Why is it hard to take R&R during a mission?

Everybody who knows the kind of work I do knows the value of “holidays.” It is the much-awaited time-off, planned at the beginning of the mission to fit within the whole year calendar of the post assigned.

According to me, the supposed rest and recreation (or recuperation) or simply R&R is not really that restful when planning for it.  Don’t get me wrong I am one of those who looks forward to it but very lazy to plan ahead because unlike some people traveling, it takes more effort for me to plan than it should be.

Because …

  1. I always have to plan ahead (which I don’t like) to get a visa if places I want to visit requires one for my nationality. And to do that I will need requirements that are sometimes complicated to gather when you’re out of the country to even be granted a 15-day pass.article-0-0B3FB5B800000578-178_468x315
  2. I try to be thrifty, but with advancing age and the kind of adventures I like nowadays, I will need to shelve a little more than what I used to do. Now, I prefer to enjoy a little luxury and comfort when traveling. Top-10-Luxury-Travel-Trends-and-Predictions-for-2013
  3. Related to number 1 and 2, I always try to go to places where I don’t need a visa to visit, and I visited most of those countries. I had my shares of backpacking and sleeping in shabby places. Now those places that remain to be visa free are in other continents that will require some serious savings both for the airfare, board, and lodging and of course shopping, so they are not for R&R kind of holidays! rlytdimje6ozs66xsnpcj5ssh9vnqlyk-xlarge
  4. The work gets in the way. Always felt that as it nears my break work seems to pile up. Because I don’t manage people I have no one to endorse work and leave without being tempted to check on things, worst to cancel holidays. 
  5. To avoid all those problems, the last option is to visit “in-country” where I am assigned. But that defeats the purpose of R&R right? Although I did it more that I could count depending on the context and security situation of the country it is always best to do R&R in another place – preferably another country!

But then again there is the last option that defeats all the points I mentioned above … go home and truly rest. Be in touch with people, places in your hometown. Or simply enjoy time with family and be grounded until it’s time to go back to work and start over again!

Returning to the Fold

For a couple of years, I was so eager to put something on paper, publishing and generate attention from my small friendly followers. I wrote anything and everything of what I had been doing since we entered the millennium era. Although I was dead set to tell you all about my work for people with disabilities, over time I got my thoughts all over and I lost sight on the prize of being a good storyteller.

Who am I kidding? Myself I guess.

I missed the momentum of writing daily and freely. When I returned to work in the aftermath of the great big earthquakes in Nepal. I thought I will have lots of stories to tell but at the end of each day, sleeping under the elements inside a tent rendered it impossible to even get myself to lift my arms to write reports let alone blogs because I was so tired. I did manage to post some stories, photos and a little bit of poetry but it was not enough – I was not able to tell the stories of the life I had there and of the people I encountered. Guided by ethics, I have to be careful what stories I tell and photos I post.

It got more complicated when I moved to Gaza, oPt. Social media was welcome by the Palestinian but not by the Israelis who were in charge to give us work permits to help the refugees in the occupied Gaza and West Bank. I was discouraged to write anything because everything will be taken out of context and of course be seen as bias even if intentions were not. Like in Nepal, I managed to post something but not much to tell you that I had a wonderful time living and working with the people not many of you know are being oppressed every day at this age and time.

Now I am residing in Turkey, not far different from the other context within the region. I wanted to say I am working here, but dare says not, I am touring the country and giving advice along the way.  I am enjoying my time here and inspired to write mentally but physically impossible because I was consumed by other priorities than to write. Inspirations are everywhere, I just need to get myself back on track and start over.

I will not have the #illusion when I begin blogging again, although have to say, those blogs I followed when I started have gained lots of thread and I still enjoy reading their stories. Hope this time I can stick to what I say I will do and eventually become the good storyteller I want to be.

Foça

In the end I am alone

Alone with my thoughts.

Thinking how life had evolved.

In the short time I am embraced.

By your cold heart.

Now,

I am here.

Wanting to be love again.

Nurtured.

Caressed.

By the warmth of your summer breeze.

Next to the sea.

