Monday, December 31, 2012

We Clicked, the 1,895th Day

Goodbye 2012, Hello 2013!

I'm writing this post about our third wedding anniversary and just half an hour before the new year kicks in. I unfortunately didn't complete my 30-day challenge this month to blog everyday. My flimsy excuse is - we moved and I haven't had stable internet in the last 2 weeks (I'm still trying to survive with just 3G but it's haaard!). Making our home livable has been my project in the last 2 weeks and so far we've settled into a daily routine.

The year has been both rewarding and challenging. I've flown countless miles in the last year and have been to places I never imagined I'd visit - Zurich, Morocco, Sri Lanka and Pakistan! Meeting many new friends across the globe -- Southeast Asia (Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Singapore etc.) and my team mates in Africa, Latin America and those based in Europe. It's been hard though on my family, so 2013 is definitely going to be different.

I'd like to say though that the rewards far outweigh the challenges and just before the year ended we moved it to our shiny new, tiny home. We were so happy since we envisioned that we would move to our own place (and not rent anymore) by our third year anniversary. We had our house blessed last weekend by Fr. Evan. It's truly a huge achievement for us.

2013 is going to start with a few challenges. After almost a decade I've decided to have my heart repaired. My cardio has advised that I should do it now while my heart is strong and healthy to prevent any further damage. He did say that it's quite unusual for my condition to be advanced at my age. I felt sad when he said that, but I think God will only give us challenges that we can bear. We all leave in a few days to head back to Singapore for my surgery (so please pray for me!).

Now have to finish my post since I have to serve Media Noche already, just wanted to wish everyone a blessed and happy new year! 

Thursday, December 13, 2012


Check out what Pinoys have searched this year on Google Zeitgeist.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Achievement Unlocked: New Home!

Three years ago just before Sweetie I got married we tried to look for a place could afford to buy. We didn't so we ended up renting a place in the same village where I was born. It was really convenient since we were close to my parents. We attempted to buy a house a few months later but it was just not meant to be at that time. We then told ourselves that we'd take it slow but target to move to an owned-residence by our third year of marriage. We moved nearer to my old home a month after that fiasco so I could be nearer to my parents and because the house we were renting just had so many problems.

When I moved to Singapore last year my seatmate, Ishi, gave me some really good advise. He said I shouldn't rent a place just for myself in Singapore if my family wasn't moving with me. He said I should just stay with a friend and use the money to buy a condominium unit in Manila. Luckily my childhood friend who's  lived in Singapore for 3 years already was looking for a housemate for her new apartment. I grabbed the chance to get one of her rooms so I could save for our planned home.

It was just after New Year when I realized I should get things going to find and buy a home so we could reach our goal. I remembered a proposal I got back in November 2010 about a place that was being built near our village. I immediately brought up the idea again with Sweetie and after careful review of a number of places we decided to buy the unit near where my Mom lives. Things started rolling in late February and we scrimped and saved (would you believe my weekly allowance when I'm in Singapore is just SGD50 a week?) so we could end our lease by the time it expired.

We ended up extending our lease for another quarter though because the unit wasn't ready yet, but TODAY,  12/12/12 we finally got it!

Thank you Lord! =)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Housewife Diary: the Horror Story

Called up Mom to rant about cleaning the baget's room. I've been asking him to clean his room in the last few months. I didn't dare even enter his room for fear that I might step on a snake (just toys!). I haven't had a cleaning lady in the last few months because my Mom found out she was stealing, so she got fired. It's been hard to find trust-worthy help so we decided to just do the house chores ourselves except ironing clothes since my Mom insisted we just have it done by her helper.

Mom's helper eloped last week and just disappeared. She left an apology letter to my Mom to say she was always tired because she was pregnant and was too embarrassed to face her. Sayang, she was a good and efficient helper. I just hope she would be able to cope with her issue.

So I thought my Mom would commiserate with me, but she just chuckled and said, "He's a boy and they're just really like that." I was shocked! I'm messy too and my Mom used to fix my room all the time (until the day I left home when I got married) and she'd scold me each and every time. I figured though she liked doing it so it was fine. She wasn't one to read private stuff (it was my Dad who I caught reading my diary!!!), so I let her be.

