February 18, 2011

Prologue: Memories of Coron, Palawan - The Last Frontier 2007

I was 16 years of age, very young and so carefree when  I found this place closest to my Heart. It was a stroke of luck when I got a chance to go there. My brother had a field trip way back in college and the destination was Coron. I wanted to come but it was a school affair, luckily my brother was good friends with the travel agent and said that I could join if I paid PhP7,000 ($300), and so my mom and dad paid for it and I was in!

Negros Navigation Ferry, where the journey began
It was noon when we arrived at a harbor in Manila which I don't remember where, the hot, dusty and humid air quickly makes my shirt smell like a dirty 4 year old. It didn't matter much to me because I was young, just 16 while all the boys and girls around had no "teen" word when you say their ages. I stayed closed to my brother and his friends to keep me company. The ferry ride was 15 hours to Coron.

The waters of Coron, clean and serene
It was 5AM when we arrived at the port of Coron and then transfered to a boat that can hold up to 20 people that took us to where we will be staying, at Dive Link. Just a quick breakfast and we were off the waters once again to tour the islands.

The majestic view cliff before entering Kayangan Lake.
I fell in Love with this view and it captivated me. I've never loved a place like this, it was first love all over again for me and I could see what she offers me.

That's me at the far right
Me at Kayangan Lake
I forgot other things we've done in Coron back in 2007 but all I can remember is how the place captured me, it holds magnificent views and sparkling waters.

Four years had passed and I dreamed of going back to this place I love, always mentioning Coron as my top destination over and over again. It's been four years now and then something happened. I'm going back to Coron after four long years.

*Watch out for my new 4-part blog series titled "The Last Frontier" which contains my recent travel back to Coron, Palawan here in my beloved country the Philippines.

February 12, 2011

Reach out, Share and gain!

Wow, it's almost been two weeks since I last "blogged in". To tell you the truth, I've been very busy with my studies. What we do in class are energy draining, brain powdering and time consuming activities. I've been into so much for the past week and I had an average of 4 hours of sleep. Tiring may the activities I've been into, there is something that I did that is one of the things I love to do the most, community service.

Yes, community service, lending my hands or anything I have and passing it on to others who are in dire of need of what I have. It was I think the last week of January when I my professor talked to me about helping out the children of our school's adopted school Jose Abad Santos High School in Binondo, Manila. At first I was surprised because they wanted me to teach Microsoft WORD, I mean I haven't got any experience teaching something about computer because I just use what I need and I didn't know shortcuts and other hot keys or whatever it is called.

Since it was community service, I took the challenge and squeezed it in my schedule and closed the dates Febuary 4 and 11 for the kids. Last Febuary 3 I downloaded a free MS WORD TUTORIAL and studied it until the wee hours of Feb 4. 

I didn't know what to expect and questions like "will they like me?" and "what if I realize here that I'm really a boring person?" ran through my mind as I was rushing to school because I woke up late. By the time I got there, the assistant handed me over a Catechism book. My face clearly showing confusion, my professor didn't tell me I was also to teach religion for 30 minutes before the lesson proper.

When I entered the room, I saw 40+ students looking at me trying to read me by scanning my awful sense of fashion. They were 1st year High School students, I recalled mine and it was the time of excitement. Their teacher told me that the students were among the best of the batch, it made me feel a little more pressured when she said that.

The ever smiling student of Jose Abad Santos High School.
I started teaching them the 7 deadly sins, things like lust, anger and gluttony (which I'm guilty of). The lesson went fun when I asked them to explain things of what they knew about sins and things like those. They were participating a lot and it made me happy because I'm getting through them and they like me.

After Catechism I proceeded to the lesson proper of the different uses of MS WORD. By this time I was joined by two of my friends who also pledged to help out, we were supposed to be 5 but only the 3 of us came.

Here's me with Aica, a Muslim student. In the picture we were talking about Halal food  and how much I love the Muslim Cuisine. She was quite surprised to learn what I knew about their culture.
I was teaching them in a fun way, making comedic acts, joking around, mimicking celebrities and literally  losing my dignity in exchange for their irreplaceable laughter which is a symphony to my ears and their sparkling eyes, a wonderful scenery. 

This is the music enthusiast Vlademir, I learned that he composes songs and have no specific influence.
Photo taken last Febuary 11, the 2nd and last session with the kids.
I only taught them MS WORD for I have no knowledge about MS EXCEL. During the 2nd session which was last Febuary 11, Rachelle taught them what she knows about the software. She was accompanied by myself and 5 of my classmates. She taught while we monitored the kids if they were getting the lesson.

That's the laughter and sparkly eyes that I was talking about. As I said I'd trade dignity for those.
I guess I wasn't at my highest energy that day because I had a rough sleep at my classmate's house last Feb 10. In the middle of the lesson I fell asleep and they took pictures of me, those kids hahaha!

Me with the boys and girls of Jose Abad Santos High School
I thought I was there to teach them, yes I did. What I didn't expect is that they teach me in another way. I asked them during our activity to write an essay about their dreams in life. We weren't really supposed to carry out the activity it just so happen that I thought of it at that moment. We had their activities printed and I read it at home. Their essays were full of hopes and dreams and it opened my mind that kids of their age still have that sense of success, they haven't given up in Life. Reading their work made me realize how lucky I am to study whatever I want, eat whenever I want and sit here in my room comfortably. 

You don't need money to help other people for the best thing you can give them is knowledge while the best gift a person can give to himself is education. Let's help our needy brothers and sisters, may it be Christian, Roman Catholic, Protestant, Muslim or another religion. We must for in sharing we become united and at peace. 

*Photos courtesy of Alvin Veri and Stephanie Atega