An Open Letter to my Bestfriend’s Dominick

Dear Dominick,

I don’t know you personally, so are you. I don’t even know what went inside my mind to write an open letter to you but probably because I care about you and Marah. I believe you are a good person and there is something in you that made Marah love you and trust you even to the point of risking her life as a single- young and free.

Dominick, I hope you won’t get me wrong. I am writing to you not to go against you or shame you but to really open up my heart as a woman who is standing with the woman who is carrying your child. I understand how you must be feeling- confused, doubtful and fearful of so many things that can change with this unplanned pregnancy but I want to encourage you to take heart.

Believe me, honestly I don’t really know how to say the words I want to tell you but let me start with this, just listen to me as Marah’s best friend and an older sister. I think I know that you also have someone in a relationship with right now and I understand that. No judgments because I think in the first place you and Marah are in a complicated status. I truly understand that you are too young for this responsibility and that you still want a lot of things to happen in your life, but I want to encourage you not to forget where you really at right now- you are in a season where a new responsibility came in. You are going to be a daddy. I understand that you want to enjoy life and I know you promised to take responsibility of your child and Marah but taking responsibility of them goes way beyond than what you are thinking.

It goes way beyond that.

I will not ask that you marry Marah, if both of you don’t want to. But at least I ask for you to think of your child in this way. This child can grow up seeing different women with his father. This child will grow up seeing his mother and father not together. This child will grow up with insecurities as Marah did and it will take a long time for him to mature to understand and live up to it in a mature way- but the time that will be wasted before this child grows up to his future possible insecurities of not having a solid family cannot be taken back. And I know you wouldn’t want this in any way to happen.

Dominick, I hope and I pray that you will man up. I am not saying that you take things hastily but I hope you will ponder on these things. I know this is not how you planned it and that you have so much better envisioned dreams of a future family but this is where you at right now- you are having a family. I know you don’t love Marah that much because if you did, the set-up should have not been like that but I hope you will learn to love the mother of your child. I hope you will realize that it is about time to let go of your child days because you are entering into a new season of being a father and I hope a husband a partner.

I may not have experienced being a mother yet but I know it because I have a mother just like you are but as a woman, I know how hard this must be to Marah. She is the kind of person who will not say she is hurting, she is jealous or when she needs help. And guess what, carrying a child in her womb in this time which is unplanned with no husband or partner on her side brings her too much pain and regrets. That time when you both are still dating, I know there is something deep within your hearts that made you do it and I hope you will find your way back into that anchor which is unknown and undeveloped. I hope you will come to realize that love is not just a kick of emotion but a radical decision to love someone and be with someone even when the tingling sensations on your spine dies out.

I am writing you this not because of Marah alone but because of you too.

You are still young and this is the best time to man up on your mistakes than realize it when you’re old and gray and regret until you breathe your last. I am writing this for you because I believe that God saw something good in you to make YOU the Father of this child with this woman. I am writing this for you so you will not have regrets. I am writing this for you, hoping that you will come to see a light of things and decide not just to take responsibility through providing in finances but to take responsibility of your family both in protecting them physically, emotionally and mentally.

Because in the end, the real father is not just the ones who remit money but the father who is there physically and emotionally. I believe you will be a good dad and a husband too.

Thank you for listening Dominick.

Ps. My boyfriend’s name is Dominick too.

 

An Open Letter to my Bestfriend

Dear Marah,

Hello best friend! It’s 10:34 PM right now here and I really want to take this time to write this open letter to you for your birthday. I may be away from you now but I hope this will make you feel that in this time, I am here for you.

I am celebrating with you because I know you are choosing to look over the brighter things than the darker ones. I am celebrating your inner and quiet strength despite of you not saying a word of all your fears and doubts. I am celebrating with you and the new life that is inside of you right now. Hello Akihiro Dominick! I’m excited to see you soon.

Best friend, that time you told me that you are pregnant, I chose to listen to you for a long time before putting down all these words. I know you must be feeling right now and I understand it because you’re more than a best friend but a sister to me.

I know there are doubts, regrets and fear of what is ahead knowing that you don’t have a husband beside you in this season and I wouldn’t say that’s fine because it is not. At first when I heard the whole story of you getting pregnant with a guy you’re not really in a relationship with, I honestly don’t know the right words to say because I know you deserved to be loved and cared for. You are one of the most kind-hearted person I know. I knew you even before when you are still maldita and proud and I’m so glad to see through the years how you’ve changed to a beautiful, composed and humble Marah even before this thing happened. You are not that person anymore and our friendship grew more mature and stronger.

Marah, I want you to know that in this season where everything seems so dark and bleak, I want you to know that you are not alone. You keep on telling me that but you are not. It may not be how you planned or envisioned your life but God has a backup plan much better than your original plan. It may look like this is the end of it all but the Lord says this is the start of something new. You may not have a husband but Christ says,

“For your Maker is your husband– the LORD Almighty is his name– the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth.” –Isaiah 54:5

So you are not alone.

God himself will help you raise your child while at the same time raising you to become the woman He wants you to be. God can turn the table. This is the season to see how God will work in your life. This is the season where God himself will bring you closer to Him in order for you to realize that the Lord himself is your husband and He is all you need.