I guess it's payback time since the bagets just doesn't seem to have time to clear out his stuff. I thought I'd need a shovel to clear out the floor of his room. It took me three hours, but I did find $100, PhP1,000 and lots of coins lying around. So maybe I'd just go ahead and confiscate it from him to teach him a lesson. He needs to learn the value of the things that are given to him and be more appreciative of what he has. Sermon sa akin yan pag-uwi nya mamya. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

The House Wife Diary

When I woke up this morning I headed straight to my desktop to log-on and start working and then I realized I took time off to spend time with my family and prepare for our move next week (I still sneaked in some time to check my work email heh). Anyway, I spent most of the day puttering around the house - walis, mop, scrubbed the bathroom, did the laundry, cleared out stuff from my part of the den and cooked dinner, and now I feel like my body wants to dismantle (hehehe).

And now my brain has just stopped functioning for the day... now I know why my Mom sleeps so early.


Sunday, December 9, 2012

Growing Up

Dad's been gone for almost two years now. I realized that today when Mom pointed it out during her lunch birthday celebration. I was a total mess two years ago when the doctor gave us the bad news. Dad was going to go whether we liked it or not and he was ready for it. I wasn't.

So many things have changed since that time. I moved to Singapore. Miguel's in university. Another uncle passed away. I didn't know that there would come a time you have to double up and be stronger, not only for yourself, but also for a parent.

I've always been the baby in the family (still am!), but my parents always had to get me out of trouble whenever I called for help. When Dad got sick I realized it was time to fully fend for myself and my own family. I didn't want to burden my Mom with trivial matters in my life since she had her hands full taking care of my Dad.

I'm home now for Christmas and will be focusing on my family only for the next few weeks. It feels like I've been away for such a long time and I was surprised to see our choir babies have grown up so fast. The little boys who we used to scold because they were too fidgety during mass are now all taller than me. The little girls have now become conscious about how they look and have been styling themselves whenever they hear mass. Me and my housemate (who's also my neighbor in Manila) can now look back at the crazy things we used to do when we were growing up.

Growing up ain't that bad... except for the bills that keep coming every month! I can say that I love my age now because I've gotten rid of being angst-y, emo whenever I face "disruptions". Of course there are days when I still get blue and mope-y, but life is such and must be lived with faith and love.

Happy birthday Mom! Things are turning out quite like what you've always wanted it to be. I love you.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Train Thoughts

Wanted to skip the holiday party tonight but I didn't want to disappoint a friend I invited. Just ate, listened to the announcements and then left. I just couldn't enjoy the party knowing there's so many people suffering back home.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Blogging in the Train

It's been a really challenging week to find time to blog but I'm really keen to complete another 30-day challenge.

I'm blogging right now on my phone while in transit using the Blogger Android app. Today has been a very busy day and I haven't had much sleep in the last few days. A few days back I was feeling really blue but I soon got out of that mood because of the typhoon. It's just not right to feel that way when there are many people suffering ans I pray for those families that have been affected by the typhoon. I'm really hoping that things will be fine in the next few days.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

On TV!

I've been trying to avoid this in the last 6 years...

Monday, December 3, 2012

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Be Thankful!

I've been feeling homesick the past week and haven't been feeling well because of a viral infection. I decided to hear mass in the morning today and was surprised that the mass was celebrated by an archbishop from the Holy See! What a rare treat I thought since the last time I heard mass celebrated by someone from Rome was when I attended World Youth Day (Pope John Paul).

It was a great way to start Advent, a reminder to start preparing myself for Christmas. The first I usually take is to be thankful of all the blessings and challenges that I received in the past year. I mention challenges also because it helps build character and a firmer faith.

Many years ago I fell into a rut. This was the time things felt like everything was falling apart in my life. I knew the only way I could get out of the hole was to get myself out of it. The best advise I got back then was when I read a book by Bo Sanchez (I don't remember which one coz I think I've read most of it). He said that when you're stuck in a rut one of the best things to do is count your blessings.

At first I had a hard time listing down one blessing. I soon realized that blessings do not come only in huge packages, but could be simple things. From one a day my blessings list soon multiplied to three, five, ten, twenty etc. and I was soon back to my normal perky, cheerful self.

So now that I'm feeling a bit blue this is what I'm going to do. Today's blessing though came as a huge package for me. The GDG Philippines community who did a Sanitation Hackathon the whole weekend in Manila, Baguio, Bacolod, Cebu, Davao and Zamboanga. Their initiative together with GBG Philippines would surely help many people :)

Be thankful!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Dream in Galactic Proportions

I thought I'd take another stab this month at blogging everyday since I've totally neglected my blog in the last few months. I can't believe it's been a year since I moved to Singapore to take on a new, challenging role. I must say I've been on a roll the past year and I've done quite a lot of things that are certainly outside of my comfort zone. I can honestly say my heart stopped beating a couple of times due to anxiousness, but I'm happy that I've met a lot of new friends across the region (and beyond!).

