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Where I Belong

On my recent trip back home, I found myself standing in front of the ocean and listening to my own heart beat one early morning. “I missed this,” I told myself as my eyes traced the to and fro movement of the blue strip of water in front of me and the soothing crashing of the waves put me at ease. The boundless water stretched in glory stood between me and the horizon. Where does the ocean begin? Where does it end? I often wondered about this when I was a child.

As I stood on the wooden bridge watching the graceful unfolding of a new day in the place that raised and nurtured me, I breathed in the familiar salty sea air and said a prayer of gratitude in silence. There is nothing like being in the place that brings memories of summer time, of golden rice stalks, of fishermen arriving at the seashore with smiles on their face, of children giggling during an early morning swim, of days of love and being part of other people’s lives, of being young and life being so simple. I sure miss those days.

This is a place I can always go back to, a place that will always welcome me in its loving embrace, a place that blesses me, a place that is home to the soothing waves that can wash away even my deepest scars, a place where I can hear God’s voice at its loudest.

The light was growing around me and I felt the heat of the sun, signaling it was time to go home and indulge in a hearty breakfast of champorado and daing (I prefer daing over tuyo). Walking back to the town that was slowly stirring from deep slumber, I heard the ocean sing its song once again. I knew it was a farewell song for me.

Posted 8 years, 1 month ago at 6:19 pm.


Pens of Hope: First Distribution in Northern Samar

Dear one and all,

Today I am going to share with you some more pictures taken on the first distribution day.

It was a cloudy day. Most of the children came in white t-shirt. Others, I noticed, came wearing a sando or a colored shirt. They all looked so serious (or curious) like it was the first time they saw a stranger. Most of them were wearing slippers. I was told by their teacher that children are now allowed by the Department of Education to go to school even if they are not wearing uniform or shoes because not all parents could afford to buy them. I think it’s a good decision on the part of DepEd. It just isn’t right to deprive a child of his right to attend school only because he or she isn’t wearing school uniform or shoes.

I started taking pictures of them, hoping that it could solicit a smile. But it was a failed attempt. I continued taking pictures. One of the children noticed that an image registered on the LCD of my camera right after I took each shot. The child walked towards me and pointed to my camera’s LCD curiously without saying a word. I understood what she meant. I showed her the LCD and randomly displayed the images I previously took.

The girl giggled upon seeing the pictures of her classmates on the LCD. Her classmates noticed and they all ran to my side. A few seconds later, I was hearing giggles and laughter and teasing. Thanks to my camera–it was all I needed to make them loosen up. Apparently, it was the first time they saw the digital gadget. They were so amazed seeing that it can display pictures right away.

Time for distribution. Teacher Lourdes asked them to settle down. When she took out the contents of the big bag that I brought, I heard “Wooows” from the children. And then I saw their eyes lit up with excitement, a sense of excitement that I seldom see in adults like me. My heart leapt up with joy.

Here are some pictures I took as the children receive the pencils. Though I prefer pencils only, one blogger had sent out three bags which I raffled off. The children who got them were really, really happy. I wish I had taken a better picture of them receiving the bags. But something went wrong with my focus and the camera had a hard time hunting. The children also got crayons and colored pencils.

Another blogger had sent out a dozen packs of notebooks. It was supposed to be raffled off to 12 children. But when I saw how excited the children were upon seeing the notebooks, I decided to take them out of the packs and distribute.

Each child got one notebook. “Duha na akon notebook!” (I have two notebooks now!”) I overheard one child at the back. I knew it was the voice of a happy child, a proud owner of two notebooks, a new one and his old one, probably his prized possessions. But to a certain extent, I have to admit that what I heard had defeated the joy I had felt earlier on. A first grade child with only two notebooks didn’t seem a great news to me. Perhaps I was looking at the glass half-empty and the child was looking at it half-full.

