Witnessing a Mythical Dragon’s Rebirth (Hiraya Minokawa Dabaw)


It was through the prodding of a colleague in school (while having our weekly swimming session) that I was encouraged to join the first-ever dragon boat team to be formed in Davao City.  I wasn’t expecting for it to happen sooner rather than later.  Little did I know then…

April 2, 2014 (the day after my mom’s 40 days) when that same colleague told me a meeting will be held for the dragon boat team preparation.  Training started immediately on that weekend (April 5 & 6, 2014) from 5:ooam – 7:00am.  I just started my Saturday summer work then, so I had to rush to school to clock in by 8am.

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It was only during the 2nd day of training that I felt how well my muscles were working.  I had aches and pains all over the muscles of my body that I had long-forgotten I had.  Flashback to my high school life and Preparatory Military Training (PMT). Well I guess, nothing really bonds you with another human person better than sharing the same experiences (and the same body pains) to attest to your camaraderie and unity.

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The first day, first batch trainees

April 9, 2014 (Araw ng Kagitingan)

A meeting was held at Aling Foping’s Halo-halo at the Matina Town Square (MTS) to discuss various matters involving the the dragon boat competition as well as finalizing and in making our team official.  In particular, what name will we carry.  The first few names up for selection were quite generic until it the words “Hiraya” and “Minokawa” were mentioned.  It got everybody a-buzzing with curiosity and awe then finally “HIRAYA MINOKAWA DABAW” was chosen as the team name.

Personally, I didn’t get much of the hype then.  But I guess that’s how we all must journey at first… alone.  So when my name got included in the Creative Committee (heaven knows why when I have only a limited number of creative bones in my system… especially in drawing and designing!), it was during those solo moments of conceptualizing that it began to call on me and own up to it… becoming part of the team.

Hiraya

Hiraya, according to one of my teammates, is the offspring of combining hopes, dreams, aspirations, and wishes.  So I guess it’s all about promoting positivity and goodwill… and it’s what happiness is made of.

The Minokawa

The Bagobos wove tales of the Minokawa as a giant bird as big as an island.  It had eyes akin to mirrors, large beak and legs fashioned with steel, and wings as sharp as swords.  The Minokawa was said to be able devour the sun and/or the moon.   For a detailed background of the Minokawa, click here.

Honestly, I love stories about dragons but discovering one kind that is part of one’s own natural culture

Hiraya Minokawa Dabaw

It’s amazing how something that you didn’t know about nor hear stories of would suddenly hold a special place in your life.  How you would widen your scope to get the bigger picture, explore various avenues, and push your boundaries to find out more about what you’re aiming for.  Never becoming satisfied until you find the one wherein you, and your teammates can resonate with (and I’m just talking about the conceptualization and visualization for our team logo here!).  But it rings true, in dragon boating as well.  You start out from knowing without… then as you come to experience it, you want to know more about the sport, tapping and connecting with people who are on the same boat, challenging yourself to work harder to become at par with the team.

Nope... not this one...

Nope… not this one…

In my few weeks of training for our dragon boat competition, I found it important to be at peace and be one with yourself.  You are not competing with the other members of the team on who’s the strongest, or the fastest – who could beat the other on whatever.  Because if it were a competition within the team, then we would be a lost cause.

Companionship (as those in the religious would call it), Camaraderie (for the sports-minded), Congruence (for some psychologists), Unity (for some sociologists), or Synchronicity (in the words of our Dragon boat team captain) is the key to a successful team.  It’s not about second-guessing what the one in front of or beside you will be doing, but more of dancing to the same tune, hearing the same pounding of the drums, beating like one heart as we paddle through the water.

I have yet to experience such a moment of “one-ness” with my team.  But as the time for the race approaches, my excitement slowly awakens my spirit with each passing day.  Much like being roused from it’s mythical sleep, our hearts will resound with our Hiraya Minokawa – our hopes and dreams – taking them all by surprise as an eclipse would.  Winning is not our primary goal, but to make our presence known.  And as we raise our paddles in entry, we slice the water with purpose.

hiraya minokawa logo

 

A Month Later


It’s been a month after my mom passed away. A month since I’ve come to face the fact that I am now a full orphan.

