Thursday, December 25, 2014

Basket of Joy 2014 | Initiative for Social Action


(c) Dave Sinson III

I recently joined a group of young professionals, mostly law students from Ateneo and their group is called ISA or Initiative for Social Action. It was founded by Jaypee and Mark Robe. This  is purely volunteerism and giving service to the people, especially those in the marginalized sector. Since it only started few years ago, they only have an adopted community which is Sitio Yangka in Capas, Tarlac but they are planning to reach other communities in the near future.

Before our outreach last December 20 - 21, 2014, we had an orientation at the basement of a fast food chain. The orientation went well and everything were properly explained though I am still curious on what my contribution will be. (Ayoko namang maging palamuti lang dun). I was so excited the whole week, I really miss doing something that is out of my daily routine and meeting other people that I know will help me get back on track, which is really working with people. I was kinda lost when I started working in a medical setting.

(c) Jason Hernandez
Before our assault, we had an orientation/briefing at a fast food chain in Capas, Tarlac and stopped by at Paidyanan to give courtesy call and load 950 kilos of assorted goods to the 4x4 trucks, which will transport us to drop off point going to Sitio Yangka.

Going to Sitio Yangka was very challenging, we endured the 45 minute bumpy ride through lahar and crossed river just to get to the jump off point. Then, it took us 2 and a half hour to get to Sitio Yangka. The trail was harder than Ambangeg Trail of Mt.Pulag. It was all assault, as in 80 to 90 degrees and we were carrying some goods that will be given to the people of Yangka. Good thing is that, they helped us carry our thing. I envy their energy, they were running back and forth while I was panting to death. :P

Finally, when we got to the top, the whole community was waiting for us to give us their traditional welcome. They gave us necklace made of indigenous materials, children wearing their traditional dress (bahag and saya) while playing a clapper made of bamboo, and a bonfire which we had to circled.

We went straight to the classroom and settled down. The community prepared some refreshments and light snacks that we all enjoyed. SALAMAT PO! Then, we proceeded to the assignment of respective foster family.

Me and another volunteer, Nayie, were assigned to the Mendoza Family. They are composed of Tatay Dexter, Nanay Princess, Althea and Aljur. Tatay Dexter was not born nor raised in Yangka but preferred to settle down there because he found serenity in Yangka together with his family. Nanay Princes is from Yangka and she is only 20 years old but I prefer to call her as Nanay to show respect. Althea is so cute and does not want to wear undies or shorts while Aljur always want to be carried by his parents. hehe.

Let me tell you some things about Sitio Yangka their people and environment that I observed during my 24hour stay with them (I prefer not calling them as Aeta because labelling them is discriminating).

1. Basically, they live on top of a mountain,  which is not accessible by any motor vehicle, bringing in and out of goods is not that easy. In order to get there, you must really walk and hike your way up. Accordingly, you can walk 4 hours from the nearest town or ride a 4x4 truck going to the foot of the mountain and hike your way up to the top. Being so, basic commodities like hospital, market and school are not within their reach. But they have the most scenic view above!

"main road" of Yangka

This is their daily view

They have beautiful sunset here! 

2.People of Yangka live a very simple life, they do not have electricity nor gas range stove and water is not that accessible but I envy them for not whining about it. They are content with their usual routine, which is, waking up early in the morning, have some coffee, have a small talk with their neighbors about life and then proceed to their farms. All they want is a land to till and equality.

They usual way of eating together

An ordinary house in Yangka

Mendoza Family House

3. Just like the other Indigenous Communities they are facing human rights issues. (i.e. discrimination, basic education, health and sanitation, ancestral domains, even voters education and financial literacy) This is kind of frustrating because their voices is not really heard, that even the IPRA law is really applicable to them, they are still having a hard time fighting for their rights!

4. Family is what they value the most, all of them are related to each other. They are leaves in a tree, they are individual but still in same tree.

5. The energy of the people will recharge your soul, that no matter how tiring the hike was, it was all paid off with the smile and laughter they gave us. Specially when you hear the children scream "KAMUCHI!!!"

Every child in Yangka knows how to play this, I tried but I fell.


Children having fun with their bubbles!

Salamat Sitio Yangka dahil pinatunayan niyong di kailangan ng marangyang buhay upang maging masaya. Sana maging inspirasyon kayo sa nakakarami. Salamat dahil sa kabila ng lahat ng diskriminasyon na inyong natanggap ay patuloy pa din ang inyong pakikipaglaban sa ating pagka-pantay pantay! Padayon!

