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Nov. 13th, 2011

giving is like digging a well

It was unusual that I woke up early on a Sunday, but I did today, as requested by our concurrent Chief in Operations Division. We were instructed to go to Tzu Chi Foundation, to assist in the rice distribution for the 17th Anniversary of Tzu Chi.

4 years ago, I went to Tzu Chi Foundation to ask assistance for my client who is a 13-year old boy for his eyes. It was explained to me by a friend that Tzu Chi gives free eye check-ups as well as glasses. However, as soon as I went there, I also saw the long line of people who wanted to ask help for their own health conditions and so I decided to withdraw from asking assistance that day and wrote personally to a Redemptorist priest for my client.

Yet, today was different.

I went to their temple near Banawe Avenue and saw the long line of people again. But, as soon as I saw my co-worker, I told him we should get inside immediately by introducing ourselves as staff of DSWD. From that moment that I said I was DSWD staff, it's as if the world changed. 

Prytzch and I were introduced to the daughter if the CEO of Tzu Chi Philippines. She toured us inside the Still Thoughts Hall, explained briefly about Buddhism and planted enthusiasm regarding Tzu Chi in our hearts. Yet, I was half-listening to her because I became engrossed with the words written on the walls, the words from the foundation's founder, Master Chen Yeng.

Some of which I still remember are...  (though not verbatim)

"Giving is like digging a well. As more land is dug, more water comes out."
"There is no life with a life who just lets the days pass, but there is creation of life from which every moment is spent for a purpose."

I became proud being a DSWD employee today when the CEO of Tzu Chi Philippines welcomed us with a metaphorically very huge embrace. The 20 kilograms of rice to be distributed to each of the 1,200 families was from Taiwan. Through negotiation with Honorable Secretary Dinky Soliman, Tzu Chi was able to send the rice from Taiwan to Philippines tax-free. More so, Tzu Chi was allowed to stock the sacks of rice in NROC (the warehouse of DSWD at NAIA Avenue). Tzu Chi was very proud to say that there was not even 1 sack subtracted from the 25,000 sacks of rice stocked at NROC. They were very grateful and proud to say that DSWD genuinely "serves the people".

"People always thought that when donations are lodged to the government, there is always corruption. But, we have proven it wrong with DSWD." Mr. Alfredo Li (CEO, Tzu Chi Philippines)

But that isn't the only learning I get. The rice to be distributed, a material thing, could be lost from the beneficiaries after a few days of consumption. But, what Tzu Chi wanted to impart more important than rice is the greatest teaching of Master Chen Yeng.

1. To love and serve your parents.
2. To love and serve other people.

To know more about the foundation, here's their website.

Nov. 7th, 2011

how to be a Mom to my own Mom.

I've been hearing everywhere that someday, when we grow old, we'll be the ones who'll act like parents of our own parents. I never thought it will come too soon for me.

Mama recently reconnected with her friends from high school, through Facebook. And today, they agreed to meet-up with each other in Pasay City, a little less than 3 hour-drive from our home. I didn't mind at first that it was taking too long for Mama to come back home until I finished Season 6 of How I Met Your Mother (Shameless Plug) and as I saw her favorite prime time dramas finish one after the other. I began worrying when she wasn't home when the clock stroke 9:00 in the evening.

And I started to call her. But no answer.

Until I read her message that she might be getting home late because it might take long before their dinner shall be served in a "Dampa" restaurant in Pasay City. [Dampa is a haven for sea foods, where you'll be the one to choose which sea creature you shall eat, who shall cook it, and served to you fresh from the live kitchen.]

"Pasay City is too far. Please go home immediately." - I caught myself typing in the text message. Sent.

Until, I realized it's how her messages looked like when I'm still on the road at 9, 10, 11 or 12 in the evening or midnight.

I was too glad when she arrived by 9:30, and was still able to catch a show we watch together every night, "My Binondo Girl", with chocolates and souvenirs from her dear friend. She gave the earrings to me, but i didn't care about it. I was just glad that she was finally home.

Today, I felt the anxiety she feels when I'm not yet home and hours has passed after sun down. I need to get home earlier, from now on, I thought.

Anyway, She was talking that all of them had cars now. I could sense a little envy with her, and comparison to a life that she lives now from her materially successful friends. But, I guess I should save it for another story. ;) 

With Mama, Easter 2011.

"A daughter is a person who'll be your future best friend" - Anonymous.

Sep. 18th, 2011

Do what you love, the rest will follow.

