Monday, June 29

Finding Love in Pag-Asa Island

When my friend Journeying Pinay mentioned in passing that she might set foot in the isla, I was restraining myself to ask if I could come.  As sensitive as the area was, Spratly Islands was not even included in my bucket list.  When I look at it in the Philippine map, it was like staring in an old, black and white photograph.  Worn out, hazy and fading around the edges.  Fragile to the touch.



Thursday, June 25

Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila – Luxury at Its Best


Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila is one of the popular five star hotels of Philippines that provide you heavenly comfort and utmost relaxation. Situated at the heart of Pasay, this is one of the best five star hotels that offer you an array of amenities. The strategic location, the tranquil ambience and the array of facilities make this one of the best hotels of Philippines.  


From Hotels.com

Monday, June 22

Subli Guest Cabins: A Homey Getaway in Puerto Princesa City

It is rare to find a green respite in the midst of a busy and popular city like Puerto Princesa.  That was why when I chanced upon Subli Guest Cabins on the web, it only took one glance and knew in my heart that I would be experiencing Palawan for the second time at this tranquil place.

The Hotel



The inn has stand alone guest cabins which are just right in size.  Not too big nor too small and are perfect for wandering couples and independent travelers.  Those who seek solitude and time away from the metro will definitely feel they wished they could have booked and stayed here for a few more days. 

Monday, June 15

Skylight Hotel Palawan

Smacked right at the heart of Puerto Princesa City, Skylight Hotel Palawan is a gem for business and leisure travelers alike.  


I arrived at Puerto Princesa City International Airport at about nine in the morning.  As promised, my hotel pick-up was waiting for me outside.  Kuya was very attentive and helped me carry my heavy bag. We hopped on the hotel shuttle for the short ten-minute ride.


At first glance, I thought that the hotel's facade is simple and unimposing.  But my eyes widened with positive anticipation as I entered the hotel lobby.  Painted an all-white, the hotel interior was a simple white, quiet most of the time.

Saturday, June 6

G.I.V.E.-ing Hope in Pag-Asa Island

It was unexpected.  But then when the opportunity presented itself, I could no longer say no.

It was a blessing of sorts. A mighty plan from above humanized in many ways.



The journey at first was hazy, unsure.  But then the skies cleared and Divine Intervention won.



I was given a rare privilege to join my friend's G.I.V.E. activity in the far-flung Isla Pag-Asa in Spratly Islands and met the adorable students of Pag-Asa Elementary School.

G.I.V.E. stands for Give Intensely Victoriously Enthusiastically which I think sums up what these projects are really for.  That is just to simply give. 

I recall a few months back when she excitedly told me that she might be doing a GIVE project in one of the most remote places in the country.  I could not help but also get excited for her.  Her eyes shone every time we talk about the possibility.  



The few hours I had been there was longer than it actually was.  A unique memory. Lasting a lifetime. One of a kind.

At first, I was a bit worried if the gifts we brought for them were enough.  Or if they will like it.  Or if they will even need them.  But then again, the doubts in my head disappeared altogether once I saw them sitting tightly together inside their classroom, their innocent faces eagerly awaiting for something that hopefully could bring lasting smiles on their faces.



We are surprised to see ourselves smiling like this
It was hot and humid in the Isla
But we did not mind nor complained a bit

I guess seeing how the children smile with our simple gifts

Joy emanated from their hearts to ours

And we feel complete as it is

You see, I do not have a younger sibling, much less my own child.  But I thought of my cute nephew when I witnessed how eager they were to receive what we gave them.  Some were so timid.  Some so young they were oblivious what was really happening.  Some were old enough to quietly mumble the grateful words 'thank you' to us as we hand them their notebooks, crayons, pencils and anything else they might be needing for the coming school year. 

I wished we could give more.  Brought more.  But I as looked at them clutching their new things as if it were the most precious elements on earth, I knew that to these kids, even a used bag seems to be heaven-sent.  



The activity lasted just as little over two hours.  We had our fun and the funniest moments with the kids, specially with the younger ones.  


Hazel with Minja Turtle Boy
One active, little boy bravely approached my friend while she was distributing slippers and asked, 'Meron po ba kayong Minja turtles?' (Do you have Minja Turtles slippers?) With matching assertive voice and all. My friend was caught off guard as well as those who heard his query.  All we can do was laugh heartily.

Good thing that he was a sport for all we have were Spiderman slippers.  Maybe next time Minja turtles will come along with us too. He actually was referring to Ninja Turtles.  

Me, Hazel and Capt. Cherryl Tindog with some kids of Pag-Asa Elementary School

It was my first time to join such a very intimate and touching activity.  And somehow I felt a different kind of joy upon reaching the island and being able to share what we were blessed with with the children of Pag-Asa.


Until the last minute, we did not know if we can actually be there.  But perhaps it was destined to be.  

You see, Pag-Asa Island is located in the contested Spratly Islands in the West Philippine Sea. 


It is imperative that there are frequent activities in the island. The government actually has official documentation of all the happenings, who goes there and what they do.

Why?

To show that the island is in deed thriving and living. That activities like this and visitors are a normal sight in the island. So that it can be shown to the world, and to that one particular realm, that these beautiful islands belong to the rightful country. And we all know which that is.

Thank you. To all who have given and extended their help. Thank you too to Jollibee for the meals! You brought a different kind of jolly joy to these little faces.  

In deed, what made this activity extra special is it was held in Isla Pag-Asa. I guess that's it.  As I see it, there is hope.  I found hope. And love. I saw it in their eyes.  

There.  In Pag-Asa Island.



__________
Other Parts in This Series

Giving Hope in Pag-Asa Island
Finding Love in Pag-Asa Island
Chillin' with the Armed Forces of the Philippines
Palawan, the Second Time