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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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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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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.
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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 years, 4 months ago at 1:03 pm.


One Monochromatic Day

It was a day with sporadic drizzles. The sky was overcast, not deep blue. There isn’t much going on in this photo, but lately I am having this fascination for monochromatic pictures. Hence this post.

Looking at the photo, the bare scene struck me. Somehow I was reminded once again of the beauty of this thing called simplicity.

Posted 4 years, 4 months ago at 6:02 pm.


Pinusilan Rock Formation: A Hidden Gem in My Old Backyard

Yes, there is a hidden gem in my old backyard and locals call it Pinusilan. Here it is:

From afar, it looks like other ordinary rock formations. But there’s more to it than meets the eye. Pinusilan is a hidden gem.

The ideal time to visit Pinusilan is when the tide is low. It can be reached just by walking from the shoreline for about 5-10 minutes.

Once there, you have to do some hiking going up the rock formation. Don’t worry, it’s an easy hike. Even children can manage the terrain.

The beauty of Pinusilan lies “inside” it, something which you would never think exists just by looking at it. You see, Pinusilan has a “crater” which looks like a pool with very inviting turquoise water.

What’s more interesting about it is that the water moves up gently when the waves below the rock formation moves forward toward the shore and moves down gently when the waves “pull back” from the shoreline. So ganun lang nang ganun lagi. The water in the “crater” moves up and down with the movement of the waves to and from the shoreline.

The other side of the rock formation offers a clear view of the water below it. When you’re swimming inside the “crater” it looks like you are swimming in an infinity pool with the ocean below.

So, where is this hidden gem located? The Pinusilan Rock Formation is located in Barangay Magtaon in the town of Mapanas in Northern Samar where I spent a good number of my humble but happy childhood years. “Pinusilan” is a Waray word which means “pinagbarilan” or ” a place where a gun was fired.” Don’t ask me because I have no idea how the place got its name. It has always been called “Pinusilan” ever since I can remember.

Pinusilan awaits visitors. However, as of this writing, there are no nearby accommodations available. Mapanas, a 5th class municipality, unfortunately, has no lodging inns yet.

Posted 4 years, 9 months ago at 8:34 pm.


Motoring + Boating. More Fun in Laoang!

Posted 4 years, 10 months ago at 10:39 am.


From a Distance

One night, my brother looked up the sky and, noticing the many stars that smiled ever so brightly, sent me an SMS: “Ate, ituloy mo na ang lakad mo bukas, maganda tiyak ang panahon.”

The next day greeted me indeed with a great weather. It was a perfect day to go out to the sea on this fishing boat…

and enjoy island hopping…..

….until the boat found a strong whirlpool which broke its rudder. A rudder is a blade positioned at the stern of a boat. It helps steer the boat to the desired direction.

“The rudder’s broken. I am so sorry but we did not bring a spare,” said the fisherman at the helm in a calm manner.

The water was relatively calm but I noticed a strong undercurrent which was followed by some counter-undercurrents. We were in a place which is subject to strong curents, whirlpools, and eddies. I am used to traveling in the sea and by how the boat behaved in the few minutes with a broken rudder, it seemed to me that the she was in danger of being swept off her course.

“What do we do now, Manong?” I asked the fisherman.

“We just have to hope for a good wind to carry us to San Isidro,” he replied.

And hope we did. While the fisherman tried to paddle with all his might against strong counter-undercurrents, I prayed. Because admittedly, I was a bit worried. The sun was about to set and I wouldn’t want to be floating in the ocean the whole night.

The fisherman patiently continued paddling. I continued hoping…and praying.

After a while, the sun started its descent, painting the sky with different colors.

Slowly, the blue sky turned into gold with bursts of crimson. Being a fan of sunsets (and sunrises), the scene was such a comfort.

As my eyes traced the sun slowly disappearing in the horizon, I felt a certain lightness in my heart. I was happy. And comforted.

Perhaps, God stalled us for a few hours so we could witness another nature’s beauty.

Perhaps, the magnificent sunset was His way of assuring us that He’s got our back.

He was there. I knew He was there all along—looking down on us from far, far away throughout the entire 5-hour boat ride which would have taken us only an hour with an unbroken rudder.

Posted 4 years, 11 months ago at 7:08 pm.