A Day Well Spent

Before the chaotic transfer of Operationn Salubong (a volunteer group who welcome Yolanda Survivors as they come off the C-130 plane) to Camp Aguinaldo, a friend and I were already signed up to do the 8am-3pm shift at Villamor as counselors on Friday, Nov. 22, 2013- my birthday. The previous week and the one before that were very toxic and I wanted to make my birthday week as worthy as a thanksgiving offering to the Father and so I planned to do as much volunteer work and prayer that week. My sister, Irhys, and our friend, Gino, were volunteer marshals on Monday that same week. On Thursday evening, Nov. 21, 2013, we received the news that Oplan Salubong was moving back to Villamor and we also read posts about Oplan Hatid (a volunteer transport service for the evacuees of typhoon Yolanda who have fled their homes and are brought to Manila via the military planes) having to reassemble after packing up that same day. I was still in the office that time and my sister was at home preparing to sleep. Gino and I were exchanging messages about our planned volunteer work the following day. We were planning  to volunteer at the Oplan Hatid if the Oplan Salubong didn’t work out since it was still unclear on how DSWD would manage the volunteers for this operation. After a few minutes, Gino suggested we volunteer that night since Oplan Hatid was in need of help.  It was 10:00pm. I said yes. I called my sister and told her to get ready as I was going to pick her up in a few minutes. She was already in bed but she was quick to say yes.

We arrived at Villamor before 11pm and was told to proceed to Gate 5. Around 20 volunteer drivers were already there waiting for DSWD’s go signal for transportation. A few minutes later, we were told to transfer to the parking lot at the grandstand.

At 11:30PM, we got our first passenger, heading to Pasig Palengke. We were not familiar with the place but I was confident that Waze could navigate us where we needed to go. Our passengers were 2 male cousins and the baby daughter of one.

I asked Gino to set the waze app since I was busy driving. As geographically challenged as I was, I missed the exit to Magallanes. Waze recalculated the route and pointed us toward Osmena Highway going to Manila. I asked Gino to check the route again since I believed we were taking the wrong or a very long route. Gino disregarded the Waze and dictated which road to take. After a few minutes, my sister and I were surprised that we were somewhere in Sta Ana. Apparently, Gino took the wrong destination in the GPS map so he was trying to navigate us to a route he was familiar with—which turned out to be really really long. We spent the whole ride teasing Gino until he finally said he will shoulder the gas for this trip. After an hour, we finally reached our destination. My passengers bid their goodbye and their heartfelt birthday greetings then we headed back to Villamor. Another plane just landed when we got there. We were concerned that volunteers were needed at the grandstand so we headed to the volunteer registration booth to sign up as PFAs while waiting for passengers to be deployed. We got our IDs and headed to the grandstand. However, the DSWD didn’t seem to be in need of our help so we headed back to the Oplan Hatid tent. The bidding started. Our next bid was for Dasmarinas Cavite. Three young teenager siblings. Again, waze destination was wrong. Good thing, Gino knew the area. We passed by a road filled with colorful parols and it was enough to reenergize everyone. We got to Waltermart at around 5am and waited until our passenger’s sundo was able to pick them up. We bid our goodbye then we headed back to Villamor to check if they still needed drivers. It was already 6:30am when we got there. The tent was almost empty except for 2 sets of evacuees. The DSWD asked if we can take two passengers and drop them at the bus station. One was going to Apalit, Pampanga and the other one to Cavite. Gino and Irhys needed to go to work that day so we couldn’t take them to their destination but we were willing to drop them off at the bus station. We drove to Victory Liner, Pasay.  I asked my sister to accompany Kuya Rey to the ticket booth and buy him a ticket since no one sponsored his ticket from Oplan Hatid. Our other passenger and I were left in the car chatting about the destruction that Yolanda brought to Tacloban. He said that his mother and aunt did not want to leave Tacloban and opted to stay at the makeshift house that he built before he left. He was going to ask for help from their relatives and return to his family. It was also sad to discover that the violence against women and children at the aftermath of Yolanda were real. He said it was true that a female doctor was raped and killed in Tacloban and that the prisoner’s were at large. A few minutes later, Gino, Irhys and Rey came back with the news that there were no trips to Apalit in that station. Apalit trips were only being carried out by Victory Liner in Caloocan. I checked my watch. It was almost 7am. I didn’t have any work that day so I told Gino and Irhys I could take Kuya Rey to Caloocan. But they were both quick to say they’d go with me all the way. We loaded Kuya Rey’s luggage again and drove off to Taft to drop our other passenger. He said he was familiar with the place and that he could catch the bus going to his Aunt’s house in Cavite. We bid our goodbyes and then drove off to the now busy roads going to Caloocan. I was starting to get groggy. We reached Caloocan by 8:30AM. After buying Kuya Rey a ticket, we headed back to Makati. EDSA was now at its busiest. Gino and Irhys needed to go to work and I had to renew my license since it was going to expire on that day. We got home by 11am. It was a day well spent and the privilege to help others was enough birthday gift. When we share ourselves with others we always, always get more than what we give.

