Why I volunteer and keep on volunteering.

To begin with, I never volunteer for fame or to be recognised.

Never.

IMG_3772

Since starting my journey back in 2013, I’ve had a fair share of hate and slurs. I usually ignore them. Those naysayers, they will never stop no matter what you do or say. But something from a particular someone broke me, literally into pieces. This is never meant to be a post defending what I do or how “godly” I am but maybe it can shed some insight for those who only know me, from the surface.

Volunteering changed my life. I thought I was going to change other people’s life instead it changed mine, for the better. 

Volunteering has allowed me to really understand pain, struggle and appreciation for life. It has humbled me to appreciate every single thing I have in life. It has allowed me to understand life beyond just the need to work, buy and die. I remember arriving in the disaster in Ormoc, working on a site of a family who have nothing else besides the clothes on them YET they have this big, bright smile… reassuring me that things will be better. I remember a lady, with her precious smile told me “Walang pa, sa balai can be rebuild but my family can’t, okay na lang ako that my family are all okay” (loosely translated “It’s okay, I can rebuild my house but I can’t rebuild my family. I’m glad my family is okay.”). That kind of appreciation for life is just priceless. That’s what I learned on my journey being a volunteer. I learned to be less selfish, I learned to share, I learned to open up and I learned to learn about life.

This life, this very moment, I always ask myself “Have I done enough?Have I done enough so others have the hope or comfort to live another day of their life?” I am blessed, I’m writing this in a restaurant after coming back from a random trip to Singapore. Most people don’t even have the chance to see the city they live in.

Life is too short to live it just for yourself. That’s how I view it; how I see what I do nowadays.  The world goes around, believe me. This is my path, this is what I’ve chosen and I’m happy with. I may not have the money all the time, a permanent house to shelter me or a car to drive around but I’m paid in smiles and hugs, I have had many “homes” I’m fortunate enough to take shelter in and I have my two feet to keep walking. I’m blessed. Because I’m blessed I want to give back to the world, nothing else.

I don’t know how much longer I will do this but I will keep doing as long as I have the means to do it. One day….one fine day, on my death bed… I’ll glee in smile for I had live this life to the fullest knowingly that I have done something for myself and others.

“I was here
I lived, I loved
I was here
I did, I’ve done everything that I wanted
And it was more than I thought it would be…”-Beyonce

 

I apologies if any of my postings have hurt anyone or somehow come off boasting about what I do or it came across as being arrogant, I am human and I err. 
 Support The Volunteer Cook Winter Appeal, donate here : http://gogetfunding.com/urgent-appeal-lesvos-rayyan-needs-you-his-kitchen-needs-setting-up-for-winter/

Why I Travel and Volunteer?

abroadOne of my students questioned me last week when I was introducing myself infront of the class “Sir, why do you come here to volunteer?”

It got me thinking, really hard.

This is not the first time I’ve been asked about my volunteering work, in fact, I got it all the time when people knew I am a volunteer. I don’t know why my student’s question kinda hit deep down in my heart, leaving a huge lump in my throat. Why did I started volunteering instead of just backpacking?

You see, almost 3 years ago everything in my life changed drastically in just one day. Yes, in less than 24 hours I was on my way to something that I never ever thought that I would do in life- living a nomad-backpacker-ish life. Little that I know that one change was my key to something bigger than myself. That day lead me today; typing this in this lab room, listening to Beyonce’s I Was Here while all the students and lecturers busy doing their stuffs in Central Java, Indonesia.  I am here.

When my life was on the low, when I was still lost in the transition from being a full time student, funded with scholarship and living a comfortable safe life to a homeless, cashless and jobless person, I had so many amazing people who stood by me. People who opened their door, shelter me, feed me, hire me and showed me that I can in fact go further in life. These people are my angels. Because of these people, I stood strong and kept pushing stronger than ever. I went travelling, made a living on odd jobs and my blog, took any kind of job that could mean food for another day- I was doing everything and anything to keep living.

Then one day it hit me, I’ve seen so many countries, experience so many culture and met so many people BUT where is this leading me to?

I need to restart, I need to do something to make myself happy. I didn’t know back then that being happy doesn’t mean it has to be my own happiness , it could also be someone else’s happiness. So by  then I found a reset button. I’m glad I pushed it and restart again because, here I am doing what I love, everyday.

So to  answer you my dear student

” This fragile life we are living now, it’s a precious  gift given to us by the universe. A gift that I value. I want to live a life not only for me but for others. I see so much sadness, so much despair and hurt in this world. I’ve been through it all and I don’t want anybody else to go through it. I cannot do a lot but I know with my small actions I can help contribute to the world, like Mother Theresa always say “a drop water sends a thousand ripples across the lake”. I just wanna wake up every morning and give back to this world, give it back it any form. Even it’s as small as making someone smile when they are sad, I will feel happy. Because being happy is the key to open the door to other things in life. So I am here to do what I can to help you feel happy and love and live your life to your fullest.”

Calling Japan My New Home.

I have arrived in Tokyo, Japan!

