Monday, October 17, 2005

13 going on 30

Life is Short.

of all the things i've reflected on and realized during these past few days, this is it.

normally, i'd celebrate my birthday by having dinner with my family and friends. probably with a movie (and some shopping) on the side. but times are (really) hard and my wallet's getting more malnourished by the second.

so then, i about having a different kind of birthday? after all, i'm turning 13, erm, 3....0. might as well do something special. then...

a light bulb moment.

two letters immediately sprang into my mind.


i checked their
website. i needed a confirmation. just one confirmation.

my heart stopped when i saw the list of sites.

yes, they have one in Rizal. Cainta, Rizal to be specific. just a few minutes away from our place. perfect!

i've been wanting to volunteer to Gawad Kalinga since i read about them in Kerygma. i really like their mission because they give pride and honor to our less fortunate brothers and sisters by providing them with opportunities to earn their keep, teaching them ways to better their lives, and educating the young dwellers through day care and service-oriented programs. people are encouraged to give their TIME more than their money.

and that's what i should be doing. well, that's what i wanted to do for a long time but was too lazy to do anything. ^_^;;

after setting the date, i informed my family of my plan, careful to add that THIS was the only birthday celebration i was going to have (a subtle hint that they SHOULD come or suffer my wrath. haha.). i also shared my plan to some of my SOLV sisters.

after contacting the site director, i was given the details a few days after. unfortunately, it was only two days before the big event. when i sent out my e-mail to the SOLV community, i knew it was a late invitation. two have confirmed that week but i was still hoping that the number would increase.

anyways, the details were:

date: October 16
day: Sunday
time: 8:30 (meeting time)
9:00 (ETA in GK site)
12:00 (ETD from GK site)
GK itinerary: orientation, tour, painting of building facades

This is D-Day!

i woke up really excited and made a silent prayer that the weather will cooperate. yesterday, i actually sent my petition to the Intercessory Ministry. of course, the more prayer warriors, the better! ^_~

i drove to our meeting spot thinking that i was only going to wait for one sister. when Flor arrived, she informed me that Cara was joining, too. yey! another victim, um, helper! :p

the three of us met Leah in her village's grocery store, where i bought water. as for my family, i just told them to meet us at the site.

The GK Heroes

we were welcomed by Kuya Ralf, the site director, a warm and jolly man who quit his job to work full-time for GK. his dedication and service to his community is truly inspiring and humbling. we could see that he's very much loved by the people who live in the site.

while we were waiting for the rest of my "crew" to arrive, he showed me the latest building that was being constructed - the multipurpose hall. the workers were in full force and i could feel the bayanihan spirit going on. during the break, i was able to chat a bit with some of the volunteers. i thought they were members of Kuya Ralf's community (Couples for Christ). turned out they're actually the residents who help out in the construction during the weekend (they work the rest of the week).

the minute my family arrived, Kuya Ralf gave us the customary welcoming speech and oriented us on Gawad Kalinga, the history of the site, and its developments. we learned that this particular site is home to 98 families and that they used to live in tiny shanties with very narrow alleys (that were usually flooded). from where we were seated, we could only see colorful houses with plantboxes and windows and a wide cemented pathway. i couldn't imagine what the site used to look like. it was only during the tour that i finally understood...

Tour di-ff'rence

after passing the new homes, Kuya Ralf led us to the "other side." that part of their universe that has not been touched yet.

the difference is startling and mind-boggling.

we passed the narrow alleys and carefully crossed the wooden planks (which we learned were not even there before) that they positioned. as Flor had said, it was like joining Extra Challenge. my sister, who's claustrophobic, did not even dare to join us on this part of the tour. along the way, Kuya Ralf greeted the people we came across. he knew everyone by name!

towards the end of our tour, i realized how grateful the dwellers of the new homes must be. just seeing that stark transformation from the dilapidated homes to the vibrant buildings definitely made that tour worthwile.

Ervin, the Wonder Boy

as we were waiting for the volunteers to prepare the paint we were supposed to use, we were greeted by a shy-looking boy who kept on standing behind one of the pillars of the tent. i approached him and told him i was going to take his picture. he immediately hid his face. when he thought i wasn't done yet, he slowly took a peek. still there. after his second shot, i innocently turned my camera around and showed him his photo on the LCD screen. he grinned and proceeded to swing himself around the pole. taking this as a sign to take another photo, i began to shoot. and shoot. and shoot.

soon, he was practically demanding me to take photos of the different parts of his body (hand, feet, eyes). he even brought props (a stick and stones). camera shy, huh?? well, not anymore! i had to reload my memory card because i used my remaining shot on him (lucky kid). by the time i was done, he was striking a pose already. he actually approached me because i (jokingly) said i was tired already and sat down to rest. my, this boy definitely knew how to strut his stuff! i didn't even have to say anything. he went on and on, pose after pose. i had to tell him that he can only have 10 shots because i still needed the rest of the space. i have no idea where he learned to pose like that (hm, i should have talked to his mom...)

what a cute and funny boy!