Teeming with life.

That I feel I belong.

An Appeal for Help

There is this little girl in my neighborhood that was born without an esophagus. She’s fed via a PEG directly to her stomach by a diet meant to let her gain weight and be healthier. Her neck has a hole to help with breathing and speaking.

She’s seven years old and in grade one. She’s always teased and felt deprived of the food she sees in people’s table and the stores. But in spite of she’s a lovely and lively little girl.

I sought help from friends on how to help her until I landed support from a local television to showcase her story and let people know about her condition and eventually appeal for help. The local charity office funded by lottery gains acknowledged her situation and offered to foot the bill for the initial hospitalization and surgery to reverse her condition (called Esophageal Atresia). But the family will have to raise funds to support costs for medicines and other needs during hospitalization and recovery.

The surgery was successful, but she’s still in ICU and battling complications of bacterial infections and fluid in her lungs. The doctors are doing their best, and now she’s stable and hopefully recover fully.

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I appeal for two things, first to think of this girl Sharie and include her in your prayers or utter a short prayer of healing and second, for your money. I am not asking a lot, though; any amount will help but we are raising close to $900 per set of medicine, and I don’t know how much more sets she needs to recover fully. 

I hope I can count on you …

To find out more about her story and update on her conditions and on how to donate, please visit Sharie’s Operation Fund page.

You can also watch the video of her appeal (in Tagalog) here 

“Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.” 2 Cor 9:7

Colorful America … Where Will Progress Be Heading?

The waves of the recently concluded US election reached far and wide. Everybody has their opinion on the campaign, what happened during the election and now on what’s going on in and around America.

It was the ugliest election campaign I witnessed. I thought to watch the Brexit campaign was bad enough, the one in the US was worst.

When you appeal to one set of people and make them superior to the others, you’re feeding their ego to think that indeed they are better than their black neighbors, their Hispanic co-worker, and the middle eastern decent bodega owner. You fueled and stoked the embers of hate in people’s mind, and heart. The hate that was fought long and hard by the forefathers of American history when many realized that to be great they have to work together for it. That is why many people believed America is great, a land of milk and honey, a place where everybody can live out their dreams and live a life different from theirs.

Filipinos went to America because the grass was greener over there. I have lots of relatives, schoolmates, friends living there now, more Americans than you could ever imagine (by now) and I am sure when they tell their stories on how they carved their niche over there you will be amazed at how much they endured. Stories of having to make ends meet by having two jobs instead of one, some will have three and meet up with families when they are both free to gas up. The Philippines suffered from brain drain to invest in America in return they send off green bucks to families back home, and it was a good deal both ways. Where they are now, they provide good life and future for the second generations of immigrants, who I think are not any more “immigrants” because they had assimilated in the web of Americal culture – the language, the thinking, the dressing and the way of life. So they are more Americans now than they are Filipino. However, each one of them will defend that they love their countries of origins and America should be grateful.

The same stories go to most people I know other than my countrymen who dreamt of going to America and managed to set roots there. However bigot some people are or expensive life is the appeal of the word America is alluring, and I don’t know if it will ever lose its luster to attract those wanting to strike gold. Because whatever we say most people who dream of living in America are those from countries with fewer opportunities, are thrown into wars they didn’t ask for or are enslaved by traditions that the only way to break free is to find a way to get to America. Again America should be grateful.

The very fabric of America comes not from one kind but from many from all over the world. The quilt called America would be boring if it only has one pattern — from its Native Americans to those that claim to be the real White Americans and the majority of immigrants makes it alive, vibrant and meaningful country to be.

Are you ready for America to be PLAIN? I hope not. 

Now with the new president elected, this will test the luster of America. The questions mounting and fear is gripping not only people of different color or race or religion or tradition but of people who live differently than what is perceived normal.

  • Will the problems of the past still be an issue of the future now that more people think America is WHITE? 
  • Will people constantly have to look over their shoulders to see if someone is following them, waiting to shove them off the pavement or call them names no one deserved to be called? 
  • Will the ugliness of the past, believed to be bolted and keys melted, be resurrected just because someone elected in the helm ready to do every dirty trick to get noticed in the guise of leading? 
  • Have we not learn about values, grace, companion and mercy shown to the young people by those the new president is replacing, taught in their very home or carried from the other countries?