I would not say that you should lose your desire to get married in the future or lose the vision of having a happy family and married with a faithful spouse but I want you to take this time not to depend on anyone even to yourself but solely to God. And this is why, you are not alone.

14-15 “And now, here’s what I’m going to do:
I’m going to start all over again.
I’m taking her back out into the wilderness
where we had our first date, and I’ll court her.
I’ll give her bouquets of roses.
I’ll turn Heartbreak Valley into Acres of Hope.
She’ll respond like she did as a young girl,
those days when she was fresh out of Egypt.

16-20 “At that time”—this is God’s Message still—
“you’ll address me, ‘Dear husband!’
Never again will you address me,
‘My slave-master!’
I’ll wash your mouth out with soap,
get rid of all the dirty false-god names,
not so much as a whisper of those names again.
At the same time I’ll make a peace treaty between you
and wild animals and birds and reptiles,
And get rid of all weapons of war.
Think of it! Safe from beasts and bullies!
And then I’ll marry you for good—forever!
I’ll marry you true and proper, in love and tenderness.
Yes, I’ll marry you and neither leave you nor let you go.
You’ll know me, God, for who I really am.

21-23 “On the very same day, I’ll answer”—this is God’s Message—
“I’ll answer the sky, sky will answer earth,
Earth will answer grain and wine and olive oil,
and they’ll all answer Jezreel.
I’ll plant her in the good earth.
I’ll have mercy on No-Mercy.
I’ll say to Nobody, ‘You’re my dear Somebody,’
and he’ll say ‘You’re my God!’”

-Hosea 2

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” –Deuteronomy 1:6

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. –Isaiah 43:2

 

My only prayer for you in this time is that you will never fail to see the goodness and faithfulness of God in the midst of this great trial. I pray that you will never miss the opportunity to learn your lesson which is to be closer to the Lord and really know Him as your Creator, Father and Husband.

I love you best friend. As the Lord is with you, I will be with you. (Sabe ni Mark Dominick pati siya din daw) I love you. Happy birthday!

How to Survive in Kish, Iran While Staying Sane

So your visa in Dubai is expiring in a week. You called your travel agency to book a flight to Oman for exit. You freaked out because they can’t process your Omani visa and the only choice left is to exit to Kish.  You’re not alone. If you are exiting to Kish for the first time, this blog is perfect for you!

First, let me start by saying, “Take a deep breath.” Been there, done that. I know exactly what you are feeling. This blog is really intended to calm you down and give you some smart survival tips to keep all your nuts in place.

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The beautiful Kish Island of Iran is a 91.5-square-kilometre (35.3 sq mi) resort island in the Persian Gulf with an estimated population of 26,000 residents and about 1 million people visit the island annually.

If you are exiting for the first time, keep an open mind. I would like remind you that NOT every scary story you have heard about Kish is true. When I first exited to Kish, I have heard a lot of overrated stories about the place, some of these were:

  1. Kish is a dangerous place. You’ll get raped.
  2. Food in Kish are contaminated and you can get AIDS
  3. Your “kapwa kababayans” (Filipino fellowmen) are your own predators. They will steal from you. You can’t trust them.

All of that and more. While some of these may be true in the PAST but I would like to remind you once more that we are already in year 2015. It’s also very frustrating to hear kababayan going against their own kababayan. This is the reason why people who go there for the first time look very cautious and indifferent. It is both funny and disappointing to see people reacting this way just because they were given wrong information about the place.

To make myself clear, I am not discrediting the idea of being cautious and careful but at least you know now that it’s better to use common sense. Of course you’ll get raped if you go out alone in a dark place, you’ll eat contaminated food if you choose to eat suspicious food and you’ll lose your money if you don’t take care of your belongings. There’s always a danger wherever you go, the important thing is you prepare yourself mentally and emotionally.

These things should not even be your hesitation in choosing Kish for your exit destination. If we’re really going to think about it, there are thousands of people who are exiting to Kish yet these people came back to Dubai unharmed.

Now that all these things are already clear to you, let’s move on to the practical step-by-step guidelines for your trip:

Preparation

  1. Since your flight is already booked, be sure to ask your travel agency about the estimated time frame for the processing of your visa. Make sure that you have given your correct email addresses to them. Provide not only your email but also an email of your relative or companion here in Dubai. If you are expecting for an employment visa, talk to your company’s PRO and ask their procedure.
  2. Prepare your food by buying the following good-to-go items: canned goods (tuna, sardines, etc.) loaf bread, banana, biscuits and anything you like that can be stored for how many days. Some people are packing their own chicken adobo.
  3. Bring enough clothes and underwear for your estimated days of stay in Kish. Don’t forget your charger, toiletries, a good book and a USB loaded with movies. I also suggest that you bring your own blanket and pillowcase. (If you have a socket with two circle holes, bring it)
  4. Bring a luggage and a small bag where you can put all your important belongings wherever you go. Lock is always a must, not only in Kish but wherever country you go.
  5. Most importantly, for ladies, bring your own abaya or any clothes with very long sleeves, pants and shawl for the covering of your hair. This is a MUST. Wear them going to Dubai airport. For gentlemen, pants and shirts will do.
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Signage reminder of wearing proper attire in Kish Airport.

