.

this is only the second time that i have to deal with the death of a loved one. i already forgot this kind of pain, why do i have to be reminded? and at a time when i'm so far away? ugh, this is what i hate about being away -- sad news is sad news several-fold.

...but i shouldn't feel too sad. my lolo had a good life. he lived 'til 84, was a hardworking farmer and excellent cook, had 12 kids (2 from his first wife who died, 10 from his second wife), and had been a good grandfather to i-lost-count-how-many grandchildren and great grandchildren.

i just have to accept that it's really his time to go. he's been sick for quite a while already -- he couldn't even remember my name.

"anak ka ni boy" was all that he said the last time i asked him for my name. he thought about it but my being "anak ni boy" was all that he could recall. this was last december. it's now september and he's already gone.

he used to glug tuba... used to chew nga-nga... used to do the lechon for his grandkids' birthdays (just so we could have yummy lechon during our birthdays even if money was scarce)... used to help out in those handaan... these and more will be what his family and friends will remember about him...

i'll always remember him biking his way to the public market just so he could buy me toothbrush -- a yellow toothbrush.

p.s. death has a purpose... sadness i suppose.

ecija then pampanga

"It’s time now to sing out, though the story never ends..."
-- Seasons of Love, RENT

yey, another TOSP-AC LTS for this semester! first, the team got invited by divine word college in albay. next, we got a request from central luzon state university in nueva ecija. then, we got another invitation... from angeles university foundation (AUF) in angeles city, pampanga!

from albay (i wasn't able to go due to conflict of sked, huhu), to nueva ecija, to pampanga, to...

AUF's 09.21.06 youth power four: a one-day LTS

AUF LTS: another worthwhile learning experience!

team of 6: jake. val. bandoy. braggy. maida. jeff.

team pampanga. team sisig! (hehe)

hay, the best ang sisig ng pampanga... but i have to restrain myself from eating too much sisig. i've been told that one should eat sisig at most three times in a year only. bad cholesterol.

in this month alone, i know i've eaten sisig more than five times already. ohmaigulai.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

down the river and back to reality

"Keep some souvenirs of your past,
or how will you ever prove it wasn't all a dream?"

--Ashleigh Brilliant

"easy forward!"

"lock your feet!"


these are the commands that still keep ringing in my good head. it has been more than a month since i made my "whim trip" and joined my friends in navigating 12.5 kilometers of the cagayan de oro river... and i'm able to blog about it only now. ha.

19th of august 2006. my sleepless self left diliman on a taxi cab at about 3am. i swung by shaw boulevard to fetch my friend yoni and her "accidental" pet cockroach (which, by the way, we managed to drop off somewhere, haha). then, we headed for makati to fetch athan. from makati, the taxi driver drove us to the manila domestic airport where we caught the first flight bound for cagayan de oro.

08.19.06 travel buddies: athan. yoni. val.

after we got off the plane, we took a taxi ride and met up with our oh-so-hyper friend (and crazy master) haniko in divisoria, cagayan de oro. haniko was more than pleased (read: excited) to see yoni again and she was genuinely and pleasantly surprised to see me -- she looked like a very happy jack-in-the-box! (pardon me for not being able to think of a better analogy!)

with my trip being a mere product of my whim, i wasn't expected to be anywhere in mindanao that day. haniko had no inkling that i'd be joining "the adventure" after all. how could she when weeks before i've already put my foot down and vehemently told everyone that i won't be home 'til october. ho hum, so much for trying to be firm about my decisions. hihi.

08.19.06 reunion of the witches!: val. yoni. "master" haniko.

"the adventure"? let's call it white water rafting. as early as february 2005, haniko already got it planned for us. well, it took us busy witches more than a year to realize the plan...

in divisoria, we waited for rex and his red rafts. rex is haniko's officemate and the operations manager of cagayan de oro river tours corporation. we also waited there for yoni's mommy and younger brother anjik.

08.19.06 photo ops in DD divisoria, cagayan de oro :)

when the "red rafts team" finally arrived, we said our hi's and hello's and signed our respective waivers. nah, don't ask me what was written in the document i signed... to me, it wasn't a waiver -- it was actually a talent contract. ha ha. someday, you'll see my face (along side with yoni's, athan's, anjik's and, of course, haniko's!) gracing one of those rafting ad tarps in cagayan de oro! ang kapal noh?

