My Top 10 Posts for 2019

Writing, or blogging for that matter, takes a lot of commitment. Despite busy schedules, I try to keep at it because it’s my way of documenting my life, I guess, lest I forget. But I also hope that through this little space, I could somehow inform, entertain, and inspire you, my constant readers. Thank you for sticking with me.

Sharing here a list of my top posts for the year.

  1. Buhay Maynila – An old post from 2015 reborn, thanks to ‘Yorme’ Isko.
  2. Humans of the World: Juan, Hernando, and Alejandra from Colombia – First of a series of stories highlighting the stories of friends I have met from around the world.
  3. Pelikulang Pinoy – Another old post about my musings on Filipino films.
  4. Pagbabago– And yet another resurrected 15-year old piece where I rant about the hopelessness of this poor country.
  5. Film Rebyu: ‘Parasite’ – A review of the best film of the year!
  6. Humans of the World: Silja from Germany – Silja is the only blind teacher in Germany.
  7. Musings on Whatever: ‘Toy Design and Inclusive Play’ – Early this year, I was given the opportunity to be part of this amazing creative workshop.
  8. Humans of the World: Molly from India– This features Molly and her work with Timbaktu Collective.
  9. Humans of the World: Sandrine of France – Sandrine shares her thoughts on inclusive education.
  10. Humans of the World: Stephen from Kenya – Stephen stresses that disability is not inability.

HL macro-wordpress.jpg

Boracay 2.0

Boracay – a beach island with an abundance of water activities, foreign tourists, buffet dining, shishas, live band of different musical genres on almost every establishment, and environmental patrol men (an entourage of government staff, police, and military men complete with guns and all).

Since its re-opening after its rehabilitation, the locals have been very strict in making sure Boracay stays a paradise. A couple found to be drinking liquor at the beach was reprimanded and was asked to pay Php 1,500. Yes, that’s how strict they are now.

I would have to say Boracay has improved. It’s much cleaner and there are relatively fewer people. No more fire dancing, loud music, and parties that last till daybreak. The beach front has been pushed back from the water to comply with the 30-meter easement rule. They also limited the number of tourists coming in, around 19,000 at any given day (I’m not sure how that can be monitored, though).

I see the charm the island has. Why it’s still a sought after travel destination. You have the lovely beach with fine, white sand and the crystal clear turquoise water (no more green moss), complemented by the party vibe. Younger crowds may not like it as much since it’s tamer and less wild but titos (uncles) like me prefer this.

There are still a lot to be done like drainage and road works but this is a good start. Even affected locals agree that the Boracay closure was worth it. This also sets an example for other tourist sites to be mindful of the environment.

Nature has a way of healing itself if we allow it to. I just hope this won’t be a case of ningas cogon where we eventually revert back to how it was. In which case, we haven’t learned anything at all.

My Top 10 Posts for 2018

Here’s a quick rundown of my top posts for the year!

  1. Diet for Climate: How your food choices can mitigate climate change > Yes, what you eat has an impact on the climate.
  2. No Straw! No Straw! > I said it before and I’ll say it again, just ditch the straw – use your mouth, sip then gulp. Easy, right? This post also talks about the issue of waste management in the Philippines.
  3. Minimalist Me: Clothes > Lesser clothes? Why not. Don’t give in to fast fashion.
  4. IFOAM-Asia Organic Youth Forum: Our Journey through Mindanao > Got to see the organic movement in Mindanao firsthand. And it’s inspiring.
  5. Musings on the ALGOA Organic Foundation Course > Organic Agriculture 101 in Korea!
  6. Minimalist Me: Food > “Minimalism is about mindfulness. Being mindful about the food we put in our bodies is something we should strive for. We should change the mindset that eating healthy is a punishment or is a way of robbing yourself of the good stuff because it’s not.”
  7. Minimalist Me: Shoes > “How many pairs of shoes do you have?”
  8. Minimalist Me: Books > Nothing beats reading an actual book but admittedly, digital books can be very convenient.
  9. Tech for Agri, Tech for Good > How can technology contribute to sustainable agriculture?
  10. Hating on Veggies > Train your taste buds to eat good food because you’re not supposed to hate on veggies.



My Top 10 Posts for 2017

Whether it’s due to right timing, the topic, extra effort in sharing, or sheer luck, here’s a roundup of my posts with the most views this year. Yay!

10. Teachers Undergo Creative DRR Workshop – This is our HANDs! action plan focusing on creative DRR. What is HANDs? Check out number 9!