Upon Departure (Dubai Airport)

  1. Don’t forget your passport and visa. A quick reminder: you need to exit a day before the expiry of your visa to avoid penalties. One day of overstay costs 300 AED.
  2. Be friendly, I’m begging you they are not your enemy. Find your buddy that can be your companion in the hotel. If you are a female, find a female companion. If you are a male, find male. Kish is a very conservative place and you can’t be with opposite gender inside the hotel room.
  3. When you’re already on-board in Kish Airline, it is better to wear your head cover. Travel time is only 15-20 minutes so make sure to eat the snack provided in the plane very quickly.

Upon Arrival (Kish Island)

  1. As I said, you need to wear your abaya and head cover before entering the Kish airport. The immigration officers will not let you in if you are not wearing proper attire.
  2. After temperature check up, immigration interview and picking up your luggage, I suggest that you ride the bus going to Farabi hotel. This is the hotel I strongly recommend because the ticketing office of Kish Airline is just beside it.
  3. Do not panic if the hotel representative asks for your passport upon arrival. They are really collecting it ahead so they can type the names of guests.
Shuttle on the way to Farabi Hotel.
Shuttle on the way to Farabi Hotel.
  1. Prepare your 100 AED deposit for the hotel.
  2. Keep the receipt and always bring your hotel card.
Farabi receipt and hotel card.
Farabi receipt and hotel card.
  1. Proceed to blanket station at the ground floor then find your room. Sleep well. No one is going to rape you.
  2. Buy your 6pcs of water for only 10 AED at the store near Roodaki Restaurant. You can also buy milk for 10 AED for your cereals. Wifi username and password is available at the computer shop nearest to your building.

Now what…

So you’re now waiting for your visa, now what? I highly suggest maximizing this time to take a full rest of mind and body. If you have truly prepared and followed everything I have mentioned above, you don’t have to worry about your visa. The important thing is to keep constant communication with your employer or travel agency.

Here are few ideas to stay sane while you are waiting:

  1. Have a routine. Please take a bath in the morning, brush your teeth and eat your meals. Movies should never be an excuse to miss out on hygiene.
Daily routine: when I wake up in the morning, I open the windows read a book while drinking my morning tea. I'll eat my breakfast afterwards then strictly take a bath before watching movies!
Daily routine: When I wake up in the morning, I open the windows read a book while drinking my morning tea. I’ll eat my breakfast afterwards then strictly take a bath before watching movies!

2. On food survival tips: Take advantage of the free breakfast, eat them. Eat your packed food for lunch and dinner.

Farabi's free breakfast pack- consists of a bread, jams and egg.
Farabi’s free breakfast pack- consists of a bread, jams and egg.

3. For the workaholic: Eat, sleep and repeat.

4. For the extroverts: Watch movies together with roommates. Go out and have fun (Yes, you can have fun outside. If you’re a lady, I suggest go out in a group)

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5. For the introverts: This is the best time to finish reading a book and watching your favorite TV series, go ahead and make an addiction of it.

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6. For the ambivert: Go ahead do both!

7. For the worrywart: Try not to cry. Take a peek through the window, observe the trees and birds. See that? Life is beautiful!

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  1. For the anxious brat: Join worrywart.
  2. For the insomniac: Drink milk and try to sleep. It’s about time to exercise you sleeping habits. If you really can’t, stop thinking. Sleep!

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No matter how short or long you are going to wait; remember that it’s not about the time but your attitude while you are waiting. Keep a routine and a smile on your face as you wait.

Remember that when you come back to Dubai, you’re going to go back working again. I’m sure you don’t wanna waste this opportunity to rest and have fun.  For the people who are still going to find a work when they come back, I would like to encourage you to stay as focused and determined as you are. Remember that the Lord will not open the doors for you to reach UAE for no reason. I also waited for 3 months before I found the right job and exited to Kish twice (Read my story here)

What to do when VISA arrives?

  1. Print your visa in the internet shop at the ground floor of the hotel
  2. Bring your printed visa and ticket as you go to the ticketing office to book your flight.

 

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Kish Airline Ticketing Office

 

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You have to get a queue number first before you can fall in line for the booking of your return ticket.

Important reminder: When you reach 15 days in Iran, you need to get an Iranian visa at the Kish Airport. Your hotel will remind you once it is needed. So please secure yourself a pocket money with excess.

Welcome back!

See, you’re alive! You are now an official Overseas Filipino Worker! Kish isn’t as bad you know it, was it? Hope you did not forget to buy your big bags of Cheetos!

I Trusted God and He Failed Me

Have you ever believed God for something and failed to receive it? Have you ever trusted God and he failed you? This blog is certainly for you.

You were on fire. You read the Bible and every word you read seems like it has wings flying over and above the book you were reading.

You have high hopes. You certainly believe that the Lord will answer because you have a “bible verse” to back-up what you believe.

