Scaling Greater Heights

divilacan trek (44)

Pitong araw po naming nilakad ang bundok ng Sierra Madre hanggang makarating kami ng Divilacan, Isabela. Jump off namin, Sindon Bayabo, Ilagan, Isabela, September 2, 2011; 7:30am.

 

 

 

Binabagtas namin ang tropical rain forest ng Sierra Madre sa pamamagitan ng aming mga paa. Nariyang malusob ang aming mga sapatos sa putik; matisod, madapa at mabasa sa mga mabatong sapa; aakyat ng bangin; gayundin tatawid sa isang madulas na troso.

divilacan trek (38)TREEEEE

TREEKKKKKKKKKKKK

Hindi na inaalintana ang mga lintang kakapit sa aming mga binti. Pag nabusog ang mga linta sa mga dugo ng aming mga paa at binti ay kusa na lamang itong aalis. Ang mga linta nga pala, sabi ni Sir Banjo ay isang natural indicator na isang parte ng rainforest ay undisturbed.

divilacan trek (39)LIMNTA---1

Sa gitna ng kabundukan, naubusan po kami ng bigas at baong sardinas. Kaya nagkasya na lang kami sa mga halamang gubat kagaya ng dahon ng ferns, prutas ng rattan, at mga saging at mga kuhang isda ng mga katutubong Agta mula sa mga sapa ng kagubatan. Isang buong araw na laman ng aming tiyan ay nilagang saging lamang.

divilacan trek (15)divilacan trek
Malaki ang naitulong ng mga porter or guide naming mga Agta na sina kuya Noni, Weasly, Ate Merly at mga kasama dahil kabisado nila ang kabundukan at mahusay silang maghanap ng aming makakain. Napakagaling manisid ng isdang “igat” si Mang Noni at si Kapitan, kung kaya’t wala man kaming bigas ay masarap naman na isdang igat ang aming ulam. Si Kapitan, binalewala ang kagat ng mga bubuyog ng kagubatan, makuha lamang ang honeybee bilang aming merienda.

  1. divilacan trek (24)

 

Nariyang matutulog kami sa gitna ng kagubatan gamit adivilacan trek (40)ng aming mga tent na dala sa mga batuhan, sa gilid ng ilog, sa mga tablang naiiwan mula sa mga old logging ng mga nagdaang taon.

 

 

 

divilacan trek (16)

Si Blackie nga pala, ang kasama naming aso, pero tawag ko sa kanya Lyka. Perhaps Blackie was the first dog to traverse Ilagan to Diviacan. Bilib ako sa stamina ng asong iyon, kahit nataga ang kanyang likod noong minsang nilinisan ni Mang Noni ang aming daanan, ay kaya pa rin nya. May kasamahan kaming nagsabing pupulutanin na lang si Blackie noong wala na kaming makain, pero marami ang tumutol.

 

 

Sina Kuya Rusell nga pala at Kuya Walter, ang dalawang engineer na GPS master, sila po nag-encourage sa akin na ipagpapatuloy ang paglalakad. Muntik nga po kasi ako sumuko sa pangalawang araw ng trek, hehe..Thanks Kuya Rusell and Kuya Walter.

divilacan trek (25)

Sir Banjo, thanks sa mga inputs at insights na ibinahagi mo sa amin. Si Sir Banjo ang spokesman ng grupo. Kahit pagod, he never tired of speaking, hehehe,. I mean sharing with us, sa kanyang mga nalalaman tungkol sa environmental protection lalo na yong palagi niyang sinasabing batas – ang Republic Act 1586 – Phil Environment Impact Assessment System. Taga DENR siya kasi, hehe.

divilacan trek (2)

And foremost to Kevin, hehehe, siya talaga ang atat na atat sa experience na ito, kasi ayaw ko talaga kasi alam ko ang hirap sa ganitong trekking. Kevin, we made it, bro…nyahahahaha!!!

divilacan trek (7)

Alam kong bihira ng maulit ang ganitong yugto sa aking buhay, at ngayon pa lamang nagpapasalamat ako na nagkaroon ako ng pribileheyo na maranasan ang ganito. All 7-days we had to commune with nature. Sabi nga ng taga DENR naming kasama na si Sir Banjo, we had to walk in congruent with nature..Dapat synchronize ang aming mga hakbang sa kalikasan, otherwise matitisod, madadapa o mahuhulog sa bangin ang sinumang lalabag sa laws of nature.

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Wildflowers

…let the rain fall down upon her
she’s a free and gentle flower, growing wild

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..be careful how you touch her, for she’s awaken
and sleep’s the only freedom that she knows

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…but if allowed just one possession
I would pick her from the garden, to be mine

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…and a silent wind still blows
that only she can hear and so she goes

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.. a free and gentle flower, growing wild

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A Taste of Heaven

Can’t put down the book “Glimpsing Heaven: The Stories and Science of Life After Death” by Judy Bachrach (published 2014), while watching tonight’s episode of ABS-CBN’s “My Dear Heart”. Heart’s soul is now in wander, while her physical body is in a coma, just like Mia in Gayle Foreman’s novel, “If I Stay”. Hoping I can pull more insights from the book as I am trying to understand some near-death experiences, and see more light on this complicated topic of our life beyond boundaries.