I was able to renew my license in the afternoon which took me less than 15mins, drive back home, take quick nap, attend mass where Father Apacible told about a loving community being embodied in Villamor and I was happy to be a part of it, drive to Greenbelt, have dinner with my sister who has been awake for 36 hours already—we ate at … dyaran! MAX’s (my other sisters were quite surprised that we were not dining at a fancy restaurant. With everything that just happened it just felt inapt to be spending so much money on food)  and to cap it off,  watch the Hunger Games which ended at 12 midnight.

Before Friday, I disabled wall posts on my FB. I wanted to simplify my birthday this year. In our current social media era, it’s so easy to lose track of which friends are mere acquaintances and those who really care. I’ve always preferred a personal greeting, a personal message, a call, a real communication than mere HBD posts on my wall. It was really heartwarming to receive sincere greetings from family and friends, those who really matter, and from the strangers who were a part of that special day.

With only a few hours of sleep, I had to wake up early the next day for a roadtrip to Baler with Aiza — an epic adventure worth another post.

Irhys, Gino and Me in Villamor, waiting for our passengers. With Aiza in Baler -11.23.13

Irhys, Gino and Me in Villamor, waiting for our passengers. With Aiza in Baler -11.23.13


Looking Back and Marching Forward

This post is a little bit late. The past two days has just been crazy busy.

It’s 7 mins past midnight. It’s officially the second day of the year. I really need to get some sleep but let me just wrap up 2012 in a few words.

2012 was a quiet year for me, or at least compared to the past two years. It was a year about self reflection, family and friendship I’d like to think that I have made myself better, so much better in so many ways and it was all because of what I’ve endured in 2011.

Great things happened. I achieved my 21k goal, I learned to swim and it became a part of my workout routine, better bones project happened, I’ve closed some projects at work, got reunited with old friend

s and more importantly, I learned to forgive. Our family became closer because of the plight that we were and are still facing. I will always be thankful that I was blessed with a wonderful family. We might be facing a big challenge but knowing that we have each other’s backs is enough to make us feel God’s love.

Sad things happened too. I’ve lost friends in the most unimaginable ways. It was a year of missing other people.

I still pray for patience, courage, wisdom, grace and a steadfast faith for 2013.

Let us face the new year with a hopeful heart. Cheers to new beginnings, to learning new things, to fulfilling our goals, to becoming a better version of ourselves. Cheers to wonderful year ahead! Happy New Year!




Life is Funny that Way

Life is funny that way…

How it breaks you and makes you cry over small things and big things only to make you realize at some near or distant future that life had something better planned for you.

How it makes you so vulnerable, makes you fall in love but breaks your heart all the same just so you know how much more beautiful falling in love is the second time around.

How it makes you feel so scared about possibilities and the unknown but gives you that satisfaction after courageously battling your fears.

How it makes you stupid and reckless but passionate all at the same time.

How it allows you to make mistakes just so it can teach you a lesson. How it turns bad decisions into great stories.

How it makes you feel all different kinds of emotions, making you feel alive and human.

Life is funny that way.

I Got Lost

“I got lost!” That’s a common statement from me to which most of my friends and family would answer “What’s new?”.

I was trying to prove otherwise so I took a Visual and Spatial Intelligence Test online. There were only 10 questions and no time pressure. The first items seemed easy and I ticked my answer quite confidently. When I got to the 6th question, I stared at the rubix cube and tried to figure out which object came next. Tic tac tic tac. 2mins over… 3 mins over. I tried to focus. Shit! I was starting to feel frustrated. I was actually feeling panicky the whole time I was taking the test. It was the same familiar feeling everytime I … got lost. I took my time and finished the test feeling a little confident. I clicked on the result button and braced myself. This is what appeared on the screen.

