Photo: flicker.com


This morning, as I was preparing to keep my laptop, I was surprised to find a 5 peso coin underneath it. I could not remember how I left it there or if it even belonged to me. But who else would it belong to? I’m the only one who has that annoying habit of putting change anywhere. Without thinking much, I took the coin, slip it into my jeans pocket and went about my business. I thought, let’s see where this coin will lead me.

Photo:leafjournals.com

Riding in a public transportation is always a challenge to me. Every time I take a bus, ride the Metro Train or the jeepney, it is always an adventure. I am an observant person, and I have another annoying habit of profiling the people I am taking the ride with. Call it OCD, or whatever it is, but I take is as a precautionary practice, because I thought that whatever happens, if ever I get mugged inside the bus, or held-up in a jeep, I would be able to describe the people I was with. Maybe a bad case of paranoia? Hey, this is Manila. Even though how much I love Manila, I can’t deny the fact that these incidents do happen.

So, as I stood in line together with about a hundred more commuters waiting for the bus, I started my habit of observing the people. There was a slight drizzle of rain, but I didn’t mind , I was lazy to bring out my umbrella. A little rain won’t hurt, I thought.

Photo: raindance.org

A boy, about 9 or 10 was asking for alms from the people in the line. I knew what he was saying to them although I could not hear him. I know, he was telling them the same sob story over and over again, why he was begging for money, why he isn’t in school.

I was in a jolly mood today and I thought of “tripping” with the little boy, see where he would take me with his story. I was already forming the questions to ask him in my mind.

When he reached me, before he could say a word, I asked him what the envelope was for. Like a reporter or an investigator, I fired questions at him that I already knew how he would answer. I asked him where he got the envelopes, the props he uses when begging.

I guess he must have answered the same questions a hundred times because he was so articulate, probably memorized every line through constant repetition. Except when I told him something about trying to become a better person, and that he ought to go to school so that he would be able to help his parents, that’s when he started to keep quiet.


Only then did I started to talk to him about the importance of education, of earning money the right way. In the end, I gave him the five-peso coin I slipped inside my pocket earlier. Maybe he thought I was a penny pincher because I have to give him a speech before giving him that small amount of money.

Photo: shutterstock.com

Aside from the fact that I didn’t have any extra cash with me, it really was just the amount that I can afford to give him. Not because I don’t have money ( well, could be considered an excuse), but because I think that in giving him more, I would just reinforce his wrong thinking about money, and that will drive him to become lazy. Asking for money is easier than working for it anyway.

As I sit in the bus, some thoughts started to bug me. I have an hour and a half to ponder and reflect on that and so I let my thoughts flow typing away with my forefingers significant thoughts that came up, in my phone. (This is another annoying habit I do, but I do it anyway, it helps me keep up with my thoughts, because if I don’t do this, I would totally lose every word that came to mind.)

And so I pondered..

What is the difference between me and the boy asking for alms? How did I become different from him? At first, we’d think that the difference is more of the dreams, the willpower and the effort we exert to make our lives better with the principles of life that we live by. But then, thinking deeper about it, I realized, there really isn’t much.

Because in reality, we are all beggars. At some point in life, we have begged for something. Maybe we just change the terminology we use, have a different purpose for begging, but it is still begging. Solicitation, sponsorship, donation. We are asking for something that is dependent on other people’s mercy.

I have asked for sponsorship. I have begged someone not to leave me. I begged for God to listen to my prayers. I know at some point you have begged at someone to love you. You have begged for a special place in someone’s heart.

We are all beggars asking for something that would satisfy a want or a need in us. I realized that since I am no different than that little beggar boy , I have no right to feel superior among any of our brethren.


And as for the little boy, I really hoped that my words fired a light of hope in his heart, to inspire, to start building dreams, and to continue fighting for his mark in this world.

Photo:fffound.com

I really thought that I was the one teaching him lessons in life, but the more I thought about it, I realized that the one who gained more was me. I was the one who got rescued. I was the one who understood more about where I stand in life right now.

My five peso coin gave me more than what I bargained for. My five peso coin has finally reached its destination.


 Keep the faith,

Mei







One of my projects was to organize a teambuilding for one of the biggest government agencies.And for my very first teambuilding event, I brought them to a resort in Batangas called Laiya White Cove. Searching over the internet for more information about the place, I was quite disappointed because there was little to see. So we decided to go there for an ocular inspection. I was disappointed because I could not appreciate the beauty of the place after it was ravaged by typhoon Glenda. Nevertheless, I have already witnessed the hospitality of the staff.


So, come August 8, I was anticipating complaints about the room from the group, but I was just too happy to hear that they were contented with what the resort has to offer. I got my own room too, upgraded than what I was supposed to get with the FOC. I could not really care more what type of room would be given to me, since I would only be using it at night. I am not that picky. This is work, not leisure, so I didn't expect any luxury.

One of the Family Rooms

But I was impressed, the staff upgraded one group's room to the 8,000 pesos room and I get to use their room. So, I yes, I get paid to stay in resort and eat good food as well.

