Wednesday, December 31, 2008




As 2008 ends...

I declared 2008 to be a learning year (see previous blog here).


So did I learn anything? I did. A lot!


I learned that…


… my mind can be stretched (12 months of translating, and still going!)

… I have a Father who takes care of me (my travels in Europe and US attest to that!)

… I must dare for surprises await me (ex. got the recent Batterson book for free!)

… I need to always immerse myself in God’s presence, otherwise I’d fall

… I can live on my own (technically, not really alone but without my real family)

… I missed reading (so much!)

… I can still be a little more patient (learning still!)

… my beloved country, the Philippines, is really beautiful (Bicol & Davao attest to that!)

… friends are necessary for my sanity (Thank you for listening to me!)

… I have become more courageous (I can make a stand in the office.)

… I can now let go of things, people, places I thought would be hard to let go

… God (and life) really works mysteriously (more responsibility in the office, etc.)


But most of all, I have learned that God is the Rock of my life. The past year has been full of crazy and challenging changes. There are many things I could not and cannot understand. All I could do was to have faith that He is in control.


The year will soon end but I know that learning is forever. I am learning new things each day. Now, I wonder what 2009 would bring? 

Picture from :

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Highlights of the I Love Philippines summer special

Highlights of the I Love Philippines summer special 
Updated December 26, 2008 12:00 AM
Click here for the link.

I Love Philippines Summer webspecial

Explore the Philippines

Travel the Philippines

Love the Philippines!

The sceneries of the 7,100 islands of the Philippines have yet to be discovered. There are other places to explore and that was what our six contributors found out when they embarked on their own journey around the country.

“If I want to promote the Philippines, I would emphasize on the beautiful places. Kung meron mang negative, overwhelm na siya on the positive,” says Emmanuel Balmes who went on a road trip in Northern Luzon.

Jennifer Legaspi who shared her stories about Bicol and Laguna saw the opportunity to write a topic which she finds interesting. “I love writing and the topic was interesting; writing about the Philippines. And so far I’ve been loving more and more the country because of the trips I’ve been doing,” she says.

“Diving is a must there,” shares Marlies Bosch who wrote about her adventure in Coron, Palawan. “This is a place that is not talked about, not written a lot unless you google diving which would stand out.”

“I post my articles on Facebook and Multiply. I’m thinking of featuring other places and letting them know through the internet,” says Ari Luis Halos when asked how he can promote the country. Halos, who wrote about his El Nido experience says the country has so much to offer and should be highlighted. 

“Nature untouched,” is what Frances Billano described when asked about her trip to Mt. Pinatubo. The volcano, which erupted in the early nineties, is now visited by Filipinos and tourists through hiking and riding a 4x4 truck to see the crater.

“Bangui and Kaibigan falls is a must see. The short trek to the falls was worth it upon reaching it. You feel a sense of calm and serenity. Bangui of course was a sight to behold, you get to ask yourself, if this is possible here why are we not implementing it around the country?” says Win Marcella who described the windmills that powers the municipality.

For Emmanuel, Jennifer, Marlies, Ari Luis, Frances and Win, their adventures in the country shows that there is so much that we can offer. If we love our country, love its history and love the people, those all over the world will see the beauty the Philippines have to share. So come and journey with us. Explore, be mesmerize and shout to the world “I Love the Philippines.” 


I Love the North

by Emmanuel Balmes

“The reason why I chose not a specific location is because I've been to not just one place up north but different places and all of those places amazed me. My Name is Emmanuel Balmes, and I am an Engineer by profession and a motorcycle rider by heart. Me and my riding buddy are now looking forward to conquering Visayas, particularly Leyte and General Santos in Mindanao. I will never tire of exploring my own country, the Philippines. Now, if only the prices of gasoline can go down, that would be better.”


A taste of Bicol’s treats

By Jennifer B. Legaspi

"The sun has already set when we reached our next but real destination, Donsol, Sorsogon. We rested for a while and then headed on to the first activity offered to us: firefly watching. We settled in our little banca and two minutes into the voyage, we were swallowed by total darkness. It was only disturbed by intermittent flashlights as boatmen warned each other of their presence. It was eerie at first. Complete darkness, still waters, unknown destination, boatmen stranger to us. But the darkness became beautiful when we looked up. Hundreds of stars were twinkling in our sight. I sensed my trivialness as I gazed at the immensity of the skies. As we breathed the cool air and heard the constant sound of the motorboat, we became aware of the twinkling lights of the fireflies. For a few minutes, we just gazed as they danced among the trees to music only they could hear. The voyage and the visual experience were enough to make us forget our physical hunger and instead filled us spiritually. It was a perfect set-up for contemplation or prayer. And I did both.”

“I was a half-Bicolana who barely remembers my one and only visit to this region more than a decade ago. This trip was much more than an adventure. It was a discovery of my roots.”

Finding Paradise

By Marlies R. Bosch, M.D.

Club Paradise, Dimakya Island, Northern Palawan

“Club Paradise is also a well-established and well known Diving Resort.  The Dugong Dive Center has equipped itself with credible, courteous and professional instructors and divemasters with very high safety standards.  You can enjoy diving in the house reef which is home to a wide variety of marine life.  You can relax on the boat while it takes you on a diving trip to Apo Reef or Tara Islands.  You can have a once-in-a-lifetime experience of swimming with the Dugongs during Dugong Watching.  You can explore the numerous ship wrecks and relive history in your mind.  Or you can go to Coron Island and dive in Barracuda Lake where you can take pleasure from experiencing the extremes of a thermocline.  No matter which adventure you choose, it will definitely be worth your while.  And I assure you, you will surface with elation.”