This changes nothing but I'd like to say to my friends that I love my job even though it makes me very busy and unable to see them for a while. On weekdays, I'd go straight to bed after a tiring day unlike before when I could hang-out and meet some friends in Cubao for dinner or a cup of coffee. So, recently I learned to love weekends not only because it gives me time to rest but it balances my life, and make me ready for the adventure I'll be having for the next week.

So, what have I been busy about? As an answer to a friend...

   The work of a social worker in the streets, is a risky yet adventurous job.   

Last Sunday, we had rescue operations of street children and street families in Guadalupe. After giving them breakfast, we interviewed them of how we could be of help to them. As expected, their needs are the basic ones - food, livelihood, shelter. For me, the street children and street families are the concrete products of an unequal society. For the last 2 years, I thought that the children who are not given chance to go to school in the rural areas are the most deprived ones. I learned recently that there are children in worse situation than them, and they are the children living, playing, sleeping, scavenging, selling sampaguita, etc. on the streets.

"It's a blurry present and not just future, for these children." 

Last Wednesday, we also did profiling of the street families staying in NAIA Avenue. To my surprise, there are families living under the Catcat Bridge near the International Airport. I was fighting my tears to fall, when I saw these pictures forwarded by the barangay officers.   

Homeless street families under Catcat Bridge.

Through interviews, I found out that these families have been residing under the bridge for almost 20 years already. The only way to contribute to them in starting their life anew is to give them opportunity for resettlement, before they face threats of demolition. As a friend told, "It'll be your legacy, if you're able to change their situation, for... since I was a child, they are already there."

Me talking to a street child, with my fellow social worker.

Sometimes, I feel so small that I could do minimal things for social change. I am just a social worker and decisions are sometimes under the judgment of people of higher ranks than me. I may recommend these families for resettlement, but the reality of that happening is still under the hands of an entity bigger than me, which is the one to provide an area for resettlement as well as budget for the houses of these families.

But, I still believe that my words in written and oral has a lot to say. I love what I do, and I do my best, and I hope the rest will follow.

Sep. 17th, 2011

dance to inspire.

It made me more proud when a UP Pep Squad member said "We were just so proud that we had a perfect run. We were here to inspire. The awards are just bonuses." And yes! This is the "UP PEP SQUAD CHAMPION Hang-over". September 17, 2011, UAAP CDC will be on our memories for long. 

Credits to @eloindigoart
For the above picture. <3

And here's the UP Pep Squad in their 2011 routine.
And another one -> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=efKkIpd0df8



Sep. 14th, 2011

the truth about Bukas-Taxi Boys.

A week ago, our unit was busy with the latest issues about minors doing illegeal acts in Guadalupe. They are the so-called "Bukas Taxi Kids" of Guadalupe. Right after the reports of the media, because of MMDA's success in capturing them boys through CCTV, DSWD was called to respond. Now, the boys are under the custody of Makati City Social Welfare Department's Mapagkalinga Drop-In Center.

These boys are victims themselves. Personally, I don't agree with the amendment of RA 9344 of the Juvenile Justice Welfare Act of 2006. To lower the age of discernment / to amend RA9344 is putting the blame on the child, and being blinded with the societal factors that lead him to do activities in conflict w/ law. The child, until 17 yrs old, needs guidance, and thus, should not be blamed solely for an illegal act. That is why we not need lower the amendment (of changing the age of discernment), but strengthening programs (curfew, educational assistance, youth volunteering opportunities, etc.) that would prevent children from doing criminal acts.

I think this is how the Honorable Secretary sees it as well.

Memory of that afternoon when we (me and Social Woker from Makati City Social Welfare Department)
interviewed Capratin of Brgy. Guadalupe Viejo regarding reports from concerned citizens of Bukas-Taxi Kids.
Thanks to Ms. Raquel Masecampo.

As my father said, the "Bukas-Taxi Kids" are but just a product of an exploitative society. To put the blame on them or to amend the RA9344 is like taking a shortcut in solving the problem which would not solve it, from its roots.

Aug. 31st, 2011

Time has the answer.

A little earlier this month, I was suprised with my thought that "Oh, there's a 31st in August!". Had I become so insensitive and naive or had the sad feelings and cloudy thoughts erased the memory?, I do not know. August had given me a wave of emotions, until it has given me happiness in its last day. Anyway, this is another side of my life. I'm just happy that the empty space inside, has been filled again by an old puzzle piece, coming back home.