America is great as it is, but it can be greater still without reverting to the ugliness where it started.

We people of the world, not just Americans or British should stand together and keep pushing our agenda of INCLUSION, tolerance, acceptance and forgiveness.

Stop the hate … LOVE, start with yourself before you can love others and that should start from the one they just put on the pedestal to lead America in the next four years.

Postscript:

I am not living in America nor been there, and I cannot say I am attracted to its luster, but I believe in what America represents in the world. Reason why I hope Americans realize they are already great as it is and can even be greater if they accept the reality that it is indeed a colorful country.

Clara Falling Hard on Love

When she left the comforts of her home to work overseas, Clara left behind a boyfriend. Not exactly the kind you tell your parents because before the invention of Facebook relationship code “it’s complicated” Clara already had hers that way.

It was though the real one for her. She fell hard for him to give everything up. She thought she was of age and was ready for it, so she gave in, and the relationship flourished until it is time for Clara to leave.

The sad part though is that Clara, because she’s very ambitious she thought she doesn’t need anybody telling her what to do – she went ahead and accepted the offer and told the boyfriend weeks before she has to leave. He didn’t like it of course, but he accepted her decision – he loves her, and it’s all that matters.

Clara in her new place and new life thought that nothing has changed between her and the boyfriend she left behind, but she was wrong. The guy found another love – someone that was there when Clara was settling in her new life. It hurt her, she confronted him but what can she do, so she let him go, and they both went their lives, but Clara didn’t forget the first love she had.

As she continue to work and now had moved on to other countries, Clara met different men, whom she thought are the love of her life but it always ended her getting hurt. The one time she had her first long distance relationship it was not easy. The Internet during those time was not yet as friendly as it is now, they struggled and met one or twice a year was the only ideal and economical way for them to be together but not more.

She came to the age where marriage was the next best thing. Clara has a good job, a career rising the ladder and the new boyfriend was also an established jeweler in Canada so life can be good. Oh, so she thought.

Back in the 90’s random blood check for infectious diseases was not common in Canada and Clara’s boyfriend contracted Hepatitis C when he received transfusion after an elbow surgery back in his diving days, and it only manifested decades after. Soon enough, the proposal of marriage was canceled and Clara was left alone again far away from the man she thought she would marry until he passed away because of his disease.

Another broken heart but Clara continue to live as if love is not all that matters to her now. She’s still as ambitious as she was when she was younger and because having a family has taken a back seat, Clara pursues to continue to climb the professional ladder and pretend that life was good.

Years after being heart was broken and an imminent move to another continent, Clara decided not to fall in love again. She decided, no more commitment but can still enjoy when the situation presents itself. But a month after moving in, Clara found herself again falling in love with someone within her new circle of “white” friends. She enjoyed the attention, Clara being based in the bush most of the time, having someone in the city ready to lay the red carpet for her was something to look forward to.

She eventually accepted the new man in her life, and she felt she’s in-love again. The new man was very passionate, persistent and ideal in the category of being attentive to the needs of Clara including shopping for her and preparing food. Clara was showered with love, attention, travel, and gifts and she enjoyed it as much as she could.

It was a dream come true for Clara, and she doesn’t want to leave him behind, and even when they moved apart, the relationship lasted for several years but not without bumps. Clara realized during the time they were together that she lost her identity and became submissive to what the current boyfriend want. She cannot enjoy the same freedom she has in the bush when they are together; she always has to abide by his wished which was not Clara, being the stubborn brat she was.

Eventually, they parted, as circumstances would have it both of them cannot cope with the distance and the cost of being apart even if money is no object. The lack of communication was too much to handle for both of them, but it was also a welcome break for Clara.


Falling in love is the next best thing to happen to any women at different stages in our lives, and Clara had shown us that we could have a different experience and come out strong from it or not – our choice. When she was younger, her ambition led her to leave someone she loves but later realized he doesn’t love her as much as she did. Years later, the proposal was overshadowed by death which devastated her but still came out strong and eventually loved again.