Painting the Town Blue (and Yellow)


this is the row of buildings we were supposed to paint. exciting! ^_^

we started off with the blue paint. as my sisters and parents began painting, i took photos. hey, who're you calling lazy?? i was waiting for the yellow paint! :p

anyways, i was trying to catch up with the others but we started late so...guess we lagged behind. but what we lacked in speed, we made up for in quality (hahaha!). it was actually a challenge to paint the wall because it wasn't flat. Gelli, my youngest sister, discovered a technique with the roller brush to make the paint seep through the small cracks on the cement wall. and it worked! (naks, this must be her calling! :p)

at first everybody was still energetic and even joked around. but towards the end of our task, it became serious. some stopped talking and spent most of the time filling out the cracks (right Cara? :p), the others couldn't care less if their arms, hands, hair, and shoes had splashes of paint (right, Leah and Flor? :p), painting accidents on the window pane were wiped off (ok, that was me!!), while others just had to grab a chair to stand on so they could paint the area above the door (just check out the photos. :p)

by the time we were spent (and the paintcans were empty), we surveyed our work. and it was good. ^_~

i can't believe we were able to paint (the front of) four houses in two hours!!

great job, everybody!

Chowtime @ Chowking!

i wanted to have inihaw na liempo (or anything inihaw) for lunch but we couldn't find a nearby place that had grilled food. after driving for a few minutes, we settled on Chowking. hm, this is just like my Monday cellgroups. hehe.

while we were waiting for our orders, i started to rain. just in the nick of time.

isn't God great? He made sure we were settled in, ready to have our scrumptious lunch, when He ordered His angels to start the waterworks. ok,that was a bit dramatic. but that was how we felt.

to Lovern and the rest of our prayer warriors, thanks for knocking on heaven's gates. they defintely heard all of your prayers. :)

to Flor, Leah, and Cara, thanks for coming! i had a blast.

to my family, thanks for waking up early and brave the Extra Challenge. mwah!
to everyone who greeted me, thanks! :)

and to God, well, the list is too long. You know what they are. :D

this is, indeed, a very happy birthday.

you can check out all the pictures here.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Young Investigators

i'm currently reading three different books on Teaching. this is apart from other related articles, daily journals, a personal portfolio, a life metaphor, and coming up with a project with my toddlers.

am i insane? (probably) am i a workaholic? (correction. a recovering workaholic...) don't i have a social life? (ahh, don't ask...) why am i subjecting myself to all this work? to think we (my co-teachers and i) are into our second assessment and starting the individual portfolios of our students, i'm still tutoring, and i'm planning to be involved in more extra curricular activities (tell you more on my next post!).

actually, all this craziness (see the first paragraph) is part of my Practicum course. i'm really excited because we're going to apply one of the most effective activities for children -
The Project Approach. i'm planning to do Zoo Animals w/ my toddlers but no specific idea yet.

i'm the only one handling toddlers in my Practicum class. it's more challenging to do the Project Approach with children below 3 since they're not in the stage of questioning yet. but i know how my kids love to explore and experiment so i'm not that worried. it's really a joy to look at the world through the eyes of a child. they have that innocence, almost akin to naivety, and yet when they learn something new, they feel like they've set a world record....

wait, i'm going off track.

anyways, as i was saying, i can't wait to start! :)

while reading one of the assigned books, i came across a paragraph that really struck me. i feel that this truly describes what teaching is all about, particularly the last sentence. read on and be inspired as well.

Teaching is instructing, advising, counseling, organizing, assessing, guiding, goading, showing, managing, modeling, coaching, disciplining, prodding, preaching, persuading, proselytizing, listening, interacting, nursing, and inspiring...And that's not all. When we face ourselves, we face memories of our own triumphs and humiliations, of our cowardice and bravery, our breakthroughs and breakdowns, our betrayals as well as our fidelity.
-- To Teach: The Journey of a Teacher (2nd edition) by William Ayers

have a great week, everybody!