I dedicated most of the year to work (even weekends), so I'm really finding it hard to step on the brakes to take a break. I've been getting a lot of scolding already from my good doctor to have my condition fixed (he's been at it for about 9 years now). So I finally said yes and now making arrangements to take a break from my adventure so I can do more next year. I'm hoping though I can spend more time at home in Manila because my boys need me.

The past year has been one huge adventure for me. It didn't feel like I was working at all since I really like what I do. One thing I realized the past year is outside the box that I live in is a whole galaxy and one must dream in galactic proportions. I don't know how many miles I've traveled this year, but I've been to so many new places, met a gazillion of new people and done projects I never thought I'd do (or survive!).

Last year I prayed to God to give me a new mission. And He did. I just need to take a break for awhile so I can continue and finally live a normal life ;)

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Saturday, September 29, 2012

A Double Anniversary

Woke up smiling today because I'm celebrating two important anniversaries!

It's been five years since Sweetie and I became a couple. A lot of my friends find our story so funny because Jay only realized that we were already a couple a week later! The full story is at the site he put together before we married. I can't believe it's been five years already, but all I can say is "I couldn't ask for more" since God truly wrote a great love story for me.

And this is the song that came up when I put my iPod on shuffle mode --

And six years today I started this blog in Mountain View, California at the encouragement of some folks from the Blogger team. I was just visiting campus then for training for my new role and they asked us if we can start a blog. I'm the only one who's still blogging, only because I really love to write. I may not be able to blog as often as I could, but I have a gazillion of photos waiting to be blogged. Hopefully when I finish my major projects for the year I'd have some time to write more.

Well, just wanted to write a quick post about these two achievements today! Hope to be able to write about my adventures soon.

Happy day everyone! And happy 5th Sweetie!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Love, Lachi's, Davao

Last night on the flight to Davao Sweetie asked me to listen to a song playing on his MP3 player. At first I didn't recognize the song, but I soon realized it was our theme song. Sweetie was reminiscing our last trip together in Davao in 2009. It was the trip where he proposed to me while I was hanging on a zipline (I clearly didn't have a choice!). 

If I could I would live in Davao because I just feel so right at home here even though I don't speak Bisaya. I understand some of it though because some of the words they use are very similar to the Bicol dialect. I love Davao because life is simple here and you can get the best of many things. Low cost of living, awesome fresh food all year-round, the beach and the mountain is just minutes away and I have made a number of fantastic friends as well in Davao (and my Mom says I have relatives here too). 

My favorite restaurant in the whole-wide-world is also located in Davao - Lachi's Sansrival Atbp. Owned and run by twins, Mike and Melvin Aviles I discovered Lachi's many years ago through my Davao-based friends. I instantly fell in love with their pork marinara and unforgettable pork ribs and sansrival and multitude of cakes and pastries. And mind you the prices are so affordable. They have quite a lot of dishes and I'd probably eat there for breakfast, lunch and dinner if I could. So if you by any chance visit Davao make sure you visit and eat at least two dishes and two desserts from Lachi's (I do everytime!). 

I've actually been craving for pork marinara for almost 2 years now because I haven't had the chance to visit Davao since 2010 (argh!). It sometimes haunts me especially when I'm somewhere where I can't get what I want to eat (I'm a picky eater sorry). I discovered a resto at Changi Airport though that has a slightly similar dish. I'll probably head there when I'm really desperate. 
Pork Marinara

The unforgettable pork ribs lives up to its name. Once you try it you will surely come back for it. I'm not really sure how they cook it but it's really awesome. They also introduced a new dish - Elsie's melt-in-your-mouth roast pork - which is true to its name. 

Unforgettable Pork Ribs

Another new dish we got to try was the Asian spicy chicken. I didn't get to try it since I'm allergic to chicken but Sweetie said it was like chicken chicharon and I noticed Miguel kept coming back for more long after he finished eating.

Asian Spicy Chicken
For fish lovers, Miguel always orders fish fillet whenever we eat at Lachi's and that's what I get as well whenever I feel guilty about eating too much pork (I feel I'm going to get a scolding from my doc soon...). 