Still… I can’t find myself to write my thoughts…

Sorry folks.

Comprehensive Exam Reviews


So another milestone is to be hurdled to this Saturday (January 18, 2014) and the next (January 25, 2014).  Comprehensive Exams have slowly crept its way to my life as I know it.

People I know who’ve had their comprehensive exams say that we have it easy since our lessons are still fresh in our minds.  (Uhhh… maybe if Statistics weren’t involved, I’d be more confident).  After the mad dash the week before to comply with the last-minute application, I only had a week for reviewing for the exams this coming Saturday.  UGH!!!

And it just so happens that one of my pupils are acting out requiring immediate attention for this past week.  Now it’s Friday and I feel I’m getting nowhere with my review.

Better burn the midnight oil and offer up candles and prayers for my examination soul tomorrow.

Cycling Chronicles: BFF Bike Buddies


{Wow! It’s been MONTHS since I’ve last posted! So many things have happened but I had so little time to spare to share about it. So I’m clumping this one all together.}

My BFF Toffee has returned to our hometown (for good, so she says) and I’m one happy camper knowing she’s decided to come home. One of her targets upon returning home is… to buy a bicycle. November 2013 came when we started scouting out possible bicycle options when it was just plain love-at-first-sight with one particular ensemble that got caught her attention. Here are some photos of that eventful weekend.

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Hmmm…

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This is it!!!

Toffee opted to bring her new ride home the next day (November 3, 2013). So we met up again the next day to seal the deal. :)

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The pick-up crew!

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Ready for pick-up!

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And it’s all set! {I dub thee Mischief!}

Just in time to join the Fun Ride sponsored by Marco Polo Hotel Davao on their 15th year anniversary.

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In preparation for the fun ride Toffee and I went for a test ride the day before just to stretch up our muscles and have a feel of taking long rides. For me it was to practice my pace once again with my bff by my side. From their home, we rode for about 19.9kms (based on the Runtastic app I had) at just a slow pace. It was a two-hour ride around town before heading back. {Good to know we could survive 20kms without pulling a muscle or two.}

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Practice Ride

November 10, 2013: Fun Ride Day

The front wheel of my bike encountered a problem at the start of the ride. I removed a thumbtack that was lodged in my wheel which caused the puncture to become more pronounced and air started seeping out of my wheel. Darn! Thank God it survived the 20km ride though. City road inclines turned out to be a challenge but… nailed it nonetheless!

We didn’t win during the raffles but the food was quite sumptuous and knowing that this would be the first of many bff cycling chronicles was reward enough.

So after the fun, I got my inner tubes replaced and so far, they’re good!

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I Turned Another One!

November 15 when my other bff Cphinx and I went out for dinner and consequently had a chance to have a l0ok-see on prospective bicycle options for her. It was another l0ve-at-first-sight moment for my bff. Basing on looks, specs, and overall gut-feel. Toffee wasn’t around to witness it that time though so the photos would have to do.

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I dub thee “Roku” {BFF would NEVER agree on that name. lol} This is Red.

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Night Ride Test Ride

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Red’s overnight at home. {Told Cphinx not to ride out at night especially for the first time}

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Our first early morning ride together!

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Yup!

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A quick “hello”

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Heading home (with a few pit stops along the way)

BFF Bike Buddies and Rogue Riders

Joining a cycling group is easy. A number of bikers would invite us to join biking groups but on a personal level, I held back. I still consider myself as a newbie and being in a group of well-experienced bikers may tend to intimidate me. Sure their sparks of wisdom would be welcomed, but the pressure of being part of a group can sometimes take its toll… especially on upgrading. So I’m well and good with my bffs as my bike buddies. We 3 are what you may call “Rogue Riders”. Thankfully, we’ve met a few experts who help us in maintaining our rides {special thanks to Kuya Mads of Ridea, and “Champ” of Racing Edge}.

The last two months of 2013 was a whirlwind of bike rides both long and short within the city limits (and 1 very long intercity ride between me and my bloodred sister Cphinx).