BELOW AVERAGE! Oh wait.. it said MUCH LOWER…that’s somewhere below BELOW AVERAGE? Oh shoot! That was… disappointing.  I actually thought I wasn’t that bad at all but the test results just proved how poor I was when it came to visualization. 😦

You see, I *diagnosed myself with something called PSD –Poor Sense of Direction, to which some of my friends would cry “UNDERSTATEMENT!”. Hehehe. While there are people who are really diagnosed with DTD (Developmental Topographical Disorder), I am the luckier one who belongs to the healthy but disoriented people. DTD patients get lost in very familiar surroundings, such as their house or neighborhood, daily.  

Last Sunday, Nick, Apple and I drove our way to Pampanga to cheer for our fellow runners who were running the 102km BDM ultrarace. My hometown is up North so notably, I have taken NLEX a dozen of times already but last Sunday was just epic. I missed the right turn from EDSA going to NLEX! As we ascended the ramp, I asked my passengers if I was going to make a right turn. Both of them answered in affirmation saying “dito” (here) and pointing to the approaching right turn. However, somewhere in my brain, my instincts were kicking in saying “Wait! Not this one!” so I held the steering wheel steady and whizzed by the right turn to which both my passengers reacted in frustration followed by laughter. “Ano ka ba?!!! Sinabi na ngang dun eh. Taga Baguio ka ba?” someone said. I just laughed along with them. We were left with no choice but to take a U-Turn southbound and another U-Turn to return to my previous missed right turn to NLEX. Hooray! Our adventure just started. (Note: This is not the first time this happened. My sister can attest to this.)

When it comes to directions my instincts are really OFF but instincts are instincts and most of the time I follow my gut feeling, which always turns out to be WRONG!

Last year, I was on the same trip to Pampanga with Apple and Irene. Apple took the driver’s seat and I sat beside her, holding my printed-out map. Irene was comfortably perched at the backseat. I prepared for this trip, studying the route, printing the map, encircling landmarks, etc. but we still got lost 3 times! This year, we made a couple of wrong turns again which elicited more laughter and teasing from my two passengers.

We stopped by a gas station to have breakfast and that was when I mentioned that I had plans of traveling alone. Did they shake their heads or did they laugh? I can’t really remember, maybe both. Apple said I had to have them check my bags before traveling. Nick said I had to learn first how to focus on the “Now”. I knew they were both right. With my poor sense of direction, it’s highly likely I will be getting lost 80% of the time.

I’ll admit to you, I still can’t figure out how the Ortigas Extension Bridge crosses over the Floodway.

Maybe I should abandon my plans of traveling alone.

I’m generally tough and I think I’ll make it alive but maybe I’ll spend more time getting lost than actually going anywhere and I’ll probably be burning more cash due to this. It may be fun to get lost once in a while but when it happens everytime, it gets frustrating.  When people give me directions, the words turn garbled after the third one. It gets overwhelming and I could not absorb anything at all. It seems my mental GPS has a very low memory space. I always find my way to my destination but it takes a lot of focusing and a lot more time.

So, the question still stands. Should I still plan on travelling alone or abandon the idea? Maybe I could but I’ll need to save up twice as much, take time to plan and study every detail, make sure my GPS batteries are full, make sure my mobile phone is charged, pack a big amount of courage and prepare myself emotionally to handle the frustration.

P.S. I took another visual and spatial intelligence test hoping well..hoping the first test result wasn’t accurate. I got 12 out of 28. 😦 Confeeeermed! Just to make me feel better, I took the classical IQ Test and researched on different learning styles (nerdy topic here we go). I got a more satisfying score in the IQ test (apparently I’m gifted somewhere else) and learned that there are basically two types of learners, the visual-spatial and auditory-sequential learner. The main differences are enumerated below:


