Ode To My Kids

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The sun will rise once more tomorrow,

It will paint the sky in blue and gold

In my heart are emotions I dare not let go

For fear I’ll regret it a thousand fold

Our journey began with you asking my name,

And then you asked if I want to play a game

T’was the beginning of a beautiful story, something I hold dear

The world is a much better place whenever you are near

My task was to help you know more about the world

Some days I doubted myself, my toes would curl

You were always generous with your words of affirmation

I, on the other hand, had to make sure each of you had my undivided attention

It’s funny how the world works once you learn to let go

A lot of things manifest when you go with the flow

Like me and you meeting for five times each week

And me and you missing each other whenever we’re sick

Time does fly by so fast when you’re having fun

Because just like that, we are already done!

You have bloomed into beautiful beings and you’re ready for chapter two

All I can do is watch you spread your wings and promise that I’ll always be here for you

The healing education works; it did wonders for you and me

I was supposed to teach you but I learned more from you three

This world will be a much better place because I know you’ll share your light

The areas filled with darkness will glow beautifully once you’re in sight

I am grateful for the time we spent together, both the highs and lows

I’m taken back to that Friday morning when I gave each one of you a rose

I will always be your Binibini even if I become a Ginang one day

I know you think about this too, but I just say “come what may”

My heart is a lot bigger now because I made room for you three

Wherever I may be in this world know that you’ll always be with me

I get to give you one more hug before we say goodbye

But promise me when we see each other, you’ll come over and say “hi!”

— For T, A, and V. Mula sa kaibuturan ng aking puso, maraming salamat.

Sinag Stories: No Matter the Package

“Whatever happened to humanity?” – I’ve been asking myself this question lately. There are so many painful things happening in different parts of the world, I can literally hear my heart break while watching the news or reading the articles. What happened to us? Why are we hurting other beings? I can go on, really, but I know that it’ll take some time before I can find all the answers to these questions.

See, the downside to being an empath is that you feel the weight of the world and it takes an awful lot of conscious effort to remind yourself that the weight is not yours to bear. You have 99 problems and 89 of those problems aren’t yours to begin with. I’ve been struggling with that and for months, I have been wanting to rant and add to the noise but what for?

Nothing. I’ll just be another negative person sharing negative stuff on Facebook and that’s not what I want to be. I want to be someone who sees the light amidst the darkness and that does not mean turning my back on the issues that we have today. I will acknowledge them yes, but I will also acknowledge that there is a positive side to everything.

That’s why I’m writing this blog today. This is an attempt to update this teeny tiny space I have in the worldwide web. I will focus on the happier, more positive things because that is the most I can do for now. That is the most I can do for you, as well, in case you’re looking for a happy nugget that you can munch on amidst the dark and cold that the world is slowly starting to become.

This will be a series of stories, mostly from our Creating Sinag Within activities.

Here’s the first one:

When I learned about the Marawi siege last May, one of the immediate thoughts I had was “how can we help?” Kids for Peace Foundation (KIDS) wanted to rush to Iligan and help in any way possible but we had to assess the situation first. We then started asking friends about the possibility of organizing emergency pedagogy with the survivors of the siege to help them deal with and move on from the traumatic experience. We were thinking of the materials needed for the activities when my mom suggested that we tap Craft MNL and Gantsilyo Guru to ask for help in making the call for donations of crocheted balls.

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Colorful crocheted balls from Waldorf School of Batangas.

Crocheted balls are made of yarn and are warm to touch, unlike the plastic or rubber balls that can easily be purchased off the rack. The details on the balls tell a story – how many times the yarns moved back and forth to create mesmerizing patterns, hours spent to form the sphere, and the struggles in following the instructions. The crocheted balls are full of love, care, and warmth that our eyes teared up when we received the boxes from Craft MNL and Gantsilyo Guru!

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Some balls came with heartwarming notes, too!

Inside the box were paper bags, plastic bags, newspaper,  and bags made of cloth, each containing crocheted balls. What’s interesting is that some even included letters and drawings for the survivors of the Marawi siege. We initially asked for 48 balls, but we received a whopping 353!

We shared the crocheted balls with the young survivors of the Marawi siege during the first mission of Creating Sinag Within. The looks on their faces when they saw the balls tugged at our heartstrings that’s why we are so grateful to those who shared their talent and crafted these crocheted balls for them. Emergency pedagogy sessions became even more colorful because aside from playing with a parachute, the kids also passed the crocheted balls around while singing songs.

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Suli, one of the volunteers of Creating Sinag Within, joins the young survivors in passing the crocheted balls. 

For some, crocheted balls are no more than just balls made of yarn but for the young survivors, these balls symbolize happy times. These balls helped them go back to being kids again. They felt the love, care, and nurturing of the generous makers of the crocheted balls even if they were not present during the activity. They felt that they’re worth someone’s time, that they’re worth someone’s effort, and for someone who had to deal with living in an inconvenient environment far from home, that means a lot.

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Young survivors proudly raise the crocheted balls before the activity. 

If you’re one of the makers of the crocheted balls, this is for you. I want you to know that you made a young survivor happy by crocheting those balls for them. In a few weeks, we will see them play with the balls again as they go on with their journey to creating sinag within. Continue to hold them in the light!

Silver Plus One

Last October 24, I added another year to my age. I was excited to celebrate my birthday this year for two reasons: I get to spend time with my family and I get to surf.  🙂

My heart has been overflowing with happiness since two weeks ago. God has showered me with blessings and each day, I woke up wanting to express how grateful I am, but never finding the words worthy enough to show what I really feel. It’s been some time since I felt this way that’s why I was thrilled to welcome my 26th birthday. Too excited, I have to admit. I had a hard time sleeping because I was so happy.

