An Encounter That Encouraged Me to Volunteer More

The familiar feeling of being a fan suddenly rekindled in me. When I saw them about to leave the venue, I told my co worker and friend Merf that I wanted to have a picture taken with them. At first I was reluctant because I was shy to approach them. Thankfully, Merf was supportive that she encouraged me to go for it. With that, we rose from our chairs and went outside of the hall peeping through the entrance and watched their every move. They were being held by a few people while they were on their way out. We waited patiently for about five minutes and then we ambushed them while they were heading directly for the elevator. The door opened and as they were about to step in, I said the words with my voice shaking. I asked if I can disturbed them and just have one picture taken. He smiled and had to forego the closing elevator and he explained to her in sign language what I was asking for. He stepped aside, making her stand beside me and Merf  had the camera in action…

Here is the result:


I was grinning from ear to ear because I had a picture taken with Ana! Who is Ana and why did I suddenly become her fan?

Ana Kristina Arce is a deaf advocate who stands for the cause of believing in the ability of a person, instead of focusing on the person’s disability. She graduated as the first Deaf Magna Cum Laude of De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde (DLS-CSB) and is currently the first Deaf Filipino scholar awarded with the World Deaf Leadership Scholarship for the Master’s degree in Deaf Studies of Gallaudet University, Washington, D.C.

She talked about some of her personal experiences (including her challenges) and how she was able to volunteer despite her being not able to hear. She also encouraged us that we should think outside the box,  make a difference and simply volunteer with a heart.

The opportunity to be moved and inspired by Anna happened when I attended Hands on Manila’s (HOM) 2013 VIP Day on March 25 at 12/F SDA   Ampitheater DLS-College of Saint Benilde. This VIP (Volunteer in Person) Day is a gathering of old and new volunteers of Hands on Manila. The highlight for me was the inspirational message that I got from all five speakers. Other than Ana, we got to listen to the stories of  Shaina Tantuico, Rendy Eligio, Ica Fernandez and Jose “Quest” Villanueva III.


The speakers during the HOM 2013 VIP Day. **photo credit to HOM Facebook 

There was also a volunteer fair where there was booths set up for HOM’s partner NGOs . It was a good way especially for the new volunteers to connect with these NGOs and know what possible volunteer works they can do with and for them.

Another exciting activity was the volunteer auction. The organizers presented amazing collectible items as well as language lessons from their foreign volunteers. Those who bid the most amount of money the most number of volunteer hours, would get the reward should they complete the number of hours that they bid.


#kindnessrevolution is spread in this activity. **photo credit to HOM Facebook


All in all it was a great and a worthwhile activity. I was glad to spend time with my fellow volunteer enthusiasts. It was a good booster and it really fueled our hearts to keep the volunteerism spirit alive!

Interested to volunteer for HOM ? Check their website or their FB page to know more about the organization, their projects and schedules, and how you can share your part.


I will win this amazing collector’s item should I complete the 25 volunteer hours that I bid!

Picture 212

Hope to see you in the next HOM volunteer activity!

Categories: heartwarming, serve, Uncategorized, volunteer, volunteerism | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Changing the World One Story at a Time

When my co-traveller and volunteer friend Mark Torres tagged me in a picture of a boy wearing a white shirt with the words: Changing the World One Story at a Time, I could not help but feel humbled and privileged to be a catalyst of changing the world for the better.

Here is my story:

This is very true! **Photo credit to Mark Torres

This is very true!   **Photo credit to Mark Torres

I volunteer not necessarily because I have the money or the time.  Well, I mean I need to have both to be able to do so. But those are not the priority. I would like to say that I volunteer because I have the heart to help. Oftentimes, the volunteer activity invites that I receive are being sent one to two months in advance. Because of this, I get to spare a few amount coming from my salary to buy books, school supplies or grocery items that are needed for the outreach program. On instances that the activity happens on a weekday, I have enough time to file for a vacation leave. I also take this opportunity to invite other friends if they would be interested to participate in the activity, or just donate if they would not be able to make it.