08.19.06 pre-adventure ritual

from divisoria, yoni, athan, anjik, haniko, and i, joined the "red rafts team" in going to our whitewater rafting adventure's start-off point. we boarded the jeepney and headed for mambuaya, where our day's big adventure awaited us.

08.19.06 having fun in the jeepney!

the riverscape that we saw in mambuaya was breathtaking. the sun was up and dark clouds were nowhere in sight. it was such a beautiful day!!! we stole some time gawking at the scenery and had our pictures taken in front of the cdo white water rafting adventure welcome marker.

08.19.06 adventure marker and the cagayan de oro river

after putting on our rafting helmets and safety vests, all of us waded in the shallow part of the river for our on-the-spot whitewater rafting orientation. we were introduced to the yellow paddles (yoohoo, paddles in my fave color!) and were shown how to properly hold and use them. the guides demonstrated what we had to do when "forward," "backward," "lock your feet," "high five," and "s-paddle" commands are called out.

then, the time came for us to go down the mighty cagayan de oro river. yoni, athan, anjik, haniko, and i got on a raft with our very able and friendly guides, ryan and steve. two of the other members of the "red rafts team" were on another raft with a set of "singkit" guests from manila who had a very cute little boy with them. the rest of the team took a third raft and served as the "rescue guys on standby".

eventhough my thighs ended up badly sunburned, i enjoyed the adventure a lot! it was fun going through the rapids, shouting our hearts out, and waving our paddles in the air with our woohoo's. we covered a 12.5-kilometer stretch of the cdo river, conquered 14 whitewater rapids and not once did our raft overturn -- yes, we're such good paddlers! haha. (for the record, i did not make that one up. our guide ryan actually commented that we're strong paddlers. heehee. had we been lalampa-lampa, our very bodies would have been thrown off the raft and could have hit the big, big rocks. ewww.)

where my rafting skills are concerned, the easiest command to follow is "lock your feet" which meant securing the feet on the sides of the big raft so that nobody will be easily thrown off the water ride. one very enjoyable thing to do with the paddle is the "s-paddle" which meant splashing water towards a target (read: another raft). the "high five!", on the other hand, is the most spontaneous thing one could do with the paddle right after a whitewater is conquered. this involves the act of raising the paddle high up in the air, in celebration and pure exhilaration.

and there's definitely more to the exhilaration and the excitement caused by paddling through the challenging rapids! our whitewater rafting adventure wasn't just about successfully hitting the water and coming out of it alive and in one piece. it was also about shared experiencing. my friends and i worked as a team, witnessed together different facets of nature's pristine beauty in cagayan de oro, and saw what life's like along the riverbanks (cagayan de oro on one side and bukidnon on the other). if you come to think of it, an adventure like that would lose some rewarding joy if there were no lovely sceneries to behold and genuine friends to experience it with!

our rafting adventure ate up only about 3 to 4 hours, but it seemed longer than that for me... perhaps because i enjoyed it so much. the sensory rush one feels while going through the entire adventure makes one lose track of time.

08.19.06 post-adventure photosession
more than 12 kms and 14 rapids after: yey, we did it!

08.19.06 adventure aftermath
back in the jeepney for the ride home...

so where are our whitewater rafting adventure pics? ask haniko! i'll update this article, post our action pics, and share those photos where you can see our group in full rafting gear (with helmets, vests, etc.)... once i get the remaining image files from haniko. weehee!

08.19.06 adventure aftermath: one last set

(1) photos used in this article are courtesy of athan, yoni, val and haniko.

