Blog, Mountains, Stories

More Than We Ask For

4I thought it’s a matter of choosing to lose something, and it never gave me reason to lose hope then.   God has a lot more to give. I have kept praying and asking God for opportunities to come, often I asked for His mercy to give me what I needed despite my failures and mistakes. Yes, He is giving me what I prayed for and thanked Him much for that.

There was one time, a surprise text message received after attending holy mass (with my petitions prayed). I was hired as Area Coordinator that I applied for in one of the DSWD 10 projects while waiting for DA 10 notice of hiring PRDPs Project Development Assistants. But it was one sort of short notice to report immediately the following day for a four-day training and orientation, so I confirmed to attend, grabbing one good opportunity.

But then, I have one important event to attend on the 3rd day of the scheduled training. One event that I aimed not to miss for it has been planned and prepared since July 2014; plane tickets booked since September 2014 with my rucksack packed and ready. I have also been saving amount for a period of time for the trip so it won’t be missed.10981655_10152631761141244_8329621689851810971_n

However, I continued to attend the DSWD 10 training. Having oriented with the objectives and processes, it was one of the tasks I would love to do and work on though. The salary rate is quite compensating even though it only last for three months contract, you would get a high gross. Such amount would have been a big help for me since I never had earnings from the past two months that would patch up deficits from regular expenses spent. But in my mind is still the incoming travel that I would not want to miss.

More so, I am in the midst of choosing to complete the training or go for the flight. The consequence is, If I failed to complete the training, I cannot continue as Area Coordinator and will not have earnings. On the other hand, Mt. Pulag climb and outreach event, is one of my dreamt climb that I know I would not have any other chance to go with such joyous group (ROTA Phils.) is not just merely climbing for fun, an outreach to the children on one of the elementary schools in sitio of Bokod, Benguet will also eventuate.2

Again, I asked God for guidance what to choose then, I know it will be my failure to let go what He gave me. I have been asking advices to colleagues, of course there always be fair advices of both different sides. Until on the day before the flight, I asked permission to the heads of the training if I’d be permitted to cut the training and continue to make-up on further trainings to be conducted for area supervisors/other positions. Nevertheless, they never allow such matter and let me decide to complete the training or say goodbye to the job.5

On the second thought, I wanted to complete the training for it was one chance given to me. That night, while on the state of confusion, I passed by our group president’s residence to claim my shirt and ID (get some sort of remembrance of the climb if I failed to go so). There, some ROTA members is persuading me to go with them, uttered some inviting lines and even said that it is also one of the opportunities to happen. I just do not know what’s with ROTA Phils. that made me decide to go the climb and outreach bartered to the cost in earning income.1

On the day of departure, I went with ROTA Phils., having missed one opportunity had never made my attendance to the event hopeless and failure. I never failed to enjoy one God’s beautiful and wondrous creation that I longed to witness as part of my goals. Also, extended to serve children as one of our advocacies and objectives.

Would it mean regret after the event? Have I chose to lose something worth it? Would I be sorry for myself and ask for another chance? Some might say I only chose good times and left what is needed to pursue.3

Behind all those decisions (whether right or wrong) I laid and offered everything to God. Indeed, I always ask for another chances and I know He is merciful and H e knows my goals in life. There are still a lot He can give, a lot of job (tasks) awaits – for me to do or serve other people other than my family. I still have Hope and am hopeful that God will answer and give me more than what I asked for if I am worthy enough to receive it. I am thankful that God gave me not just one opportunity in one time (that is why I have chose between the two), both are worth it. God made every day as good times. In everything give thanks (Thessalonians 5:18), because even if I never earned income at the moment, I also loved what I am doing on the other side.

How important that we – in good times or times  of challenge – draw near to God’s loving heart to hear His voice and place our lives in His hand (David McCasland.ODB.vol 21-A.March5)###.7

Blog, Events, Socials, Stories

Galimour Night

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1st GALI TIN CUP AWARDStincup-award

The cup is a symbol of various experiences pertaining to a Gali’s-way-to-go life, either as a mountaineer or a volunteer. The cup exemplifies camaraderie, companionship and celebration. The behavior of drinking from the tin cup has meaning and function. By drinking with other galis, we lower our barriers, relax ourselves, and feel that we are sharing time, energy and effort, thus enhancing mutual respect, communication and social interaction. Also, a gali takes something to drink just to quench a thirst –a thirst that will remind us always for the need to do something to keep us going.

