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Monumental Reading

Many thanks to Crissy for taking this and the pther Philippines photos

by dint of studying, of analysing myself, of reaching out for higher things, and of a thousand corrections, I was transformed little by little, thanks to the influence of a beneficent professor….cultivating poetry and rhetoric had elevated my feelings, and Virgil, Cicero, and other authors showed me a new path which I could take. – Jose Rizal, spoken shortly before his execution on 30th December 1896

*photo taken near the Rizal monument in Rizal park…I was reading Rizal.

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Posted by on 08/12/2017 in History, The Philippines, Travel

 

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Pulag Night Sky

I left out one of my favourite experiences of the Mt. Pulag trip from the last post and that was because I didn’t have the photos, and my words can only describe so much.  Many thanks then, to Aaron Palabyab who has kindly allowed me to use a selection of his impressive photos so you can see some of what I saw that night.  For more of Aaron’s fantastic work you can check his site here.

Having spent a good two and a half hours in the woods, dodging between puddles and uneven stones, we finally came out to an open area and our long line stopped, giving us chance to look around and have a breather.  The atmosphere changed once we were out into the open, there was a sense of anticipation building, partly because we knew we into the final third of our journey and partly because of our surroundings.

At eye level, there was a vast expanse of blackness in front of me – which I later found out was a huge grass field – and bordering this was an L-shape queue of the many of my other fellow hikers, the tiny lights from their headlamps flickering back and forth but mainly upwards to the glorious canopy above our heads. Read the rest of this entry »

 
 

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Mt. Pulag

Doing the hike was only half the drama of the Mt. Pulag (the 3rd highest mountain in The Philippines) experience, the nightmare of getting there was challenging enough.  Attempting to head across Manila at half six on a Friday evening is not the most fun thing to do.  It took nearly three and a half hours and took one van, two buses and a taxi. It was my first experience of the EDSA highway, the busiest in the Philippines.

That got us to the place where we would take a six-hour coach trip through the night to get to Baguio City, in which we were told to shut the curtains so we would be less conspicuous to bandits.  When we arrived we had another four-hour drive up to our base camp, up a long and winding road with some stops along the way – including a breakfast with spectacular view that it was too early to remember to photograph ans some sulphurous geysers – and an orientation which was less than entertaining.

Our group arrived utterly exhausted and after a bit of a walk and food, it was finally off to bed for a few hours.  There had been a lot of talk about extreme cold so we wrapped up and started walking at 1:30am in order to beat the sunrise which happens around 5:30.  For a hardy European fresh out of a British Spring, the 12 degrees was just a fresh morning for me and I promptly delayered much to the surprise of my fellow hikers. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 20/08/2017 in The Philippines, Travel

 

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Giving Something Back

We arrived at a piece of wasteland, a building site but today transformed, not so much in its aesthetics but through care into a community meeting place. A bright haven, where once a week smiles come easily and some much-needed respite is welcomed.

The Dasmariñas chapter of Kiwanis International are a great bunch of people, passionate about helping and really enthusiastic for the families and also to talk about what they do.  It was a wonderful experience both in terms of being involved and seeing how things work at the front end of charities.  It was also a gentle reminder that I could do more and an encouragement to do more and be involved.

Everything was set up and soon enough I was introduced and invited to give out food to the kids who were either impressed by my height, my can’t-cope-with-the-heat look or possibly bemused by my Casper the Friendly Ghost whiteness which was certainly more pronounced than I am used to.

It’s more than just food and drink that are offered by the Kiwanis team though, solar lamps and hair cuts for example are also things that are provided throughout the three-month programme.  it is a relief for the parents as well, there was a great spirit and everybody was smiling. It puts one’s faith back into humanity and was a relief from all the tragedy that we read and hear about every day.

Charity is always worth a contribution and seeing videos is all well and good but being there in person means so much more, its valuable as an experience and to really understand the lives that are touched by the generosity of the donators and volunteers.  Not only that but to also to use the opportunity to thank the team members for what they were doing.  It is not often I am lost for words but that day, all I could keep repeating was how great everything was and what a wonderful job they do. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 08/07/2017 in My Writings, The Philippines

 

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Kawanis International, and What’s Important

Lots to share with you this week including a surprising hidden find local to my house but first off is a long-delayed trip back to my Philippine experiences and a most unexpected offer.

Totally out of the blue, I was lucky enough to be offered the chance to – twice – join the local Dasmariñas chapter of the Kiwanis international charity and help distribute food to children in need.  I was excited to spread the word about what I saw there, especially as I wasn’t expecting such a wonderful offer but was nevertheless eager to take them up on it and see a side of the Philippines so far unfamiliar, up close.

Kiwanis International has been around since 1915 and now has over 600,000 members in over 80 countries and aims to help children in many ways; according to the website Members stage nearly 150,000 service projects and raise nearly US$100 million every year for communities, families and projects.  Impressive stats, showing how dedicated people are and how generous, with their time and money.

All projects are member funded and help feed some of the kids who live below the poverty line,  as always with charities, they can only do so much with what they have but from what I saw, the little they have can go a long way and with more support a lot more good could be done.  There is so much more to this wonderful charity than I could write about here, so please head on over to the website http://www.kiwanis.org/ and take a look at what they do and of course any donations would be wonderful.

My next post will be an amalgamation of my personal experiences of going to a couple of these events, it certainly opened my eyes and made me eager to go back and be in a position to do more.  That will be the post I have been perhaps most excited in sharing with you, which is why today, I have been deliberately vague. Plus I haven’t yet written it out past the first draft so that’s always a factor.

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Posted by on 05/07/2017 in Blogging, The Philippines

 

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Costa de Oro

Being invited off on a family weekend holiday is always a pleasure but also slightly intimidating when it is only your second day and everything is still new.  I had no idea where we were going but welcomed the opportunity for some rural exploration.

After an exciting introduction to Filipino road use and then getting stuck in a tunnel (thanks to world championship skateboarding, on Easter Saturday on a busy road, no less) that was reminiscent of some sort of zombie film, it was with great relief that we hit the coast.

With a fleet of three boats, packed with people ( as well as more awaiting our arrival) and supplies it was a steady voyage along, around a point and then it was patient gazing time, trying to pick out all the features such as banana boats (great fun by the way) and places to buy a cool drink.

Despite a massive building overlooking everything, Costa de Oro still looked lovely.  We were located a short bridge away from the pool and sea with plenty of greenery and rooms. Sleeping in a tent was my destiny which was fine by me as I was anticipating my first night looking up at the Southern night sky. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 05/06/2017 in The Philippines, Travel

 

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Sunset Satisfaction

Wandering around the curve of the coast, away from the Costa de Oro beach resort (photos of that up next post or the one after), jumping over rocks, it was my first chance to see a sunset in the Southern Hemisphere.  This excitement was only slightly tempered by all the rubbish that had been dumped at this beautiful spot.

There was a sense of calm, away from the beach goers and a pleasant silence as we perched on one of the many angular rocks.  The whole place was ours for the moment.

There was some excitement when we thought the sun would sink between the islands but it veered off as the sun usually does, which is of course what we all know causes global warming. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 31/05/2017 in The Philippines, Travel

 

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