Usually, the challenges would come during the preparation. Sometimes, the event is nearing but the target amount of donations is still not halfway met. Also, those who initially volunteered to join, suddenly cancels because of an emergency. Sometimes, the logistics of bringing the supplies to the area also post as a challenge! However, on this stage, I would also feel that God indeed works in mysterious ways. Donations from unexpected sources would just pour in last minute and then I realize that we actually have more than what you needed!

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Categories: heartwarming, school, Servathon, students, Thomson Reuters, Uncategorized, volunteer, volunteerism | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Thomson Reuters Volunteer for the Community Day 2013

On its fourth year, the company selected 10 beneficiaries for the Volunteer for the Community Day held on April 20, 2013. These were:  ERDA Foundation, CHILDhaus, CRIBS Foundation, UP PAUW Child Care Center, Virlanie Foundation, Home for the Golden Gays, Answering the Cry of the Poor (ANCOP), Nazareth Home, Golden Reception and Activity Center (GRACES) and A Liter of Light.


one of the posters of the activity

I was given the opportunity to be one of the two volunteer leads for Nazareth Home. Nazareth Home is a shelter for young pregnant women who were abandoned by their families or have been victims of rape and incest. The shelter is one of the services of the Kaisahang Buhay Foundation.

Weeks before the event, the Manila Volunteers Council asked if TROCs would like to be a partner to this activity.   I agreed of course and I bet most of my fellow TROCs members would also like to help. MVC would take charge of the ingredients and some other donations while TROCs’ contribution is to  spearhead the activities in the shelter and since we are a cooking interest club, we would have cooking session with the residents of the shelter.

I emailed the group and got several volunteers who signed up. I also tapped a few members if they could facilitate the cooking workshop and thankfully Hera, Jen and MC agreed. I requested Berna to have a short talk on anything about pregnancy since she has kids already. When she agreed, she informed me that she was currently pregnant. What a coincidence, good thing I asked her! I also solicited help from Jazz if she could prepare a loot bag as our simple give away and she helped her aunt to make such cute bags at a very affordable price.

I was just thankful that everything was falling into places while the event was nearing.

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Categories: cooking, family, heartwarming, Thomson Reuters, volunteer, volunteerism | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Project Mountain Alphabet was a Success!

This is one activity that is really special to my heart. I never thought that this experience would really move me and even though it has been a while since this activity was completed, I still couldn’t help but be emotional while I am writing this article in my blog.

This is how the project started (and also how the activity went) as detailed by Charlton on his blog:

the poster of our activity

the poster of our activity

I didn’t know Charlton until about a few days before we left Manila for this activity. It was Leigh who texted me a few months earlier if I would like to join her and some friends to go to Benguet and help them in setting up a library in a remote school. I didn’t have the details yet at that time but since it is one great opportunity to help, I immediately committed.

As the day of the actual activity was nearing, that is when I had more information of this project. I left it to Leigh and Charlton to do all the logistics and to find some donors for . I showed support by giving them about 20 children’s books that I bought during a sale. I was also delegated to be the group’s chef for the duration of our stay in Benguet and be the one in charge of buying our bus tickets in advance.

On the scheduled day of our trip, we left the office at 9PM and brought with us 19 boxes and 2 huge sacks of books and other stuff to be donated. I couldn’t believe that Leigh and Charlton were able to gather such loads of donations. Thankfully, we negotiated with the shipping department at Victory Liner and we only paid Php2000 for those boxes. The problem though was that it all of those donations wouldn’t fit in one bus, so Lhenie and I decided to leave an hour earlier than our scheduled trip and brought half of the stuff with us while the rest of the team left  as schedule bringing the remaining half.

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Categories: Benguet, books, budget, heartwarming, library, poor, school, students, Uncategorized, volunteer, volunteerism | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Happy 5th Anniversary VAC!

I just came from a weekend relaxing getaway with VAC on their 5th anniversary. I had a great time (as always) and I will write about that travel here soon but since this is a special activity, let me send out my greetings via this post.