Thinks primarily in words Thinks primarily in pictures
Has auditory strengths Has visual strengths
Relates well to time Relates well to space
Is a step-by-step learner Is a whole-part learner
Learns by trial and error Learns concepts all at once
Progresses sequentially from easy to difficult material Learns complex concepts easily; struggles with easy skills
Is an analytical thinker  Is a good synthesizer
Attends well to details Sees the big picture; may miss details
Follows oral directions well Reads maps well
Does well at arithmetic Is better at math reasoning than computation
Learns phonics easily Learns whole words easily
Can sound out spelling words Must visualize words to spell them
Can write quickly and neatly Prefers keyboarding to writing
Is well-organized Creates unique methods of organization
Can show steps of work easily Arrives at correct solutions intuitively
Excels at rote memorization Learns best by seeing relationships
Has good auditory short-term memory Has good long-term visual memory
May need some repetition to reinforce learning Learns concepts permanently; is turned off by drill and repetition
Learns well from instruction Develops own methods of problem solving
Learns in spite of emotional reactions Is very sensitive to teachers’ attitudes
Is comfortable with one right answer Generates unusual solutions to problems
Develops fairly evenly Develops quite asynchronously
Usually maintains high grades May have very uneven grades
Enjoys algebra and chemistry Enjoys geometry and physics
Learns languages in class Masters other languages through immersion
Is academically talented Is creatively, mechanically, emotionally, or technologically gifted
Is an early bloomer Is a late bloomer

That was quite comforting. I obviously belonged to the Autidory-Sequential Learner.  =)



Positively LOL (Laugh Out Loud) Mondays

Hokeee! Since Monday is the start of the work week (for most of us), I decided to post something funny and positive to kick us into high gear. It’s nice to meet the week with a BIG smile and positive thoughts.

Starting this week off with one of my female crushes. Ohyeah. That’s one good thing about being a girl, we’re allowed to have female crushes and it’s totally normal. If you’re male and you have a male crush…..that’s a big uh-oh!

Here’s Ashley Rivera a.k.a Petrang Mahalimuyak. She’s really funny, super pretty, she can sing and she dances really good. O diba? This is one of her funniest post. Check it out! Remember to do your best hearty laugh to benefit from the LOL Monday.  =)

Here’s a sprinkle of positive quotes from the wise Gandhi.

“You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.”

“Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.”

Thou Shall Not Let A Capitalist Holiday Get You Down

My formula for a smashing Vday this year= Single Friends HOHOL +  Pinoy Henyo and charades + Eat Greasy Food (lots of em) + RED WINE + Chocolates (lots of em). 🙂

Contrary to last year’s tear-stained, alcohol-soaked Vday, this year was spent with a constant dose of laughter and food trip.

There should be a rule on Vday that says: Thou shall not let a capitalist holiday get you down. Camownnn! Being single on valentine’s day or the day after that can be a blast too (I think uhmm that applies when you have tons of single friends. I guess I’m just lucky to be surrounded by Singledom). Hooray!

Feb 14 evening was spent with BBG members Apple, Shiela and Nick. My sister Dianne and bro-in-law followed after fulfilling their Vday delivery duties for my other sister, Tine.

After my sisters Tine and Irhys finished their training run in BHS (I’m so proud to see Irhys doing her speed workouts again after recovering from a brutal ankle sprain), we ordered take out greasy chicken wings  and Cheesy Bacon Pizza. Then we bought some cheap wine at Ralph’s before heading to our flat.

We spent a good 3 hours playing Pinoy Henyo and Charades and I was the one bullied during this session. Everybody becomes excited when it was my turn. They would go “Ayan! si Aileen na!”, followed by laughter. Nanghuhula daw kasi ako agad without narrowing down the choices and my guesses were so out of this world.

Charades with Nick, Mark, Shiela and Apple

Pinoy Henyo (sila na ang henyo!)

Me: Tao? Them: Hinde!!!!

Me: Bagay? Them: Hinde!!!

Me: Lugar? Them: Hinde!!!

Me: Hayop? Them: OO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Me: Nasa lupa ba eto? Them: Hinde!!!!

Me: Nasa tubig ba eto? Them: OO!!!

Me: Fish? Them: Laughter followed by “sige isda kung gusto mo”. “Hinde!!!!”

Me: confused. CRAB? Them: LAUGHTER!!!! HINDEEEEEE!!!!


WORD: Jelly Fish


Me: Bagay? Them: Pwede. Hinde. Me: confused

Me: Hayop? Them: Uhmmm Hinde!!

Me: May kinalaman sa hayop? Them: OO!!!!

Me: Parte ba eto ng hayop? Them: OO!!!!

Me: SADDLE? Them: LAUGHTER. Parte ng hayop saddle?? followed by more laughter.

Me: confused.

Iphone: Tic tac tic tac..5…4…3…2…1

WORD: Horn

Eh kung sila kaya manghula niyan! Edi sila na! Haha!

