Recharged Peens

It has been 7 months since our placement has ended in Cabiao, Nueva Ecija. 7 months of rekindling our experiences, our counterparts, our host homes and what keep us busy at the moment.


So strange, that I took the courage to ask for my boss if it would be possible to take an half day break, and he affirmed. With high conviction and determination, I rushed to meet those  who have been my sister, brother, a friend, a special friend, a close friend and for sometime a foe, for the past 3 months of placement. As if social media does not suffice ourselves with the usual hello how are you, I found myself being energized again. It is so strange that for the past few weeks I have been down and yet just seeing these guys physically and having a nice chat made me feel as if our placement just ended yesterday. I am sure it is not only me who feel that kind of ‘kick’, I am certain my lil bro’s, sistah’s and even our PS’s, felt the same way.

Out of the box Peens

I haven’t use that phrase “out of the box” for quite sometimes. But with these guys, it was as if in a snap I could think a lot ‘out of the box’ ideas, spur of the moment thing and voila!

Celebrating an advance birthday party with a co-volunteer with a bang of cake, pizza, chicken and of course drinks, was a de ja vu.

I certain believe that there were no accidents in life. Perhaps one of the reason that I love my work at the moment is because I am being inspired by my external clients, In development world- the community. People will not judge you if you wear a shirt, a jeans and a backpack. People tends to give you positive vibes aside from the sunlight.  A simple chat could create a beyond the surface level of friendship, of trust and certainly a friend to call in time of need.

Inclusivity is the key

Our placement was simultaneously being conducted in other parts of the country. Cabiao for disaster risk reduction management, Cebu for deaf community and Bohol for environmental sustainability. Seeing volunteers from Cebu-deaf community, I found myself as blessed and at the same time challenged. These deaf volunteers wants to make a change in their own way, while I, on the other side, keeps on questioning things if not moaning.

One of the speakers said, ‘if you are having a lot of negatrons consider volunteering, it will give you tons of electrons to be on the beat.

Unexpected Motivational Question

What Motivates you?
This has been one of the attention seeking question that I’ve got from the 2 day workshop that I have attended ( working as secretariat). I have been looking for the proper words to say about it, yet, I want to make this simple –  it is innate/ within.
What Motivates me might be different from what motivates you and everyone else. 
The first time that I had this feeling of being motivated was when I went to uni and tried my best to aced all the subjects that I have. With  a tap in my shoulder thing or an A+ from my professors, friends and classmates – voila! I’m ready to work! Nevertheless, with all the idealism in my mind to conquer and even change the status quo, I ended up starting my career in the grassroot level (which I did not regret) and moving towards a diversified experience.
A simple chat, smile, hello, thank you, sorry and even a cup of coffee motivates me to wake up every single morning. Coming from the “proletariat”, I’ve been longing for a “proper” acknowledgement, of respect, of attention that the society does not care to give me.
Remembering my experience/s in the community, where the people are all on the go, I find myself satisfied even my pocket is aching from the “wants”  rather than the “needs” that must take into reconciliation.
Does your salary/money motivates you to go to work? or is it the job that makes you feel in agile and want to smashed it in a day? or a simple learning experience is suffice to justify why you are here, in this field of work?
Does title, (prefix on your name/s) makes you feel good? or does the number of “0”s in your bank account statements makes you satisfied and self- assured?
I find it challenging, motivating and even inspiring to know that I am working with a group of people who loves volunteering, they are working beyond their own professional works, with personal errands to run, but they are working for the love of country – no more no less.
I can feel how satisfying it is to do “volunteering works”, (aside from literally going out to the community) but seeing these group of people from the top management and at middle-aged individuals still takes time to go out of their own boxes to work and motivate the SME’s makes me feel in awe.

Can I be a Volunteer again?

Anxiety, excitement and mixed emotions caught me right then and there when I met the next batch of volunteers for Cabiao.

I want to tell loads of stories about our experiences, our moans, hardships, down days, the awesome socials we had, our endless exploration of the this small town. But after my endless stories, I stopped and reckon, I should not deprived them of the learning’s that this small town gave me, my counterpart and the rest of the team had.