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Remembering Edsa

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Just pulled my yellow history book from the shelf, and started reading few of its pages, “REMEMBERING/RETHINKING EDSA ” in keeping up the spirit of the People’s Power Revolution, 1986. I can’t help but felt nostalgic because that was the same critical days when me and my classmates feared because of the uncertainty of our graduation from high school, in lieu of so much commotion and chaos. It was all divine providence that it ended bloodless, ousting a dictator. We now enjoyed freedom, yet our so-called “democracy” is still fragile. #NeverAgain

 

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Rosary Cactus

A houseplant that can withstand neglect

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BEFORE THE DEATH OF CHRISTMAS CARD

 

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I had been fortunate to feel the spirit of Christmas when christmas card was still “in” during the ’90s. I received and sent cards via air mail during those times. But with the advent of new technology, particularly the introduction of electronic mails into the millenium, paperless society took place. Gone are the days when I opened a parcel, tore off the sealed card and read the greetings with personal handwriting from a long-lost sender, oceans away. Now, we can receive greetings from e-mails, text and Facebook. But nothing compares to the christmas cards sent through postal office, which I can collect, store in a shoebox, and treasure forever.

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NO ROOM IN THE INN

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NO MORE ROOM IN THE INN

Whatever became of the inn – the one whose keeper could not receive Mary and Joseph on the eve of Jesus Christ’s birth?

Some ancient man built that inn of stone or bricks of clay. Perhaps this builder mixed and spread something across its walls for a smooth appearance, then hung shutters to cover its windows, tamped down the dirt floor, firm and level, and attached a gate or door.

A man and a woman had made that inn their home, prepared food and drinks, and took in guests. Was it the only inn in Bethlehem? If so, then its proprietors were surely well known in town. Perhaps he was prominent in the synagogue, and she was sought out by other women in the town‘s well. This couple may well have had children and grandchildren of their own. Could they have been pleased to turn away the man from Nazareth with his pregnant wife?

Then, after Mary‘s child had been born in one of the inn‘s outbuildings and Herod‘s soldiers came to kill all the little boys in town, whom did the innkeepers lose to this slaughter? Grandsons, sons, nephews, and cousins all fell beneath the Roman blades. Sobs of grief must have echoed throughout that inn as family blood stained its floor.

So whatever became of that inn? It is gone, it is dust. Not only is the inn dust, the innkeepers have returned to dust along with all the jars in their kitchen and guests in their rooms. Only one artifact remains to memorialize their existence – the record of the birth of the Christ -child.

Maybe the story of the “too-full inn” is a parable for us in the season of Christmas: Of all the gifts and gatherings that fill your heart this month, which of them will remain when you have returned to dust? Only Jesus Christ really matters.

 

 

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Pointsettia and Me

Just committed an “unforgivable sin” to this soft, yet innocent pointsettia. It brought me so much joy when I saw its almost full bloom, vibrant red leaves that my inner self wanted a photo shoot for posterity. In my hurried pace preparing the shoot, something hard from up above suddenly fall that it caused two of its branches to break apart. “Awww”, was all I could say, in a small, soft voice, almost a whisper, but with deep regret. Then I spotted an empty pot and planted the stalks of the broken branches. How I wish, that in passing with time, these branches will develop roots, and live. I can do nothing more to it, than console myself to the concept of broken things. Isn’t it a wisdom of the ages that a broken seed will sprout a tree? That broken clouds will bring rain, that God loves a broken and contrite spirit? Basically, God loves broken things. One lesson learned. This is my first day of Christmas!

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The Essence of Christmas

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

Basty’s other pair of SM’s share a bear now find its place beneath the dimly-lit Christmas tree at home. The bear seems lonely, looks like he needs a pair, too. The green one I spotted at SM Toy Kingdom may seem to perfectly fit to accompany him. I hope the child who will receive the other pair of bear will be happy this Christmas.  I always feel, that time and again, the essence of Christmas is SHARING.

 

Basty's bear underneath the Christmas tree

Basty’s bear underneath the Christmas tree

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Share A Bear This Christmas

Basty shares a bear. With every purchase of twin bears at P200, a kid will have a chance to share the other bear to a child in need. Collected bears will be donated to San Mateo East Central School SPED Center, San Mateo, Isabela. Only at SM City Cauayan Share A Bear this Christmas!

 

Share a bear this Christmas

Share a bear this Christmas

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My Idea of a Hero

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MY IDEA OF A HERO
a personal reflection in light of recent events

by Alvin E. Lauran

I can visualize my picture of a hero to an angel with a halo, but without wings; a little bit of an imperfect saint with some allowance for pardonable misgivings.