We capped off the night with discussions about our upcoming races. My visitors left at 3am, single,  busog at masaya.

The following day was a scheduled dinner with ANR Pearies Mich, Jill, Jess and Drew, Irene and Doc Art.

We had Korean dinner at Dong Won Garden, followed by a sumptuous, mouth watering dessert at Chocolatier Boutique.

with ANR pearlies and Doc Art

Mich, Apple, Me, Irene and Jill

And capping off the night with a….Spicy Choco Lava.. DROOOOL!!


These are the people who inspire me to become a happier person or rather, they give me that HAPPY MOJO. And guess what? IT’S FREE!

These girls have awesome personality and character. They’re the ones who make me go “Ooohhh they’re so happy I want to be like them.”  Hahaha. I admire them for their positivity and enthusiasm. They have taught me to focus on the things that are going GREAT rather than rant about the things that drive me crazy. When you have so much energy you must learn how to channel it to something positive.

1. Mich Crisol De Ocampo 

She is one gorgeous ballfire of giddy enthusiasm. I met her through common running friends. Then we became twitter friends. She’s always been my goodmorning knock knock and her complimenting tweets always made me smile. She calls me GORGEOUS and she makes it sound so TRUE. Hahaha! Who wouldn’t want that for a friend huh? I never saw this girl without a smile. Even when she’s running miles under the hottest sun with soreness here and there, she never fails to greet you with a BIG smile (the one that reaches her eyes). She gives the most encouraging and positive words on my hell days and she continues to inspire me to have the same sunshiney personality.

2. Grazielle Ruby Ticsay (Apple)

This is one HOT doctor. Gorgeous angel. Woot! Hehe! I love this girl. She has this childlike optimism that makes you want to treat life with the same naivete. We’ve been friends for over a year now and I’ve seen her cry, get mad, frustrated, feel sad but she has this *snap snap* attitude. Feel bad for a while then cheer up. She must be the kindest doctor on a very stressful ER day and she must have that great amount of patience to keep herself from screaming at impossibly difficult patients and oh people who treat her badly. She’s seen me through my worst days and I wouldn’t have made it out of the hell hole if it wasn’t for her comforting enthusiasm.

3. Isa Garcia


I’m a follower of her blog. On my bad days, her blogs are my happy pills. They put some perspective on my rambling thoughts. She’s all about FAITH, HOPE and HAPPINESS. She magically turns around bad events into insightful ones, despairing circumstances into hopeful ones.

She’s the author of the “You Should Date..” blog post (http://everyday-isa.com/2011/06/06/you-should-date/) that became popular mid last year. I still read it once  in a while to remind me to NOT SETTLE.

And this one http://everyday-isa.com/2011/12/30/2012-a-new-years-benediction/ is just one of her posts that inspires me to make a better version of myself each and everyday.

4. Anna Oposa


She is a wise, vibrant, funny blogger who works for the environment. She’s all about PASSION. I came about her blog through Isa’s. I adore her comical approach to life’s unnerving moments especially when it comes to our favorite topic L-O-V-E. http://annaoposa.ph/2011/12/the-anatomy-of-love/.

She has a go-getter attitude with a great amount of optimism and passion. Her wise words makes makes you wanna go “HELL YEAH! I can do this” kind of thing.

5. Patty Laurel


Whew! If I were a guy, I’d want her for a girlfriend. Simple, beautiful, happy, smart, nice… everything. I discovered her blog through Isa’s very recently. She’s a model but she barely wears any make up and she’s just amazingly beautiful with that bareness. Her blogs are very funny and cute and has this sense of humbleness that makes any ordinary girl comfortable to read through her posts. And just like the four awesome girls above, she’s one HAPPY spirit.

6. Kristine Piacos

OMG! I totally forgot to include her on my list so now I have to edit this and insert her as the last. Haha! Sorry bout that, dear. You know I truly love you.

Anyhow, this sister of mine is such an ENTERTAINER. She lights up somber and mundane moods with her funny spiels, comical singing and dancing. The best thing about it is that she doesn’t care if she looks silly (infront of strangers or not). As long as she’s making people laugh, she’ll do her ‘thang’. She is a ray of sunshine. I bet she can make you laugh in between your sobs. And the bestest thing about all this is that she’s my SISTER.

SPECIAL THANKS to these WONDERFUL ladies for turning crappy days into the “NOT SO” category. You are my inspiration to become a BETTER person.