> Nomadic at Puso

Wednesday, January 24, 2018


 Here's the article I wrote for Project Bahaghari. This was our itinerary and series of activities that we had during the immersion. (Unedited file)

This is not a perfect write up but still, this moved me and left a teary eye. It was so rare for me to write an article or story that can actually make me cry while I read it.

Congrats, self. I am humbly proud of you.


Project Bahaghari: Ikatlong Yugto (Paskong Bahaghari)
Sitio Manabayukan, Capas, Tarlac
Dec. 22-23, 2017

This Christmas of 2017 became so meaningful not only for the Indigenous people of Sitio Manabayukan, Capas, Tarlac but also for all the volunteers of Project Bahaghari, sponsors and donors who made this event so possibly attainable. The receiver and the giver has so much things to be thanked for. So, yes, this is literally a win-win kind of situation for both parties. Blessings over blessings, indeed!
Some of us may already know that ‘Paskong Bahaghari’ is one of the outreach events of this humble, youth and non-profit organization named Project Bahaghari. Paskong Bahaghari is an immersion that usually takes two days on far, secluded and mountainous Aeta or tribal communities. We share gifts, clothes, toys for the kids, Noche Buena and grocery package to hundreds of families. Aside from the gift giving, we also provide a short program and feeding. The short program consists of some Parlor games with gifts as prizes, puppet show and sing and dance activities. This is for the kids and of course people who are kids at hearts can also join.
So why are we doing this?
And we think that the answer is simple. We just wanted to color the world with hope and love!

The Preparation.
It was on the second week of November 2017 when the planning for another outreach event of Project Bahaghari volunteers started. Who could imagine that a simple group chat box created would have a great impact on all the people involved for this Christmas project?
Promotional posters, plans, invites, Marketing strategies were then made to raise funds for the 2017’s version of Paskong Bahaghari.
We are beyond grateful to the power of Social Media, word of mouth, and friends of friends that we were able to collect enough funds and donations that we can share this season of giving. We at Project Bahaghari are so honored to be the bridge that connects the needy and the generous people who has something to give.

Here’s the itinerary that we had for this two-day immersion.

Day 1. December 22, 2017 | Friday

Volunteers had a meet-up at Morayta and Cubao simultaneously at 3 a.m.
The group who met up at Morayta went to Capas, Tarlac through a rented L300 van. This van had the boxes of consolidated in kind donations. While the group who met at Cubao went to Capas via public bus.
Upon reaching Capas, Tarlac and having the complete meet up of volunteers, the group was divided again into two. The first group went to the grocery (RCS Capas Tarlac), to buy bulk goods for the Noche Buena and grocery package.
Each Noche Buena package consists of:
1 Kilo Spaghetti Noodles
1 Kilo Spaghetti Sauce
Corned Beef
Luncheon Meat
Cup cakes

While each grocery package consists of:
3 pcs. Noodles

The second group went to the wet market (Capas Public Market) to buy ingredients for the feeding program and food for the volunteers.

When both group were done buying all the things needed, we then rented a jeep that took us to Kap’s house. Travel time was about thirty minutes.
Gladly and feeling grateful, the grocery offered us a free truck delivery of the goods up to Kap’s house.
We deeply thank Kap for warmly welcoming the whole group on his humble home. He also assisted us on renting 5 units of 4x4 trucks that took us and all the goods that we brought to the mountains of Sitio Manabayukan.
It took us an hour to reach and meet the lovely indigenous people of Sitio Manabayukan. Aside from the rough yet flowery road, river and greeny mountains that filled our eyes, locals didn’t fail to amaze us. They also warmly welcomed us, waves are unlimited and kids surrounded us with plastered smiles on their faces.
We had their church as our temporary base camp. Donations and goods were unloaded from the trailers and then when everything was settled, we had a brief orientation of what would be the other activities for the rest of the day.
Some of the volunteers were assigned to prepare the lunch, some still cleaned up the base camp, while the others happily played with the kids.
By three in the afternoon, we had our late lunch. We didn’t notice time as we were filled with many things to do and this whole amazing experience!
At past 4 p.m., we headed to the river because it’s bath time! It was a short trek going to river and some kids accompanied us. 
After an hour, we went back to the base camp, to dry ourselves and change clothes and started the interview. Volunteers were partnered and each team must interview at least three families.
Through this activity, we felt closer to the families we are going to help, understand more their hard situation and we also had the chance to laugh and cried with their real life stories shared.
If you were going to ask every volunteer who conducted the interviews, for sure, each one has moving stories to tell, and will let you feel that we have so many things to be thanked for. We are a lot fortunate than these poor families living in the mountains of Capas, Tarlac.

Some of the realizations we had that we wanted to share to the world:
For the families living in here, rice is a luxury item and eating three times a day for is already considered a lucky day.
When the water’s river is high during rainy season and tropical depressions, they can’t go downtown to buy food and they will just be contented on edible plants they can harvest anywhere. Most common food that they can depend on are root crops. 
One of the families we interviewed has an income of Php. 2,000.00 per month or 67 pesos per day. As we compute, this is not enough for the basic needs for five members of the family.