Not only did He said it once, twice and thrice but many times He reassured you through His word that He will give you what He promised so specifically. Then the results came out and the answer is NO.

My past job hunting season was a series of great tests. It’s like I get into a roller coaster, it goes up and down and upside down, sometimes I get thrown out and I hit my head, but I crawl back in again and the moment I’m back in, it just keeps on going and going again.

Backstory:

Like most people who are aiming to help more abundantly their families, I belong to the group of people who is most responsible for supporting my siblings and I love what I’m doing. But this decision of leaving my country, Philippines, went a long way before I even accepted the calling of being an Overseas Filipino Worker. I have a dream and plans of my own and that is to study law and beat Miriam Santiago. But oftentimes, life will put you in a situation where you have to give up your own dreams to fulfill someone else’s dream. I can still remember that day when I was asking God if I should stay in the country or go abroad. And like any playful conversations with the Lord, I only got a question in return instead of an answer: “Will you pursue your dream or give up your dream to fulfill someone else’s dream?” He used Joseph the Dreamer’s story to confirm His calling for me. Joseph was sold as a slave by his brothers, such a tragedy to happen after doing something which is right. Sold as a slave, imprisoned for many years until something happened and Joseph found favor in the sight of the Pharaoh and he was put in charge of the whole Egypt. This is only to find out that God purposely put him in those situations because He knows that there will be a famine in their home country. God prepared the way by using Joseph’s sorrows to preserve his family.

Chapter 1: First Exit

I answered the calling of God to do the same thing. I went ahead of my brothers and sisters here in Dubai to prepare the way for something I still do not know. You would think that with this act of obedience, God will at least make it easy for me to find a job, I also thought the same. I even set deadlines to myself that I should have a work after 4 days. When 4 days are over, I said to myself, “Alright, 10 days.”Until the first month is over and I needed to exit Dubai to renew my visa.

That. Is. Just. So. Disappointing. Like. I. Don’t. Freaking. Know. What. To. Do.

Seriously.

The reason why I reacted this much is because I needed to travel and STAY for at least 3 horrifying days of in Kish Island of Iran. I have read reviews, news and blogs about what is happening in Kish especially to Filipinos who are exiting there for visa renewal. I’m really afraid. Since I don’t have the choice, My Uncle and I booked the flight. I brought with me a pocketful of advice and precautions.

In my stay there, it wasn’t as terrifying as I expected. It’s actually the exact opposite of what I have read and what other people are saying. Kish is a quiet place and I found so much solace and tranquility while I am having my vacation break there. I met a friend at the airport who is also exiting to Kish, her name is Kimberly. We stayed together in hotel room and shared each other personal stories. While we were conversing about life, she told out of nowhere that lately, it’s like God is pulling different people to her life introducing different beliefs and religions. She met a Hindu, her boss is a Muslim and she met me a Christian. Until with no intentions of really sharing the Gospel, I just heard myself talking about what Jesus did for her. She cried and accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior.

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Chapter 2: And the job hunting goes on…

After 3 days in Kish, I traveled back to Dubai filled with so much hope and excitement. Before I exited to Kish, I still did not mention that I already received 15 job offers. I declined these offers for one reason, low salary. Also, before leaving Dubai, I got interviewed in one of the most prestigious hotels in Dubai, Rotana, for a Marketing Executive position. When the HR mentioned about the job description and package offer, it’s like she is mentioning herself the job I prayed for.  She told me that she will call me back once they already have a Marketing Director on-board.

I continued applying for jobs while at the same time waiting for the hotel to call. I received various job offers, 6 more job offers to count, some are low and some are close to my target salary. I prayed to the Lord for each one of them whether I should accept them or not and the answer I always get is WAIT.

For how many weeks this is His word and I know exactly what He wanted me do, that is to believe for what I’m praying for which is the job in Rotana. It was a hard thing to do, to wait for something you do not see. Every job offer I decline feels like a lost but I know I needed to trust God when He said WAIT. I held fast to my hope that He will give me a grand reward for patience and obedience.

Weeks passed by and it’s again the last week of my visa’s validity. Just then, Rotana called to invite me for the second and final interview. The schedule of my exit is November 3 and they set the final interview on the same day, just 4 hours before my flight.

The. Struggle. Is. Real.

Chapter 3: Second Exit and the Final Battle

And the day of the final battle of my waiting has finally arrived after two months. Just when I arrived in the hotel, the HR called to move the schedule of my interview from 10am to 4pm. Seriously. Since it feels like I have to wait again for one last time with the chances of missing my flight, I decided to just wait at the lobby. 12 noon came and luckily the Director decided to do the interview on that hour instead of 4pm. After the interview, I was even able to attend another job interview for an immediate position for a learning center of a university in Dubai.

After the interviews, I rushed to the airport for my flight to Kish. Arriving in Kish for the second time almost feels like home. Since I’m the second timer and all my companions are first timers, I led the group where to go and what to do. We stayed altogether in one hotel room and met other girls who are already staying in the room. During my stay there, I am confident that God will fulfill His word regarding His promise to me for Rotana. I maximized my stay and rested a lot since I know that when I come back I will already start working. On the other hand, I am also battling my thoughts of “What if I failed and did not get the job in Rotana?” But my hopes and trust are higher than my unbelief during that time.