9. HANDs! Project: Looking back and looking forward – An account of my experience in Phuket, Thailand and Kobe, Japan as a fellow of HANDs! Project which is a research fellowship on disaster and environmental education.

8. Re-visiting Vietnam – Travel thoughts about my quick trip to Ho Chi Minh.

7. Filipino Youth Beyond Paris (and yes, youth pa rin ako) – This is about a climate change conference I attended. Or a desperate claim that I’m still young.

6. Advocating for ecological agriculture and mindful consumption – Thanks again, Rappler, for giving me the opportunity to share my advocacy.

5. SuperAdobe Construction with Super Volunteers – A fun volunteering experience.

4. Part of the Horde – To my dismay, I bought my first smartphone.

3. A Plastic Tale – Campaigning against plastic waste.

2. SenseCampPH zeroes in on Sustainable and Livable Cities – This year, we organized the first ever SenseCamp in the Philippines.

1. No longer the Baguio we used to know – Baguio, my hometown, is one of the favorite tourist destinations in the county. It’s sad how it turned to what it is now.



Part of the Horde

My old phone died. I’m not really techy and I have no idea what model it is so let’s just call it a really old phone. I was tempted to buy the same model but everyone was saying it’s about time to buy a smartphone. So I did. I felt sad about it because I can no longer boast how not having a smartphone is perfectly fine. I’m now part of the zombie crowd (Thanks, Steve Cutts for the very accurate illustration). I have to admit though, with this new phone, I like how convenient it is to easily book a ride although I still pretty much prefer riding the taxi so I could support these taxi drivers, who are, to be fair, are not all evil.

“Is there wifi?” That’s the question most people would be asking. The common question I got asked when I spent a week at Makiling, which is a lovely place by the way; but since we were up in the mountains, the signal was very weak, to the dismay of everyone.

We’re so accustomed to being connected or online all the time. I still can’t understand how every moment, one has to constantly look at the hypnotic screen – while riding the jeepney, inside the elevator, in between conversations, heck, even in the toilet!

“The things you own end up owning you,” said Tyler Durden of Fight Club. And it’s an apt statement to these phones controlling our lives.

It facilitates communication, yes. But with that comes the ease of spread of fake news, more incidences of cyberbullying, and promotion of unrealistic self-image. Add to that the strain to human interactions.

We sure have a way of corrupting technology. It’s inevitable, I suppose. Maybe it’s just me being sentimental of the good old days. Or simply me growing old. Eek!


Series of Unfortunate Events

There’s the suicide bombing at Manchester after Ariana Grande’s concert.
And then the Maute terrorist group attacks Marawi.
And then double bombing occurs in Jakarta.
And then another one in Kabul; and let’s not forget, this happened to Saint Petersburg, too.
And then Duterte declares Martial Law in Mindanao.
And then we have Mocha Uson’s symbolism hoopla.
And then online trolls, fake news, and mindless social media postings continue on.
And then Trump wants to pull out of the Paris Agreement.
And then we learn that the Nickelodeon theme park in Coron is pushing through.
And then a gunman wreaks havoc at Resorts World.
It’s a crazy, crazy, crazy world.
And yet we see a glimpse of hope and kindness, and beauty in humanity.
From the One Love Manchester benefit concert that would aid victims and families affected by the Manchester bombing.
From Muslims protecting Christians from the Maute terrorists.
From noble groups and individuals quietly doing their part to attend to the needs of Marawi evacuees.
From Indonesians defying terror with their, “we are not afraid” message.
From truth seekers, those making their stand for what is right, and citizens who are not afraid to question the government.
From 146 other countries which ratified the Paris Agreement.
From environmentalists defending our oceans and the planet.
From people who strive to be human.

Being Human

The security guard opened the door forcing a smile. “Good morning, ma’am/sir,” he said. People pass by not hearing nor seeing him. Not a word. Not a glance. Not an acknowledgement of his existence.

Inside the elevator, herds keep to themselves. No eye contact. Phones serving as blanket for the awkward silence. Well, not just in the elevator. Everywhere. While walking, in the restaurant, in conversations. Everyone bowed down, almost like praying or meditating.

Folks being helped never saying, “Thank you.” “Thanks,” “sorry” and “excuse me” have gone extinct, so it seems.

How about a smile? Beware, it can be taken suspiciously.

When eyes meet, both immediately have to look away. Stare longer and you might get a frown or a “What are you looking at?!”

I suppose it has always been like this. Minding your own business. Never talking to strangers. Practically keeping to yourself. But I find it odd being human these days.