But despite of all of the hardships they are going through every day, families here have only simple wishes – and that is to be complete and healthy during their meals.
Having their kids finish school may be already considered as a very ambitious dream, but they still strive to make this come true. Most of the parents haven’t finished or even didn’t had the chance to experience learning so they hope that their children will be able to step out of this hard life they are currently going through by graduating from school.
And we in Project Bahaghari are one with their dreams! We also pray and wished that these kids will be able to finish school and have a better way of life someday because they all deserve it.

At 6 in the evening, we had our dinner first before proceeding with the repacking of bulk goods. We packed 100 Noche Buena package and 100 grocery package.
We also sorted the donated clothes.
Our light supply was only limited but that didn’t stop us from doing things that we needed and wanted to do at the same time. The community doesn’t have stable electrical supply. They depend on the solar panels. 
By 10 pm, we were already done with the packing. Empty boxes spread on the floor of the church served as our sleeping mats. Before going to sleep, we had again a brief orientation of what will be the activities tomorrow. And then all the lights were off. This was a long and tiring yet worthy and happy day.
Time to sleep for we need energy at tomorrow’s main event.

Day 2.  December 23, 2017 | Saturday

The sun wasn’t up yet but volunteers were already awake to prepare the food for breakfast.
Other volunteers cleared and cleaned the base camp.
When breakfast was ready, we prayed and thanked God for everything that we have and for the time that we were able to share our time, love and effort as gifts for these native people that we learned to love in just a short span of time. We filled our stomach first and then later on our hearts will be filled with so much gratitude and happiness.
At 8 in the morning when everyone’s already settled, we had the distribution of claiming stubs for the grocery and Noche Buena package.
We guided the families to fall in line properly. Kids line are separated to parents’ line. 
After the stubs distribution, we then had our program proper. Kids and parents went inside the church.
Some of the volunteers assisted on the program while the others helped in preparing the food for feeding.
Kids enjoyed the parlor games prepared for them. Even the parents joined on some parts of the game. Prizes were given to the winners. Some of the prizes were toys but they were more than happy when our prizes for them are packs of rice, instant coffee and powdered chocolate drink.
After an hour, feeding time followed.
We prepared pancit and macaroni soup for them. Families went home and got back quickly just to get their eating bowls. Some of the volunteers served the food. Then some volunteers served as marshals so there will be a proper line up while the others prepared for the final activity - the distribution of goods.

After eating their meals, the families then lined up again outside the church to finally get their Noche Buena and grocery package, toys and clothes.  Volunteers already know their designated areas of distribution and thankfully, it was a fast and smooth flow of gifts dispersal.
When the distribution was finally done, we then prepared to go home bringing the wonderful experience we had on this immersion.
Christmas is truly Christmas when blessings are being shared.
We deeply thanked everyone who has been part of this project.
To all the donors and sponsors, to all our family and friends who supported us and to all the people who spread the word, shared our campaigning posts, thank you so much! Words will never be enough to thank all of you.

Angao, Aeta! Wuhoooooo!

Maraming Salamat po!

-Project Bahaghari Team

Holiday Hike: Laiban, Rizal (Mount Lubo, Mount Ngusong Kabayo, Mount Tangwa and Laiban Falls)

Nov. 30, 2017 | Thursday
Laiban, Tanay, Rizal

Thank you to Travel Guide for the itinerary that we got for this trip.

It was holiday – Bonifacio Day so we took the chance to spend our off from work on a day hike at Laiban, Tanay, Rizal.
Our itinerary for this day:
Mount Lubo
Mount Ngusong Kabayo
Mount Tangwa Peak
And traverse to 4 Laiban Falls.

At 3 am, we had the meet up at Jollibee Farmers Cubao and we are total of six in this day hike.

Once completed, we rode a jeep going to Cogeo. Beware of dispatchers and tricycle drivers who will encourage you to take a tricycle instead of jeep going to Sampaloc, Tanay. They will try to haggle with you a minimum of 500 pesos per trike.
Please be informed that jeepney going to Sampaloc, Tanay starts at 2 am (or even earlier). You just have to wait and walk further going to the overpass at Cogeo. Much better to walk going to their terminal.
Jeepney fare will only cost 55 pesos per head. Just tell the driver to drop you off at Mayagay 1. From Mayagay 1, wait for habal-habal that will take you to Barangay Laiban.

We reached the jump off at almost 6 am and started the hike. 

It was an easy trail and you can reach the three peaks (Mount Lubo, Ngusong Kabayo, Tangwa Peak) in a span of two hours. 

At Mount Lubo Summit:

At Mount Ngusong Kabayo:

 At Mount Tangwa Peak:

We had the traverse trail and we passed through the 4 legit falls of Laiban. On the first falls, there we ate our lunch.

