Virginia

September is here and so starts the Christmas preparations in the Philippines.  We’ve missed this last year, let us not be denied of this celebration this year.

_DSF1547

Christmas decors are put on display and vendors are very sure that someone will need a replacement for the ones that have been lost.

_DSF1552

It’s never too early to start looking forward to happy times again.  Yes, Virginia, there will be a Santa Claus this year.

 

challenge

The ice bucket challenge was all over the news for the past 2 weeks, and it still is.  The intention is noble and the gimmick is catchy.  Thankfully, I live in a part of the world where filling up a bucket of ice water is by itself a challenge.

This craze has already hit Metro Manila, it being the most affluent part of the country.  Celebrities are outdoing each other in this challenge.  I hope they are doing it for the right reasons and not for the media mileage.  I hope that they donated to the cause that went with the challenge.

I would like to preempt my friends not to nominate me to this challenge.  It’s not because I’m not up to the challenge, but because there is a more urgent need of donations here at the home front.  Ever since super typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda hit Eastern Visayas, one organization has been working tirelessly to provide relief and shelter to those who were at the brink of losing hope.  Now, more than 8 months later, their work still continues, and the scope has gotten bigger.  From food relief, temporary shelter and temporary classrooms, this organization is now embarking on providing permanent homes to those affected by the super typhoon.

This organization is called Tzu Chi.

_DSF1382-2

This was the rice distribution last July 17.  I write about this only now because I thought it was too late to post something that was already covered in the official Tzu Chi Philippines newsletter a month ago.  That was until the ice bucket challenge became viral.  I felt that this too deserves news mileage and millions of people benefit from the work this organization does, myself included.

_DSF1387-2

At the start of every Tzu Chi activity is a beautiful prayer that sets the tone for the day ahead.  Tzu Chi is mostly run by volunteers, from housewives to heads of multinational companies.  (click here  to listen to the song)

_DSF1390-2

After a short talk, everybody lines up to receive their coin banks and newsletter.

_DSF1398-2

Having received aid from Tzu Chi during their times of need, each recipient has become aware of how much help their contributions will give to others during disasters and other emergencies.  All donations go directly to the calamity fund.

_DSF1402-2

Each person will have his or her own coin bank, with it a suggestion to put a coin each day as a reminder to do something good every day.

_DSF1404-2

The able bodied can carry their own rice, while the women are assisted by local volunteers who carry the sacks to where the women can take a ride home.  These volunteers do this without expecting any form of payment except gratitude from those whom they have helped, and they also receive their sack of rice.

_DSF1413-2

At another venue, a different batch of recipients from another part of the city.  People willingly donate whatever they can afford to Tzu Chi.  No donation is too small nor too big.

_DSF1432-2

One can only be awed by how a small group of volunteers can manage to make an orderly exit for a large group of people without needing to shout nor use force.

_DSF1430-2

Each volunteer has a ready smile, a courteous bow, a kind word or a kind touch.  They know how to connect to people because they themselves were once victims of a calamity.  It takes one to know the needs of another.

_DSF1427-2

The distribution, viewed from the top.

_DSF1421-2

Love from Taiwan.  Love from a fellow human being.  Spread the love.

Thank you, Tzu Chi.

I take this opportunity to challenge everyone to make a donation to the Buddhist Compassion Relief, the Tzu Chi Foundation.  Here is the link to their site.  http://www.tzuchi.org/

third wheel

Sundays have just become more complicated.  Do I stay in bed and sleep until late in the morning, or take a walk around the neighborhood, or ride a bike?  I definitely wouldn’t mind getting another day off to enjoy these simple pleasures.

_DSF1528

They have become friends just a few minutes ago.  She is from Samar and is waiting for her mom’s hair rebond to be done.  She and her mom won’t be going home tonight. He is from the neighborhood and that’s his bike.


_DSF1531

This is one cool handmade trike made from scrap, and I wouldn’t mind riding this if it would fit me.  Anybody out there who can lend me a penny farthing?

kids’ corner

Sabang District, August 17, 2014.  It is now 9 days and 9 months after Haiyan/Yolanda and this place is experiencing a rebirth.  Houses are sprouting like mushroom and the population density is rapidly increasing.  Soon it will be back to what it was before.

_DSF1523

There is a season for the games children play and the toys they bring out, and this is the right time to go “around the world”.  I’d better take a step back or else the world will come crashing into the camera.

_DSF1503

An obligatory group shot of the neighborhood kids.  Taking group photos of kids is one way of letting the adults know that I come in peace, especially when almost every adult male in this community has a lot of tattoos on them.

_DSF1505

I think it’s time to sort photos like these, especially from earlier and happier times, not that this isn’t a happy photo.  And I will be needing prints this time.

_DSF1506

Rubber bands are these kids’ form of currency.  It can be stretched to fit any budget.

_DSF1509

Place your bets!  Color coded dice on a makeshift color board.  Somebody has to teach them how to save money so they can have a better life.

