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This Hero’s Hands

For some friends who know I didn’t grew up in a farm, they sometimes find it hard to understand why I love farms and being in a farm. Farming is close to my heart. My grandfather, one of the few good men I so admire for hardwork, patience and generosity, was a farmer. And from his calloused hands his children and his grandchildren have thrived.

The Filipino farmer to me is a hero for his good, hard, honest work.farmer2
It is him who braves the sun and the rain planting rice in the fields so he could bring food to the table.farmerplantingrice
It is him whose strong hands till the barren lands and turn them into bountiful fields with golden stalks of life.farmer
It is him whose rough, thickly calloused hands work hard to feed the country.farmers_thresher
It is him who, at the end of a tiring day, skin burnt by the scorching heat of the sun or drenched by the heavy rain, goes home to his wife and children and holds them in his arms.farmer3
When you look at a farmer’s hands, you will see that his love for his family and for his country is etched in his strong, rough, thickly calloused hands.

I dedicate this post to all the Filipino farmers, whose lives may have been a little bit easier had not the 728-million pesos fertilizer fund been scammed by some greedy reptiles.

(with gratitude to Miruko and DOT)

Posted 8 years, 10 months ago at 7:40 pm.


The City in a Forest

I love visiting the province of Palawan and its capital, Puerto Princesa City. Perhaps it is the simple and easy pace of life. Perhaps it is the richness of nature that I see in and around its city limits. Perhaps it is the people. Whatever it is, a visit to Palawan always makes me realize how pleasant it is to be in the Philippines. I always leave Palawan refreshed and enriched beyond words from my stay.

I was in Puerto Princesa again last weekend and enjoyed my short stay even though it was raining. I noticed that the city government has a new campaign to show its love and concern for the environment. It now dubs itself “The City in a Forest.”

True to its claim, the city of Puerto Princesa is teeming with verdant trees. The streets are lined with big trees.
puertoprincesa1puertoprincesa2puertoprincesa3puertoprincesa4Looking at these pictures, it is hard to believe that Puerto Princesa once suffered from heavy commercial and illegal loggings. But the Palaweños were able to revive the forest that they have once lost. While other cities in the country were building structures, Puerto Princesa was planting trees.

Today, Palaweños keep a heightened passion for the environment, participating in many activities aimed at promoting a healthy environment and saving Mother Nature. One such activity is the “Feast of the Forest,” a planting program which annually registers no less than 30,000 participants.

I admire the Palaweños for their sense of commitment to saving the environment and caring for their future. How I wish people from other provinces will follow their example.

So long, Puerto Princesa….till we meet again.

Posted 8 years, 10 months ago at 1:57 pm.


Pens of Hope

image from www.bbc.co.uk

Sometimes we take pens and pencils for granted. But for some unfortunate but beautiful children, these are very special things. These can make life in school a little better, a little easier.

A few years ago, I visited a school in my home province and noticed that some kiddos go to school without any writing instruments. In one classroom, I noticed a child writing with a pencil about 2.5-inch in length. Imagine how difficult it is to write with a writing instrument of that length!

It made me sad to see those children in that situation. In spite of the government’s effort, there are still many poor families in my province. These families struggle between between buying meals and buying pens and pencils (and other school supplies). Meals always win, and pens and pencils (and other school supplies) take the backseat. But I was consoled by the fact that at least they still manage to attend school instead of dropping out.

So today I am launching this little project called Pens of Hope. It aims to gather as many pens as possible. I know that the pens will not sustain their education but they will remember the kindness of strangers who sent them pens and pencils. I, too, was a recipient of so many acts of kindness from strangers. Born into a poor family, it wouldn’t have been possible for me to finish school without the help of some strangers. Their acts of kindness gave me hope and encouragement. I am sure your help will also give the children in Northern Samar hope and encouragement.

I welcome everyone who is willing to help. You can give one pen, two pens, any number. Doesn’t matter how many. Doesn’t matter what kind of pens and pencils. I will give proper documentation on the pens that I receive and on the distribution process so you can see where your pens go.

Please note that Pens of Hope does NOT accept money and is not affiliated with any political or religious group. This is also pure voluntary work and is free from any economical motive and interest.

If you would like to help these kids you may:

1. Send pens or pencils to:

P.O. Box 16
Post Office, Bgy. Dalakit,
Catarman Northern Samar

2. Put a Pens of Hope badge on your blog. You may get a badge here.

3. Tell others about Pens of Hope.

Maraming, maraming salamat po! (Thank you very much!)

1. First batch of pens was distributed on Dec. 19, 2008 — please click here and here to see smiling faces.

2. Second batch will be distributed in June 2009 — Please note that instead of pens, it will be more helpful to send pencils this time because the recipients are preschoolers and Grade 1 pupils.

Posted 8 years, 10 months ago at 5:31 am.


Loose Change

Sometimes, we tend to take our loose change for granted. Sometimes it seems that loose change have no use for us anymore. Barya lang kasi. We just stick them into our pockets, bring them out when we get home, put the loose change somewhere in the house, and forget where we have put them. Most often, loose change just ends up under the sofa cushions, on top of dressers, and in the consoles of cars. But for some people in my province, loose change means life.

One time I was traveling from Manila to Northern Samar, I had a pleasant very early morning trip while on board a ferry from Matnog, Sorsogon to the port of Allen. The sea was calm and quiet. The air was cold. I easily fell asleep.

More than an hour later, I was awoken by the loud sound of the ferry’s horn. I also heard heavy splashes in the water so I peeked out of the window and saw children swimming and diving. The children were really good swimmers, I think we could find swimming champs from among them.

But this is not all for fun. These children swim and dive for a living. Some of them have stopped going to school and instead spend most of their time waiting for ferries to dock.

Once a ferry docks, they would ask the passengers to throw coins from the deck into the water. Then they would dive in, hoping to get enough coins to help bring food to their family’s table. The more adventurous ones would show some daredevil antics, climbing up the ferry and leaping or somersaulting into the water to get the tossed coins.

Seeing these children, I wondered how long they had to stay in the cold water to earn an amount that’s enough to buy a decent meal for the day. Then I thought of how we take for granted the value of our loose change. I wish we’d all see how these children risk life and limbs for a couple of coins. I’m sure we’ll never look at our loose change the same way again.

My heart sank as I watched these sunburnt children bobbed their head up and down the water. I turned my eyes away from the seashore, towards where the sun was beginning to rise over a ridge of mountains. Somehow, the calming orange beams of the sun created a distraction and soothed my heart.

Posted 8 years, 10 months ago at 10:36 am.