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).

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Typhoon Gener

I did a little research about the number of typhoons that hit the Philippines in a year. Some sources say that we average about 19, some say 26. The typhoons doesn't hit Metro Manila all the time, but more often than not we'd feel it especially if it hits Northern Luzon. I can no longer count the number of typhoons I've experienced, but I can fairly say that I've been through at least a hundred in my lifetime.

Last weekend Typhoon Gener hit the country. It brought both winds and rain. Some of the typhoons I've experienced would just either bring wind (Basyang) and some just rain (Ondoy). Typhoon Gener was different because for the first time I heard the wind howl. It was strange and scary and I knew that we'd eventually lose power.

I was trying to blog when I heard a loud explosion and a few seconds after electricity was gone. We tried to monitor the weather situation through an Android radio app, but soon realized it was draining Sweetie's phone battery too fast. I remembered we had a tiny radio and Sweetie dug it up so we can check what's happening (standard technology is still in for brownouts!). (I never thought I'd be just like my parents haha).

I woke up the next morning freezing because the fan was already on. Power was back so I immediately turned on my desktop to check if Miguel's school called off classes. After that I checked my social networking sites and was surprised with a post made by Kuya Edwin.

One of our old trees in our church vicinity toppled over during the evening, narrowly missing Mama Mary and the Unborn Child Monument. Check out how the tree avoided hitting Mama Mary.

My Mom dropped by to visit me yesterday morning and I asked her if she heard about it. She didn't, so I showed her the photos. She was really surprised and immediately left to check what happened.

No one was hurt, especially not Mama Mary. This makes me believe furthermore that Mama Mary is looking over our parish. :)

*Thank you to Kuya Edwin who lent me his photos for this post. He is btw our #1 barangay kagawad.