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Living Independently June 27, 2011

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Living away from home is a recurring idea that comes and goes in my mind since I decided to study in Los Baños almost a decade ago. Now it’s timely since we just moved in to our new apartment, relatively near to my workplace. The catch, however, is that I’m with Ive, of course. Well, speaking of living in together among couple, mostly students in this nature setting is a common occurrence. Not to mention the mostly co-ed arrangement in dormitories and apartments alike. This is also apparent among organizations (org houses). But this is done on assumption of regularity and wholesomeness.

This same setup reminds me of how my parents were surprised upon learning during a visit to our apartment that I am sharing the unit with my org mates (brods/sisses) before I graduated. Proactively though, by the time they arrived there, we were able to keep the bottles of alcohol and ashtrays off their sight.

Indeed, college living, hundred, if not thousand kilometers away from home, is once in a lifetime experience. Many students can share a wide range of formidable and unforgettable stories, some even become legends. For the well-off students, a fully furnished dormitory or apartment (the likes of Westbrook, St Therese, 5th of September, Del Ray, etc) is the ideal choice. But for struggling students, the modest dorms inside the campus (Men’s, Women’s, New, Vet and Forestry dorms) and the makeshift bed spaces (along Grove) are a better and affordable choices (actually you got no choice).

This is the reality away from home where no one could prevent or stop you from your indulgences, except maybe for lack of money and when neighbors alert the barangay due to excessive noise, either because of music or indiscriminate laughter.
When it comes to food, mostly I guess everyone has a piece to share on skipping meals or crashing on a friend’s house to partake of any food there is to survive the day while waiting for your allowance. Good thing for me, I was then staying in Ellen’s which allows me to add on my meals to my rent.

Nevertheless, I still had experienced skipping many meals and settling on the infamous pancit canton and bread diet for a week. We also have the toppings n’ soup and proven n’ rice meals or avail of the orientation-hoppings or open tambayan roundups. You just have to endure the long lines or the look in other’s eyes if you’re sensitive.

Well that was yesterday. Now that I am already working, and relies mainly on my minimal earnings from work, I can well avail of other things I don’t get used to avail, especially food or gadgets. But the challenge is to strike a balance in every aspect of my finances (read: budgeting). Unlike the budgeting in college, I am now on my own. I can’t afford anymore to just ask my parents or siblings that I needed this and that. In fact, by choice that, if possible, I tried to lend a little to them. Plus, as mother would always remind me, save on for the future.

So when Ive graduated last semester, we decided that it’s wise and economical to stay together and share on expenses. We got a two-bedroom modest apartment at a reasonable rate. Since it’s within a village and inside a compound, we find it relatively safe and quiet. And since its bigger than my previous houses the past 8 years, we’re opening it for transient friends and meetings of our orgs.

Indeed, the advantage of studying or working away from home enables you to stand on your own. You can opt to do what you want, but marrying independence with responsibility is another case.


Inquirer’s Youngblood: BIG DREAMER June 24, 2011

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Last night I finally had the guts to re-open “Bobby.” You might think I am crazy, but yes that is the name I gave to my scrap book. I guess those dried santan flowers which were once red, those fastfood receipts, those Juicy Fruit wrappers, and those old letters from a friend now resting in between the pages of Bobby prove that I am one sentimental junkie. So I turned the pages and saw my past unfold before my eyes. And it was on the the final page that I felt the deepest sadness, bitterness and regret. That page contains two envelopes: one from the registrar of the University of the Philippines Manila, the other from the office of Sen. Mar Roxas.

For the record, I was one high school student who excelled in academics. Not a nerd, but not cool either – just one big dreamer. And two years ago, my big dream brought me to the UPCAT testing center in Ilocos Sur, as one among more than 60,000 graduating high school students who aspired to study at the University of the Philippines.
Months passed, and then I received my letter from the registrar of UP-Manila. I had made it, the only one from our school that did. I was ecstatic. But only for a moment. Once I finished reading the letter, I immediately realized that studying in UP was next to impossible. Being an Iskolar ng Bayan can be costly.

My life story would make a good material for “Maalaala Mo Kaya.” I was an only child. I remember being showered with all the earthly pleasures a child could imagine: school bags with wheels, toys that came with kid’s meals, etc. But then that chapter of my life ended abruptly when my father, who was working abroad, had to come home after being diagnosed with throat cancer. He died when I was 10. My mom and I were left alone. We were broke.