I want to go back to this place, it is a haven for me. The tranquility of the place and the energy from the children are priceless. Also, they are very respectful (which you will hardly see in children living in the metro). This is a perfect blessing for me this Christmas, they returned me to my roots and made me realize how blessed I am, to be thankful for all the things I have in life. I think every young professional should join these kind of activities, it is very enlightening and inspiring to be a better person. Instead of posting all the products of commercialism, why don't you help others who are mostly in need. Sometimes, our fast - paced life make us forget what is really the essence of life.

So, how was your Christmas? Did you touch someone else's life?




Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Make it Davao : Family Special

3D/2N Itinerary Trip to Davao

Davao/Dabaw - one of the largest cities in the world,in terms of land area. They are known for their Tourism, Food (Durian Capital of the Philippines), Hospitality, Taxi Drivers and their respectable City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte. Davao offers a diverse travel experiences for nature lovers - from the highest mountain in the Philippines to the white sand beaches to one-of-a-kind underwater world. They also offers a gastronomic experience for food enthusiast and their specialty are fruits and fresh seafood, specially Tuna. Davao is really a peaceful city, I commend Mayor Duterte for that, wishing all Mayors will be like him. 

Going back, in this post I will give my itinerary  and some tips on my recent trip with my family .Traveling with them is really fun but also pressuring because you want to give them the best without spending too much. So, if you are planning to have a trip with your family in Davao, better read my itinerary an other blog posts about Davao. 

Way back few months before our trip, I booked a ticket for the five of us going to Davao and got it for only 2,000Php per head,back -and-forth. It was really cheap! (Tiyagaan lang yan sa Seat Sale). What I love the most about my family is their simplicity and being always on-the-go. That is why I only manage to spend 4,500+ Php per person on a 3 Days 2 Nights trip to Davao and make the most out of it.

After months of planning, I was able to put through this itinerary and somehow saved a lot without compromising our comfort. you know when you are travelling with your family, safety and comfort is your main concern.

If you can see, almost all  of the tourist attractions were covered in our trip. It was tiring but when you see that your family is enjoying, it is worth it. Let me give you guys some tips on how I manage to spend only 4,500 Php and enjoyed a luxurious trip in Davao. 

1. DAVAO is really cheap. 
The cost of living here is really low, you can buy a good and sumptuous meal for only 50 pesos -100 pesos depending on your taste buds. Also, the transportation system is easy to follow. Ohh, the taxi drivers are giving exact change and do not overcharge! Lastly, staying in a decent hotel is cheap, you can get a family suite for only 3,500+! 

2. Never miss Museo Dabawenyo.
If you are into museums or enjoys knowing the historical background or culture of place, this museum is perfect for you! They were able to put up a museum that highlights the different tribes that are originated in Davao. There will be a tour guide that will assist you inside, it was fun and educating at the same time but taking picture is prohibited. You know what is the best part? THIS IS FREE!

3.  If you are travelling with groups, better hire a car or taxi.
It is way cheaper and convenient than taking public transport because most of the tourist attractions are quite far from each other. Just learn to haggle when you are looking for a car. On our case, we hired a taxi, since a van will not be a good idea and really expensive for us. 

4. Your Davao experience will not be complete if you will not stay in Samal Island.
It is a nearby island, only 30 minutes by a pump boat and a hour or more in a ferry. This place offers white sand beaches and beautiful scenery. We stayed at Hof Gorei Resort and loved it, cheaper than Pearl Farm but offers the same scenery. Ohh, what I love about this place is their landscape and that you have a personal butler. 

5. Never miss a fire dance show of Tribu K'Mindanawan
They are the best fire dancers in the world! They never failed to amaze me. I am a huge fan of their performances. They only do it on weekends between 6:00pm - 7:00pm. Everyone will enjoy this show. 

That was our Davao experience. It was my first time to travel with my family that requires us to be transported by an airplane. A lot of pressure on my part because I am the organizer, but like what I've said it was all worth it when you see the smiles from your loved ones. Ohh, this is my Anniversary gift for my parents. Now, they are asking me to bring them abroad. Yikes! HAHA. 

Travelling is my passion and sharing it with my family is very fulfilling! I can know put up a travel agency. haha. just kidding. 

P.S. Take the first trip to Davao, the one that depart early in the morning, SUNRISE is so awesome above!



Saturday, September 27, 2014

BORACAY : Weekend Getaway!

Aklan is famous for Boracay, a resort island one kilometer north from the tip of Panay. It is known for its white sandy beaches and is considered as one of the more prominent destinations in the country. Because of this, there is frequent air travel to the province’s airports in Kalibo and Caticlan. Also, Aklan is very famous for their Kalibo's Ati - Atihan festival.