In that short period of time that I have been not updating you my dear journal, so may things happened. I felt that I shook the world more than China when I suddenly bid goodbye to being full-time staff of ACCESS, to be a Project Development Officer of the Department of Social Welfare and Development. Believe me, it was a heartbreaking choice to do too. It was saying goodbye to your home for two years, from family and from the comfort zone. It felt same as I was entering the unversity, taking a big leap.

DSWD's program aims for 0 street children in 10 priority areas of Metro Manila. This aim and program has been "hot" and "controversial" as with the doubts that it could be achieved. The program includes 6 projects, namely:

1. Sampaguita planting project
2. Resettlement for homeless street families
3. Liberating Indigenous People from Indignity (LIPI) for empowering Bajaus
4. Activity Centers
5. Day and Night child-minding centers
6. Camping Project

I am currently assigned to facilitate technical assistance and resource augmentation to the cities of Pasay and Makati. However, this is easier said than done. I am a neophyte still in working under a government office, and everyday is still a hard learning process with regards to how the administrative, finance and operating systems work. After a month of wokring with DSWD, I got the hang of it, nevertheless, there are so many rooms for improvement for myself in order to do the job well.

Our busy, Special project Unit Office gets way of people clatter by lunch time. ^^

My co-staffs busy in their profiles of street children.
A realization I have while staying on the streets is that... the problem of street children, street families and indigenous people is not a separated matter with the problem of the urban poor, of rural-urban migration, of poor economic management leading to lack in job opportunities. Therefore, I feel that there are so many things to be done before 0% incidence in whole Metro Manila could be achieved. Not unless, centers and institutions would be upgraded to accomodate all of the street children and street families. It is a great challenege! It is known to all that the proliferation of children in the streets should be acted upon, yet we should also ask ourselves to take a look at it with a bird's eye view to understand how it relates to the other problems proliferating in our society.

Next.... From August, I've restarted being a volunteer of ACCESS again for the simple reason that I miss the debates, the hard-working volunteers and my passion for Japanese culture and language. Now, I feel more free to do what I want, with limited pressure. I could say to myself that I am very happy to where I am now in my life.

With Yuri and Macha, on a train ride to Ayala, after the VOA meeting. :)
Just enjoying the ride. たのしいかた。^^

After months of mourning for a love that I thought was lost, and after weeks of tiredness, confusion and unhappiness in the current job that I'm doing, I've finally passed upon it. And realized, what Kuya Archie said was true "only time has the answer".


Jun. 26th, 2011

a social worker knows her own intervention

like a doctor knows her own medicine. Fortunately, I know... the cure, the immediate first-aid treatment but not the prevention. I shouldn't be writing this, but just because writing is an intervention, I wanted to and for the same reason that I have something to look back or I hope to laugh about in the future.

I doubt that this is just stress. I'm worried that it's close to depression. But since I know a little how to deal with these things, I consciously apply interventions to myself. It's silly really. At times, I just hoped I didn't know the formula of my mathematical problem.

Recently, I've been insomniac. I couldn't sleep at night worrying, and end up in slumber in the morning. I wanted to, but I could only do that on weekends. So, on weekdays I struggle against sleepiness in the dead hours in the office doing paper works and as the clock strikes five, I rush home only to fall asleep on the bus and get nauseated again until 2:00 in the morning.

Last night was the worst so far since there was also headache. "I want to fall asleep" was my mantra while fighting myself from thinking. Because, when I do, it's like an unending web of hopes, of problems and of frustrations. Recently, it has not been of inspirations. I grabbed my mobile phone, looked for the media player and played "Canon - the music box version". That calmed my neurons while concentrating on the tune.

What played in my mind while the tune was playing was memories of childhood. The time of my life where I had no obligations - just doing good in school. I had all the time for myself for doing the things I like - for drawing, for playing outside, for playing computer games with my brother. Some of my happiest moments also subconsciously slipped in my mind such as:

1. the birth of my younger brother - My father was playing with me the living room of our home in Bicol and asked me "would you love your younger brother?". Of course, I will. I do.

 Picture break - We were playing with the wooden horse when my father cold us to take a picture.

2. stretching and exercise with Papa, at  the rooftop of the field office, somewhere in Sorsogon, of an NGO where my father was working.

3. watching the stars at night, at the same rooftop, while eating sandwiches with cheese spread with Papa.

4. playing as princesses with my cousins using the curtains of our grandfather's "salas" (living room).