I remember how my mother struggled to support my education. In first year in high school, I had just one uniform. When I went home from school, my mother would immediately wash my uniform and hang it without squeezing so that there would be no creases when it became dry in the morning. We had no choice: we didn’t have a flat iron or electricity at home.

More depressing things happened during my first two years in high school. I didn’t receive my PE uniform on time since we hadn’t paid for it yet. I photocopied pages from my classmate’s workbook in Values Education because I didn’t have P120 to buy the book. Once I got home dripping wet because I had to walk under the rain from school to where I could get a tricycle going to our barrio since I just had enough money for the trip home.

In my third year of high school, I took the big leap of living with my aunt. My mom had found a new partner and had given birth to my only sibling. At first I was against their relationship, but I eventually realized that there was an emptiness in my mother’s heart that I could not fill. Maybe it was pride which made me move out of our house, but it was clear to me that they had their lives to live, and I had mine.

During my free days, I would help with the chores as my aunt ran their business. In return, she sent me to school.
But even before I graduated, my aunt told me frankly that they could not afford to send me to college – not even if I were to become an Iskolar ng Bayan. They had children of their own to feed and send to school. I was grateful for every support they had given me.

So why didn’t I apply for a scholarship or enrol under a “no income” status? But studying in UP does not merely involve getting free tuition. How would I cover my other expenses? I had to eat. I had to have a place to sleep. I had to do projects. Where would I get the money for all these?

I was desperate. I wanted to go to UP that I even considered selling my soul if somebody would buy it.
I thought of a way to get there. I wrote a letter to the office of Sen. Loren Legarda, asking for help. I received no reply. That was strike one.

I drafted another letter and sent it to the office of Sen. Mar Roxas who was then running for vice president. One month later, I received a response from his chief of staff saying they couldn’t give me a scholarship since the Department of Budget and Management had not released the senator’s Priority Development Assistance Fund. That was strike two. And I stopped there, afraid that I wouldn’t know how to handle strike three.

So that was how my dream of being an Iskolar ng Bayan ended. I looked for a scholarship in our province, and luckily I found one. Now, I am on my way to becoming a high school teacher.

I had never, not even in my wildest dreams, pictured myself as a teacher, but I had no choice. The scholarship was for an Education course. It was a choice between taking Education or not getting a higher education at all.

So now, I don’t dream big anymore. They say one should always dream big since dreaming is free anyway. But the bigger the dream, the greater the disappointment when it does not come true. Too bad that I had to be rejected first before I realized this.

I salute John Gabriel Pelias for topping this year’s batch of UP graduates. Breaking the post-war academic record despite coming from a poor family was truly amazing. But let me correct his claim that lack of money is never a hindrance once someone gets the chance to become an Iskolar ng Bayan. As my case proves, it is.

Lyndon John S. de Leon, 18, is a 2nd year Bachelor in Secondary Education student at the Divine Word College of Vigan.

Reference: http://opinion.inquirer.net/6787/big-dreamer

Uphold Rizal’s Resolve for Freedom, Free the Illegally Detained Calamba 7 June 21, 2011

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“Uphold Rizal’s Resolve for Freedom, Free the Illegally Detained Calamba 7″

AGITPROP International Film Festival, July 2-4 @ UP Diliman June 18, 2011

Posted by pilibustero in Random Thoughts.
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COMPLETE DETAILS HERE: http://agitpropfilmfest.wordpress.com/

Blog Action Day: Save Philippine Seas June 8, 2011

Posted by pilibustero in Politics & Society.
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There have been so many pictures on magazines and online blogs that show the world’s exotic and colorful coral reefs. It may have been the favorite subject of photo enthusiasts and divers. But these coral reefs are not just there for aesthetic pleasures or to showcase the beauty of aquatic life. They are, in fact, very important to both people and wildlife.

Called rainforests of the sea, these coral reefs are home to a quarter of all marine species, provide habitat and breeding ground for commercially important species, provide natural buffers to the coastlines from erosions, and contain the highest biodiversity of any marine ecosystem. READ MORE.


Conquering Yourself: White Water Rafting in Davao June 1, 2011

Posted by pilibustero in Personal, Travel.
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We don’t conquer the river, we conquer ourselves.

