Wordless Wednesday: Volunteering in Kenya

Six years ago, I went to Kenya for a one year stint as a VSO Volunteer.
It changed my perspectives completely.

Farmers meeting in Lukore.

Now I am back in my country, the Philippines, and I am still working in the development field. My experiences in Kenya have made me a better development worker and prompted me to work even harder for the advancement of the farmers, with particular interest with women.

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Monday Mellow Yellows and Signs: Merry Ati-atihan

Ati-atihan Festival 2016
A street-dancer garbed in colorful costume holds their tribe’s sign for everyone to see. Taken during this year’s Ati-atihan Festival in Kalibo, Aklan.

The texts on the sign:

VIVA, SR. STO. NINO
7
KABOG (the name of tribe, meaning “bats” in English)
Kalibo, Ati-Atihan

Estancia
Kalibo, Aklan

This picture takes me back to the road trip we had in January. My husband, I, and sisters-in-law, with their husbands in agreement, made a last minute decision of going to Kalibo, Aklan to join in the Ati-Atihan celebration. So I gathered my sons and two nieces who expressed interest in going as well and embarked on a three-hour ride to Kalibo, the capital of Aklan.

It was a fun event even with kids in tow! It was mighty hot walking around as revelers, watching the street-dancing and other activities,  but, we were prepared with sunblock, water, and food especially for the kids.  The kids were troopers — they were walking (as the streets are full of merry-makers) and only complained when they got hungry or needing to use the toilet.

We spent the night in one of my sister-in-law’s place. Everybody squeezed in the one-bedroom house. We had a big dinner where everyone pitched in and the hosts also provided beer for the adults. As if we weren’t tired from all the walking and dancing,  we spent most of the night talking and laughing while the kids were busy playing with computer games. It’s rare when we have occasions of bonding like this but whenever we have the opportunity, we always grab it. How about in your family, how often do you get together with your families?

Monday Mellow Yellows

Monday Mellow Yellows: Street-dancing

Hello everyone. I hope you all had a meaningful Lenten season.
And now we resume our regular routines, hence, I am back online :)

I am sharing with you a picture of schoolchildren dressed in a traditional Visayan costume: the kimona (thin, cotton blouse) and patadyong (loose skirt) for the girls; and camisa de chino (a collar-less, long-sleeved cotton shirt thought to have come from China) and a loose, cotton pants for the boys.

Schoolchildren from the different schools in Ivisan join in the street-dancing activities.
Schoolchildren from the different schools in Ivisan join in the street-dancing activities.

This was taken during last year’s Buyloganay Festival in my husband’s hometown in Ivisan, Capiz. Buyloganay Festival is an annual festival celebrated in honor of the town’s patron saint, St. Nicholas of Tolentino.

The word buyloganay is a Hiligaynon word which means unity and cooperation, a quality that characterizes Ivisan and its people. The festival was held with lots of activities in the town center, including a grand parade that showcased street-dancers from different local elementary and high schools in the municipality.

Monday Mellow Yellows

Monday Mellow Yellows: Rising sun

I’m not a morning person but there are times when I am required to get up very early and report to work. These are times when we have some visitors to take to our project areas so we needed to be there ahead of them to make sure that every thing needed for their visit is in place.  Some weeks ago, we had another group of visitors and so …

One of the best things about going to work ahead of everybody is I get the opportunity to see the sun rise from the east, as you can see in the picture. Not many people these days get this chance to witness the beautiful sunrise.

One of the perks of going to work verrrrry early!
One of the perks of going to work verrrrry early!

I don’t know but I feel so lucky watching the sun rise from behind the mountains. Lucky to be alive, to see another brand new day. That’s just me, being in awe of God’s creation and His magnificence… on my way to work and enjoying the view unfolding before me.

How about you? How do you feel when watching a sunrise, or a sunset?