"Club Paradise... a place where you can enjoy both the beginning and the end of the day... a different sunrise and a different sunset each day...a place full of smiles... a place full of good people with interesting stories to tell, stories that you'll never forget, stories that are unique to paradise... a place where the bats fill the wildly colored sky and migrate to the mainland at sunset... a place where deer and monitor lizards roam... a place that is home to the turtles who come to the beach to lay their eggs... a place where the baby turtles hatch and feel the sand for the first time and soon enter the sea after being taken care of for a month or so... a place full of enchantment where love blooms and families are built... the place where people dread the day they have to leave..."

El Nido - The Nest of Swiftlets and Jet Setters

By Ari Luis Halos

“El Nido, it seems, is the destination of choice of those who live to live on the edge and yet stay in touch with nature. Jetsetters pay an arm and a leg to ride in small planes for a low flight one and a half hour flight from Manila to a dirt and gravel air strip north of the town. Even landlubbers have it hard, they go ride a bus or a shuttle for a 6 hour long trip through rough, narrow gravel and mud roads from Puerto Princesa. Others, notably foreign backpackers, go for 5 hour long banca trips through sometimes rough seas from either Port Barton, Coron or even Sabang. If half a day doesn't seem long enough, one can opt to take the 30-hour long boat trip
from Manila to here via a small ship called a batil. However which way you get here, the trip is well worth it.”

"The El Nido airport is really just an airstrip located at the edge of a white sandy beach and mangrove fringed river. At the north end, you will find a small wooden pier jutting out to sea, affording a great view of Cadlao Island. The terminal consists of large cogon roofed huts where one can while the time reading, buying stuff from the souvenir shop, eat puto (native rice cake) and down it with either iced tea or coffee. As you make your way on board the plane, a group of singing women will bid you goodbye, wishing you pleasant memories of this place appropriately called El Nido, or The Nest, where one could find your second home." 

Mt. Pinatubo - My take on the beauty of the Philippines

By Frances Billano

“The 45 minute - 1 hour trail going up to Mt. Pinatubo's crater was a tricky obstacle course of loose rock, ash, and cold fresh water.  In fact, the trail was really a running brook.  I had to wear special "amphibious" shoes just for the hike.  But the hard walk was worth the destination.  Wild green growth everywhere, conquering even the ash from the 1991 eruption.  Fresh air blowing through your hair.  And the water!  The color of the water is even more amazing in real life:  a milky light blue which can only be described as "opaline" (like opals).”

“The volcano itself was grey and barren, spewing poisonous fumes.  How would it all become fertile again?  Vulcanologists were saying it would take about 70 years or so before full recovery.  But as more and more tourists have discovered, life in tropical Philippines insists on growing, even on ash.  Sort of like the resilient Filipinos.  Mabuhay ang lupang hinirang!”

Pagud but not upud!

By Win Marcella

“Pagudpud, coined from two words in the vernacular - pagud (tired) and upud (worn out), which they say is how you would feel upon reaching the place.

My wife Kat and I went to Pagudpud for our 2nd Wedding Anniversary, we just picked up our backpacks, searched the internet for directions and went straight to the nearest bus station. We were tired alright but definitely not worn out. It was the first for the both of us to that far north, 560 kilometers or so if I remember correctly. Taking the Florida Bus (near UST), the trip was a 12-hour bus ride from Manila, but upon reaching that northern town, it was worth the wait.”

“ If you want a place were you can just wind down and feel that your in the Philippines but outside the troubles of urban life, Pagudpud is definitely a must for you to visit, you'll definitely want to give your wife a kiss!”

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Celebrating this Day

May you be blessed by this song :

I Celebrate the Day by Relient K

Friday, December 05, 2008

Planning things through

I wish I could say that I always think things through. I don’t. I know how to plan and organize and to take into consideration potential roadblocks ahead. But just like anyone else, there are things that I don’t analyze inside out. Take for example Pretzel. When I took in this playful cat, all I could think of was “Poor kitten, it would be put to sleep if no one takes it in.” I forgot that he is going to be another creature to be taken cared of. But this is just an easy example. There are other aspects in our life that are harder to process. Prayer requests that we are not sure we want. Dreams that we question if we really want to happen.


Then at the other side of the coin, I sometimes make specific plans. I start off with plan A, then plan B, and so on and so forth, reaching until plan E. I make them based on what is happening in my life and what I think might happen in the future. Sometimes, a friend or a relative has the same plan. The funny  thing though is that we really cannot make plans. My plan B, a friends plan D, can suddenly dissolve into thin air because circumstances have changed. 

I am glad thought that there is God who plans my life. True, it can be frustrating sometimes when I feel lost and do not know where I am heading. But there is also a sense of excitement in wondering where He will bring me next. He has been faithful so far, bringing me to journeys I never imagined I would travel. 

So I continue with my adventure. I sometimes plan. I sometimes decide on the spur of the moment. I know He will guide me.

*image from  :

Lion Chaser Manifesto

Quit living as if the purpose of life is to arrive safely at death. Set God-sized goals. Pursue God-ordained passions. Go after a dream that is destined to fail without divine intervention. Keep asking questions. Keep making mistakes. Keep seeking God. Stop pointing out problems and become part of the solution. Stop repeating the past and start creating the future. Stop playing it safe and start taking risks. Expand your horizons. Accumulate experiences. Enjoy the journey. Find every excuse you can to celebrate everything you can. Live like today is the first day and last day of your life. Don't let what's wrong with you keep you from worshiping what's right with God. Burn sinful bridges. Blaze new trails. Criticize by creating. Worry less about what people think and more about what God thinks. Don't try to be who you're not. Be yourself. Laugh at yourself. Quit holding out. Quit holding back. Quit running away.

Chase the lion.

In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day by Mark Batterson (