This one's taken after breakfast. Just look at my smile and see how contented I was with the food. Clean plate.



Photos of Laiya's beach cannot give justice to the real beauty of the beach. I was amazed at how the sand would change its color. When we arrived around 11 in the morning, the sand was white (not powdery white like Boracay's but sort of like cream) and then as morning turned to dusk, so did the color of the sand turned to a darker shade. 

Random Photos


During low tide, sandbars would emerge and 100 meters or more from the shoreline, the water was still waist-deep. The color of the sea was just beautiful. 



There was a moon that night, and I suddenly felt a romantic atmosphere all around. Just like me, everybody else was in for a surprise! Turned out no one in the group has ever been to White Cove). When the lights were turned on at dusk, the place magically transformed and I could hear everyone's oohs and aahs. You would not fully appreciate the beauty of the resort if you will not stay overnight. 




The furniture or the "muebles" were all made of the sturdiest of wood, narra, and as my GM said, the lobby was her favorite part of the place because of antique elegance feeling it has. Yes, narra furnitures cost millions. 



I just love the details of the resort. At first glance, it seemed ordinary, but when the lights came on, the magic began and lifted every body's mood. Looking at the happy faces of my clients, I know I did something right.




Here'a a glimpse of the teambuilding activity.


Thank you to the ever accommodating personnel of Laiya White Cove.

Ms. Mial
Ms. De-an




Keep the faith and enjoy life!

Mei


I have always loved the sea, as can be demonstrated in a poem I wrote in 1999, although this poem has a deeper meaning for me. I was in love with a guy whose name translates to the sea. With or without the guy, I loved the sea. I grew up in a place where you could hear the sound of the waves and smell the sea mist, the sea breeze lulling you to take a siesta. But because of a life changing event, and because of the number of people, of loved ones that the sea took, I decided to stay away from it and from other big bodies of water.

Here is that poem and I am lucky to find an online copy of it, because I lost the notebook where I have written my poems. 

Raindrops bitter on my lips
Falling down with the tears in my eyes
The sea, with waves like outstretched hands are calling 
out to me,
to come and feel it's depth.

The seagulls cry as i run for the sea,
straight into the arms of my forbidden fantasy
to be one with him and forever be free
and feel all the passion i have for the sea...

(A poem I wrote in 1999 and submitted to Starlite Cafe. See it here.)


The crystal clear was so tempting I couldn't resist it, I have to take the first step.

It’s been nine months after Haiyan, and we are still halfway through recovery. Half kneeling-half standing,  but better than we used to be. Yolanda  (local name for Hayian) brought us to our knees, some pushed down deep into their graves. But we are one resilient and strong race, even the strongest typhoon cannot make us lie face down with arms outstretched in surrender. We will continue the fight to pull ourselves up and stand firmly in the ground, and make our mark.

On a personal note, nine months is long enough for me to realize my worth. I am one of those fortunate people who lived to tell the tale. As with the others, I developed a fear of big bodies of water. The sound of thunder and rain on my body still brings a fear all too familiar. But living in fear is something that has become unacceptable to me, because I was left without a choice but to walk the path of unfamiliar territory, I faced my fears so I can finally now relate to the meaning of the word “courage”



August 8,2014 is exactly 9 months after Haiyan. And for the first time after being estranged from the sea, I made peace with her. And I realized just how much I missed the smell of the sea mist and the trickling sensation the foam of the waves felt when it touches my feet. I missed the embrace of the sea when I lay flat on my back and float away just looking at the sky. I am finally at peace with the sea.

Super typhoon Yolanda taught us a lot of lessons and opened our eyes to so many things. I’ve seen the best and worst in humanity after the storm and it made me question the very meaning of our  existence. And the only thing that was certain to make a difference was our capacity to love- to love amid the chaos, to love despite of knowing that the only thing the situation is pushing us to do was to show the worst in us.

And I still believe that people have an extraordinary capacity to love even through a very challenging situation.

Here is a poem I wrote about Yolanda, a name that changed the lives of many.

She cried , and the heavens brought forth torrential tears that covered the earth like a mantle
She wailed and roared, a thunderous boom that pierced and exploded in our breasts,
Drowning the voices of the people , arms outstretched,  reaching for life, gasping for air
Her eye, they were of vengeance , a wrath deserving of an offering to appease the fury
Her skirt,  hem sweeping  away every standing structure in her path, leaving behind a mountain of debris
Her trail, it left an eerie scene of an apocalyptic magnitude that one would never forget
 How can we forget?
Where do we begin?
Those that whom she kissed had fallen into her spell,
To a senseless slumber bringing more misery than joy to the living,
A pain more unbearable than death,   reasons unfathomable.
We are but mere mortals, no match for her Goddess-like strength and intensity.
We succumbed to her wrath, and a chosen few lived to tell of her tale,
A witness to her fury,
To live in torment and in fear
Others will come but not as fierce, as vindictive as she was.
She kissed us…
Some a deep goodnight’s kiss, never to wake up again
Yolanda, she was.- a name we will never forget.


Keeping the faith,

Mei


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