Tin is a flexible, bendable, silvery-white metal. It acts as a catalyst. We are catalyst for change. It can be philosophically viewed as the breath of life. As we breathe in life, so we ought to breathe out life. Tin also adds a philosophical lesson to life that standing alone it is weaker than if it is combined with another element. As you receive a tin cup, you receive not just by yourself; one gali or more has offered and shared it to you.

Lastly, the cup symbolizes the truth of faith which is from the good of charity. A tin cup is usually associated with a beggar’s cup. This reminds every gali that we should be humble enough to receive help so that we can help others too. To receive a Gali Tin Cup Award is a moment of affirmation and a moment of inspiration. The tin cups will now be shared and served with overflowing greatness and goodness.

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ROTA Awards

“R” Category – Responsibility. For volunteers who responsibly took leadership roles in outreach and climb activities.

Team Leader of the Year (For exemplary leadership in the organizing and implementation of a ROTA outreach and/or climb.
Leadership Achievement Award – Kitchen Committee (For community food preparation and service.
Leadership Achievement Award – Kids Committee (For positive influence on children in group dynamics)
Leadership Achievement Award– HTTP Committee (For the installation of happy tippy tappy project and/or demonstration of proper hand-washing)
Packer of the Year (For consistent attendance and efficient preparation of school kits, health kits, and/or shoes.)
Photographer of the Year (For capturing the spirit of volunteerism and candid moments on photos)
Tree planter of the Year (For having the highest number planted of trees for this year 2014)

“O” Category – Optimism. For volunteers who have exemplified optimistic and positive attitude especially during critical situations.

Face of the Year (For maintaining a positive outlook every time, whatever the circumstance.)
Mountaineer of the Year (For perfect or near perfect attendance in 2014 minor and major climbs and attitude in altitude; strength of character, courage and perseverance, and overcoming weaknesses.
Harkor of the Year (For persistence and determination in Traverse Climb)

“T” Category – Transformation. For volunteers who have shown great improvement in attitude, rapport and camaraderie within the organization.

Bumblebee Award (For effective and positive impact on other volunteers)
Bullynteer of the Year (For wit and banter, creating a lively atmosphere within the group.)
ROTA Blogger of the Year (For promoting the advocacy of ROTA)

“A” Category – Altruism. For volunteers who have shown passion, dedication and commitment in the service delivery of the different ROTA programs and activities; and for unselfishly sharing their knowledge and skills thus greatly contributed to the development of the organization.

Most Spirited Volunteer Award (For exemplifying unmatched enthusiasm and cheer)
Gali of the Year (For newly bona fide members, epitomizing the four core values of ROTA; responsibility, optimism, transformation and altruism)
Upline of the Year (For having the most number of active downline volunteers)
ROTA Team Award (For the best outreach implementation)
Special Awards

  More Photos

Nominees & Winners

Blog, Events, Hiking, Outreach, Stories

A Walk to Inspire

A bit delayed

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While waiting for the vehicle that will transport the group to Alubijid, they were joyously gathered at the old Park cafe at Divisoria. The gloomy weather had contributed a lot in their mood and everybody enjoyed chit chatting with their fellow volunteers whom most of them can only be seen in ROTA activities. A few minutes later, they finally noticed that it was already pass the scheduled time to depart from CDeO. However, they never felt any anxiousness because of the good company that they provide for each other. A few minutes more, Sir Tristan Ares from the LGU of Alubijid arrived and went to fetch the goods that we will give to the school. The jeepney then followed and they all headed to Alubijid Municipal Hall to meet the other volunteers.

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Gloom some more

While the group was heading to Sitio Taparak where the jump off site is located, the weather seemed to be really in favor for the activity of the group. Its gloominess had gloomed some more creating an obviously motivating atmosphere for everyone. Upon arriving at the jump off site, the group was quick to unload the goods and their personal stuff to get ready for the trek.

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Just like every trek of the group, the journey always starts with a prayer and asks for protection and guidance. After that was a quick orientation done by the committees and then the group headed to Lonsi Elementary School. They made it to the school in no less than an hour of walk.

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Lonsi Elementary School Profile
Total number of enrolled students: 88
Total number of classrooms: 5

When the volunteers were caught off guard

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The volunteers were not ready for the warm welcome that the School has prepared for them. They were just so surprised when they were greeted by the school in-charge with a copy of a program flow with the picture of ROTA volunteers. Not only that, soon they learned that the nicely built back draft of their mini stage was made by the teachers and parents who stayed late the night before the outreach just to surprise the group. They also prepared some dance numbers that made the volunteers dance as well.