I know, I still can’t believe it that I am actually here. Even when I boarded my flight in Manila, I was still unsure about what I am going to do in Japan and the next thing I know, I was already using ¥! My first leg of journey begun from Narita Int Airport, where I had to take a train to Nippori where my friend, Masaya was picking me up. Apparently I took the slowest train that took 74 minutes from Narita to Nippori on the Keio Line! Well it was the cheapest, the fare was ¥1030 compared to the rest that was ¥2470 and above!
See, that is the map of Tokyo, wait till you see the subway map. Good luck to me for not getting lost!
Press to cross the road and the polite Japanese people shall stop their car to allow you to cross. 
So my friend Masaya-san hosted me at his house and while he was away, his mother was so nice to teach me how to cook Somen- a japanese cold noodle that is popular for summer. Not to mention, she even did my laundry and folded it, I was so touch by kindness. It has been a while since I have motherly touch from my own mother. Yes, I miss you mom. 😛
The view from my friend’s house in Saitama! 
The Kawaii Masaya-san’s Omoni (mother)
Somen- a famous cold noodle for summer. 
Masaya also brought me around Tokyo. I was in so much fascination that I couldn’t stop smiling all day long. I even, at every junctions, turns and new building we encountered scream out to Masaya that I can’t believe that I am in Japan! I was in sheer disbelief seeing the street of Japan like Akihabara, The Asakusa Temple, Tokyo Tower and all.
Gheezz, I am in Japan!
The Japanese SkyTree.
He exist! Doreamon exist! My childhood cartoon is everywhere here!
The Keoi Limited Line train from Narita to Nippiro
I think the best thing so far about Japan is being able to experience eating the freshest fish in my life. Masaya brought me to eat various cuts of sashimi fish, raw fish rice toppings, big tuna chunks cut. It a gastronomical treat after basically eating rice and beans for months (I still love you Philippines! :P)
It was so good that Masaya actually captured photo of me crying and in huge disbelief when I was eating my first Japanese Tuna Sashimi. It wasn’t fishy at all, it was like eating butter. The fish melted in my mouth allowing me to experience the taster of fish at a whole new level. I adore your fishes Japan!
Yes, that’s me crying eating my first Japanese sashimi. 
Next, next. Excuse me, I am enjoying my fine cut of tuna. 
I adore you. J’adore bian. Saya Suka. Watashiwa Suki Desu!
It is not cheap too but for something so fine like this, Hell this is good money. This cut of tuna is priced at ¥25000 eq to USD250!
We then met up with Ayako-san, all three of us met in Ayuthayya, Thailand about 2.5 years ago. Ayako brought Masaya and I to Ropponggi Hill to eat Okonomiyaki and Monja, a popular Japanese downtown cuisine. It was basically do it yourself savoury pancake with fillings like cabbage, ginger, rotate, octopus and many others. It was an experience itself eating Okonomiyaki, the process down to putting the sauce and the fish flakes was so much fun! I am sure I will be indulging myself with more of this while am here!
See I kid you not, so much fun!
Masaya-san, Akito-san and Rayyan-san! 
I have about 3 months here in Japan and I will start my training for my work tomorrow! More stories to come, keep following me as I discover living in Japan! Till then, travel safe everyone!

Healing Journey: Bye Now Bohol, Philippines!

Some of us walked out from our own life because we want to look for something. That something that is clearly missing and somehow disorientating our life. We are all in constant look for something. I remember the day that my “real life” started, it was, ironically the worst day of my life. Scratch that, it was not my worst day of my life, it was my family and relatives’ worst day of their life. You see my relatives believe that I should have a successful life and their perspective of a successful person is no other than me getting a scholarship to go study overseas, graduate with honours, get a fancy job with a fancy pay and nice house. That wasn’t for me, as much I tried to believe it, it was clearly not. I started traveling because I wanted to see something but deep down inside I was just praying that it will eventually show something or point me a direction to somewhere, anywhere.
It did.
It pointed me to volunteering travel, something that I thought impossible considering how expensive it is usually to volunteer abroad (I blame commercialism and jackass who thinks that charity should be a money making industry). I found my first spot to volunteer abroad with All Hands Volunteers, a disaster relief response organization based in Massachusetts, USA. AHV responded to last year Bohol Earthquake as well as the biggest typhoon ever hit human kind, Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda as it known locally).
When I arrived in the Philippines on 15 December 2013, I told myself “If you don’t like, just go back aight?”. Little that I know I would ended up spending 7 months here from one project to another. It was unbelievable, almost unreal at times. All my life, I was finding things to make me happy, not all those superficial happiness. This was real happiness, not only for me but am sure for the rest of 507 volunteers who came by Project Bohol. The happiness of calling this place home.
It became real when everyday, instead of calling it base, most of us (long-timers) will use the word “Home”. Everytime we need something or left something behind, we will usually say “Darn it, I left my stuffs at home” or “I’ll get you the cream when we get back home”. That’s how real it was. I was really and still happy. Come to think of it, you put this group of strangers together and pioneer them to volunteer and live together, somehow it become a perfect concoction of miracle.
That was my house, and all my 7 months worth of stuffs packed into 2 bags.
When the time finally arrived for us to close down Project Bohol, I had a severe separation anxiety. This was my home, where I feel comfortable being who I am and these people who love me unconditionally. Nonetheless, all good things must come to an end. As we packed up, shipped and donated our stuffs, I realize that we have done something big here. Not only that we help them with their houses but our presence here give them hope that one day their life will be alright. Little that they( the locals) know how much they have changed me (us) for better.
In true Boholano spirit, Daghang Salamant All Hands Volunteers ng Filipinas. So these are some of the things that I will miss about calling Punta Cruz, Bohol my home.
Saying goodbye to the cabana that holds our laughter, tears and love. Or the staffs call it their office!
p/s and someone taking piss by the bush!
Yes people, that’s how we poop and peep. We built that 2 weeks prior to moving it.
Bucket shower is the best, especially when it’s the clear sky. It’s like dancing with the stars, naked.

Or people opening the curtain while you are showering naked, priceless!

Taking our regular pink-music box tricycle!
So, like our Accountant/IOM staffs Sinah Mamaduck Keller always say everytime our jeepneys rolled out “BYE NOW!”
I will miss you Bohol, thank you for sheltering me. I will be back