November 23, 2013 {1st BFF Bike Ride}

November 23, 2013 {1st BFF Bike Ride}

December 1, 2013 {1st Intercity Ride}

December 1, 2013 {1st Intercity Ride}

December 8, 2013 {Following a New Route}

December 8, 2013 {Following a New Route}

December 15, 2013 {Sun City... Conquered!}

December 15, 2013 {Sun City… Conquered!}

December 28, 2013 {With a new Rogue Rider!}

December 28, 2013 {With a new Rogue Rider!}

Waking up early morning, plotting out routes, weaving through city traffic, conquering inclined elevations, and facing the heat of the sun during our weekend rides have become a steady routine for the past weekends. Most of which have become the highlight of my weekend and a means of bonding with my best buddies.

My cycling mileage has steadily accelerated for the past few weeks. The cycling bug has gotten into me that – for the duration of our Christmas break – I’ve often found myself engaging in short rides in travelling. Especially in places that I can securely park my bike. Being the occasional navigator in our group has made me all the more careful in cycling and in guiding my bffs. When roles get reversed and I’m the sweeper, it becomes more humbling to be the cheerleader of the group most especially during long rides and uphill climbs.

There are still a number of things I have to learn in managing my ride. But I’m truly grateful that there are people that I’ve come to know who are very eager to be of help and have always thought of the rider’s safety first and foremost. My ride is now Stark 3.1 and it still has a long way to go before I’ll start easing up on the upgrade. But so far, Stark has been just a breeze.

My 2013 Cycling Chronicles were filled with many adventures with Stark {my bike}. Rides with different bike buddies, conquering inclines and plotted routes, various bike upgrades, almost accidents, moments of weaknesses and desperation, and trips full of lessons in life. I’d like to believe I’ve become quite confident in my rides (proud of the fact that I can pedal with “no hands” for more than just a few seconds) which helps in plotting out routes and in “cheerleading”.

So I’m looking forward to my 2014 Cycling Chronicles filled with more adventures and memorable moments!

Hopefully soon enough I’d get to have this versatile casing installed in my ride:

Armor-X ipx7 iPod Holder

How about you dear readers? Any chronicles you’d like to share? Thoughts perhaps? :)

Counting Down 2013


It’s less than an hour left before the year 2013 comes to a close.  I don’t want it to pass without wishing everyone a HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

As I wait with the rest of the country in welcoming 2014, I find myself… and my thoughts… being all over the place.  I’ve missed out on a couple of months blogging.   And though I seem to have the time now, my mind keeps wandering.

The year 2013 has been a struggle for me.  Life has been… challenging (to say the least!).  But that story’s for another post which I have yet to finish.  So let’s skip that for now.  I still have a lot to be thankful for though.  Good health, food, a job, the comfort and support of friends, and my mom surviving another year from her illness.  That’s the icing on this year-end cake.

Earlier this afternoon during one of our cycling chronicles, someone asked me if riding my bike was my new year’s resolution.  I answered with a flat out “No”.  I’ve been riding quite frequently for the past two months that it has become a part of my normal routine.  So it’s not a resolution… but a decision.

At that moment, I realized resolutions work more when it’s a decision you’ve opted to make and had the drive to stick to it.  It doesn’t have to be at the start of the year.  Anytime would do.  As long as the passion is there and it’s something you really want pursue.  It helps all the more if you have people around you and cheer you on along the way.  I’m not just talking about biking, or keeping fit, or staying healthy, but in other aspects in life as well that makes a difference.

Each year teaches us lessons.  Sometimes brutal ones that either make us reach out to the deepest recesses of our hearts to draw out herculian strength we didn’t expect from ourselves.  Other times, reminding us of the little things that make life fulfilling akin to the joy of being in the company of true friends and the simple joys of day-to-day surprises.

I wish I could enumerate every single moment wherein the year 2013 taught me more about life and finding myself… but my words wouldn’t do justice for that.

Now as I come to end this post 20 minutes before 2013 exits, allow me to say THANK YOU for taking time in reading my thoughts and a HAPPY NEW YEAR to you and yours!

THANK YOU 2013, and WELCOME 2014!!!

Counseling and Me


Some people think that counselors have an easy job. Often, others think that they (counselors) just stay in the comforts of their own offices and relax until they are needed. I beg to differ. Counseling is more than just a profession. It is a vocation – a calling.