5. playing hide and seek, "Langit Lupa", and "Sili-sili" at the vacant lot / backyard of my cousin's home.

6. getting excited for getting a new dress for my Barbie doll, as a reward for doing good in school from Papa.

7. getting excited for my brother who was getting a gift from me on his birthday (a soldier set, much like a terrarium) which my parents didn't approve because it was not for his age.

8. playing "Patintero" at black out nights, thereby using the moonlight with neighborhood friends.

9. one afternoon, after school, spent running around the neighborhood with my first and childhood crush (on elementary), who later on became my first boyfriend (on high school).

I know I had more, but it rolled back to the attic of my brain.

And all I could remember while waking up the next morning was,
"I'm back to the present".

I have an idea how this depression will be solved, from its roots but at this time, I couldn't yet. I would be able to talk more about it later too, when God permits. I'm alright. I will be better, in the future.

Jun. 22nd, 2011

Out of greatest rejection, comes our greatest direction

That was a quote from a friend from Palawan named Arl Marie. It was random for her to send this text message but it meant a lot to me, because it's actually my learning for today.

This morning I couldn't help myself from crying bitterly while eating my snack on a fast food restaurant. I didn't want to cry but the emotions are just too much that tears kept falling. I was in a public place, but the tears didn't care. It was too much frustration and anger to the self - for taking too long time to decide. Indecision is the next thing that I should conquer within myself. What serves as a cup of comfort for me today was a line from B.O.B.'s Airplanes that goes...

"So Airplane, airplane, sorry I'm late.
I'm on my way, so don't close that gate.
If I don't make that, then I'll switch my flight
And I'll be back right at it, by the end of the night."

Earlier this morning, I went to the Department of Social Welfare and Development - NCR. A friend from UP informed me of a job opening, 3 weeks earlier from today. After too long indecision, I finally decided to give it a try, after reading that it involves community organizing and with focus on street children in Manila. After 24 hours, I learned that my application was too late for the DSWD Central Office. And after taking a trip to Old Manila and lurking its streets, I learned that the only opening on the NCR Field Office was for Administrative Assistant.

On the way to the NCR office, I decided to take a pedicab from Legarda St. corner Recto Avenue only to find out that the office was just a few blocks away from the pedicab terminal and which I could do with 2-3 minutes walk. I hated the pedicab driver who took advantage, and didn't just advise me to walk. However, I kept patient in front of him, considering the difficulty of him getting passengers day in and day out.

 "Sometimes, we become close minded which also closes the opportunities that are just close. [kringchan via Twitter]" If I hadn't been too focused on "I should get a pedicab to go to DSWD after walking from Sergio Loyola St. to Legarda St.", I could have seen the DSWD office which was obviously only a few walks more. More so, if I hadn't been closing my mind and limiting myself from the opportunities that the world is giving, I would be standing still, with no growth. Years ago, I always told myself not to work under a government office because it would just take away my passion upon seeing the reality of corruption. Today, I learned that DSWD (despite the fact that it is the LEAST corrupt government office of the Philippines), is still the best institution for us social workers to apply our knowledge and skills. On one hand, government fund is bigger and more stable than that of non-government organizations, all the more requiring genuine gatekeepers. On the other hand, social workers were trained for "standards" and the "standards" are applied and are required to be safeguarded by DSWD.

Before I went out of the fast food, I read my resume again from top to bottom. I remembered an advice I read somewhere (sorry, if I can't put reference to you my dear article) that goes "if you feel too far from your dreams, take a moment to pause and look back on how far you have reached, savor that moment of you still having the gap between the reality and your dreams, and refresh yourself of your motivations for fighting". That's exactly what I did. I've been an intern and volunteer for five NGOs already. I've worked with ACCE for 2 years. From here, I want to study Masters in Psychology, to work for DSWD sooner or later (if God permits) and still looking forward to that day where I would enter my class and ask my students "so... what brings you here?". 

My present work (Child-organizing and organizing guardians for BCPC)
Taken during field work in Perez, Alabat Island, project site of ACCESS.
Just finished a week of tutorial class and meeting with guardians.

Truly, "there is no perfection, there is only.. life." 

Jun. 12th, 2011

keeping it sane, by retreating to my favorite place

which made me insane, five years ago. My life in "Peyups" (University of the Philippines) remains the greatest turning point in my life. It pushed me to work hard, to keep on chasing my dreams and to value honor and excellence. These gave a lot of pressure as insanity over ideologies sunk in. It made me "grow-up", although not too much in the physical looks. But I'm glad, it is the same place that keeps me sane.

