Life Goes On: Remembering My Time In Nepal After the Earthquake of 2015

When you’re away from your normal environment your tendency is to adapt to that new context – to the people, the weather, the food, and the culture.

That is often the case when I go to a mission. I call it a mission because I have a particular purpose why I accepted to live away from the comforts of my home and live with in another place even if I know there will be challenges.

I’ve been doing development work for over a decade until I decided to try working in a more insecure environment – emergency. The context is different, depending on the kind of emergency, but the end goal is the same as in development – to try to restore a semblance of life people had before the emergency happened except it is done at a faster pace and in a less organized but in a way efficient kind of way.

How can you be disorganized and efficient at the same time?

I realized that when working in emergency, goals are set short because new goals will have to be set more frequently than when I am working in development. Situations change quickly either for good which is always the ultimate goal or worst, which is something anticipated as a risk when in this kind of mission. That makes it efficient – to be able to achieve them and make new ones leading towards the main reason you’re there in the first place.

When goals are short, there’s always a good rate of success of achievement therefore satisfaction is also high. It keeps me motivated to continue and look forward to the time when we are ready to transition to development, and more sustainable solutions are put in place and eventually better prepare the community to be more self-reliant in the event of another emergency.

While short goals means quick achievements of it, there’s also a big chance that because of time allocated it also makes the organization a bit tight which on the other hand offered dissatisfaction. But in this line of work, I have to learn to accept that I cannot do everything the way I want it to be – I learned to adapt and adjust and celebrate the small wins I achieve.

At least I can say that when I joined the second wave of responders during the 2015 Nepal earthquakes.

I’ve lived and seen progress being made on a day-to-day basis. I’ve met people that are more willing to be part of the change without accepting defeat because nature decided to shake them up from their stupor. I’ve witnessed people’s faith in their gods amidst the destruction. I’ve gained friends and respect towards them and their lives before, during and after the catastrophe.

Since two years ago, I know that I have more to live for than just now.

Realizing that life, like a wheel, turns and when you’re up you see the world differently than when you’re down but as it rolls you learn to adapt to it and continue to live. And look forward to the destination when finally the wheel stops rolling and can say “it has been a good ride.”

Images of what happened two years ago.



Here I go again, trying to get back to the rhythm of penning my thoughts and sharing to the virtual word.

I just signed up to Branding and Growth class to get back on track and see if I can follow what I preach to a lot of people I met in setting up projects that are supposed to help change their lives and their situations. I am talking about setting goals — reachable goals as the first task of the class.

Got me thinking what I really want to achieve with joining this class knowing full well that when I return to work in a couple of weeks, I will be overwhelmed with responding to emails. I won’t bore you with details but it’s a known fact that when one goes on holiday however short always go back to backlog longer than the time they’ve been away.

So let’s see, I will try to be as realistic as I can be and convince myself it’s really something I can do while on assignment.

  1. I want to focus on a couple of topics that I will write by the end of each month. It means, I want to make sure that I write about my experiences and encounters as an aid worker and raise social consciousness on topics near and dear to me and the travel perks attached to it.
  2. Write on both topics at least four times a week and increase interest by at least 20% among my followers and eventually gain 20% more by the end of the three months. 
  3. Improve my writing and photo composition along the way and be able to satisfy my interest to get more serious in writing and eventually publish the book I promised my sister I will do. 

Realigning my blog from what it is now will take effort, I will need serious adjusting with my priorities. I envy those that in spite of their workload, their busy lives still manages to write something and share. I don’t want to be that envious anymore –reaching these goals would mean so much. As to what it would be will remains to be seen as long as I keep pushing to meet my goals head-on and reach them.

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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.


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.


I am here.

Wanting to be love again.



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.


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.


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.

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