My hero is patriotic – one who is simply willng to die for his country or one who is reaching out a long-stretched arm to an enemy or a friend who is about to fall from a ravine. He may not be well-decorated in terms of his accomplishments, but his willingness to serve others above self “na walang halong pag-iimbot o pagkukunwari” is more dominant. In our daily existence, there are people who may save our aweful day, “an angel in disguise”, whose heroic deeds were unknown to us. My parents, my teachers and mentors – they are all heroes to me. Our overseas contract workers, those people risking their lives to save other people from fire or some similar emergencies and disasters are heroes, too. The unsung heroes, they told us.

In light with recent events, the nation is once again divided. One tv station last night stressed in its prime time news the sneaky burial of the dictator. Stressing the word “diktador” in full voice with sarcasm. Well, I can fully understand the gesture.

I grew up in a small fishing village in Cebu, in a time when Ferdinand Edralin Marcos was president of the republic. Although we heard about curfews and the so-called “killings” in some areas like the foot “tsinelas” patrol or NPAs in the forest region of Tuburan, but I can say, we were not that affected because our parents were just busy enough for our simple living, and we kids were just that – kids, enjoying the innocence of childhood. I remember our family, along with other families in our neighborhood and nearby barangays, was recepient of the swine dispersal, a national government project of Pres. Marcos via Kilusang Kabuhayan para sa Kaunlaran, popularly known as KKK. We had a transistor radio which played Cebuano dramas, sometimes with interruptions when the president had an important announcement or proclamation. And it was heard all throughout the country in basically all stations in a radio dial.

In our elementary days, (circa 1976 – 1982), the regal portrait of Marcos with his prominent signature was hung in the center walls of every classroom. I remember I used to copycat his signature, and I hate to admit it, Marcos signature was the blueprint of my signature during my younger days, yet I opted to change it when I reached the age that I would have to sign legal and official transactions. And in one corner, the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports (MECS) along with other Ministry thrusts and development goals were appropriately displayed. We had a peaceful childhood where we could freely play. I was even more encouraged to go to school and look forward almost everyday of the free feeding program featuring Nutri-Bun, and in some cases, a free hot meal or lugaw and “utan” with malunggay and kalabasa.

It was during my sixth grade when I could fully grasp that we had indeed a leader in the country, and one of the most popular leaders at that time. Miss Rizalina Soto, our Social Studies teacher introduced us the Philippine and world map, the current events, the national and world leaders at that time, even successful enough to convince us to memorize all their names, and the meaning behind the anagrams like the BLISS, KKK, the UN, NATO, SEATO, UNESCO, UNICEF, etc. Most prominent and is still vivid in my memory was that, when Ms. Soto handed me a note on a Friday afternoon, asking me to memorize a poem in a weekend so that on a Monday flag raising, I would deliver the message. September 21, 1981, I faithfully recited the poem infront of the teachers, pupils and some invited guests from the community, as a tribute to the man behind the martial law. It was more of an oratory than a poem, lifting a strong man, that was Marcos, into some kind of high pedestal. I can still remember a line, every last line of the 6-liner, 8 paragraph poem had it, stressing the line, even stretching my right arm into the thin air and say or shout with conviction, MARCOS IS THE MAN! It started just like that. As a young kid willing to absorb knowledge, I searched for more, about the man. I couldn’t find anything in a school like ours with very limited resources. I was just contented reading a book from our Class Adviser, Ms. Erlinda Ouano, featuring Imelda Romuladez Marcos and her regal family in Malacañang.

No Marcos-related personal encounter during my high school days, except that when we were about to graduate on March 1982, we had so much fear to not able to make it to our graduation. People Power revolution erupted on the third week of Febuary that led to the oust of the “dictator”, and the first woman president took place. Rumors had it, that during the Edsa revolution, Cory Aquino took refuge in Cebu, without us all knowing. Well, amidst all the chaos, we were able to march on stage and got hold of our high school diploma, with the commencement exercises theme “The graduates’role in good government”. Sounds familiar, the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) of Pres. Cory after that.

During my college, when I could go search the library and read news and magazines like the Philippine Free Press, when so much had been said about the deposed president, I came to know more. But who I am to judge?

Just recently, I bought what I call “my yellow book”, REMEMBERING/RETHINKING EDSA edited by Paul S. Manzanilla and Caroline S. Hau. It’s about the anthology gathered together among the reminiscenes of activists, academics and artists focusing not only on those who took part in the event, but also on those who came of age in the wake of Edsa. As I leaf through its pages, it seems to me that the book is really an act of remembering, rethinking and reassessing the contested legacy of Edsa and its continuing implications for present and future generations of Filipinos.

Now, the question if Marcos is fit for a hero’s burial is not mine to fathom. For me, a hero is nothing like a metaphor associated with how other people see or judge our actions. Sometimes, history books do not tell it all. The ultimate and supreme, all-knowing God is the only one who can judge us. The least we can do is to continue living with the Golden Rule, and if we can’t do good to others, at least don’t harm them. #

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