Fish Fillet

But, of course, one has to leave space for dessert! I had a bit of a hard time deciding which one to order. I eventually decided to get my favorite - the Five Choco Torte. Mind you all the cakes, cheesecakes and pastries in Lachi's aren't that sweet. They're actually perfect because it's the only place where I can eat as many slices of cake as I want and my tonsils don't react (they're very sensitive to sweet stuff). So that's why Lachi's my favorite restaurant in the whole wide world. 

Amaretto Brownie

Lachi's Sansrival Atbp.
Ruby St., Marfori Heights,
Davao City

Thank you Mike for accommodating us! I hope to be back soon!

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Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Amazing Pakistan Adventure

The first time I met Badar in Mountain View six years ago he invited all of us to visit his country, Pakistan. We'd meet every quarter since then and we'd share stories about our own countries every time. I was intrigued and wanted to see for myself the beautiful country that my friend Badar painted for us.

It took months and lots of careful planning and I, together with a couple of colleagues, finally found ourselves visiting Badar in his homeland. The trip was made long by the 5-hour lay-over in Bangkok, it was tiring, but I was just excited to finally see for myself the real side of Pakistan - it's everyday life and not the image always shown by media.

As we sped along the highway to our hotel I was amazed at how much space Karachi had. Very much opposite of my home city, Metro Manila which is pretty cramped compared to Karachi. Huge birds circled across the sky - the kite bird according to Mubashak - which shows that the environment is fertile and very green. The road was littered with fully-decorated buses and trucks and beside them our colorful jeepneys would actually look plain. And the people walking along the streets or just hanging out were in colorful traditional garments.

In the evening, Badar brought us to Port Grand, an area known for its night life. As we were walking along the board-walk I felt like I was walking in another very similar place I'd gone to with Badar -- San Francisco's Fishermans Wharf. It was almost like a replica. We had dinner at Ghaffar Kabab House where we had loads of kabab. I don't eat spicy stuff, but it was too good to pass up and I must've finished half the bowl of yogurt (haha). The most interesting thing I tried was "brain". Nobody wanted to try it, but I wanted to show Badar that I was game for anything so I tried it. The texture was mushy and I understand it's an acquired taste, but it was okay and at least it contributed to sharpening my intelligence (that's what they said).

In Lahore, Badar brought us to the "Old City" so we could visit the Badshahi Mosque (corrected). It was a bit dark when we arrived since electricity was down but the walled city had some lights on. The area was huge and I'm sure it would've been better to visit in the morning. The mosque stood majestically on one side. It was closed, but Badar made a special request so we could get in. We took off our shoes before we went in and I marveled at the intricate artwork on the ceiling. The mosque could house 100,000 people and at night it looked beautifully mystical.

After a walk around the walled city we headed up to Cooco's Den & Cafe. A well-known roof-top restaurant that was owned by an artist/painter who helped rehabilitate the area which is known to be the red-light district. The roof-top restaurant had the most beautiful view of the mosque. Food was deliciously spicy and a variety of local meat dishes (apparently they eat a lot of meat in Pakistan). Since I already tried eating brain I left the sampling of testicles to my colleagues (it looked like ground beef though).

Our last day was spent in Islamabad. The most-well planned city according to Badar and Mubashak said that the vibe in Islamabad is very much different since the weather is cooler. Islamabad is also where the Himalayas start. We had dinner up in the mountain, overlooking the city. The sparkling city lights looked very much peaceful from up above.

We didn't stay out too late, but chanced upon a pre-wedding party at the hotel which we promptly gate-crashed just so we could see what was ongoing. The henna ceremony was over, but we got a glimpse of the very beautiful bride -- she looked like a goddess! The party attendees started dancing and it was a flurry of color going around and around. I didn't dare go onto the dance floor since I was just happy to see how the party went (I realized that our weddings are so mild and proper!).

So that's just about what we managed to squeeze in between work. We did managed to do some very light shopping -- just for a dress and some shoes, but I was surprised that there weren't any fridge magnets or tiny trinkets I can bring back for my girl-friends. Hopefully next time I'll be able to get Sweetie some of their local tea (which is bigger than coffee and definitely more potent than coffee!). We almost missed our flight back since going through immigration was an adventure onto itself (be sure to be there at least three hours before!!!).

Pakistan is unlike any other country I have visited before. It's beauty and warm people are its best-kept secrets. Someday when it's ready it will be a tourism haven which will give a lot of other places a run for its money.