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They thought it was all that the teachers have prepared but they were once again surprised, this time even more, since they were asked to do an impromptu dance number for the students. The volunteers happily accepted the challenge and just danced their hearts out through the beat of the music.

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It’s their turn

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When all of the surprises were done through the prepared program flow of the teachers, it was then the turn for the volunteers to return the surprise to the teachers, students and their parents. The volunteers just continued the program and started working. The Parent committee gathered the parents and had a discussion about the rights and had an interactive discussion about the rights and responsibilities of a child. While doing this, the kids committee was busy doing fun-filled games to the kids.

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The volunteers happily participated in every game while waiting for the kitchen committe to finish cooking the “Binignit” using the very nutritious Vitameal from MASSA Feeding Program, NU Skin Philippines Enterprises through Sir Rolando Delfin. When the kitchen committee signaled that the food is ready for serving, the kids were instructed to line up at the HTTP sites for them to be taught on how to properly wash their hands before eating.

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Shoes + Pencil

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While everyone was eating, the group sneakily prepared the shoes to be given away. They placed it near the stage since the measurements will be done there. Afterwards the program continued and the student piled near the stage with noticeable excitement in their eyes knowing that not soon enough, they will receive new pair of shoes.

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When a student finally gets his turn to fit for his size of shoes, he’s also given two pencils  from Climb Against Cancer Pilipinas, that he can use in school.

Closing Remarks and Pictorials

The head teacher in behalf of the whole school thanked ROTA for the outreach activity hoping that ROTA will continue to conduct such activities for the kids. They greatly appreciated the group’s effort from production of the goods to the mere transporting of the goods from their origin to their school.

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The group also planned to make a video from the outreach activity that they have done. A part of this video was to interview random people who participated in the event.

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Many had informal answers yet relevant. One person said she was moved by the group’s advocacy. Another said she was inspired to give back so that the kids may see its value and soon also give back in their own little ways. One said that the children’s effort in going to school no matter the distance draws her inspiration in joining outreach activities. And the count of stories goes on…

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These kinds of stories may be informal and said quietly, yet it is the most sensitive of all. Perhaps these are the kind of stories that made each member of the group decide to join outreach activities. Simple yet inspiring.

More photos →

Blog, Stories

Early Worm

hawk-flying

While going home on an early run, I saw this magnificent hawk [though i’m no expert of Ornithology but i say it was a hawk because it’s unlikely to be an eagle]swooping down to catch its early prey. I stopped in my tracks and was enamored by the length of its wingspan and its beauty. From it’s white head and body, down to its downy light brown feathers–it was arresting.

Two things played on my mind at that moment : First, my favorite quote by Aristotle, “In all things of nature there is something of the Marvelous!” Second, one of my favorite Bible verse, “But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isa. 40:31.

I was refreshed. Indeed early worms catch the first dew… I caught a glimpse of God’s love.

– Kofintum

Photo from http://poetkatehutchinson.wordpress.com/2013/07/12/baby-bird-boom/

Blog, Hiking, Mountains, Stories

4 Things I’ve Learned About Life From My 1st Major Climb

My 1st Major Climb

I had my first major climb last march 1-2, 2014. We climbed Mt. Dulang-Dulang, the second highest mountain in the Philippines. The view from the top was amazing, breath-taking even. I’ve never imagined in my entire life that I will someday climb a mountain. It was the best opportunity to see and appreciate one of God’s creations, which not all humans could see and appreciate. I really felt blessed.

Mt. Dulang-dulang Summit

Lately, I’ve been focusing on happiness and the things I learned from every experience. Let me share to you some of the things I learned from my first major climb that can also be applied in our normal, day to day life.

Summit Campsite

Stair climb

    1. It is good to be always prepared. Weeks before the climb, we had a series of trainings to prepare us for the climb. It actually paid off. It made me confident and nothing bad happened. No accidents, no injuries. We were on time with the itinerary. So it is with our day to day life. We need to prepare for what is to come; that meeting at work, that date, that summer outing, married life and even retirement. So when it finally comes, you’ll be confident and sure of yourself. You’ll feel good and happy about it.