_DSF1511

“When can we have our print?”

Soon, I hope.

 

 

 

slow day

The regular Sunday activities are slowly returning as people (city dwellers, mostly) have more or less settled back into their old routines.  While there are still many things to be done, houses to be relocated, jobs to be created, livelihood training to be taught, Sundays will always be days of rest and recreation.

_DSF1492

Chess also happens to be a spectator sport, especially when there are bets on the table.

_DSF1495

What’s better than switching channel between commercials?  Having one television for each channel.  Now if only the rest of the hundred and one television sets are fixed…

_DSF1498

Teach a man to fish and he’ll go hungry if the fish aren’t biting.

 

lock and key

These crafts will still be around in the next decade or two, even in this world of throwaway stuff and disposable lives.
 

_DSF1460

 

_DSF1462

 

white elephants

Rainy day today, 2 typhoons this week.  Both of them missed us.  What a relief considering that a lot of the typhoon Haiyan survivors are still living in tents while the rest who have not been relocated have already erected their new houses along the shorelines, on the same site where they once stood, to be washed away again come the next disaster, which I hope doesn’t happen in this lifetime or the next.  By the looks of things, the government is stuck in endless meetings and has come up really short in terms of decisive action.

_DSF1446

Art imitates reality, just not today.  For sure there will be glorious sunsets in the days to come, and sunrises too.

_DSF1438

The show is over. This herd will be thrown in the back of a truck and shipped to the next destination.

_DSF1449

With the elephants out of commission, he’ll have to settle for whatever target is available.  If only he realizes that there are so many white elephants he can shoot at, he probably would’ve spared Winnie the Pooh.

street smart

How do you keep street kids out of trouble?

_DSF1361

It might run counter to common sense to trust these wily kids with anything, but if there’s anything they could use, it’s trust.  Most of them are smart and hardworking, and if given guidance and education, they are the types who will most likely succeed.

_DSF1373

No, he is not stealing the ice blocks that have just been loaded into the fishing boat.  That is ice that couldn’t be accommodated in the hold and would have just been left to melt under the sun.

_DSF1376

They certainly understand teamwork.

_DSF1362

And they don’t hesitate to dive in when the situation requires it.

_DSF1378

There seems to be  a tacit understanding between these kids, the ice delivery crew, and the boat crew.  The kids are given some of the ice for free or in exchange for their help, to sell to the refreshment stalls in the surrounding area.  The money they earn will hopefully augment their family’s earning.  Most importantly, as one delivery crew mentioned, it keeps these kids off substance abuse that is prevalent in the area.

 

child’s play

Children will always see the world as it is, and when they play pretend, it will always be a mirror of the environment we are bringing them up in and the society we are exposing them to.  We adults often do not realize how far down the hole we have already dug ourselves into, and in the process drag our children with us.

_DSF1355

This child’s play has become too frighteningly real and disturbing, especially in this society where the population growth has gone unchecked.  While it is just a balloon under that shirt, there is no telling what is already ingrained in the innocent mind.

_DSF1356

Our education system may have addressed the basics like teaching Jenny Rose how to write her name…

_DSF1357

…but does it teach about the consequences of being too premature or irresponsible, or both?  Has society been too busy making a living and have forgotten that it is the numbers that define the quality of life?  Hasn’t anybody realized that all the arguments about population issues are being debated by people who do not have to fight off siblings for their share of the only meal for the day?

grandstand

We’re back to normal.  Yes, indeed.  And it’s not good.  No, it never was.

Everybody has been hoping that after what we’ve been through, things would get better.  We have been looking forward to hear the drumbeats fill the streets with energy, with rhythm, with life.  This would be our celebration of life.

But the spat between our city and provincial governments has been on an endless rerun, the actors reading from the same script that should have already been washed out by the deluge.  Both parties have their own parades and their own reasons, and none of them is giving way.  No street parade for one party, and I wasn’t keen on watching the other.  This is an epic story but I don’t have a lifetime to spare on the details and it’s all irrelevant now that it is past.  We’ll see what happens next year, if it will still be another political grandstand.

_DSF1294

This is what it is like to come up short – 18mm from more than 10 meters away.  No close up festival photos unless there will be a street parade next year or until I get another piece of glass.  I’ll worry about it when the time comes.

_DSF1283

There’s always something more interesting than taking canned shots of dancers on stage, and that is candids under the bleachers, away from the heavy downpour.  But that’s only me.

_DSF1311

Now if only our politicians will grow up and learn from these kids…

_DSF1312

 

Sibling love.

The procession of the devotees of the Patron Saint, Señor Santo Niño on Monday afternoon after a fluvial procession.  I do hope that there are prayers offered for the enlightenment of our leaders.

_DSF1317

_DSF1319

_DSF1318

_DSF1322

_DSF1323 _DSF1325

_DSF1329

_DSF1330

_DSF1338

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 11,804 other followers