It was not as easy as one two and three to go back, face the past, and moved on. But what I’ve got from this weekend getaway? It was the realization of the ff:

  • There will be strange feelings that will just pop out of the box- there was this feeling of deja vu, from the matching up to traveling from Phil rice to Cabiao. I still remembered how anxious and nervous I was when the counterparts was revealed.
  • Things will never be the same again.- this is true, when I went back to my host home, I felt as if I am a guest in their house. Yet, when I talked to my host ‘brother’ not ‘father’, he told me that I am still welcome in the house.
  • It is overwhelming to see the new batch of volunteers who will continue what we have established. Some as I had an opportunity to talk with and shared some stories has feelings of anxiousness and if not worry about the standard we established. Well to be honest as well, I told them to just be ‘yourself’; at the end of the day, expectations just come and go, but who will enjoy this journey? Is for them or for you to cherish?
  • Cabiao has been my second home- I never felt that kind of feeling of being secured even if I am not in my own “home”. Perhaps, this small town gave me the sense of belongingness of being a “tourist” yet being a local at the same time.
  • I had a great volunteer experience with great supervisors- I never thought that my “out of the box” attitude that I had would be made possible because I have a supervisor who is not selfish to tame if not put me in a box of doctrines. He even encouraged me and my counterpart to do things that we want to do, but of course within the limits of being “responsible for your own actions”. I could not think of a single word to describe my supervisor who kept on telling me to learn via experience, since “you know the rules, you can now modify it”.
  • Half-hearted- I don’t know if I really wanted to pursue MBA or MCD, which way it would be, I’m not yet ( I think) ready to pursue any masteral degree for this year, but definitely I will take one.
  • Security over happiness and vice versa- when I was in the small town of Cabiao, it gave me the sense of being secured and happy both at the same time. So why is it, I am living near the metro where the life line of the businesses sets in and go would made me feel inferior?

There are loads of questions and uncertain answers, with uneasy feeling of how will I bang it on. But here I am typing in this keyboard over the papers and numbers of the work for tomorrow. All I will think of is how Cabiao made me a better person.

Need to Breathe

3 hours of sleep did not stop me from doing this trip. I arrived home around 10 pm, due to traffic, and I need to do some bailing out agreements so that I can take this weekend getaway.

Most people who work in the metro would take advantage of holidays, long weekends to get out of their routine and travel. Since, I started to work again in the metro where the lowest temperature of the aircon will give you, plus the traffic, beaming lights inviting you to groove with the hip music.

It was not actually a pure weekend getaway, but I opt for an escape of urbanity via volunteer work.

So far, in day 1 of this ‘spontaneous’ trip things and situations before rekindled:

  •  I now fully understand why my hhc wants to go out most of the time. It is soooo cold in an office that all you want to do is sleep or grab a cup of coffee. While, if you’re on the road, you see loads of things (e.g. The fields, birds, Carabao, farmer tilting the land and etc.) will make you feel good.
  •  Going on a trip stimulates your creativity and imagination. – just look at the clouds, how are they formed? Use your imagination to kill the boredom! 🙂
  • There are ups and downside of traveling in daytime.
  • Happy yet unsecured or unsecured yet happy? – would it be mean being happy as you are would make you a selfish person?
  • Sunrise really gives you good vibes. This is really true, I spent the whole week in the metro and living with it made me feel sick and weak, I can no longer see the sunrise since I need to get on and off the bus before it rise or else I need to endure a hunger games like traffic.

Will I hit the road next time? Probably yes, it gave me a sense of direction and re-aligned my perspectives about life which I think no amount of money and even an nth number of books could give.

Year Ender

Couple of hours to go and we will finally bid our さようなら(goodbye)to 2014 and say 今日は (konnichiwa /hello) to 2015.

This is a bit tedious and I will appeal for your patience: (wink). This year has been good to me, I’ve learned a lot, by all means about life, career, realities, being open minded and etc so let’s start the countdown!

  • Not meant to be a Lawyer- the realities of being a lawyer made me think- I love the profession, yet I think I am not that prepared to become one. I could still remember why I wanted to be a part of a firm – I want to become a full-pledge Lawyer and help migrants around the world (too idealistic isn’t?), but lessons about the legal profession were endless, they taught me a lot about the realities, the trips, the value of hard work, and professionalism.
  • Mountain Climbing is always a test of character- Before, I thought my health status would restrict me for doing things that is beyond the usual- but I was wrong. Together with a very outgoing university friend, we just did what we wanted- climb mountains and it did really test our character, we were tired of the routine – hike a mountain, stressed out, go backpacking!
team arayat

