Go, celebrate the gift of life!

You are currently browsing the Las Islas Filipinas category.

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.
02 Guba
03 Guba
04 Guba
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.
05 Guba
06 Guba
07 Guba
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
11 Guba
12 Guba
13 Guba
14 Guba
15 Guba
16 Guba
17 Guba
19 Guba
19 Guba
20 Guba
21 Guba
22 Guba
23 Guba
It was indeed a great day. The rain did not pour despite a typhoon warning in the province. The children headed home happy.
24 Guba
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.


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 3 years, 4 months ago at 3:08 pm.


Get Up and Go!

Bask in the sun. Swim. Let the wind play with your hair.
Enjoy what’s left of summer.

Posted 3 years, 5 months ago at 8:10 pm.



San Francisco in the Camotes Islands made it up to me the next day that I had almost forgotten what I had gone through the day before to get there. I was up early to catch the sunrise and I was not disappointed.

But then came thick clouds, gray ones that looked ominous. I thought it would rain.

Then the sky slowly cleared up,

and gave each and every one of us at the beach a fantastic day!

So here, my dear readers, are some more photos that I hope are enough to convince you to pack your bags and visit the beautiful Santiago Bay in the town of San Franciso, Camotes Islands, Cebuuuuu! (read that with the tone of a beauty pageant contestant haha!)

Posted 3 years, 5 months ago at 3:01 pm.


Going to Camotes Islands: The Rough Ride

Crossing the Camotes Sea with new-found friends

I squinted my eyes as the boat was about to dock. We weren’t docking at a port, I thought to myself. It was just a small strip of shoreline lined with small houses. Our boat had to dock there because it ran out of gasoline.

The place was Barangay San Isidro in the town of San Francisco. We were told by the residents that we had already passed by the place we were actually going to which was Barangay Santiago. They were wondering why the boatmen had to take us to Barangay San Isidro when we could have taken directly to Santiago which was nearer. The residents were also concerned why we dared ride on a very small boat when the sea was rough.

It wasn’t really part of the plan. The plan was to travel from Cebu City to Danao and from there to take the ferry to the port of Barangay Consuelo, also in the town of San Francisco.

But it was Maundy Thursday, a holiday. And everyone was headed to Camotes Islands (okay, that was just an exaggeration). Danao port could have made it to the Guinness Book of World Records for its suuuuuuper looooong queue, and that was just to get what the shipping company call “priority number” before you could buy a ticket. By the look of it, it would be impossible to cross the Camotes Sea by ferry before 10PM, and we were there as early as 8AM.

Another option was to go on a boat. Two men who were traveling with a little girl agreed to go with us. The boat’s charge was split among us.

So off we went on a boat: an itsy-bitsy-teenie-weenie outrigger, so small that two persons cannot sit side by side. I looked at the water as the boatman started off the engine. It was calm and crystal clear. I looked up and saw blue sky studded with soft cottony clouds. It was going to be a peaceful ride, I thought to myself. Or perhaps I was just trying to convince myself because admittedly I do not know how to swim and there was no life vest in the boat.

One hour into the trip, I noticed the waves were getting bigger. The boatmen tried to manage as we were going against the flow of the swell. Then the engine conked out. Once. Twice. Thrice. The boatmen tried to revive it each time. Apparently, a small part of the engine kept loosening.

The waves crashed into the boat many times; seawater splashing up on us. I held on tightly to my backpack which I put in front of me. I covered it with my jacket to protect my camera.

The fourth time the engine stopped, the boatmen told us we ran out of gasoline. Luck was still on our side because we were already near the shores of San Francisco. The boat made it to Camotes Island safely. The three and a half hours trip left my things wet. Everything. Except my camera which I wrapped in a small plastic sando bag.

The next day, a habal-habal took us around the town of San Francisco. The driver told us some tourists from Manila also dared to go to Camotes on a boat the same day we took the trip, only that they left Danao a few hours later than we did. The boat capsized as it was nearing the shore. Fortunately, everyone was safe as people from a nearby resort came to the rescue.

Next post: Santiago Bay

Posted 3 years, 5 months ago at 3:07 pm.