Unfortunately the last true love she thought she had was not the ideal one – when she lost herself and became submissive something was wrong in the relationship, and I think Clara is a strong woman to be able to distance herself from an abusive relationship in the making. Which is not always the case for many women I know who in spite of knowing the red flags still continue to be in it hoping tomorrow will be another day, a better day.

Love is an unyielding emotion and when we fall in love we should always keep the balance between ourselves and the other person at all times so that when something happens we don’t fall hard that we stay down, instead we fall, and we come back up as soon as we can.

Article first appeared at https://www.worldpulse.com/en/community/users/coolasas/posts/67384 

Clara on being different … is she really?

Clara was young and thought she was not naïve.

Coming from a big family, she thought she knew the different stages of life by observing her parents, siblings and many aunts and uncles go through it. So when it was time for her to be in the world she knew she’s ready to let go of the home she feels protected and venture into the unknown.

Life was very good to Clara. She’s given responsibilities she knew she could do and eventually proved to herself and others that she is ready to move up the ladder and maybe move to another country. After several years honing her skills and getting her network bigger, the offer to move came. Although when asked by the HR department months before she already expressed her desire to experience new culture and challenges.

The new place was unknown to her, but she read a lot about Africa. There she felt coming from a small island in the Pacific; the continent was a mystery. In fact, she only thought all the people living in Africa are darker than her – called it even “black continent” and she got the scolding she never had from a dear friend.

She was assigned to a country in the sub-Saharan region and was given the responsibility to oversee three projects in the middle of the bush – an exciting prospect she knew she can do but how was another question.

Clara thought she was the only Asian girl in the country. She experienced first-hand how it is to be discriminated, to be stared at and called many names other than her own. They never guessed where she’s from so they always assumed she were from China and talked as if Clara can understand cling, clang clung!

Until she met others – other than the dark skinned African people she had worked. The new group of people are not so much like her but also different. They are white – European and American white but there are those also from the Pacific brown like her. She was happy to know other “different” people, and she doesn’t feel so much alone.

The clamor to be with her kind was strong. Being based in the bush weeks before she sees other people made her want to go back to the capital more if work allows it. The travel took 12 hours and to stay the weekend was not practical, so it was always planned around official trips to enjoy the luxury of being with what she called her kind.

Clara starts to question her motives when going back to the capital; it doesn’t seem right, but every time she meets others she goes back to work in the bush excited and ready to tackle the work and the loneliness of living alone until she meets her kind again.

But it still doesn’t seem right?


The problem starts when we set ourselves apart from where we are, in the case of Clara is from who she’s with. One will think they are immune to life’s tragedy because they with their kind but it’s not true.

Being different opened Clara’s eyes to the reality of how it is in the world – outside her comfort zone, being with people other than who she knew.

When she moved to Africa, she experienced what many people she knew experienced from where she’s from, and it didn’t felt good in the beginning but eventually accepting that we are all different even if we have same white, brown, black colored skin we still are different. Even when Clara thinks she’s with her “kind” there still exists discrimination for many other reasons than her skin color. 

Article first appeared at https://www.worldpulse.com/en/community/users/coolasas/posts/67098

Clara Opens Her Heart to Love and Lost

Clara is back, and she has some sad news.

💓

Clara enjoyed her singlehood – no attachment, no commitment, only responsible for herself but she’s never selfish especially when giving out love.

Some time ago in one of her trips she met this man through a friend. A friend she was dating, so the meeting was nothing until the friend left. She didn’t seek him out, but Clara’s friend left her something for this man so eventually, they met again and became more than friends several months after.

The new friend turned lover was more than what Clara hoped for; she was not particularly looking for love but because of his persistence in coming over and bringing pizza the friendship blossomed into something special. The two became inseparable and made sure to be together every chance they get.