Last Mountain to Conquer for 2014-Mt. Arayat

  • I Volunteered!- it was not a fancy thing for the fam and the rest of the people around me, but I just wanted to search for myself, no expectations, come what may and I’ll gonna bang it on, rather than having thoughts of what if’s and regrets. I had to bargain on some issues before I finally got their “yes”!
  • Development world is not all about money- I thought once you explore the other side of the globe (I mean career in dev. World) it will be about grants, donations and community works. I could say that yes, there are loads of community works, grants and donations but it is the effort of one that makes a difference. I am not a good conversationalist, a skilled, a technical expert in DRRM, but what I have done together with other volunteers made an impact(N.B: not yet done with the translation though 🙂 ), it is once in a lifetime experience to see things in different perspective.
  • Failure is Essential- like anything in this world, no one wants to fail, but being afraid of failing makes an individual more vulnerable (think so J ). No one will judge you for failing and committing mistakes, it is you who will judge yourself (so don’t be too hard to yourself). J
  • Don’t use your head too much- it gives you pain all the time! Sometimes, learn to decide based on what you feel (don’t over rationalize things), and it will make you feel more free and positive!
  • Seek Answers- I just read some chapters of “Sophie’s World” by Gaardner, and it made me realize that “all I know is, I know nothing”. Let us admit, even we had nth number of degrees from respective universities around the globe, we can’t learn all the lessons in one degree, it takes a reality shot.
  • be Adventurous (A.K.A : Out-of the- Box)- this is what I loved most! Grab your backpack and hit the road to nowhere and face that unusual feeling that you have! 🙂
  • 1800327_10200525449897242_1248386687_n 10403276_10201333480697507_742695517602301683_n
  • Never stop to share stories- I also love this one, never get tired of talking to random people about random things in life.
  • Culture is very dynamic- yes I realized that there are people who are really unconventional and conventional, and I respect them for being who they are.
  • Make a BUCKET LIST- it fascinates me when I opened my planner and saw that almost 80% of what I’ve written on my “bucket list” came into reality. It can be a small thing don’t make it as complicated as explaining how insects multiply, just as simple as hike a mountain, or go to someplace alone for the first time, trust me, it’ll be unforgettable facing your “first time” jitters.. 🙂
  • Never burn bridges, highways or even a staircase- this is really true, you’ll never know who will to call in the middle of the night when you are starving, badly ill, or even need a shoulder to cry on. 1555468_10200525452897317_952020067_n
  • vso-vi179

This is quite a tedious list (I know), and there’s more to add to this list yet, I reckon and stop here, as if I am waiting for the next bus trip. 🙂

3 Years over 3 Cups of Coffee

It has been 3 years of not seeing each other and I thought there would be strange feeling of being left behind from their routine and the topics being discussed; yet, I find myself in total awe- not because of being left behind, but because I found myself in total open discussion.

The Chatty and the ice breaker

When I was in university, I could count in my fingers the persons that I could share personal stories with. These group of people thought before that I was a bit conservative in my perceptions about life, career and etc; but it was not. Perhaps, I was not that open before about discussions about career and reality, what I’ve got was the utopia- like the republic of Plato.

After series of experiences that I had (in my work and exploring the other side of the coin), I just realized that life is not about the “big picture, but of the small details that makes it”. I was having this kind of discussion with a very chatty friend of mine as well, – by all means, chatty as I am; yet, as idealistic as I am(before). There was no dull moment, random things about life has been talked about, no more no less which I enjoyed the most – aside from the sumptuous meal that we shared.

Reality v. Utopia

Having the chat with these ladies (no longer little girls who roam around the university campus discussing about why the oil prices gone down, what’s next after Arab Spring, or practice speaking in Japanese); but more of having a chat about life, about careers, my volunteer experience (I am proud to share my volunteer experience with them) my work, their work, our moans, angst about life, our love lives, our goals, trips and a lot more.

We are no longer living on the ideal hype- I should be in this industry, or I should be working if not being engage or traveling, or just enjoying the NOW if not still searching for answers.

Keep the Reel Rolling!

There are still bits of something that pulls everyone back- and it differs, I don’t know the reason why, but I think it is more of the “norm” rather than the personal perception of how you live this life over 3 cups of coffee:

  •  Who cares if someone is working and the others are not? – no one really cares and no one does.
  • Step out of your own comfort zone- for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction (why bother dealing with the latter if you can enjoy the former?)