One lunch time, I was just alone in the big room of the hotel. I thought everyone left for lunch when I suddenly saw Anne in her room alone. I approached her and handed my book for her to read because she was doing nothing. While I was outside beside the window writing down my daily musings, I felt a leading inside to approach her and share the Gospel. It’s like a John the Baptist spirit suddenly enveloped my whole being to preach it right away to her. She was already teary-eyed when she said, “This is exactly what I need. I have been asking to know Him more but I don’t know where to start.” I left her room finding myself relieved and amazed again. When the group of girls who went out for lunch came back, I was chatting with one of the girls whose name is Bea. We were just talking about her relationship with her boyfriend. I told her my practical thoughts about the situation then suddenly our conversation led to her asking about my faith. I shared once again the Gospel. She accepted Jesus with the most tearful eye while I found myself almost oblivious to what God is doing. I really can’t believe what is happening now.

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Then I remember one of His words when I came to Dubai, “I’ll send them out as missionaries to preach my glory among the nations. They’ll return with all their long-lost brothers and sisters all over the world.– Isaiah 66:19

I stayed there for 4 fruitful days and went back to Dubai with high hopes of receiving what God promised.

Chapter 4: Judgment Day

So I’m back and waiting for the results of my labor. This time, I saw a huge difference about myself; I became more patient, less worried and stronger than ever I was before. The learning center I had an interview offered me the job and demands my answer on November 17. The thing is, Rotana doesn’t have a result yet. I said to myself that if Rotana still doesn’t have a result before the date, I will automatically accept the offer in the learning center as I am already wasting so much time and energy. Night of November 16, Rotana emailed me the result.

“First of all, we would like to thank you for the time you invested on us in your application. Unfortunately, we cannot continue with your application…bla bla bla.”

I. Do. Not. Know. What. To. Feel.

I just lied down where I was and the questions started to flood my head. “What happened? But You promised this Lord? So if you do not keep your promise, you nullify your own word? How can I believe your Word if you nullified your very own word?” And the questions go on and on.

I just cried there, thinking that I love Jesus and I know what He did on the cross is real but how do I trust again a God who did not do what He promised. That is my argument.

The next day, right away, I called the learning center accepting the job offer. I asked them if I can start on November 21, Saturday. This is also to pick myself together and prepare my mentality before I start working.

Chapter 5: I’M ANGRY WITH THE LORD

First day of work came and you wouldn’t believe, as much as I do, that this work I get after receiving an unanswered prayer is worse than waking up in the morning battling against anxiety and fear because of being jobless. I thought to myself that maybe she was just having a bad day or maybe I am just adjusting so it’s too soon to judge. I still went to work and after 5 days of almost always crying inside the comfort room after the shift, I decided to tell my Uncle what is really happening. He only had one question and that is if I already signed a contract. When I told him I did not sign yet, he asked me to leave the company. This is only to find out the next day, that the company just used me for a couple of days, unpaid, because they are leaving for Lebanon and will be closing for months.

So I got an unanswered prayer, got trapped and used by a wrong company and my visa is about to expire in a week; not to mention the pending bills I have to pay for my rent, ticket and visa.

Tell. Me. Right. Now. How. Not. To. Panic. And. Get. Angry.

I left the learning center job and I’m angry. I’m angry with the Lord for what He has done in my life. Am I seriously just going back to my country with so many debts left unpaid? And am I seriously going to start all over again, sending 200 job applications per day, attending various job interviews? Can. You. Not.

Chapter 6: THE RESTORATION

Right after I left the learning center, I started sending job applications. This time, I am refusing to read the Bible. I focused in sending job applications because I do not really know now what and who to believe after all that has happened to me. I mean, I still believe that God is real but I am having the hesitations to trust Him with my life and work because He did not keep His word. I know this is crazy but this is also true.

While I was busy sending my applications, a friend chatted me on Facebook and asked how things are going with me. I told her all my disappointments and anger with the Lord then she reminded how God loves me. How ironic it is to hear that I am loved when my situation is at the end of my rope. But I realized, it is true that when you lost what is most dear to you, only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you. I prayed, repented and read the Word again. It was not an easy process to rebuild my faith and trust but it gets better day by day.

It’s when my trust is simple that I saw the hand of God working in my situation. One day, I was browsing my Facebook and I saw a job posting for immediate hiring. I really don’t trust companies who post on Facebook groups but I tried it for the first time. After 30 minutes, I received a call for a phone interview from that company. That same afternoon, I received again another phone call for the second interview. They told me that when they email me tonight for personal interview it means I passed the initial interviews. The next day I read their email and invited me for a personal interview. We were four ladies waiting to be interviewed. We were advised that they will only contact the person they have chosen for the job. That same night, I received an email with the offer letter.

Simple as that?

Yes.

HE FAILED ME

Yes, He did fail me. He failed to answer my prayer. He failed to give what I want in order to preserve me for what He wants. He intentionally failed me to test me, to shake what can be shaken in me and in doing that; He succeeded in accomplishing His purposes through me. He succeeded in purifying me, making me trusting and more faithful than ever.