VAC's 5th Anniversary official tarp picture by GP Chan

VAC’s 5th Anniversary official tarp picture by GP Chan

It was roughly a year ago when I first joined VAC. My experiences could be read at:

After a year, a lot has changed!

Last year, I was an outsider. Last weekend, I felt that I belong.
Last year, I was a participant of the raffle. Last weekend, I was the host of the raffle.
Last year, Mark joined us. Last weekend, Mark wasn’t there (Anyare? hinated mo lng kami sa VAC? Haha!)
Last year, I was new with VAC. Last weekend, I was a part of the VAC family.

A lot has changed, but a lot stays the same.
Last year, I was talkative. Last weekend, I was still talkative. (worse)
Last year, VAC was welcoming. Last Weekend, VAC was still welcoming.

In a span of one year, here are achievements that I shared with VAC:
I conquered 6 mountain summits (Gulugod Baboy, Balagbag, Pico de Loro, Batulao, Manalmon, Maculot) and almost reached the summit of my first MAJOR climb (Bulusan).
I sailed through rough waves and was able to reach 2 great islands (Calaguas and Palaui).
I attended a very unique debut party (Jhopay’s Debut Ko-21st Bday!!! Walang Basagan ng Trip).
I met new people and become friends with them still (too many to mention! Gusto ko sana ispecial mention si Al, kuya Jhon, Ron, Jhopay, Agnes, Meann, Dustine, Kang, MJ, Bais, Happy, Daryl, Yani, Carell, Ed, Yeng, Kuya Levy, Lala, Graciel, GP pero wag nalang!)

My realization (habang ang aking katawang lupa ay pagod kagabi at ito ay lumaro sa aking isipan bago ako matulog):

VAC has been a blessing! It doesnt only help me add pages to my blog site but they gave me more. Through VAC I conquered the insurmountable. With VAC I can be myself. I can laugh at my loudest! Drink and be drunk as worst as I can get!I can be noisy and be over the top and be tactless but still feel that they do not judge me. I can
throw jokes that sometimes hit the respondents below the belt but instead of getting an irritated respond, I get a loud crack up. I can fall in love and get the support of everybody (ahem! love ba agad, di ba pwede landi landi lang muna? haha).

VAC has always been true to its taglines: VAC Cares and VAC will take you there!

It was a great one year and I am looking forward to more years with the group!

Once again, Happy fifth VAC!

Categories: backpack, Balagbag, Batangas, beach, budget, Bulusan, Calaguas, climb, family, gulugod baboy, island, island hopping, Maculot, Pico de Loro, sidetrip, travel, white sand | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Holy Week in the Philippines

This week  is Holy Week!

It marks the second longest holiday (probably after Christams and New Year sandwiched) in the Philippines. The government declares Thursday and Friday as regular holidays and Saturday and Sunday as special holidays. Because of the very long weekend, many people are excited of this particular week for some varying reasons.

For Roman Catholic devotees, they commemorate the death of Jesus. Many activities on different provinces are being practiced. In Pampanga, people whip their backs or have themselves crucified. In Marinduque, people act as Moriones (Roman soldiers who killed Jesus). In Batangas, many people go to Maculot and do the Stations of the Cross of Jesus by hiking through the mountains. In many provinces they have Senakulo (a play that depicts happenings found in the old and new testament of the bible focusing more on the sufferings and death of Jesus), Pasyon (singing or chanting, sometimes with accompaniment, of the life story of Jesus). Each of the provinces and municipalities country wide has their own ritual during holy week. Many devotees do this as panata (vow) as payment for a granted wish or prayer. Many also do fasting and abstinence as part of their panata. However, To those who are not that devoted, these practices were considered as entertainment and these activities would turn into street festivals.

