Monthly Archives: June 2013

Another Close Encounter

Sometimes, all it takes is an invitation to be able to experience something communal and yet so uniquely your own in appreciating life’s little wonders.The Student Development Center (SDC) is one venue that provides opportunities in seeing the world in a new light.  As one of the representatives of SDC, I am a witness to that.

It was with the invite from COPERS (Center of Psychological Extension and Research Services) for a debriefing of soldiers formerly assigned in Basilan, that I reached another set of “first moments/milestones” in my life.  1. Visit Butuan City.  2. Travel overnight for volunteer activities.  3. Debrief soldiers in the likelihood of the “torya-torya” module of Dr. Gail Tan Ilagan, Ph.D. (author of the book War Wounded).

The travel was last Sunday (June 23, 2013) was quite uneventful (mainly because I slept all throughout the trip – from 12:00MN to 6:00AM approximately – with a few waking moments in between) since it was the ever-famous “Nonoy Legend” who was our designated driver on the trip, making sure we were all safe and sound in the van.  We arrived in Butuan City roughly around 6AM.  Had our breakfast in Dottie’s , took a couple of snapshots, and went on our way to our destination.

Arriving at the camp, we were warmly greeted by the officers and had our short introductions.  While we were taking a couple of minutes rest in our transient facility’s room, my roommates and I were able to discuss how to get on with the “torya-torya” (as some of them were new volunteers) and my ever-ready GLH engaged in practicing activities that may help in the debriefing.

True enough… her skills were called for during the lull periods in between (as evidenced below):


Ever-the-ready entertainer

Anyway, since there were only 20 volunteers accounted for and an estimated 360 soldiers to get to know better, the numbers became a bit overwhelming.  However, the actual number lessened so 15 of us were assigned to one team composed of 7 soldiers to talk to.

At first, I was having doubts on my capabilities… worrying that they might not want to talk to me about their life and if I would be of any help at all.  Or worse, would be at such a loss that I’d have to raise my own white flag in surrender!  Facilitating teambuilding I could handle, but this might be more than what I bargained for. Thankfully, the soldiers were very gallant and were easy to talk with that it felt like being able to see how they live their lives whenever they have operations.

Here are a couple of photos of the encounter.

Under the proverbial mango tree (not really a mango tree though).


Team A


Team Agila and Me


The A Team

After all teams were gathered and closing remarks were said, time for some photo ops!


Class Photo


Class Photo… Wacky?

A surprise token of appreciation for volunteers.


Copers Volunteers

Authentic Boodle fights.


Boodle Fight!

A surprise token of appreciation.


A Token Much Appreciated

Volunteers were also debriefed.


Volunteer Debriefing

Sharing This One: Making use of what you have

Most times you always come prepared.  Other times… not.  Sometimes, starting and progressing in an activity are easily prepared.  It’s the wrapping up part that blocks you.  Like how you would be able to capture each person’s insight in one statement.  Words make you clumsy.  Nearing the end of my personal “torya-torya” with my team, panic started to creep into my psyche as to how I should make a fitting closure for our group.  Thankfully I had a pack of Mentos with me.

My story of the Mentos.

Imagine that you are a Mentos candy.  It has a hard outer shell.  Much like every person.  How we were raised, how we were trained, and what we’ve experienced make us strong, tough, and – sometimes – hardened.  But no matter how hard and unyielding the exterior may seem, on the inside of a Mentos candy is a soft and malleable core that can easily adapt and mold in any way.  So regardless how hardened we may be of whatever life throws us, in the core of our being, we can adapt well with the changes that may come.  It changes us and we become refreshed and come out renewed.  Be like a Mentos.


A Mentos Moment… Be Like A Mentos

It has been a humbling experience in being able to meet the frontliners in the country’s defense.  To be witnesses of what each individual goes through for the service of others.  I truly admire their quiet reserve, candid openness, and their ability to rise up against the experiences that some people might see as dark and hopeless.  Sometimes it’s not the war that they fear.  But how civilians shun away from their presence… from fear perhaps?  Stereotypes?  May be.

So the next time you see a soldier, take time to say “Hi” to them.  Your smile and warm greeting will definitely go a long, long way.


Dead End


If only people could be the same…

School Assignments and Helping Out

My cousin is currently busy doing her homework on the next bed. A worksheet, it may seem, on affixes and word definitions. I know I should already get some sleep but seeing her hard at it makes me feel a tad guilty if I sleep ahead. To be honest, I want to be sure that she gets her assignment done before we hit the sack.

She asked for my help earlier. Just to clarify the definition of the word liquify. Thankfully, my vocabulary has encompassed that word in my memory bank. But aside from that, she’s doing things on her own. She’s in her first semester in college, taking up Education Majoring on English.

Strikes me as weird that I am tempted on sharing the sentences that may speed up her process, but what’s most surprising is how I’m reining in the urge to do so. Must be the “educator” in me teaching her to be self-reliant and able to make use of her senses and faculties in the journey of learning.