Oftentimes, in our waiting, we thought that the waiting in itself is the battle. But it is in those countless twist and turns that the tests are happening. If He did not purposely put a long timeline before I got the right job, those souls I preached the Gospel with could have never been saved. If I accepted the job offers I turned down, I could be facing a serious financial lack in the future. If God did not tell me to wait, I could have never learned how to say no to the things that are not for me. If He only gave what I asked for, I could have never learned how to trust Him when He says no.

And if I did not go through 3 months of waiting, 2 exits, 1,000 job applications, 60 job interviews, declining 22 job offers, 1 unsuccessful job application in Rotana and 1 unsuccessful job I accepted in the learning center, I could have never realized that I only have one permanent job title, that is to make disciples.

All the bruises, wounds, scars and bumps on the head I got in this roller coaster ride happened just so I can take that and write all these things. I remember myself waking up in the morning and saying, “God, I don’t want to be in this roller coaster anymore.” But when I think about it now, if I’m not right here, then where would I be? On the sidewalk? I wasn’t born to stand on the sidewalk; I was born to fly around crazy in the sky!

I EARNED A LOT IN DAVAO CITY

 

A month after my adventure in Cebu and Bohol, I am flying once again to a more distant place from the North- The Crown Jewel of Mindanao, Davao City.

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i headed a team going to the South. Please meet Gani and Sydney.

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On my left is Sydney. On my farthest left is Gani.

 

We were up in the air for an hour and 43 minutes.

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We took a cab to find a hotel and we were so happy to see how clean the city is.

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Their cabs really look like paracetamol tablets because of their colors.

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We stayed in a Enrico’s Apartelle near NCCC Mall. The rooms are clean and snazzy for a cheap price and we loved it.

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We worked hard and gave our best during our whole event. As a neophyte captain for our team, I was thinking to myself what went wrong that made us miss our goals. Each of us are facing our own dragons. To describe our situation, we were in our darkest times during that time. It’s like we’re trapped in a storm not only because of our job disappointments but because of our own personal issues. What made our situation even worse  is the reality that we earned almost nothing because of our low production. We’re running short of our budget and our pay cheques aren’t available yet.

But then, not even all the stress of the whole world can bring us down and quit on life. So, we tried lifting each other up by lifting the fork and fight!

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We fought a good fight in food fight! :))

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Crema de Fruta

People say, there is always rainbow after the rain but what happened to us during this trip is different. We realized that there can even be a rainbow while it’s still raining. All the while that we’re getting bad headaches because of our budget and low production, the Eye-up-above sent a man in dreads.

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This is Dane Sanchez

Gani met him in our event in NCCC.  As you see, this guy looks tough. With the culture that we have here in our country, the culture of stereotyping people, not everyone would be easy to trust a guy in dreads and tunnels. But who would have thought that a guy whom people often thought to be tough and dangerous could actually be a comrade and an angel?

He invited us for a Davao City viewing after our work so we can unwind and release the stress. He joined other friends too who are James Ancheta,  Limer, Chuck Wong, Anton Mendoza and many more Davao friends to count. To tell you, it was not easy for me relating with group of men because I grew up with only girl friends and a handful of guy friends. This trip totally changed my perspective about guys because I finally saw what real guy friends look like. They are not the ones we often encounter who has another motive to court you, these friends are different and far more gentle than the usual guys we meet in Metro Manila. We realized, they are real friends that even if we’re not in Davao, they still take time to meet us. In fact, we’ll have a reunion in August.

We traveled around the city of Davao. We saw great city lights, tasted their delicious food and recipes. We walked around all corners like foreign tourists.

So, without further ado, these are the highlights of our adventures:

 

JACK’S RIDGE

“Jack and Jill went up a hill to fetch a pail of water…”

Our Davao friends brought us to one of the tourist spots in the town- JACK’S RIDGE

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NIGHT LIFE IN DAVAO

We also tried their night life.

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ISLAND GARDEN CITY OF SAMAL

Every first timer in Davao wishes to go to this hidden paradise in Mindanao. Our excitement exceeds far beyond the ceiling and obviously reaches out to the skies. We went outside our hotel, fixed ourselves in a jiffy then quickly rushed downstairs as our friends patiently waited for us in the car. Everyone’s excited even our Davaoeno friends.

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To get there, you need to ride a ferry. The  ferry boat line is operating from Sasa (opposite NCCC Mall) to proper Samal. It took us 20 minutes on the ocean to cross over from Davao Golf to the astonishing island. We payed only 270php for the light vehicle we have.

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Samal is a part of the Metropolitan Davao area and is located two kilometers away from Davao City. Samal is a fourth class city in the province of Davao del Norte, Philippines. Its official name is Island Garden City of Samal, and it is made up of Samal Island and the smaller Talikud Island in the Davao Gulf. It has a population of 95,874 people according to 2010 census.