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Categories: backpack, beach, climb, family, Servathon, travel, vacation, volunteer, volunteerism, white sand | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Conquering Mt. Maculot

We sit in the mud... and reach for the stars.-Ivan Turgenev

We sit in the mud… and reach for the stars.
-Ivan Turgenev

This is going to be a relaxed climb,”  assured Al, one of VAC’s founders, while we were about to start our trek to the mountain. What was supposed to be an easy climb turned out to be one of the most challenging experiences that I encountered because of the rain that didn’t seem to stop. And what made it  worse was that we were still on our trail by nightfall with only a few of us having headlamps and flashlight. However, the difficulty that we encountered made us somewhat better and experienced climbers and at the same time, the bond that we shared during those difficult times had become stronger.

Click to read more:

Categories: backpack, Batangas, budget, climb, Maculot, rain, rapel, travel, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Calaguas Island

The Philippines has many famous beaches and islands. However, when you mention Calaguas to people who are not frequent travellers or beach lovers,  they may not have heard of this place.  To those who have been to this hidden paradise located in the northernmost part of Bicol, just adjacent to the Pacific Ocean, they would consider Calaguas to be one of the most beautiful beaches on their list. That is what I also felt when I stepped foot on this island which I immediately considered as paradise.

Calaguas is actually a group of islands located in the municipality of Vinzons, Camarines Norte . However, the Tinaga Island which is the most famous among the group, is the one that people refer to as Calaguas. The long stretch of beach on this island is called by locals as Halabang Baybay or Mahabang Buhangin. 

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At the beach, life is different. Time doesn’t move hour to hour but mood to moment. We live by the currents, plan by the tides, and follow the sun.”
– Anonymous

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Categories: backpack, beach, Bicol, Calaguas, travel, vacation, white sand | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My First Major Climb

Mt Bulusan in all its glory.**Photo credit to Al del Barrio

Mt Bulusan in all its glory (only hidden by clouds)
**Photo credit to Al del Barrio

I have written this many times that I cursed my first climb (minor at that). But after about 9 months, who would have thought that I would embark on a major climb at Mt. Bulusan  which has  a difficulty of 6/9 as determined by Pinoy Mountaineer.

Shei, Lhenie and I decided to join this climb with an intention of having a side trip to see the giant butandings  (whale sharks) in Donsol, located in the same province. But of course, I also wanted to conquer more mountains so I was really excited for this. In fact, since this was my first out of town trip for the year and thankfully my vacation leaves from the company has refreshed, I took four days off from work  (The year just started and I already consumed four!)

Also, a week before the climb, I met a few members of VAC at CCP Complex in Pasay for us to have  training (we had a few hours of jogging and stretching) to prepare for the climb. After that, we also went to a hobby shop near the Buendia LRT station and I bought my first climbing pants. Weeks before that, I bought my first pair of trekking shoes. I wanted to be all geared for my first major climb.  On my previous climbs, I just wear shorts or corduroy pants and I was always on my Sandugo sandals. (Oh diba, seryoso talaga sa pag akyat. Hehe!)

Anyway, here is how my first climb went:

This is our itinerary and list of expenses for the entire trip:

Itinerary and List of Expenses for Mt. Bulusan Climb and Sidetrip

Categories: backpack, budget, Bulusan, monsoon, sidetrip, Sorsogon | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Summer is here!

It’s the start of March today and it only means one thing, summer is officially starting in the Philippines. And if there is one thing that you could think of about summer, it would be the BEACH!

Each of the beaches and the islands  that I have been to has its own beauty to boast so I really couldn’t give a countdown of all of them. This is really difficult and I could just select the best on certain criterion that I can think of.  So here are the best beaches locally for me:

Most Unspoiled Beach. CALAGUAS ISLAND, Camarines Norte

Don’t expect any luxury and comfort because this is indeed unspoiled. Except for a few huts and one concrete house, this island boasts exclusivity, serenity and just being one with the beach and its huge waves. Be ready to bring some camping tools! And yes, there is no electricity in this paradise. Hopefully this doesn’t get commercialized anytime soon!

Runner up: Potipot Island in Iba Zambales


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Categories: backpack, beach, Boracay, island, island hopping, Palawan, travel, white sand | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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