Over the weekend, amidst confusion over opinions and haziness of being busy, I was happy to retreat, and find myself again.

"Cause there's a blue sky, waiting tomorrow" - Blue Skies by Hale

I really enjoyed this weekend which my family and one of my best friends prepared for me. It felt like a long weekend. It felt like I've been away from work long enough and sufficient enough to inspire me again. It felt like I've reconnected with my self, from long ago, like being able to attend a retreat.

From yesterday, I've been spending time with watching:

1. How I met your mother series
2. A Crazy Little Thing Called Love (Thai movie)
3. Kung Fu Panda (though I've seen it in theaters, it still feels well seeing with little brother)
4. Camp Rock 2 (led me to practice guitar, later this evening)
5. Street Dance
6. and now - (Harapan: Debate about Divorce Bill in Philippines, should it be passed or not?)

Being able to attend the mass (with Mama and Ian) at the UP Chapel in the morning made me nostalgic over my first year in the university. A year where hopes were high and when I could feel that me and my friends believe that anything is possible now that we're given a chance to study in UP. We called our selves "Alien Society" or Aliens in reference to "people who had the highest grades in UP, who was intelligent enough to be regarded by other persons as out of this world" .

After the mass, I insisted that we eat at Rodic's [since 194], the oldest canteen at UP and home of the best tapsilog in town. My brother also loved it! I thought that sharing the things you love with your loved ones is a beautiful thing by giving them a splice of your life. For 4 years that I studied in university, I was away from Mama and Ian, who were both living in our hometown, Bicol. It was only at present time, when everyone is now living in Quezon City, that I could have the chance to share them the places, stories, food, etc. that kept me company at those years that I felt lonesome.

"Ang sarap ng tapsilog dito Ate!"
(My brother enjoying his tapsilog)
After the long day, I say.... "I STILL love UP".
And... I'm off to see the debate. I missed so much already. I'd like to listen to opinions of various people with regards to the Divorce Bill. Although I don't like the timing of debating about it at this time because it is a "U-turn" to the long debate about passing the Reproductive Health Bill.

Jun. 11th, 2011

the new generation call their other half, "half-orange".

People at my age. Well, that's really sweet, for it might be what most of us are looking for - someone who'll like be our twin, some romantic love story where in your other half is in to your interests too, just like in the movies. Not only the vivid color of orange, makes it interesting but also the metaphor that when you cut an orange in half, you'll get the same thing, twice the quantity.

*Click Photo for Reference.

People at my age. In a relationship. Dating. Looking for someone. Getting married. Having children. I'm happy that most of them have theirs, and I'm happy that I don't. (Well, maybe.) But at least, I'm learning so much from not having one, and enjoying too all the while dreaming of that person, that days, when I'll be finally in a serious, committed relationship with someone responsible enough to take the commitment. Recently, I've felt a couple of mixed emotions such as happiness over just having a friend by your side who'll stick with you, at your worse and would care to treat you with coffee and ice cream to lift up the mood. I also felt sadness with a friend who told I could have been the perfect girl for him but I am most suited to be treated like a sibling, to him. I felt excitement overhearing someone liked my best friend and with that excitement, came a little bit of anger for he really never liked it. I felt contentment over just having found friends I could keep for the rest of my life, but a little afraid that I won't be entering into a relationship soon, because of them. I was confused why a friend was confused over my joke which sounded serious, but seriously it was only a joke. And just today, I felt inspired when I heard Canon played in string quartet and imagined that is just the perfect music for a proposal. (In totally unrelated news, I love blogs because I could just write with my run-on sentences without being scolded by my father). I also wonder, why fathers should always have a say about your boyfriend. Anyhow, even me... I'm all psyched up with these relationship thingy but... recently, I realized I'm just not ready for it... anymore.

People at my age. We wonder how it feels like to just to lay around and watch TV with someone during rainy days. We get hurt with our dreams shattered away with people leaving. We have a minute in every day thinking about the person who keeps us sad or happy at night, at the moment. We cry about past love stories and reminisce about it again and again. We love, we fall-out, we regret, we justify but in the end, realize that it was all worth it and think "it was good while it lasted, the moments have been seized". We hate the bitter after taste but still hope to meet the dessert, sometime in the future. We have friends whom we talk about it again and again. Probably, the media, the movies, the arts, the literature or life itself is to be blamed. We are just a generation, that is so into love.
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