On Altruism and Volunteerism


I haven’t told anyone — I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth. But I was taught by my mother realities such as famine kills in Africa. If it was a ploy to make me eat dinengdeng and pinakbet, I thank her for all the nagging at the dinner table. My father, who would have been a richer man by now if he didn’t give so much to charity, taught me the value of service.

Marketing the environment is a tough job. Not having enough funds to promote a cause is a tougher one. Inspiration to sustain Camp for Earth came from the selfless and driven people lending a hand. There is something about social consciousness that sews up loose ends together.

Pre-Camp for Earth, I told the volunteer staff for Camp for Earth, “It will feel good after helping out.”

There is a happy place in this world if you find it.

Photographed by Blauearth © Blauearth™ All Rights Reserved 2009-2014

Leni-Kiko supporters open volunteer center in Ilocos Norte

The first time volunteers in clannish Ilocos Norte came out to make a stand for Leni and Kiko (here), eyebrows were raised, accusations were cast, legitimacy was questioned. Unfazed, the volunteers remain hopeful and driven by the positive energy flowing from the tandem they chose to support. Because of their growing number, a center where they can meet, work together, and assist new campaigners was established.

On the 36th anniversary of the bloodless People Power Revolution, the volunteers representing diverse backgrounds, gathered to celebrate the launch of the pinkified center, located within the neighborhood of the Ilocos Norte Provincial Capitol.

“The tiny crack in the heart of the so-called Solid North is growing, and we will continue to chip away at it until that crack finally falls apart into a chasm for the light of truth to fill,” the volunteers said in a statement.

At around the same time the base opened in Laoag, a separate group from I.N. LoVe attended the EDSA Revolution commemoration activities at the EDSA Shrine in Quezon City.

Photos from the Ilocos Norte for Leni and Kiko Volunteers


Kindness matters

Photo from Cong. Ria Fariñas’ FB page

Anything about Adams excite me. If you’ve been following my blog since its inception, you know that Adams was my home away from home. I even actually planned to retire in the mountainous town.

Reading a social media post about the handing over in a personal capacity by Ilocos Norte 1st District Representative Ria Fariñas a 4×4 pickup truck, as an emergency vehicle, to Sitio Bucarot in Adams brings me to a thankful mood coupled with nostalgia.

Christmas in 2012 took me to the most distant side of Adams — Bucarot, a village so isolated in the truest sense. We had to enter the backdoor via the Cadcadir (Claveria, Cagayan) – Tanglagan (Calanasan, Apayao) route for a friend’s personal gift-giving activity. The excitement in the eyes of children to walk in new slippers, and the elderly smiles to match new reading glasses are still fresh in my mind. (Story here.)

Photos I took in Bucarot in 2012.

The entire trip opened my eyes more to social inequalities among my provincemates in Ilocos Norte. Bucarot is only one among the neglected communities in my home province. Even for 2-wheel vehicles, the road from the municipal hall to the sitio was not always safe.

Fast forward to today, how can the previous and the present administrations borrow billions for infrastructure that we really don’t need, but keep their “kakailians” underserved? A bigger capitol, a more modern stadium, a dead Dap-ayan successor, a vinyl island in a national park? Where are the good roads? Where is the better life? Where have all the pronouncements and promises gone?

Since it is election time, an act of kindness can easily be misconstrued as something else. Just so you know, Bucarot has only around 80 voters. Knowing the lady representative as a kind soul, as I was once a recipient of her kind deed while crossing a street, I see it as pure benevolence. Thank you, Cong. Ria!


A PHP26.1MM floating playground opens in Paoay Lake

Photo from IN Tourism

A resident of Paoay before moving to Laoag to live with my family in the mid-sixties, my (nanny) manang Cion had a fave story to tell me when I wouldn’t sleep at night — the folklore tale of the Paoay Lake which was about an inundated village punished for its extreme greed for wealth and material gain.

During the Marcos rule, another Malacañang Palace was built by the lake. My manang Cion had a new story to replace the story of the bejeweled tilapia and other lake creatures. Their family house was among those displaced for the rise of a palace.

Declared a national park in 1969, the serene protected area became an important bird destination for birding enthusiasts in the country. The arrival of the great cormorant in Paoay is an awaited event. I was able to attend a bird census at the lake a decade ago (story here). Only recently, the bird sanctuary as a birdwatching tourism destination was unveiled by the Department of Tourism (story here).

Last week, amid promotions for the opening of a new multimillion inflatable island project by the Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte, more fit for the beach, news of E. coli made the rounds and sparked discussions among Ilocano residents. Other than the health and safety hazards, environment protection and conservation issues, considering the status of the lake as a national park under the National Integrated Protected Areas System, is an ongoing debate among commenters on social media. In a public post on FB, local birder and staunch environmentalist, Dr. Petrus Calope commented, “Distorted sense of beauty! Is the $$$ more important than nature?”

Amid the E. coli news, the great vinyl park in a protected area opened to the public with a no swimming rule. Play at your own risk.