Monday Mellow Yellows

Monday Mellow Yellows: Gown

In December 5-8 last year, the whole city of Roxas and province of Capiz celebrated Sinadya sa Halaran. It is one of the much-anticipated festivals in the province and one that is steeped not only in tradition but also in fun and merrymaking for all Capizenos here and abroad. This festival is held in honor of the province’s patron, the Blessed Virgin Mary.

A month after the festival, I took my sons and my two nieces to a local resort in Roxas City for a dip in the swimming pool there. It’s a nice, family-friendly resort with lovely gardens. We like going there for some quick R and R.

On our way to the receptionist’s counter, we were greeted by this lovely mannequin at the lobby. It was dressed in a lovely yellow floral gown.

Apparently, the mannequin and some posters that were up on the hotel’s walls were part of an on-going exhibit of sorts displaying the faces of Sinadya sa Halaran.

A mannequin dressed up in a lovely yellow floral gown.
A mannequin dressed up in a lovely yellow floral gown.

The lovely gown features an intricate floral pattern, all embroidered by the skillful hands of the women of Capiz. The butterfly sleeves were decorated in what looked like cowrie shells to me. We were told by the staff that it was the same gown worn by the festival queen. It is really pretty and colourful, but my youngest son got scared of the mannequin he wouldn’t go near it.

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Life on my side of the world

My long-planned blogging comeback has been put off several times already this year.
So much has happened in the family – my boys are doing great. My husband, although still not a regular employee at the municipal agriculture office, is doing great at his job. My eldest son is now in Grade 6 and my youngest just turned 2. I myself have not met my goal of losing weight but nevertheless I achieved another, that’s getting a new job right after the previous one ended. I’m just so happy that I didn’t have to wait long.

Also, we lost a dear family member recently. Nene Lilia, as we fondly call her, was my father’s eldest sister. She died suddenly. She had no known illness. She merely complained of dizziness and told my mother that she was going to lie down to rest. An hour later, she’s gone. A week later, when family members arrived from in and outside of the country, she was laid to rest in this quaint private cemetery somewhere in Mongpong.

Rest now in the arms of the Lord, my dearly beloved Nene Lilia.
Rest now in the arms of the Lord, my dearly beloved Nene Lilia.

Nene Lilia was one of the most important family members because she helped raised me, my siblings, my cousins and down to our children. She has no family of her own, a spinster, and she made it a promise to herself to devote her life taking care of everyone. She puts the needs of others first, before her own. She’s one of the most loving, persevering, selfless and hardworking person I’ve ever known. We are heartbroken about her being gone but we are comforted that she didn’t suffer any debilitating disease, nor experienced a lot of hardship or terror. She died peacefully with family members around her. Nene Lilia will be majorly missed by everyone. My kids, who adored her, are still too young to fully grasp the concept of death. They ask us from time to time when will Lola (Grandma) Nene come back home. A question whose answer is quite challenging to find when asked by little kids.

Apps That Balance Work with Home Life

Being a working mom can be daunting. I am torn between my desire to stay at home with my kids and that burning desire for career advancement. Is it possible to do both? How can we find the balance?

Finding that healthy divide between family and your job is often easier said than done, but definitely not impossible. There are a host of productivity apps out there on the market, and Sarah Perez of Miami Herald has interviewed a number of working mothers to find out which of them were their favorite.

screen322x572Bill Keeper
Keeping up with office deadlines is a challenge on its own that can cause you to forget important home deadlines such as bills, though with an app like Bill Keeper, Miami trusts and estates attorney and mother of twin teenaged boys Tammie Purow manages finances with ease. To avoid unnecessary stress from piled up bills at the end of the month, she pays for utilities and such as soon as they come through, checking them off as she completes the transaction through the app. In case you can’t pay for the bills right away, the app has several features that will track and remind you of your impending due dates.

screen568x568Waze
For moms that commute, Waze is the app that will help you navigate through rush hour. A lifesaver to many, this is the world’s largest traffic app based on information from fellow Waze users. Mobile internet is a powerful force in the internet landscape, says the managers of the online gaming hub Spin Genie, enabling any smartphone user to share real-time data on accidents and anything traffic related with this online community. This great feature allows commuters to avoid traffic jams between destinations so that they never have to be late for work, appointments or recitals.

screen568x568 (1)Publix Online Ordering
With all those extended meetings, 9-5 office hours and corporate events, there just doesn’t seem to be enough time to shop for groceries. Luckily, supermarket chain Publix has created an app that lets you do all your shopping on your phone. Whether you’re looking to get a prescription filled or have several items to pick up at the deli, Publix Online Ordering puts together your order on the app so that all you have to do when you get to the store is pay at checkout.