Group 1 "The amazing coffee team"

Log

    1. It is best to have friends. During the climb, we were divided into groups. My groupmates were my climb buddies. We climbed together, we rest together and we shared trail foods and stories over meals or coffee or even while climbing. They didn’t make the climb easy, but they made it worthwhile with their stories, jokes and even just their company. When we got to the top, I had them to share the moment and the happiness with. Thus, no matter how busy you are, spend some time with your friends because happiness when shared is doubled.

Coffee break

Coffee break @ Alanib river

1st Regroup @ Alanib river

    1. Enjoy every moment. That was the first time I’ve been on Mt. Dulang-Dulang and who knows when I will be able to go back there. I tried as hard as I could, between deep breaths, to enjoy every step, every crawl under a fallen tree, every slippery path, the coldness of the weather, the enchanting mossy forest and of course, the majestic view from the peak; not to mention, the company of my friends, because that moment will never happen again. Yes, I might climb Mt. Dulang-Dulang again, but I might have different companions. For sure it will be another whole new experience. So enjoy life, every moment of it, because you might not be able to experience the same moment again.

Manny's garden campsite

  1. The path to the top is not easy. Definitely. You’ll ran out of breath and there’ll be a lot of obstacles like a big, fallen tree or a protruding branch, a slippery path, rocks, holes, etc. If you’re not careful enough, these may cause you bruises or other injuries. So it still boils down to being prepared because if you’re not prepared and careful, you might not reach the top. No matter what, just keep on climbing. Even if you’re very slow. As long as you don’t stop, you will eventually reach the top. As the saying goes, it doesn’t matter how many times you fall; what matters is you rise every time you fall.

Assault

Summit of Mt. Dulang-dulang

These are just some of the lessons you can learn from climbing that I consider major life lessons and could be applied in normal, everyday life. If you have other lessons that you want to share, feel free to write it down in the comment below. Climb on!

Fear factor level

Photo credits: Focalmatters Photography and Gabu Sanico.

Blog, Hiking, Mountains, Outreach, Stories

Prayer, the best gear for survival climb

Hot mama Cha

We pray whenever any activity is started, but with this event I prayed every step to survive after reaching its summit with an elevation of 2,860 masl. From the 21st of June 2013 began the rigid climb ever I have encountered. Never have I climbed the highest Mt. Apo and has climbed other mountain’s peak but not as hard as Mt. Kalatungan – Mt. Wiji traverse.

The team (10 of us including our guide, with 3 of us female) jumped off late in the afternoon after exchanging smiles and sharing blessings from various contributors to the children at Mendis Elementary School, Pangantucan, Bukidnon as initiated by Rebirth Outdoor Trekkers and Adventurers (ROTA) Phils. The weather is not that friendly though, heavy rain poured along the way in which all of us soaking wet. Right then, the first overnight camp gave me colds that resulted to a sudden discomfort. I got fever, I guessed. The team leader even made fun of giving a peso as transportation fare for those who will decide to get back home, well, everybody just laughed at it knowing that we are there with strong drive and determination to conquer the said 5th highest mountain in the Philippines, there is no turning back.

Me, without any idea how hard and difficult the trail compared with other mountains I have climbed, is too confident and filled with gladness and bewildered by another beauty of panoramic view. Not that equipped with rain gears, the next day I went to ascend with the team as rain continuously pouring. Now, I felt my body trembling from the very cold surrounding added with colds that made me hardly breathed. But I kept on walking and rested for minutes whenever the team leader told us so. It was not that fun, however, all I have in mind is to reach the summit in exchange and get rewarded for the striving ascent made. Of course halfway reaching the peak, I started feeling wondrous with the highest waterfalls ever I have seen. The view is just too far from where we are situated but we can see and compare its stunning height of its fall and even made me forget my discomfort. Over view is not that clear and visible due to thick clouds that hovered, thus, capturing only moments of accomplishing every steps of struggles was the only thing evident.

Carried on as obliged to do so, my body became weak with my very wet backpack getting very heavy that made my arms numb and so tired. But I kept saying to myself “I’m not weak yet” still with great courage and confidence. The climb is described as wet while most of us often stumbled with the slippery trail. Moreover, leaf blades of tall grasses left wounds of other mountaineer’s limbs, but me unscathed with leaf blades is suffering from headache and fever. I believed, me and my prayer to our God has strengthen me to go on. “God, please give more strength”.