Counseling is a tough job

Counseling requires skills and capabilities that are measured not by the quantity of the output, but of its quality. There is no TOS (Table of Specifics) nor general lesson plans that can be followed in helping each individual as they encounter the road bumps of their lives. As counselors journey with their clients, they are brought to deepest and darkest moments of these special people who are in their most vulnerable moments and become witnesses of the inner strength and revel in their potential as they struggle in overcoming their issues.

Counseling is for the strong and open of heart

Counseling is like believing in the magic of miracles. It is with the belief and the knowledge that just by being there – actively listening, quietly accepting – we make the world a better place for those who are lost and confused. As we see the each little challenge and success of our clients, we become empowered in being the best that we can be. Always looking at the bright side of the horizon.
As clients open up to us, although we are one with them in their journey, it does not break us down as humans but build our character as we are called to serve.

But most of all, counseling is all about knowing your own person – identifying strengths and weaknesses and making the most of improving yourself. It’s about being genuinely you without invading someone’s unique individuality. It is achieving harmony and balance between the possible and the impossible.

“We are sent into the world to live to the full everything that awakens within us and everything that comes toward us.” – John O’ Donohue

I’m Not Scientific


I’m not scientific.
It’s not in my demographic.
I can not easily state an event so historic,
nor solve challenging problems in Arithmetic.

I tried to be analytic,
but that wouldn’t be too humanistic.
I find it difficult to find means so economic…
Or maybe I’m getting too drastic.

Is there even any logic?
It looks like an onset of panic!
Not to sound hypochondric,
but let’s face it… I’m not bionic.

                                                        – Mitz Mercado

Here’s to the Crazy Ones


Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.

- Steve Jobs

My Happy Place


Everyone has a “Happy Place”.  Somewhere they can go to when the heart is stricken with sadness, loneliness, and fear.  A place full of possibilities and promises… where acceptance is never a foreign word.  A place of nurturing, of genuine care, love, respect, and great faith in you as an individual plying along the busy streets of life.

When I hear people say “I’m going to my happy place now” I always pictured them transported into a large meadow of the greenest grass… of birds flying along the horizon, flowers blown by the breeze as they dance to the rhythm of the wind, and dream lighting illuminating the scenery.  Then cue an orchestra of sweet music of course.

So… “cartoony” right?  Well, even I couldn’t visualize a more concrete place in my mind’s eye except for that very elementary and surreal picture.   Sure, I consider my home a sanctuary while growing up.  I’ve also made my workplace cubicles, rooms, and office spaces as personalized as I can to give me a sense of comfort during life’s rollercoaster ride.  It gives a momentary respite, yes, but I still end up searching for that place when the little stresses build up into something more.

During one ride home, as I was slowly rehashing another eventful day of the social kind, I was drawn to checking old chat messages from my friends when an epiphany struck me.  Like the sound of echoes reverberating in the deepest caverns of my brain saying “happy place… happy place” – my little crate of worms that I turn to when I need a good laugh, a place to vent, and just be myself.  A small corner in this technologically advanced world that a couple of my friends (some who are very far away) and I made to be able to keep in touch.  And since then, it has become my sanctum – my source of smiles and comfort  when life brings me down.

To clear up the risk of sounding crazy, let me just say that it’s not just that little niche that makes it meaningful but what it symbolizes.  The long-lasting friendships, the endless meaningful conversations, the teasing and bantering, and surprising paths to self-discovery… things that can never be measured.   It is a reminder that no matter how I may feel and regardless where life may take me, there is always, ALWAYS that one place that I can go to for comfort and clarity and set me back on my course.

My happy place.  A segue between reality and realization.

Thank you (you know who you are!) for being a part of my happy place!!!

Quick Question:  What/Where’s your happy place?

Somehere in My Youth… or Childhood


I’m still on a high from all the festivities and celebration with my closest friends over the weekend.  Definitely my most memorable and most surprising birthday ever!  I feel lucky and blessed to have the greatest set of friends anyone could ever have!!!

Nothing comes from nothing… Nothing ever could.  So somewhere in my youth or childhood, I must have done something good.

- Something Good, The Sound of Music

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