In comparison, the daughter of our laundry lady has been frequently dropping by every night to ask help in her assignments thus making our home as her study den, and my cousin as a tutor. I think it was last Wednesday that my Mom, my cousin, and I became collectively involved in her assignment – the flag of the Philippines. I assumed it was part of the Independence Day commemoration in their school. For a fifth grader she was quite loud and a bit obnoxious. Add that to the fact that growing up alone there wasn’t too much noise or chatter at home for assignments, it was quite annoying. Nevertheless I let them be. Mom was eager to help her out (she wasn’t feeling any abdominal pains that night), my cousin offered to draw for her while I was listening to their conversations. I had to put my foot down on all the spoon-feeding they were doing. Told her that Mom rarely-to-almost-never helped me in doing my homework, and that she can find what she needs in books and in doing research. Whipped out my mom’s iPad and told her to read. She was still speaking very loudly (negatively) about herself but thankfully she listened.

The next day she was proud to report that her flag was the only one correct in her class. Since then, she’s become a regular visitor at home. Not that I can complain too much about it. At least there’s an extra pair of hands to help mom out at home and a VERY talkative little girl to entertain her during her moments of pain.

Point of reflection: There’s a fine line between helping out and in spoon-feeding learning. It boils down on what you want to develop in a person. Communication is a key to learning. It opens up many possibilities. But you must always be aware of where it leads both the teacher and the student.

For now, I would never have believed it if someone told me. i’d be helping out a fifth-grader on the human reproductive organ nor worry myself over a college student’s adjustment and school requirements. I would’ve laughed. Joke’s in me now.

A Letter to Gary Sinise

@GarySinise Hi!140 characters in twitter wouldn’t be enough to encompass what I would like to say. So please humor me with this homage of sorts to you and to one of the shows that I have come to love and follow all these years.

I just wanted to say how much I love how you portrayed your character Mac Taylor through all these years. I think it’s safe to even say I love the character Det. Mac Taylor in his whole being – the haunted widower with many sleepless nights (at the start), the stern yet compassionate boss, the highly intellectual and analytical scientist, the former marine, the quiet and dependable friend, and the all-around good guy. I’m pretty sure there are more defining qualities other fans could come up with but that’s my general idea.

CSINY has been my regular fix of procedural drama over the years that have passed. It was one show that I felt so at home with that watching each episode was like looking into the lives of long-time friends and sharing with them in their losses and triumphs in each episode. I loved how each character developed in every storyline and watching their personal lives unfurl with all that too-close-to-reality daily living scenarios. I enjoyed seeing the friendships made and love stories unfold (most especially the Danny-Lindsay arc). It was painful for me to see the character of Stella Bonasera to go too. Thankfully, her storyline upon leaving was more acceptable rather than that of Jessica Angell. When road bumps were introduced between each character’s relationship, it kept me looking forward how you’d all get past it and see it strengthen your bond. I truly admire each character’s individuality and how it contributed to such a great and entertaining show. I am always amazed in every episode especially the myriads of guest stars in your list.

I’m beginning to sound like a fangirl. But I doubt if my knowledge would qualify. So that’s all I can say for now. If you’ve actually read this then i truly, and deeply thank you! I admire you as an actor, but most especially as a person and your passion for your advocacies.

I’m still keeping my hopes up for more seasons. Take care always and, if it’s not too much to ask, please send my best regards to all the cast and crew of CSI:NY all the way from Davao, Philippines.

Only Music Can Understand


Madonna was right.

“Music makes the people come together.”

An unspoken bond – a link – was connected between me and my cousin late last night on to the early part of this morning (around 11PM to 1AM to be approximate). It may not have been something new in the atmosphere but it was a fresh and raw exchange of energy. Something that is akin to a teacher-learner interaction.

I taught her chords and basic plucking; she -in her quest for the songs she wanted to play – taught me new chords and a new plucking pattern. The desire to learn and the willingness to teach was as palpable as the guitar strings in our hands.

Quite a new experience for me. Knowing that my cousins are usually scared, shy, or intimidated by me and have one of those cousins slowly open up to me all because of a transfer of learning if you may… Of music.


The pull on my heartstrings as I listen to music suddenly compels me to play the guitar – the only musical instrument that I am able to finish a song with.

I’m no good at it but thankfully I can carry a tune with a few songs just within my range. I guess it’s much easier now to practice and play sheet music compared when I was still learning. And the fact that some old songs have been revived in simpler chords. New songs too have various versions that are easily accessible.

Nostalgia grips me at times as I strum the chords, pluck guitar strings, and use my dad’s guitar pick. Like I’m transported back to Sunday jamming sessions with him and learning complicated bass chords to add pizzaz to my music. I wonder if he’ll be proud of me now or would his endearing musical perfectionism would once again strike.

I miss you Dad.



Finally!!!  After more than a week of no internet connection from our DSL service provider, I’m back online!  I never really thought about how much staying online has become somewhat a necessity for me.

Rather than be annoyed with the CSR who faced my mom last week when she paid for the bill and complain about our connection (stating that the cause was an outage in our area), I’m just glad it’s finally up and running as of tonight after calling the Help-Desk.  Maybe realized that any further delay in response would become VERY detrimental to their reputation.

I hope mom’s happy too now that she can receive calls from her sisters abroad.

Vivid Dreams

I dreamt vividly last night. And remembered it clearly upon waking. Like the feeling of tangibly touching your armor, and you whispering your joy that I loved the armor you made for me.

It was SO COOL and at the same time too weird. I’ve never had a superhero type of dream in my life. Not that I can remember…

Then your friends came along and it was time to save the world. And that’s when I woke up.

You occupy my thoughts at times that reality and fantasy blur along the lines. If only I were a Level 5 dreamer.

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