White water rafting or river rafting is previously considered to be an extreme sport or undertaking which requires specialized equipment and training. But this event has now become one of the booming attractions in strategic locations in the country that offers rafting as one of their newest activities. Although white water rafting activity has been in existence since the 1990s, this is mostly available in few areas in the country namely, Cagayan de Oro City and Kalinga Province. In recent years, Davao City and Quirino Province offer this attraction to thrill-seeker tourists for a minimal price and with safety guarantees.

So upon learning this activity, our group reserved for this who-knows once-in-a-lifetime experience. And even though were beginners in this kind of activity, we are nevertheless persistent to conquer our fears and the mighty river of Davao, not to mention, this is our first activity in our two-day itinerary. We woke up early for a scheduled pick up at 6:30 AM by our rafting organizer, the River One Adventure. Adding to the excitement is seeing two rafts on top of a multi cab that would ferry us to the jump off point, more than an hour away from Bajada District. We briefly passed by River One shop (a small studio-type office) to fill out the registration and waiver and get our protective head gears (Tribu) and life vest (Jansport). Seeing their office and knowing that most if not all of theme are trained rafters cum first aiders gave us some assurance of our safety, nonetheless the idea that this activity may cause untoward circumstances rendered some of us uncomfortable. We were told to leave our belongings in a safety cabinet, so all we had are our clothes (it is preferred to wear light clothing, if not wet suit).

It took less than two hours before we reached the jump-off point, beside the national highway (leading to Bukidnon). There, we were briefly oriented on the use of the gears, the conduct of the rafting and most importantly, the Do’s and Don’ts. After which, our guide led us to our respective rafts (we were eight in the raft, including the guide) and were briefed again on what to do on board the raft. Shortly after, we did a simulation in case any of us is thrown out of the boat or whenever the raft capsized. We were also told that it would take us around three hours to ply the rapids, 13 kilometers long. And so there, we started paddling through the mighty river. On our fleet were four rafts (our groups were in two rafts) and four single-rafts (looks like a kayak) paddled by the guides and a documentor. By the way, the water was a bit murky brought about by the rains the day before, although it is said that the higher the water, the more exciting.

Navigating the long and raging river was a test of endurance and focus. I set my mind to follow the instruction of our guide all the time, especially when negotiating the rapids, which are characterized by sudden fall, sharp curves and the dreaded washing machine spin that could render our boat to capsize. At one point, I was almost thrown out of the boat but my left foot was able to hold me off the water. But two of our companions in the other boat weren’t that lucky. In fact, one of them was caught briefly under the raft after she was pound out by the rapids. Halfway through the trip there was a stop-over for a water break and group picture. In between, a designated River One photographer-in-raft was taking photos and videos for the documentation of the trip. Later, a group (there were four rafts that time) of Japanese tourists behind us didn’t manage to negotiate successfully a spinning rapid and capsized right before us. Due to the raging waters, the guides declared a rescue, which means other boats have to salvage the soaked paddlers. Fortunately, we were able to take in into our raft three paddlers for safety and we go paddle again. After another hour or so, we were approaching the final stretch of the trip by passing under a bridge, where onlookers and passersby abound.

After almost three hours of exciting and fun-filled paddling, were were served with sumptuous heavy lunch (still part of the package; pancit, fried chicken, boiled egg, zest-o and water) which completed our first rafting experience. The 13 kilometers of adrenaline rush and 15 rapids is only the start, we still have three others to conquer. As to when, only money and weather can tell.

For those interested to avail of the rafting package in Davao, please consider Rafting Davao Adventure.

Package Rate:
Php1, 500 per person for a group of six (6)
inclusive of transportation (pickup from City Proper-Davao River-City Proper), gears, guide, meals, documentation CD and souvenir shirt

Trip Schedule:
Morning Batch: 7am to 2pm
Afternoon Batch: 11am to 6pm

For inquiries and reservations, contact:

John Oliver Valmoria
Operations Manager

082 305 7624

Door 89-91 Madrazo Fruit Complex, C. Bangoy Street, Davao City

– They are newer as compared to the Davao Wild Water rafting organizer.
– Guides are all professionals and well-trained and accredited Red Cross first aiders.
– There route is longer than the Wild Water
– The guides are conversant and funny