I will be back!

Pakistan Sunset

Just got back from an amazing adventure in Pakistan. Thought I'd share some sunset photos I took. One thing I realized while I was there... they are no different from any of us because we share the same sun.

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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Forever 25, Not

It was my first time to celebrate my birthday away from my family. I seriously dreaded it so I planned a really busy day so I won't feel sad. Woke up extra early so I could get my "happy ticket home" (OEC!) from the Philippine Embassy. It started to rain hard half-way to the embassy and I just prayed I won't trip over my clogs (I usually wear sneakers!). I think I must've been the one first to get out of the embassy because I was done with my business 10 minutes after it opened (it pays to have complete docs!).

I think I've come to the age where I could just basically laugh at what happened to me in the past. All the failure I've gone through, the stupid decisions I've made and whatever transgressions I've done. They're all behind me now and I can say that I'm really happy and content now, which is good because it means I can give more and serve others more.

The past year has been a year of major changes in my life. Moved to a new role, moved to Singapore, been to many different places, met many new friends and have had a lot of "firsts". I never expected to be where I am. Never planned to work abroad or have many new friends from across the globe. I remember 5 years ago I was pleading to God to steer me in the right direction. During that time I was just lost and didn't really know where I was headed. Only Miguel kept me grounded.

I was lead to the right direction and I can say whatever I've gone through in the past is all water under the bridge. I'm just happy that I've been given a second chance in life (remember heart failure isn't curable, but I'm still hopping from one country to other now!). My mission isn't complete yet and I'm just happy to do what I'm here for.

To my family, friends, colleagues from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, Singapore, SouthEast Asia and the rest of the world, thank you for making my day special. I couldn't ask for more =)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Salamat Jesse

I was really saddened by the news this morning when I heard that Secretary Jesse Robredo had passed away. Both my parents grew up in Naga City and we go there as a family every year. There was a time though when we couldn't go back home because there was a lot of NPA activity in our are in Pasacao and since then I've only been back a handful of times.

I remember a trip I made on my own with Miguel almost a decade ago. I marveled at the changes that had happened in Naga City. When I was a kid my Mom had to bribe me into going because things were in disarray and the elders liked going to the public market. I only went because of the promise of going to Moderna Bakery (now known as Casa Moderna) which has the best pancit, fried siopao, cakes and bread in town, but I oftentimes preferred to be left behind in Camangui so I can stay at the beach.

That trip in 2003 changed how I saw Naga City. The city progressed by leaps and bounds and I asked my parents how it happened. They said, "It's because of Mayor Robredo." I remember my Dad say that he was the best mayor because he managed to modernize and clean-up Naga. I had the chance to listen to Mayor Robredo talk about his success in Naga at a conference I attended to speak at in Cebu. I told myself then, "Wow! My Dad was right, he's really a great mayor."

During that conference I ended up seating beside Secretary Robredo while waiting for my turn to talk. I texted my Mom to tell her about it and she said I should introduce myself and tell him about my Dad. I'm not really good at small talk, so I just did as my Mom told me. Secretary Robredo did remember my Dad and exclaimed that he was a basketball legend in Naga. Our conversation was very brief but he went on and on about my Dad's success as their school's basketball hero. I was awed that he would remember since my Dad's a good 25 years older than him, but what struck me was he was so simply brilliant. A true-hard-working man who did what was best for his own town. I wish all public servants would be like him.

Thank you Jesse. That 5 minutes chat with you has truly made a mark on me. Please say hi to my Dad up there. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Playing Housewife

It was my first time to take a week off after six years. I didn't really plan it, but after organizing a large event and doing some crisis response work I just felt I needed a break. I felt I was already "too wired" so I needed to unplug.

I went home after a trip to Jakarta. It took most of the day and I was just really glad when I finally arrived in Manila and was greeted by my boys at the airport. I decided during dinner that I was going to stay offline as much as I could during my vacation and just focus on being a mom and wife for a change. I was still itching to stay online the day after I arrived, but staying at Balay Indang for a friend's wedding forced me to be offline because the network signal only provided GPRS connection.

Not having good internet connection for a day was what I needed to get me on track with my plan to stay unplugged. I guess I was having withdrawal symptoms because I promptly got sick after we came back from Tagaytay (haha). I just slept for almost 3 days and only got up to feed my boys and eat. After I recovered I took things slow by sorting stuff at home, doing the laundry and puttering around the house.