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Samal Island has plenty of surprise. Once you reach Penaplata, you will discover this island is gifted with waterfalls also. The Hagimit falls is two kilometers away from Penaplata proper. It is accessible by car or a motorcycle. To get there you need to hike more or less 15 minutes. The local community collects P5.00 for environmental fee.  And for most first timers like us, seein this place got us a jaw dropping experience.

Hagimit Falls Entrance Fee

Adult/Kids – Day Tour – Php 40.00

Open Cottage – Php 500.00

Close Cottage – Php 1000.00

Tables with Chair – Php 300.00

*Price may change without prior notice

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After the ride and the tolerable hike, we finally reached the place.

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Hagimit Falls is just a small waterfall in the island that has natural swimming pools, and rock formations. It is suitable for those who want to have been relaxing moments and quick dip to fresh water. The water is very cold. This waterfall is definitely an excellent site for camping since there are some campsites available. It is well – covered with full – grown trees and different varieties of vegetation that grows along the riverbank.

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We swam, we hiked and we took pictures. There’s just no amount of words to describe how happy we were. It’s like love at first sight with nature.

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My most favorite ones….

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And believe it or not, after this adventure, we still went straight to our scheduled meeting for work in the evening. After this long, long day we got our head totally knocked-off. Zzzz.

 

THE CHICKEN FARM

The next day, we had  a chance to visit one of the farms of one of our Davao friends named James Ancheta.

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He’s the one behind Gani, You can hardly see him in this picture since he does not really want to be seen in pictures. He’s just so mysterious.

After the long road trip ride going to the farm, we are welcomed by the locals of the farm with a refreshing drink of coconut. They made an effort to climb for the coconut and have it served freshly for us. Davaoenos are seriously awesome!

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This young little man amazed us so much. He was so fast in climbing the tree and it only took him less than 30 secs!

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Happy Kids

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The coconut we drink and ate are really fresh. I’ve never tasted in my life as delicious and as fresh this coconut. Waaah. I love the feeling.

 

It has been my dream ever since to have a picture with chicken on my head. I just find it cool and candid. So here we go…

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Dream come true!

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I dared myself to make the chicken like a GUN!

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But this one is too stubborn and lazy. He keeps on bending with his feet.

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There you go. He will be up on his feet come on!

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Alright. This one’s really lazy!

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Until I was not able to compose myself but really shout because he is flying off my hands! He’s just so wild!

 

 

These chickens are pretty awesome. They do not feed on processed feeds but on watermelons..

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We also did fishing

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We had a deal that what you catch is what you’ll eat.

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Caught a fish the fastest

 

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Our friend, Limer, trying to help us catching the fish. He transferred the fish from the nets and prepared it for our lunch.

After an hour of fishing activity, we decided to rest and waited for lunch in Limer’s Nipa Hut.

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We also had the chance to meet and greet the locals kids living in the farm. And though we don’t understand them since they cannot speak Tagalog, our priceless smiles saved the day. :’)

I’m sure you know what happened next after Limer finished cooking the food.

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It was a BOODLE FIGHT.

Boodle fight

N. is a military style of eating where long tables are prepared and food are on top of the banana leaves. Viands and rice ready to eat using your bare hands, jugs of water are prepared on the side to wash hands before the “eating combat”. With the signal to start the boodle fight, everyone aims for his/her position.

 

After filling up our tummies with so much food, fun and laughter, here comes every traveler’s hatest part of the trip, the coming back home.

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We had a hard time in saying good bye. Every step we took out of the farm feels heavy especially when we bid good bye to the kids that we met there. But with that good-bye there we felt peace and joy and maybe that is why it’s called “GOOD” bye.

Our friends drove us quickly to the airport when we realized that we’re an hour late for the check-in. It should be two hours ahead but we arrived only an hour ahead.

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On my left is Anton Mendoza. On Gani’s right hand is Dane Sanchez.

Luckily, they still allowed us to enter and check-in our luggage.

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We arrived home safely and tired. We’re already home but our hearts were left in this amazing place called, DAVAO CITY. And even til now to tell you, whenever we talk about and reminisce our days in Davao, we can’t help but say that the storm that came made us realize that rainbow does not come only after the rain. Rainbows can shine through even during the storm and heavy rain. 🙂

 

“I may not have earned a lot of money in Davao but I earned a lot of friends and memories which money can never ever buy!”

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WHEN C COMES BEFORE B.(CEBU TO BOHOL TRAVEL BLOG)

It has been a year to be exact since the time I started traveling. Never have I seen myself  falling in love with traveling to places- someone who will fall in love with the woods, dance on the sand beaches or surf through the waves of terrifying waters. This is because I was a non-nomadic creature who tries to stay at home as much as possible. I would rather stay under our roof, read a good book while drinking my most precious tea.

And what was the catalyst of this total change of personality I am today is my previous and also my first job which is in APPCo Group Philippines. I was sent to one of the most beautiful places on earth which is in Bohol, Philippines during my first week in the company.

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I thought I wasn’t excited for the trip, except from the fact that I am more nervous since it is my first job and at the same time my first travel away from the North.

