Go, celebrate the gift of life!

Beyond the Senses

horsetail
Go ahead, flip the switch: Find some place quiet. It is always good to sit in silence and listen to that small voice deep inside of you.

(This humble horsetail from my mother’s garden has recently taught me the value of pausing, breathing, and feeling the moment.)

Posted 1 month, 4 weeks ago at 7:23 pm.

2 comments

A Happy Day in Guba!

For more than 6 years now, we have been going around different schools in the province of Northern Samar, distributing whatever school supplies we can share with children who need them the most.

All these years we have braved the rains, floodwaters, and muddy roads, and crossed rivers and seas just so we could deliver the school supplies you, our dear donors, have trusted Pens of Hope with.

Last January, on the same day Pope Francis visited our neighboring province of Leyte, Pens of Hope headed to Guba Primary School in Barangay Guba, Catarman Northern Samar despite an impending typhoon.

Upon setting foot on the school premises, we noticed this ruin, which turned out to be what remained of a classroom destroyed in December by Typhoon Hagupit (Ruby), considered the second most intense typhoon in 2014.
01 Guba
Before the typhoon, the school only had 2 classrooms serving the school’s population of 75 students. With this one being destroyed, the students would usually be cramped into the only classroom left. There, the teachers would hold multi-grade classes, with only two teachers handling different grade levels all at the same time.
01a Guba
The road to Guba wasn’t smooth and easy, but the eager faces of children waiting for the volunteers made the trip so much more worth it.
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04a Guba
We wanted the children to have a fun-filled day so before we distributed the school supplies, we let the children play games that had them laughing, smiling, and shrieking with excitement.
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08 Guba
It was, however, sad to see most of the children not wearing shoes or even flip-flops. They attend classes barefoot.

Come distribution time, the children were surprised to receive a loot bag with their name on it. In the loot bags were some school supplies, storybooks, and some toys.
09 Guba
10 Guba
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It was indeed a great day. The rain did not pour despite a typhoon warning in the province. The children headed home happy.
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I would like to thank the awesome people from Integreon for sending boxes of school supplies all the way from the UK. We now have more than enough supplies of pens and pencils for another distribution! Special thanks to Miss Teresa for facilitating.

Salamat din sa iyo, Kikit, for the referral. Super big help ‘yun!

Also, big thanks to AC, a fellow blogger who has always supported Pens of Hope since its first year.

Thanks also to Dinah, another generous fellow blogger.

Maraming, maraming salamat sa inyong lahat for blessing the children of Northern Samar with your generosity all these years!
25 Guba
We are preparing for another distribution come end of June or early July. We have about 150 recipients from an island barangay. We are in need of notebooks this time as we still have enough pens and pencils in stock. We are not accepting money, just notebooks. Please feel free to comment if you want to help. Muli, maraming salamat po!

Posted 2 months ago at 1:03 pm.

3 comments

The Road to Guba

(This is first part of two posts on the distribution of Pens of Hope done on January 16, 2015. I am writing about the journey of the volunteers to the recipient school because their journey is in itself a story. Come and join them as they find their way to Guba Primary School.)

The volunteers’ journey started on this concrete narrow road. It was a morning when PAG-ASA announced the entry of Typhoon Amang and Northern Samar was Signal No.1.

On board two motorcycles, the volunteers went on their way. We couldn’t just cancel everything because we knew the kids were excitedly waiting. We just hoped the rain would not fall too soon.

Just a few minutes and they were threading on a dirt road,

which led to a tough road. Any motorcycle driver would have a hard time maneuvering on this kind of road.


So the volunteers had to dismount and proceed on foot,

until the road was good again for another ride.

But then they had to dismount for the second time,

and walk further—

much, much further—

until it was okay to ride again.

Then the ride had to end, because the motorcycles couldn’t wade in mud. The volunteers had to be on foot again and carry with their hands the boxes of school supplies for distribution.

Muds and paddies were everywhere. Going to the school, there is no other route than through this.

So after all the walking in the mud, the volunteers had tired and muddy but happy feet.

Then, they had to cross a river

where they washed their feet and changed from rain boots to slippers.

After crossing the river, they had to walk again on what seemed like an endless narrow road that goes up,

up,

down,

and further down.

Ocassionally, they would meet some people along the way, like this man who was carrying 80 kilos of copra.

And sometimes, they couldn’t help but ask “Are we there yet?” when the road still seemed endless.

They had to walk some more,

and more,

at times passing by houses like this that were almost destroyed by Typhoon Ruby. In these houses live the recipient children.

Then finally, the road ahead revealed the village of Guba.

Near the school, they saw this humble sign that reads “Paaralang Primarya ng Guba” (Primary School of Guba).

They have arrived, indeed.

As they entered the school premises, they were greeted by this Philippine flag, faded and tattered but flying steady and proud, a symbol of the school’s resilience to the challenges of our time.

Posted 5 months, 3 weeks ago at 7:09 pm.

11 comments

Visiting The Pod

The lady seated near the entrance of the elevator asked me, “Going to The Pod?”

I nodded my head and smiled. She swiped a card on something like a card reader and the elevator opened. “Press 16,” she said.

In a few seconds I was already going out of the elevator. And, lo and behold, I found myself in a room with a panoramic view of the island of Singapore and its outlying islands.

I immediately took out my camera and reached for Guyito from my bag. Someone I thought as a library staff approached me. “On clear days, you can see Malaysia and Indonesia from here,” he told me while pointing to the glass panels.


The Pod is an enclosed space on the 16th floor of the Singapore National Library. It was built on the side of the building that faces the sea, offering a spectacular view of the whole city, including the Marina Bay, Central Business district, and Orchard Road.


Unfortunately, The Pod is not open to the public as a viewing gallery. Only those who attend functions and events held there are allowed access.

Posted 1 year ago at 5:57 pm.

11 comments

Bakhaw Beach: Raw, Unspoiled Paradise

“Bakhaw Beach po tayo, Ma’am,” suggested the habal-habal driver, in a tone of excitement, as we rolled along the pleasantly paved main highway of San Francisco, a town in the Camotes Islands, Cebu.

I answered him with a quick “Yes.” Who was I to refuse? He knew Camotes Islands better, and I’m sure San Francisco has a lot to offer. Just the day before, I had a great time frolicking on its famed Santiago Bay. Now I couldn’t wait to explore another one of its beaches.

So we turned left from the main highway and passed through a dirt road lined with coconut palms and bushes. It was reminiscent of the dirt roads we have in my beloved Northern Samar.

When the habal-habal came to a stop, I instantly knew I had found another paradise. Right in front of me was a vast blue skywith streaks of white clouds, a long stretch of white sand lined with coconut palms, and turquoise water just waiting to be enjoyed. The stunning scenery was enough to persuade any visitor to immediately put on his or her favorite stylish swimwear and go right into the inviting water.

Bakhaw Beach is a welcome oasis for weary souls. It is perfect for those who want to escape the daily grind of city life. It is away from a madding crowd, unlike in some well-known beaches. We went there on a holiday and it was a weekend at the same time, but there were only a few locals swimming.

Bear in mind, though, that Bakhaw Beach is a public beach. There are no facilities yet in the area other than some modest cottages that charge PhP100 for use during the day and a resort, at a considerable distance, that offers accommodation. There are also no commercial establishments nearby except for some small stores, so bring your own supplies.

My stay at Bakhaw Beach was short, but I immensely enjoyed it. Simply being there is definitely another addition to my growing definitions of summers. I would love to visit it again, and I hope it remains for many years a beautiful, unspoiled, clean, and quaint place.

Posted 1 year, 2 months ago at 3:08 pm.

9 comments