This is the most popular tourist spot in the Philippines. Every year, millions of local and international tourists visit this lovely place for its festive vibe, food, and white sand beaches. This is a haven for those people who love this equation (PARTY + BOOZE + WHITE SAND BEACH = PERFECT WEEKEND) but for those who like it simple, this is not the place to be. It really gets crowded especially during LABORACAY (labor day every 1st of May).

I have been to Boracay twice and I must say, at first I was impressed (wala pa naman akong ibang napupuntahang iba noon). HAHA. On my second visit, a lot of things changed. The shoreline is shorter, there are lots of establishments (there are 2 MCDOs in the area), sand is not so white anymore, there is no proper waste management. Oooh! Everything is so expensive!! This broke my heart. (Tumaas na din siguro standards ko when it comes to beaches)

Anyway, I do not want to ruin your mood. I am here to give you my itinerary on a weekend getaway to the famous BORACAY! :) (because, yea, this is perfect for the "working class" / "weekend warriors")


It is an easy-piece of cake. There are daily and hourly flights going in and out of Boracay. You're jump off point could be Caticlan or Kalibo. Caticlan is the nearest jump off point to Boracay but airline tickets are way more expensive. If you are a thrifty traveler like me, Kalibo will be your jump off point (it is just one hour ride away to Caticlan). Don't worry I am always for the comfort but not spending too much.

From Kalibo, there are lots of transport groups outside the airport waiting to assist you. Since, I am a bit OC when it comes to my trips, I always book ahead of time. I chose Southwest Tours as our transfer from Kalibo going to our hotel because of the following reasons: They provide transfers from 5 am up to 11pm, you will be treated as a VIP, they are on - time, Their buses, vans and boats are very spacious. Their roundtrip transfer from Kalibo costs 975 Php (this includes all necessary fees). Pwede na! I mean, you are safe with them specially if you are traveling on wee hours.


There are lots of hotels and inns at Boracay! Anyway, if you are looking for a budget friendly, I recommend that you stay at Villa Simprosa. It is a simple boutique hotel, right in the middle of the action (station 2) and offers pasok-sa-budget accommodation. Hmm. Still better than La Carmela! Though, they do not provide breakfast or any meals but you have an option to cook your own food, they have gas stove and utensils for cooking. :)

We only paid 1,800 for a room that is good for 3 and we had early check - in. Since they are small, they do not have receptionist at night. So better contact them if you are coming late. Nevertheless, they are very accommodating and will assist you early in the morning. I advise that you choose the room that has the balcony and kitchen. Below are some pics on our first room, we have to transfer because the room assigned for us was not available when we arrived.

This is our first room when we arrived. Small and so simple.


There are lots of food chain restaurants in Boracay, specially in D'Mall. You can choose from MCDO, Shakeys, Yellowcab, Starbucks, Sr. Pedro, etc. Also, during night time, most of establishments set up tables in the shore and prices may vary from 200 - 2,000 Php. You can choose from fine dining to buffet. We dined at Le Soleil de Boracay, their buffet costs 900Php per person. :) Their ambiance is so laid back and perfect way to end your weekend!


There 101 things to do in Boracay, but when time is of the essence, you would only want to do things that will fit your lifestyle, as well as your budget. For me, I recommend that you visit Arial's Point if you are up to partying all day and cliff diving ;) but if you are not into adventure, you could visit Puka Beach and Diniwid Beach via land (do not succumb on the tours that they are offering as it is really expensive). Yes, you heard it right, you can visit these beaches via land, just one ride of tricycle and presto you are there. This is only for 20 Php.

There are various activities available at the other side of the Boracay. They have Helmet Diving, Fly Fish, Banana Boat, Parasailing, ATV, etc. :) Of course all of these comes with a hefty price

TOP 3 things I enjoyed doing when I was in Boracay:

1. Explore the whole stretch of Boracay shore. Photo Op! Selfie as much as you can!

2. Ride a tricycle going to Puka Beach.

Puka Beach may not be as fine as with Boracay but it offers a more serene and peaceful place to swim and enjoy the sun, sand and sea. Ohh, don't worry if you get hungry, there are a restaurants nearby.

2 thumbs up and a belly. :D

3. Go Paraosailing during sunset! :) It is a wind operated boat and you'll enjoy it and perfect for all ages. It is really a must try in Boracay.

How about you, what did you enjoy in Boracay? Sorry not a party type, I am more into nature. ;) Let me know yours.