At about 5:00 PM the team reached the so-called junction to summit and the other path to campsite. Getting close, for an hour to summit, the team leader again laughingly asked us “Now what, do you still want to go to summit or not at all?” Of course, for the first-timers agreed to pave our way going to summit despite the unfriendly weather. Again, I said to myself “I should never miss this, I must go to summit” with the very ill feeling. Apparently, my companions observed that I am not feeling well, I hardly talked, and they even asked me “Cha, are you okay?” and I replied “Yes, I am” even when I am not.

Upon reaching the summit, the feeling was totally priceless for having accomplished my goal. Yes, I am on the peak of the 5th highest mountain in our country. Unfortunately, the expected beauty of the horizon was hidden by hazy climate. All we vaguely see is the light of the setting sun and the only thing ever enjoyed and captured by our cameras. With less time spent at the peak due to weather condition and nearly dusk, we came to get back at the junction as quickly as we can to proceed to campsite. Dark came upon us, as we had our dinner before going to campsite, while me on chill as I nibbled on my food.

As I managed to stand still, we continued for a night trail going to campsite that made even worst for most of us get bumped onto roots that made us slipped. Finally, the last step for the night has lightened up all of my heavy loads, nevertheless, the headache, cold and fever never had left me. A piece of medicine was not that curable. Until the coldness of the night made me shivered and even feel the pain deep into the bones of my limbs. Having not slept well, I greeted the morning with severe headache and runny-nose. Again, I prayed to God for more strength and endurance. Now I can feel the pain on my bruised upper lip having irritated by severe rubbing as I wiped out “two soldiers” from my nose (hehehe).

Break camp, then another mountain to ascend, the Mt. Makaupaw (Wiji). Without doubt, I even gave my wet clothes to our guide to include in his backpack because I felt that I cannot withstand heavy loads at all (it’s the first time that I let someone carry my belongings) so embarrassing. Along way up, the trail is surrounded with thorny vegetations and tall grasses with sharp leaf blades. Struggling to hurdle each step while our arms used as shield from thorns, me with the very tired body, has successfully and gladly reached the top of Mt. Wiji.

More hours to go before reaching the base, I asked the guide “Manong, is the trail easy?” and even more uncomfortable with the so-called “dead nails trail”. As we headed, I thought the trail getting down is all descending. Surprisingly, we came to ascend more and then descend and then ascend and so forth. Until I hardly caught my breath and getting very weak and exhausted. I came to ask often “ Is there still an ascending trail? I think I cannot make it at all”. So in my mind speaks “God, please give me more strength and endurance”. So, me in the middle, started walking so fast to catch for the lead pack, because I seem to faint and loose breath and I don’t want to get caught in disaster, I must get home safely. So that’s it, I started praying the Holy rosary in silence as I did every pace. I often rested in silence and seldom responded to discussions and did not even eat my lunch at all since I am struggling to cope up against my very weak body. I kept praying and whenever I am alone resting to catch for deep breath and oxygen I can’t seem to hold back tears rolled down from my eyes while asking for strength to God and even begged for forgiveness thinking that it is a punishment or repayments for my sin. “Lord, if I cannot make it, please forgive me for all the sinful things I have done.”

From that onward, all I have in mind was to come out from the forest line and even said to myself that if I fail, this will be my last climb. I walked so fast and eagerly anticipated to see the road to barangay proper and I would be relieved from hopelessness. Nonetheless, I successfully reached the jumped off point seemingly alright having trekked down from slippery roads.

It was indeed a survival climb, I guess. I survived through prayers. Even though I suffered post climbed illness (muscle pain, bruised lips, over-fatigued), I still managed to perform my tasks and served the clients to the day I must report for duty. I even have my hair cut short days after the climb to have myself lightened by burdens and heavy loads I carried during the climb.

It was one memorable climb that has taught me a lot of things and even awakened me from my disastrous past. Basically, I learned to drink water not that much, I learned not to bring much trail foods that will not be consumed at all and raingear is a must (never get soaking wet). In general, l learned to be strong and tough despite the circumstances that come along the way. Despite hindrances, we must be equipped with courage and might to surpass all of it while reaching up our goals and objectives. It made me courageous and persevere so as not to easily get drowned and killed by weakness, because having dragged to fiasco leads no hope. I have learned that prayer is the source of strength and hope, the greatest gear for survival.

LCRM

Thanks to Leah M. for proof reading and Tapoy for the photo