My Top 10 Posts of 2016

1. I’m an Igorot and I don’t have a tail

Igorot, or Cordillerans, is the collective name of several Austronesian ethnic groups in the Philippines, who inhabit the mountains of Luzon (Wikipedia).

2. My HANDs! Project Experience

An account of a Fellowship Programme on disaster and environmental education + creativity.

3. Let’s talk about food

Raising more awareness and sparking conversations on food security, the food system, and food in general.

4. Of planting rice and the broken food system

A farm trip and rice planting experience.

5. Overrated Love 

Hurray to single-blessedness!

6. The Awesomeness that is Batanes

Batanes should be your next travel destination in the Philippines.

7. The Day I Died

Musings on death.

8. What happened to kindness?

Deep inside, we are actually kind people.

9. Being an environmentalist

Environmentalism, hopeless idealism and all.

10. 5 reasons why the next leader should prioritize climate change

Climate change is real. It’s one of the most urgent issues we should address.





A not so bad 2016

2016 is almost over and some claim it’s the worst year ever thanks to climate change, Brexit, Zika virus, Trump, Duterte, Syrian civil war, and terrorist attacks to name a few. Is this the reality? Or simply our perception?

I remember writing about how we actually live in a better world. Medium listed 99 reasons why 2016 is a good year – improvement of global health, political and economic progress, decline of violence, rise of sustainable living.

We usually ask, “What’s happening to humanity?” “What happened to kindness?” “Where is the love?” I suppose we haven’t really lost it. It’s just buried in the negativity perpetrated by social media and mass media, influencing our perception and thus it becoming our reality.

Well, 2016 for me has been great! I did a lot of environmental advocacy work which was awesome. I became part of Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project. I continued campaigning for ecological agriculture and got to discover the realities of the broken food system. I thus, started to be more conscious about the food I eat and got to appreciate food more especially when I experienced planting and harvesting rice. True to being an environmentalist, I decided to change my blog name to what it is now, “Green Minded” as we all should be. More green that is, and I mean the other kind of green.

2016 allowed me to travel to two of the best places in the Philippines, El Nido and Batanes. Plus, an overseas travel to Bali, Indonesia as part of a fellowship program.

Movies have been my constant companion from Pinoy classics to all-time favorites, to old reliable zombie flicks.

It has been a good year, after all. Take it from Max Ehrmann’s Desiderata, “With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.” More than just a perception, I believe that is the reality.

Birthday Thoughts

A lot of people look forward to their birthdays because it’s that one day that you get to feel special. You receive presents. People are nice to you. And suddenly, everybody is your friend. I don’t fancy it that much and I dread it a bit. For one, if you’re in the Philippines, you have to treat your friends and family for dinner or something which sort of contradicts that notion that it’s supposed to be your special day in which case they should be the ones treating you. I also don’t like attracting too much attention. In the workplace, I would hope nobody knows about it. I should just take a leave of absence next time. AND for every “Happy Birthday!” greeting you receive, it’s like a taunt echoing at the back of your head saying, “You’re getting older!” Doesn’t bother me, really. Well, maybe just a little. It’s amusing how when we’re younger, we couldn’t wait to get older and now, all we want is for time to stop.

It does feel good when people show their love through messages of affirmation. And Facebook makes this so much easier. I received hundreds of FB notifications, genuine and generic ones. I’m also guilty of this obligatory greeting as FB claims we’re friends. I suppose it’s an attempt of maintaining a connection. We are very much connected, social media-wise but are so personally disconnected. It’s a shame when friendships are reduced to yearly birthday greetings until we stop communicating at all.

I realized my love language is quality time. According to Chapman, there are five types – words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch. So more than the kind words and deeds, the presents, the hug, just the time spent with me is enough to let me know that I’m loved.

I am in my early 30s and I feel like I’m settled at this point. Not in the material or achievement kind of way, but you know, as a person. I have a good understanding of who I am, what works for me, what I want in life. I’m more self-aware and I think I’m living a balanced life. But of course, there are still a lot of things to learn and experience, places to visit, and people to meet.

Nowadays, you see all these under 30 overachievers who already built a business empire, are famous, or are super successful. And you ask yourself, “What have I been doing with my life?” I guess celebrating one’s birthday is not so bad after all because it basically is a celebration of life. It’s the best time to look back and reflect on both the good and the bad things that happened to you.

I’ve been keeping a journal for a while now and as a response to the “100 Happy Days Challenge” I started writing things that made me happy in a day no matter how mundane they may seem. I continue doing this up to this time because it’s a great way of reminding me to be more mindful and be appreciative of everything.

So cheers to life and here’s to more birthdays to come!