At 4 or 5 pm, we were already back in the jump off.
I would add on the list this Laiban adventure on my most favorite hike! The views from top are all great and I highly recommend this hike!

Here’s the itinerary and expenses that we got from this blog: www.itinerary.ph
 Thank you and credits to owner. 
  • Cubao to Cogeo — Php 24.00 (Php 48.00 RT)
  • Cogeo to Mayagay 1 — Php 55.00 (Php 110.00 RT)
  • Mayagay 1 to Brgy. Laiban — Php 100.00 (Php 200.00 RT)
  • Registration Fee — Php 100.00
  • Guide Fee — Php 500.00 (good for 5 pax)

Suggested Itinerary (Average Pacing)

  • 0300 Meetup Cubao
  • 0400 ETD to Cubao to Cogeo
  • 0430 ETA to Cogeo
  • 0500 ETD Cogeo to Mayagay 1 (Martessem)
  • 0600 ETA to Mayagay 1, Ride habal-habal
  • 0630 ETA to Brgy. Laiban
    • Register
    • Secure guides
  • 0700 Start Trek
  • 0800 ETA Mt. Lobo
  • 0900 ETA Mt. Ngusong Kabayo
  • 0930 ETA Tangwa Peak
  • 1000 Start descent to Laiban Falls
  • 1130 ETA Laiban Falls Layer 4
    • Lunch
  • 1200 Proceed to the other layers
    • best to swim at the Layer 2 of this waterfall
  • 1400 Trek back to Jump off
    • Wash up, eat
  • 1500 Back to Mayagay 1
  • 1530 ETA Mayagay 1
    • Wait for Jeep to Cogeo
  • 1700 ETA Cogeo
    • Ride jeep to Cubao
  • 1830 ETA Cubao

Punta De Fabian, Baras, Rizal

Here's the article I wrote for our Project Pearls Retreat, Recollection and Leadership Training at Punta De San Fabian last Nov. 11-12, 2017. (unedited file)

 “The Call to Leadership is the Call to Love”

We have so much gratitude for The Ninoy and Cory Aquino Foundation for spearheading this retreat, recollection and leadership training for our Project Pearls 40 core volunteers and staffs.

This two-day event was at Punta De San Fabian, Baras Rizal and happened last Nov. 11-12, 2017.

As early as 6 in the morning, volunteers’ assembly place was at Project Pearls Headquarters in Caloocan City.

And after almost three hours, we reached the venue.

Everyone was in awe upon seeing the place. It was a resort on top of a mountain, with great amenities and breath taking view of nearby mountains, Laguna de Bay along with the downtown side of Rizal.

By nine in the morning, right after everyone had their breakfast, the session finally started inside the ‘Carlos Botong Francisco Hall’.

Different stories that are full of laughter, tears and gratitude were shared inside the hall.
Everyone was thankful because for this weekend, aside from the very useful session that we had, we also had the chance to relax, to rest, to talk to ourselves and ask ourselves if how are we doing?
We know that we are living in a very fast phased life wherein we always face stresses and problems.
But for this very moment, we were so thankful that we had the chance to take a break, to just sit back, no work-related activities, and to re-live our purpose. And to ask ourselves, why are we doing this? Why do we volunteer? Why do we help and serve other people?
Then the answers to everyone just came out naturally.
We may have different reasons but it all boils down to our common goal and that is the mission of Project Pearls.

There were times that we get tired of what we do wherein it seems that everything just became so ordinary, boring, and just keeps on repeating. And this may lead in quitting and giving up especially when we are burned out.

We realized that we just need to pause, take a deep breath and be reminded of why are we doing this.

Then it will all just fall to a single word – Love. We love what we do, that’s why we should never stop.

It was a happy boodle fight style for our dinner.

Then recreation was for everyone at night at the infinity pool. We just all had fun and regain our bonding and closeness with each other.

I think one of the best qualities we had in Project Pearls is that we are and we will always be a family.
Then it was bed time!

For the day 2, breakfast was served at 7 in the morning, and the last part of the leadership training started at 9 a.m.  

Just like yesterday, the half-day session was filled with different emotions. Everyone laughed and cried.

We were just so thankful of this kind of moment because we were able to express our feelings and thoughts for each one of us.
As we went home, we brought the experience, the happiness, the inspiration, the drive and the motivation to go on with what we love doing- and that is being a servant-leader.

It’s still a long way to go but we will never stop dreaming and putting our dreams into reality.

Thank you to NCAF members for all your support in making our retreat possible, lively and effective.
Jampao Reyes – our facilitator
Ninya Saquilabon
Bian Orenciana
Mike Shimamoto
Jaime Lopa

We are beyond grateful to your team!

Thank you also to all our volunteers who joined us and for sacrificing your weekends just to be with us – your family in Project Pearls.
We will all go back to Tondo, to Bulacan, to Zambales, and to other places that we serve bringing the burning passion in our hearts.