Thank you so very much everyone–for the pencils, the notebooks, the sharpeners, the scissors, the bags, and the erasers, for the prayers and the well-wishes, for the trust, and for spreading the word about Pens of Hope. I feel a fuzzy warm feeling inside my heart and I want to hug you all. Thank you for joining me on this ride.

With more gratitude than I could ever hope to express,
Miss N


There will be some more rounds of distribution in the months to come. There are still enough pencils to distribute until Christmas.

Posted 8 years, 2 months ago at 3:51 pm.


LP6: Nakakakilabot

Bigas at ulam. Ayon sa mga magulang sa paaralan kung saan ay katatapos ko lamang mamigay ng lapis ng Pens of Hope, ang dalawang ito ay una sa listahan ng mga bibilhin sa araw-araw.

Saka na lamang bibili ng lapis, papel, at notbuk kung may matitira sa badyet. Kung may matitira. Ngunit paano kung wala? Kadalasan ay kulang pa nga ang badyet sa pagbili pa lamang ng bigas at ulam.

Habang nag-aabot ako ng mga lapis at tinitingnan ang mga ngiti sa mukha ng mga bata, iniisip ko kung ilan sa halos isandaang batang nasa harap ko ang magkakaroon ng pagkakataong mapabuting lalo ang kanilang buhay. I could only hope and pray that it will be all of them.

Kung magpapatuloy na ganito ang sitwasyon sa maraming liblib na bayan, tayo ay nahaharap sa isang nakakakilabot na katotohanan: na parami nang parami ang mga batang maaaring hindi magkaroon ng magandang kinabukasan. This appalling truth is looking at us right in the eye, but not too many of us, especially those who have the power and capacity to help alleviate their situation, can see. Or perhaps we can already see it but we just choose to turn a blind eye.

I hope you’ll all feel blessed realizing that you have so much more than what other people have. Maligayang Huwebes sa inyong lahat!

Posted 8 years, 2 months ago at 11:03 am.


7 Hills Elementary School

Hello again, ladies and gentlemen. I know you are all excited to see more pictures. But before that, let me tell you first about the school where the first distribution of Pens of Hope in Northern Samar was held.

This is the 7 Hills Elementay School. It is situated in a sleepy barangay in the town of San Isidro.

Some classrooms have nipa thatch roof. Most classrooms have iron sheets as roof. But I noticed that the iron sheets already have holes and are being eaten away by rust. I did not see a room with ceiling so you can just imagine how it is on sunny days. Probably the students would wish for rainy days instead so it will be cooler. But what about the holes on the roof? This situation is true in many schools in remote places all over the country. I can only hope and pray that the government will do something about it.

This is the particular classroom where the distribution was held. It’s a humble classroom with unpainted walls. It has big windows. I can only assume that the windows were deliberately made big to let in breeze on sunny days. I was told that on windy rainy days, these windows have to be closed to prevent rain water from getting in. Because there is no electricity in the school, the students and the teacher have to endure the lack of light inside the classroom when the windows are closed.

Beside the school is a small river lined with small houses, each sheltered with its own thatched roof or rusty iron sheets. It is good to note that the river is clean and the residents seem to be taking care of this body of water.

From the national highway, a narrow cemented 5-kilometer road stretches all the way to the gate of the school. But for some students who come from the other side of the barangay, they have to endure walking on roads like these. Notice the puddles of water. Imagine walking on these roads on rainy days.

Posted 8 years, 2 months ago at 2:26 pm.


I am Back!

Hello everyone!

I know you all have been waiting for update on Pens of Hope’s first distribution in Northern Samar. I am back from the province with lots of pictures to share. But I have something very, very important to attend to at work today so I have to leave you this picture for now.

It was so much fun being with these kids! However, I couldn’t help but notice the holes on the roof of their room which doesn’t even have a ceiling. And it breaks my heart to imagine what happens inside that room when there’s heavy downpour, or how the children feel on sunny days when the heat of the sun is magnified by the iron sheet.

I will be back for more posts and more pictures. Thank you for bearing with me.

Posted 8 years, 2 months ago at 12:59 pm.