My brother laughed when I told him that I wanted to be a housewife. He said I'd probably go crazy just staying home. One thing he doesn't realize though is there's so many things to do at home. I always wondered when I was single why my Mom would always say, "Andami ko pa kelangan gawin sa bahay..." She never slowed down and I would rarely see her not doing anything.

When I was just home last week I realized that there were so many things to do and I barely had time to check what was going on online. I actually enjoyed just doing stuff for my family. Cleaning the house, doing the laundry, grocery shopping, doing the laundry, sorting stuff etc. It's a different kind of service, unpaid, but it was rewarding.

My one week vacation is over. Back to reality tomorrow :)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Marikina After Habagat

One of the things Sweetie and I worry about whenever it rains is our parents. Both our parents live in houses that flood whenever there's heavy rains. My Mom was lucky last week because it surprisingly did not flood in her house. My in-laws though had knee-deep water flood their house in Marikina.

We headed to Marikina last Saturday to check on my in-laws and find out what happened to Tito Bert, my 90-year old uncle who's a Typhoon Ondoy survivor. We went to my in-laws house first to check how they were. They were in good spirits, but tired from having to clean the house twice. House-cleaning after a flood is tasking. It doesn't matter whether you just have an inch of water, knee deep or chest deep since the floor area you have to clean would just be the same. Typhoon Ondoy cleared out most of my stuff and that's why I've been trying to live with less stuff eversince.

After visiting my in-laws we went to check on my cousins. They were still cleaning the house and drying stuff when we arrived with help from some kind-hearted friends. They said that they stayed at their neighbor's house (who had a second floor) when the water started to rise. When the water went down a bit they waded through water to the village's entrance so my uncle could be picked up by my aunt. He's staying with her for a few weeks.

Marikina City government did a good job of cleaning up (although I know a few schools/areas were still being cleaned), much, much better than after Typhoon Ondoy. I took some photos while in transit and here's what I got -

Marcos Highway.

A bank dries out its chairs.


Some friends said that this wasn't due to the flood.

Sofa drying.

Subdued river.

Provident Village.

Back to normal at the entrance of Provident Village.

Sweetie said this structure goes under water whenever the water rises.

Tranquil river that day.

Water gauge.

Saw this line of houses on CNN. Reporters couldn't go beyond it because of the flood.
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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Philippine Flooding

It’s been a week since I finished my 30-day blogging challenge. I completed it and had thought I’d be able to blog every day after. As usual more important things occupied my time and I’m writing this post offline while waiting to board the plane home. I thought my flight out of Manila was going to be cancelled last Monday because it was raining to hard on Sunday evening. I was glad that most of my colleagues had left on Saturday and Sunday. Most of them have not experienced our version of thunder storms and I didn’t want them to be traumatized.

I woke up at around 4:30 in the morning on Monday and had no problems with my flight since it stopped raining. It started pouring just before I boarded the plane. I felt that the sky was commiserating with me – sad that I was leaving home again. I was pretty concerned though that the rains seemed to be coming down non-stop and I feared that it would cause wide-spread flooding. I guess I got that sixth sense on floods after experiencing Typhoon Ondoy. I was monitoring Dr. Mahar Lagmay’s tweets and checking Project NOAH often to see how things were progressing.

By Tuesday morning the situation had gone worse and I got a ping from government for help in putting information together. By noon a group of volunteers got in touch with me to help and the Google Crisis Response team had offered to help. It was a long day. Information had to be put together, shelters/donation centers/rescue efforts mapped. Lots of going back and forth across different time zones and finally the page was up by midnight.

The effort was made successful by tireless volunteers "Team Showercap" -- Ka Edong, JP Loh, Arnold Gamboa, Ros Juan and many, many others across the country  -- the Google Developer Group, Google Business Group, Google Geo Advocates, RERs and mappers and with help and encouragement from MLQ3 and PCDSPO who helped us get data. (There was so many, I hope I did not leave out anyone). Indeed the Filipino bayanihan and “waterproof spirit” has once again shown the best of our culture. The initiative was also proof that all the mapping efforts of the local community is very useful. The time you have volunteered have come to good use.

Some will probably ask why I continue to do this – mind you it’s very stressful. I think information is key to prevent lives from being lost, to save lives and to find our loved ones in times of distress. I cannot personally volunteer to help physically because (1) I’m oftentimes far away and (2) I might be the one needing rescue if I help in physically-demanding efforts (hehe).