It is strange- and it will be for the next few days, weeks, months and even years, but what matters? It is not about the perception of the people around you; it is more of how you see things in different perspective – like a kaleidoscope.

Coffee Date at Bag of Beans

Coffee date at Bag of Beans

Week After

After almost 7 days of not seeing each other, all I could think of is how to move on.

It was a challenging, emotional and again-out of the box week not only for me but I think for all the volunteers.

Debrief Please!

We were given a week to say proper goodbye to our counterparts, to the team, supervisors and the programme; but what have we done during debrief was an extension of what we’ve done for the past few weeks.

Basically, we, the ICV’s, allowed ourselves to indulge on proper drinks! (note: it was on debrief) every night. It was not a way of saying goodbye + the heartache, but, perhaps, it was our way of saying-cheers for the friendship, for the good and bad times, for the crazy things we did, for the trust, encouragement, for the moans, the goals, foods that we shared and most of all -for the relationships that formed if not built that would last a lifetime.

The first 3 days on our debrief was an intense, hard core days of my life (sorry for exaggeration) due to mixed emotions, stress, pressure, unmet expectations and other external factors.. Perhaps, I was moody at that time because, I can’t reconcile in my mind that the wonderful journey this programme provided me would come to an end.

‘every chapter of a book must end, so you can enjoy if not write a better chapter’. These were the words that my counterpart-Katie told me(not in verbatim though) when I cried in our room before we leave for our debrief. I cried every morning the week before debrief, as if I am a little girl being left behind by her mom, no one wants to take care of. I cried not because I am weak but perhaps, it was an indication of preparing myself for a better journey.

When we hit the last night in Pangasinan, my HHC and I had proper talk (it was remarkable) since we arrived at the venue, we haven’t talked that much.

I worry of not seeing her again, not to hear her disney like voice, go for a hike with her, no one to chat with when I’m down, no one to be with when I blog, sharing sachets of cafe blanca (our bestseller coffee) in morning and after dinner, sharing fruits as snack, having bottle/s of beer when pissed off with someone, share meals and bed time stories, (personal and professional ones), and most if not all- pushing me to do out of the box things in life.

After few days of crying and contemplating while staring at the windowsill, I realized that:

A. I am no longer the same Sofie – you read it right! The first 3 days when I got home, almost all of the members of the fam were surprised the way how I speak, the way I act, the way I hate watching tv shows and how I love to do out of the box things!

B. I got matured (mentally and emotionally speaking)- I find myself taking more risks and responsibilities as an individual, yet, members of the fam, still considers me like a little girl wandering the globe for the ‘big shot’.

C.I don’t care what my society tells- practically, it will give me a headache if I will try to conform to the norm of my ever heterogeneous+complex society. It is as if I am trying to please nth number of people in this country, which in reality, I can’t -even the President can’t do it, so how can I?

D.English communication skill is all about practice- I think this one really marked my entire 3 months! My English communication skill has been put into test. I talked to my counterparts in English and Filipino to the members of the community and the host-homes. The first time that I talked to my counterpart, I was ashamed if not shy to initiate a nice conversation, I easily got intimidated of her “British English” accent, yet, at the end of the day, it is me who is willing to take challenges and even speak more rather than contemplating if my grammar is correct or not. Sometimes, it is far better not to think of the rules (in grammar), since it gives you the liberty to express what you really want to say.

E. Active lifestyle is not about being vain- basically, since I was in Cabiao and doing field works, most if not all the time, I walked to my work; it gave me the sense of being “fit” by not conforming to the “gym” standard of the society. I no longer enjoy the comforts of staying at home for the rest of the day. I see to it that before the day ends, I would walk at least 500m if not a kilometer or as long as I can walk.

F. Missing someone is not a life or death thing- I really cried a lot, I even asked a good friend how to “detach” from someone and even ‘debrief” myself. All she said was, grab all the comfort foods that you have, have more sleep, have someone to talk to- and it all paid; in a sense that in a matter of 3 days I was able to recover from my ‘separation anxiety’. I guess, it helped me a lot when I cry and tell straight to the person that I’ll surely gonna miss him/her/them, and speak what is on my mind. It may look and sound funny at first, yet, I think that is the best form of coping up and moving on.

It was hard to say goodbye, yet, goodbye does not really mean an end, it is just a start of a new beginning, it is up to you how will you work on your available resources.