(2) here is haniko's account (complete with rafting photos) of her first whitewater rafting adventure in cdo.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

the great nueva ecija weekend

"When people are inspired,
they do great things."

last weekend was supposed to be a corregidor-subic weekend with my travel buddy yoni and some other friends. however, our plan got botched up by circumstances beyond our control. just as well, something better came up...

the university supreme student council (USSC) of central luzon state university (CLSU) requested our group, TOSP-AC, to help them out in their 9th congress of campus leaders (CCL). we answered their call and last weekend, 10 of us went to the science city of muñoz, nueva ecija to conduct a leadership training seminar (LTS).

team of 10 for a congress of 150

going there...
we left metro manila for nueva ecija last friday evening at about 8 o'clock. we were supposed to leave earlier but the van that CLSU provided for us got caught in the rainy weekend traffic. as a consequence, our team had to wait for quite sometime (4 hours) at the sicilian express in tomas morato for our ride to arrive. from 4pm to the time the van arrived, our group did nothing but eat, laugh, talk, eat, laugh and talk.

side story: we saw what flood's like in tomas morato. when friday evening came, it rained a bit and lo! the street became filled with so much water. i didn't know that tomas morato gets its share of floods.

where was i?

ah yes! on our way to ecija, we made a stopover somewhere in bulacan for more food. we're quite lucky, we parked just in time to witness a very spectacular fireworks show. according to one of the service personnel that i talked to, the wonderful september air display was coming from SM marilao. he mentioned something like "fireworks pasiklaban." ah... a pasiklaban indeed! for quite a time, i was all eyes to the bursts of colors in the night sky -- i almost forgot that we made the stopover for food and refreshments, and not for the fireworks. hehe.

our trip to nueva ecija was loooooong... but it wasn't boring because the group's kinda hyper -- we were talking and joking all the way. our conversations hopped from one topic to another until we started discussing extra sensory perception, third eye, and spooky experiences. too many times, we agreed to change the topic only to mention again gargoyles and not-normally-seen beings just several seconds after. talk about kakulitan! when we made another stopover in one of the towns of nueva ecija for our midnight snack, we still carried on with our "apt-for-the-cold-night topic".

we arrived in CLSU at about 1 o'clock, saturday morning. after thanking the driver, we had a meet-and-greet with the members of USSC who stayed up for our arrival. we were supposed to still conduct an orientation but we were all so sleepy and tired, we begged for rest...

however, our team didn't hit the beds right away when we got to the place where we were housed. we went through our LTS strategies, made last-minute reminders and finalized our tasking.

to say that the 2-day LTS we conducted in CLSU was a success is an understatement.

CLSU LTS 2006: one worthwhile experience

in nueva ecija, we did not encounter palparan, instead we encountered about a hundred and fifty very hyper student leaders who shared the weekend with us despite the other demands in their lives. the LTS was a very fun learning experience for them as well as for us who facilitated the activities. the college kids' enthusiasm and spirit of participation was overwhelming and very inspiring.

eventhough the schedule of the 9th CCL coincided with the CLSU intramurals and cueshe was there (the band stayed just a door away from our room!), we still had good attendance throughout the LTS because the participants chose to prioritize our activities. we gave them our best and they also gave us their best.

all smiles: when things are done with great love!

all the sacrifices, the efforts, and the resources that we put into the endeavor was worth every minute of our weekend stay in nueva ecija. the evaluation that the CLSU campus leaders gave TOSP-AC was also very heartwarming.

more than telling us that we did not waste their time, "super effective po talaga kayo", "di kayo boring magpa-seminar," and "masaya kayong kasama, cowboy pa. marami kaming natutunan," they also encouraged us to continue inspiring more students like them and shared their commitment to do their best shot at being better leaders.

team nueva ecija

personally, i don't regret having jeopardized my "thesis sked" a bit just so i could volunteer for our nueva ecija commitment. our stint in CLSU was very, very worthwhile.

hay, if only funds would allow us to finally bring our LTS to visayas and mindanao...

for now, this is the shout-out: pampanga, you're next! :)

post scripts:
(1) it was great working with the dependable and efficient members of the CLSU USSC.

(2) the team's trip back to metro manila last sunday was fun, fun, fun! we left nueva ecija at twilight and traveled for most of the evening. we were still so hyper despite our lack of sleep that we kept cracking all sorts of jokes -- even those we just merely pulled off from the billboards that we saw along the way.

(3) i printed and submitted my thesis manuscript last monday. that means, i'll be defending my scientific work soon. yes!
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