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Women at work

Powerful yet gentle. Strong yet soft. Resilient. Patient. Humble. Beautiful inside out.  Smart. Wise. And with a servant’s heart. These are a few to describe these women I had privilege to photograph at random, spontaneous moments when I was India. Here’s to the women of the world!  Happy International Women´s Day!!!

When you are burnt out, frustrated and unhappy with work, will you just quit? When you are not motivated any longer, uninspired and lazy, will you just abandon it?  Will you find something more interesting?  Do something fun.  Start something worthy.  Life is anyway short; and they say you have to live life to the fullest.  Do what makes you happy.  Celebrate your life. And wear your passion.

But when you know that the very thing you are doing is the one real thing you are supposed to do… when the very position you are now is the only place you ought to be, is leaving it all behind a crime?  When you know that the coveted spot you are sitting on today is assigned to you and entrusted on your judgement and ability, is renouncing it wrong? Is quitting a sin?

Sand landscape

When the weight of the winds mould and paint the loose sand and dirt canvas, sand dunes are beautifully crafted. Sand dunes of La Paz in Laoag, Ilocos Norte, the Philippines.

Just Drive

Go for a road trip and just drive.  This was the highlight of my recent vacation in the Philippines.  I have always loved driving. To be behind the wheels and to take control is always thrilling.

I learned to ride a motorcycle at a very young age.  I remember my parents brought us (me and my siblings) a scooter when I was in elementary. It was our daily ride to anywhere in our area.  I also learned to drive my father’s bigger motorcycle in high school; the time that I even can not reach the ground with my short legs when riding it. But I learned to ride it anyhow.  I remember the feeling of excitement when cold winds kiss my cheeks and blow my hair when driving.  And this has always been true until today.

I also had a fair share of misadventures with driving.  Accidents happen all the time especially with motorcycles.  Scars all over my body are reminders of those not-so-exciting motorcycle adventures I had had.  But that did not stop me from driving.

When I was older, my father taught me to drive our old jeepney.  But I was not always allowed to drive it.  When my parents bought a new SUV car last year, I also learned how to drive it, but then I did not really get to drive it by myself, that is, without my father next to me.  And not the least long distance drive.

Our faithful carrier

So I planned a road trip recently.  A 500-mile drive.  And this time I was the designated driver.  I was successful in convincing my father to let me drive all the way through!  It was a lot of fun!  And a great learning experience.

That´s me behind the wheels!

Above:  This is the scariest drive I had.  We need to cross a very old bridge with 2 metal panels where one should manuever the wheels on.  A single mistake and your car falls to the river down below as the supporting wood panels were fragile and weak.  Whew, I think I did not take a single breath driving through it.  Oh, thank you Lord for keeping us!

So, tell me.  What is your most exciting/thrilling or scariest driving experience(s) ever?

Road trip route

My family and I went for a road trip last Dec 26-27, 2011.  Five souls, 1 SUV car, 1 camera. And oh, the tripod.  Don’t forget the tripod because no one wants to be left out in the photos. 😉

It became a tradition that whenever the whole family is reunited, we go for a trip.  Only the five of us. This doesn’t happen always as I’ve been living abroad for more than 5 years now.  I go home once a year, and whenever I go home, we plan the travel. This time, it was basically my idea to go for a road trip.  The family have been living in this region eversince, but we have not really visited the gorgeous places several miles up north.  This time, we visited and explored the province of Ilocos Norte.  The trip was a blast.  We all had fun together. Laughed together. Ate together. Sang and danced together. Discovered things together. And enjoyed together these wonderful places God had showered this part of the world.

Dragon fruit  garden by the beach in Laoag

Sand dunes of La Paz, Laoag

Sinking Bell Tower of Laoag

Light House in Burgos

The coast of Burgos

Kapurpurawan rock formation in Burgos

Sunset at Pagudpud

Rainbow-kissed Saud Beach in Pagudpud

Windmills along the coast of Bangui

The 300 yr-old church of Paoay

“It’s overwhelming. We didn’t expect these many dead,” Benito Ramos, head of the disaster-response agency, said.

Last Friday night, when many of the victims were sleeping, devastating flash floods happened in Northern Mindanao area that caused many casualties.  The flash floods were set off by the tropical storm Washi (local name Sendong), which brought heavy rains to the said area.

As of this hour, 652 were reported dead, and 900 others are missing but toll keeps on rising by the hour. Rescuers are still searching of more dead bodies as they begin to rot in the mud.  Thousands of people have been displaced, temporarily seeking shelters in church buildings turned into evacuation centers.  In this nation constantly ravaged by about 20 typhoons each year, even many were shocked by this sudden calamity coming close to Christmas, the most anticipated holidays in the Philippines for family reunions and gatherings, parties and fellowships.

For me, this is almost surreal.  I was not even aware that a typhoon was beating Mindanao as we were having perfect weather in northern Luzon at this time.  My heart sank when I heard about this nightmare.  Many similar catastrophes have been happening in the Philippines, and around the world, recently, and yet I know hope is still there.  A hope and sweet assurance that God will deliver us from all adversaries this world may inflict upon us.

The Philippines is in mourning this holiday season.  Many people have cancelled Christmas celebrations; to many the reason for Christmas was lost; to the victims, the meaning of Christmas was washed by the flood that wrecked their homes and families; to most, the hope and joy died and buried in the mud together with their loved ones.

Please help us pray for the victims and their families; pray that they may find hope in the midst of grief and sorrow; pray that they may find comfort in their tears and heartaches; pray that they may experience healing through time; pray that they may see light through this darkness; and pray that their hearts may be touched by the holy spirit and allow God to change their hardened hearts.

To help and donate, visit http://definitelyfilipino.com/blog/2011/12/18/typhoon-sendongs-victims-need-you/ or

http://www.beeconomic.com.ph/deals/metro_manila/philippine-red-cross-emergency-alert–tropical-storm-sendong-donate-p100-to-the-victims-of-tropical-storm-sendong-today/715926326

30-minute colors

As a PhD student working in a plant science laboratory, I don´t often get to go out (especially) when the weather is just great, the warm sunshine inviting, and the colors of autumn outside are just so tempting. I am often confined in the lab doing some awesome and not so awesome experiments. In the lab, I am not the master of my time. Experiments prevail. They are the bosses of me, and they dictate when I get to pee, when I get to eat and when I get to go home.

So whenever I find extra time – the most coveted free time – to do more interesting and awesomer things, I grab the opportunity tightly. I usually run or bike around the neighboring village and fields in between experiments, during incubation times, electrophoresis, etc. And today, experiments have been good to me and have granted me 30 minutes to stroll and capture some of the beautiful colors of my first autumn.