Their relationship lasted for over two years until his mission ended, while Clara still has some years to finish off her project. They promised to continue to be lovers long distance and see how much the love could endure living poles apart. Clara was not very keen, she had long distance relationship before, and it never lasts no matter how much both try to make it work, the distance was just too much to bear. With very limited opportunity to see each other at their whim it really couldn’t work, but they tried, they kept the faith for almost five years, and both would continue to hold on to what they have for each other – love.

Yes, the “L” word was spoken in the course of their relationship, and it didn’t come very easy especially for Clara. Her heart had been broken once before by a man she thought love her more than anything in the world because every breath was punctuated with the words “I love you.”  She, thought, being young and naïve that if a man utters such words means he does love you – and she was very wrong.

An angel in the form of a taxi driver made Clara realize that in life when you want something or mean something you’re careful to get it or say it. Having ridden his taxi crying the driver was kind enough to give her time to cry in his car until she’s ready to go home. It gave her time to vent her frustration and pick up the pieces of her young heart. Made a promised to herself that next time it would be different.

The experience left Clara mindful of what she wish for and of what she tells people – be it friends or lover especially when it comes close to investing her feelings.

So yes, finally the “l love you” was uttered in the heat of the romance and was reciprocated by Clara though a little skeptic at first and enjoyed every minute of it. Until now Clara didn’t regret her show of affection because it was the kind of love worth sharing – the man was worth it.

The long distance began earnestly, too excited to let go of each other, missing each other on end and continue to declare love to each other via social media. 

They followed each other’s life. He knows what she’s doing, who she’s been with and sometimes feeling jealous for not being there with her and her friends. The same thing for Clara, but she’s more jealous of his work than being with other women.

A year had passed since the last time they saw each other, and both of their careers had blossomed. Clara was given wider responsibilities by her company while he got promoted to be second in command of his force with more serious responsibilities and this scared both of them. Him because he knows the danger he was in and her because of what he tells her about his job and the people he made an enemy of and they can be nasty and get back at him.

Eventually, the frequency of chats and phone calls decreased and often when they can they are reduced to leaving voice ao short messages. When possible one would return call and chat quickly. The love was still there, Clara knows. He still tells her everything when he can, and Clara did the same. He often closes the conversation with “I will never forget you mami rica” and Clara’s heart would flutter and would be enough to keep her going until he calls or leaves messages again.

Months passed without a word; Clara saw photos of him traveling outside his country with his family. Not jealous but annoyed for not being told about the trip – that he will be out of reached, so don’t bother to call or leave messages. Nobody in his family knows about Clara; the same goes with her – his name never floated in any of Clara’s conversation with her family or friends. The affair was so private only very few close friends were aware that they are a couple.

Then she found out he died.  

Clara found out online – through a common friends post in one of the social media site. At first, she was baffled, her Spanish was rusty, but she managed to understand something about someone saying goodbye to him. Couldn’t believe what she was reading she translated the page and was angry, sad and confused.  It dawned on her that he will never pick up his phone, nor send her photos, no more “I love you, and I miss you” on the other line.

Clara couldn’t contact his family for fear of being rejected. She couldn’t exactly ask how everything happened – she just saw smiling photos of him and the next day he’s dead? Days after, an article came in the mail with the story of his death – an ambush from one of the gangs they were pursuing while he was on his way to work in his jeep. Such cowardly way to retaliate, he didn’t have time to defend himself and be the hero, Clara’s hero.

She kept the article and all the memories of their relationship. The man she gave her heart out is now gone to the heavens bringing with him her love that she’s very selfish just to give to anybody. Clara is grieving his death; she felt she lost the one person she thought she could end up. It will take time until she opens up her heart again to let another love comes and take hers.


Often when we lost someone, there’s always some form of regret – we didn’t say it enough or show it enough. But if we truly made a mark on one person’s life, I think there is no reason to regret what was missed because you live at the moment when you were together and celebrated the life and love you have – being happy, being sad, being passionate. So there should be no regret instead accept death as part of life and be glad that you had the opportunity to share it with someone, however, short it is.

Now is the time to live, don’t waste it.

I hope Clara’s love is happy now where he is and is looking out for her until it’s time to move on.