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We took a plane for almost 2 hours and arrived in Cebu because that time, we were not able to get a flight direct to Tagbilaran City. It was still a blessing in disguise because we were able to explore the City of Cebu. Talk about hitting two birds with one stone!

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After the long wait, we’re finally on board in Ocean Jet Ferry to bring us to our main destination in Tagbilaran City, Bohol.

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On my right is our trainer and manager, Zoe. On my left is one of my colleagues in APPCo, KC.

 

When we arrived the City of God’s Little Paradise, I was totally refreshed and amazed by the place.

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Photo copyright to Jeroen Hellingman

 

 

We stayed in Constrell’s Pension House.

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Every single day we faced different challenges and blessings while we worked there. The way we work in a city is that we talk to its people starting from the middle class up to the high profiles. We invite them to support the children to which the UNICEF organization is helping. It was not easy to tell you. It takes a shipful of confidence, courage and physical strength to do that job for only 5 days and reach our target. But it was fulfilling though.

Fulfilling is our work, surprising is the place.. And here’s one of my most favorite surprise of Bohol….

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I know right! It is not what you expected I would say. I already know you thought I’ll be mentioning the most common Chocolate Hills. Hold on, you’ll see the chocolates in a jiffy but right now, this is what I am talking about… their tricycles!

Why do I like them? Simply because its unique and uniform.

I spoke to their governor, Gov. Chatto , and I asked him the reason why their trikes are like that. It’s pretty amazing because they are spacious enough to make every commuter comfortable and stylishly pious since I always see a Bible Verse at the back of all their trikes. He said in a humble voice that it is because they wanted their city to be clean and uniform. They have a certain format and design for a trike and it’s up to the owner how he will color it and what verse will they write on it. Seeing and riding on these tricycles every day makes me comfortable and encouraged as well.

See how little things like a written verse can change a person’s day? 🙂

 

For five days, we explored Bohol by relating to its people through our work.

We realized their values.

We related to them on their food, language and customs.

We were even invited for a dinner by a local there.

All that and more.

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And so after the long wait, here comes the much awaited part of the trip, the trip in a trip!

We are now about to explore the tourist spot of Bohol because we’re done exploring its people.

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We took a van ride going to Chocolate Hills. I think it was for an hour and a half so we got crazy taking pictures. Remember it always feels good to party after a week’s hard work.

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Welcome to the sweet chocolate kisses of the Philippines, CHOCOLATE HILLS!

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Once you reach Carmen, you will be dropped off the level ground of Chocolate Hills. From the drop-off, there will be a bearable hiking activity for you to get to the viewing deck. There are 214 steps up from ground level. The viewing deck offers a great view that is particularly spectacular during sunset. The admission fee to the deck costs only PHP50.

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I made the right choice to be in my running shoes but I made a wrong choice to wear maong shorts. It was hot up there. But it was okay. You will forget the heat once your eyes are fed with such a great wonder and awe.

 

At last count, over 1,200 hills make up the Chocolate Hills, distributed over 18 square miles in the towns of Butuan, Sagbayan, Bilar, Sierra Bollones, Valencia, and Carmen.

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There is a local myth that says there were two giants who fought with stones and sand against each other over a period of several days. And that’s why there is Chocolate Hills today. Another one is a more romantic tale of Arogo, a strong and young giant who fell in love with Aloya, a mortal girl. The tale says that Aloya died within the palm of the giant’s hand and the tears that fell supposedly turned into the hills.

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Amidst the tales and myths about the origin of Chocolate Hills, the most commonly accepted theory states that they are the weathered formations of a kind of marine limestone on top of a impermeable layer of clay. Meaning, the hills were lifted up from the seafloor by geological processes and weathered over millions of years into their present form.

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This bell can be found on the observation point of Chocolate Hills.

 

The day ended with our strength all drained up but our hearts filled.

It was a long day because same day that we traveled to Carmen is the same day of our flight back to Manila .

So we are all seriously tired on the plane except for one person…

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And that’s ME. 🙂

I can’t help but still gaze through the plane’s window and see how it looks like outside because it was a night flight.

(I’m sure you know how beautiful it is to be in a night flight)

 

I STOPPED AND I UNDERSTOOD WHY

I looked at the people living in the streets, those kids who carelessly play along the road and the bridge.

I looked at the people living in slums.

There are authorities asking them to leave the place.

I looked at the strong guys working as barkers for jeepneys.

They are good heralds and their voices are heard far beyond what an ordinary man can shout.

I looked at the people pushing their carts to collect bottles and newspapers.

They are as polite and meek as the kind doves.

I looked at the people who tirelessly sell their goods along the streets.

They are brave and strong as they carry their heavy baskets.

They even have time to crack a joke.

Then I look at the people who have great jobs as I queue for my turn to ride the van.

They aren’t happy and bold.

They are emotionless and ready to kill a bear and a cub.

People whom we thought to be living short, those people whom the society considers to be a trash, they were the ones who are nonchalant.

People whom we thought to be living in abundance, these were the ones who live in complaints and discontent.

And then I tried asking the eye-up-above overseeing us all, “Why don’t bless these poor people a better life than these so-called giants?”

I stopped and understood why.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

-Matthew 5:3