Monday Mellow Yellows: Planner

Happy Holidays!

Hope you are having a great one.
We had a small and simple celebration at home, with two of my younger brothers coming home from Cambodia to join us. It’s a tradition for most Filipinos to come home – wherever they may be – to celebrate Christmas with the family. If only my older sister was able to join us, our family would have been complete this holiday.

Look at what my baby sister gave me –

My baby sister got me this planner for Christmas :)
My baby sister got me this planner for Christmas :)

How about you, did you have any Christmas traditions that are still being practiced up to these days?
Would love to know about it.

I would also like to wish you all – in advance – a very prosperous new year!

Monday Mellow Yellows

Monday Mellow Yellows: Plastic chairs

I’m currently traveling back home after attending a five-day project planning workshop in Tacloban City.

As some of you may know, Tacloban was massively devastated by last year’s Typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan). From my hometown of Roxas City, I took a bus that would take me to Iloilo City. There, I took a plane to Cebu City. After arriving in Cebu City, I then boarded a boat to Ormoc, then a bus to reach Tacloban. All in one day. I arrived in Tacloban tired and famished and ready to call it a day.

It was a great day for traveling – the skies were clear and the sea so calm. While waiting for our boat to Ormoc, I noticed that there were only a few passengers; the waiting lounge was sparsely populated.

yellow chairs at the Cebu City port

Where have all the passengers gone? Probably not too keen to travel as, after the most recent Typhoon Ruby’s visit (international name: Hagupit) in the Visayas region, another LPA (Low Pressure Area) was sighted along the Visayas-Mindanao area.

Monday Mellow Yellows

Monday Mellow Yellows: Thankful!

Thank God, typhoon Ruby (Hagupit) has left our province since last night and today, when the authorities have gone out for inspection, there were no major damages in the aftermath of the typhoon. Our province was under typhoon signal no. 2. Unlike last years typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), we were under signal no. 4 and in the direct path of the super-typhoon.

Still, we made sure we were prepared – for who knows – typhoons also change paths as they enter. Luckily for us, we were spared of major devastation. Other provinces were not and our thoughts and prayers are with them as we all start to re-build our lives.

Today, the rains have stopped, no more cold, strong winds, and the weather is good. Everybody is relieved. Today is also the feast day of the Immaculate Conception. People went out of their ways to hear the holy mass this morning – not only to celebrate the feast but also as thanksgiving for the protection received during the typhoon.

Here is a photo inside the cathedral – the altar with the statues of saints and the Immaculate Conception is bathed in yellow glow.

The altar of the Immaculate Conception Metropolitan Cathedral in Roxas City, Capiz.
People came to hear mass this morning at the Immaculate Conception Metropolitan Cathedral. Photo taken by my SIL, Minmin. Thanks.

The Philippines is predominantly Catholic. And being through many typhoons, earthquakes, floods, corrupt politicians, etc., we still have a lot to be thankful for.

Monday Mellow Yellows

Monday Mellow Yellows: Visualization

This is some kind of a visual output I made – albeit unfinished – during one of the activities at the Gender in Humanitarian Action Training I attended a few weeks ago.

monday mellow yellows my artwork

Gender in Humanitarian Action is important for development practitioners like me as it will enable us to acquire a greater understanding of what is gender equality (male-female inclusive) in programs and how will we apply this in our day to day work. Development workers like me are faced with different levels of situations that require gender sensitivity and we need gender-specific tools to integrate in our work processes.

Monday Mellow Yellows