I Swear I’m Up To A Lot Of Good

As my stint in Tacloban City for the Haiyan Response and Recovery draws near to an end, I can’t help but feel the usual pang of excitement. Not because I can’t wait to drop everything and move on, but because I have always been obsessed with what I considered as the bigger questions like What’s ahead? Where will God throw me next? What routes will I tread on? Who will I meet? These questions have been keeping me preoccupied for the past days as I, along with my humanitarian friends, count down for the next big project.

I have to admit that humanitarian or development work is never easy, even if your skill set vouched for years of experience and your love for humanity outwits your love for money. Every day is a struggle to even-out the imbalance in the world and the work is never done. The day ends, but the tasks continue. Swamped with work, I tried (but failed) many times to constantly update my blog. I have been writing day in and out at work, running here and there (most times like a headless chicken) on missions, and utilizing every free time I have been afforded with discovering new places, that I just couldn’t squeeze, not even an ounce, of creative writing thereafter. I thought then, why don’t I just re-publish the articles I have written but decided otherwise as all those technical writing will probably kill those who stumbled upon my blog.

But because friends have been inquiring as to what I have been up to, here’s a recount of some things that have kept me busy.

Work, work, work.

work

I have been knocking myself out even on weekends just to deliver what needs to be delivered. I write. I go to the field. I take photos. I write. I talk with survivors. I observe. I write. I attend meetings. I coordinate with other iNGOs and LGUs. I write. I handle complaints. I make reports. I participate in workshops and forums. I deal with assholes. I talk with the media. I facilitate. I write. I monitor. I put up with ridiculous requests and demands. I write. I evaluate. I do other things too but I suddenly have the urge to stop itemizing as the task has now become tiring. In a gist though, that’s that.

Watching Tacloban transform.

tacloban city

The most common question that I still keep hearing from people about Tacloban City is “How ravaged is the city?” Come on, people. Let’s not dwell on the tragedy. It’s been almost a year. Give the city some credit by at least phrasing your question in a positive manner. Try asking “What are the new developments in the city?” I assure you, there are plenty and just in case the news never reached your end of the world, other than lives are being slowly rebuilt, the hipster culture is on the rise here. You will see fisher folks making their peace with the sea, farmers replanting seeds and getting ready for the next harvest season, businesses like coffee shops, bars, banks, malls, restaurants, and hotels being re-established while new ones are popping out in downtown areas like shrooms, the children and the youth are back in school, amongst others. Every week, there was always something new – something to discover.

Travelling to nearby places.

all over samar and leyte

My location has allowed me to go on trips which I will admit I have not thought of planning before. Samar and Leyte were never in my local adventure bucket list but I quickly changed my mind when I first went on an out of town assignment. Looking beyond the devastation, the provinces had so much to offer – beautiful sunsets, clear blue seas, white sand beaches, majestic mountains, amazing rock formations, delicious yet inexpensive local delicacies, and friendly islanders who did not allow the super typhoon to get the best of them. I was constantly at awe and in every trip I took, whether for work or for fun, I can’t help feeling sad that my little vacations had to be so short-lived.

Getting fat. (There’s a reason why this is small.)

lucy-liu-caricature

(Altered a little) Photo credit: http://jeremyrenners.blogspot.com/2010/01/lucy-liu-photo.html

Lately, family and friends have been asking me if I was pregnant. Just to get this done, once and for all — I am not. I am just fat these days because I have been gorging on all kinds of scrumptious food. Greedily stuffing myself with burgers, pizza, nachos, Filipino viands, pasta, etc and then gulping them down with coffee and sweet drinks that are readily available in every street in the city.  There’s the Pop-up Kitchen, Uncle Sams, Libro, Jose Karlo, Ocho, Sanzibar, XYZed, Canto Fresco, Dimsum Café, Hakuh, Mex Em Up, Infintea, Kapitan Tiago, Snack Avenue, Surprice, and Giuseppe on top of the usual food establishments like Hukad, Max’s, Jollibee, McDonalds, Chowking, and Alberto’s. I couldn’t help it. Better this temptation than something else, right?

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