It was nice to wake up to my mother’s very tight hug. She woke me up at around 5:30 in the morning since we had to leave early for Dahican. We stopped by Cafe France for breakfast since she’s been wanting to eat there since the night before. We were lucky because the place wasn’t full and there were parking slots available. The restaurant staff were very accommodating and attentive to our needs; they even greeted me happy birthday. 🙂

It was already 9 in the morning when we left for Dahican. Traffic not permitting, we arrived in Dahican at 2 in the afternoon.  I was looking forward to having an afternoon surf session, but since the waves were too small, I decided to take pictures of the skim boarders. The way they run, skim, flip their boards and ride the waves is like beautiful poetry. How they do it effortlessly is a mystery to me.

And he's only 11.
And he’s only 11.
Bayogyog Aporbo, 2-time champion of the Penang International Skimboarding Competition
Bayogyog Aporbo, 2-time champion of the Penang International Skimboarding Competition

After taking pictures and teaching my brother the basics of surfing, we ate dinner. The number of people in the venue was starting to grow since the Sambuokan Festival competition participants and event guests were starting to arrive. We had the chance to talk to Alantoy who immediately gave us updates on what’s been happening the past few months. It was nice to see him and his brother, Bochok, again. They’re kind of my surf family here in Mindanao. After dinner, we went to bed since we planned on going dolphin watching and surfing the next day.

Because of the Sambuokan Festival in Mati, all of the hotels were fully booked. Good thing we were able to rent a tent from the Amihan Boys. They set up the tent near the shore which was a good thing. I liked falling asleep to ocean’s lullaby and waking up to the same song. When I opened our tent the next morning, I was speechless. See, this was waiting for us outside:

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Early morning peelers.
Boys in the city jog for miles while Amihan boys skim for hours.
Boys in the city jog for miles while boys in Dahican skim for hours.

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Langlang, sister of Bayogyog. She's only fifteen years old.
Langlang, sister of Bayogyog. She’s only fifteen years old.

I had my share of stoke that morning too! At 9 AM that morning, after looking for dolphins, our boat stopped at a spot that had glassy waist-high waves. Two of the Amihan Boys were there to assist and they were nice enough to give tips that helped me improve my ride. They also taught my brother how to surf. Both of us were stoked!

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Birthday surf from a different angle.
Sibs. :)
Sibs. 🙂
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Long ride ❤
My brother's first ride. ;)
My brother’s first ride. 😉

My brother and I had our own share of cuts from that morning’s session but we were still stoked. The water was so clear, we could see the corals, fishes,  and sea urchins (unfortunately) underneath. The waves were perfect and the best part was, we had it all to ourselves.

Birthday cut.
Birthday cut.

We stayed at the Amihan Boy’s cottage in the afternoon because our tent was hotter than a sauna. We met new people there, including the youngest of the Plaza siblings: Juan. Some of the younger Amihan boys were there too and they were all smiles as they told us their stories. Some of them came from really difficult situations and according to them, skim boarding helped them cope. It was really good to hear how surfing and skim boarding helped change their lives.

Later that afternoon, Langlang and Jovic taught me how to skim. They said it’s a lot more difficult that surfing but it doesn’t mean that it can’t be done. I really appreciate that they took some time off their skim session just to teach me. I was really moved. I didn’t really do well because I was scared of falling. The board hit me twice and I’m sporting two new bruises on my left leg, but it’s okay. I want to learn how to skim and seeing how it’s done, I know that I will have more scars and bruises.

(c) Bane Agbon
(c) Bane Agbon
With Langlang. (c) Bane Agbon
With Langlang. (c) Bane Agbon

I’m still stoked from my 26th birthday celebration. It was simple, but it was very meaningful. I got to spend it with my family while doing what I love the most. To those who remembered my birthday and took time to send their birthday greetings, thank you so much. My heart is overflowing with happiness and gratitude. ❤

Workshops at the Garden : Soil Painting

I never thought it would be possible to paint with soil until I experienced it during the first I.Matter Sinag Creative Expressions Camp. I remember feeling like I was being healed, as each brush danced on the canvas. I wouldn’t have learned how to do it if it wasn’t for the Talaandig boys. They were there to guide and they weren’t strict when it came to the structure. They didn’t force the elements to come together. As I shared with them my apprehensions about messing up, they comforted me by saying “forget about the structure, it’s all in your mind.. go with the flow and everything will follow”.

Since the first camp, we made it a point to include the soil painting workshop in almost all of the activities of the Kids for Peace Foundation, Inc. Wanting to share the knowledge to the children and young people in Cotabato City, we organized a soil painting workshop for them (with permission from the Talaandig boys, of course). The workshop was held last May 3-5, facilitated by James Ryan Buenacosa. We had six kids, all excited to learn how to paint with soil.

First, they were taught how to shade. James prepared a sun painting for the kids to finish. They watched eagerly as James showed them how to shade and emphasize the light and dark sides of the painting so it doesn’t look flat.

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Siblings Kevin and Angel learn how to shade.

When they were done, James showed them how to look for soil that they can use in painting. The kids quickly grabbed their tools and went around the garden to look for soil. With James’ permission, the kids started digging.

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Excited to start painting, Angel and Iya fill their plastic cups with soil.

Once the kids were finished digging, James showed them how to properly mix soil, glue, and water. The ratio between the three elements determined the darkness or lightness of the colors so the kids paid close attention.

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With close supervision from James, Ayi pours some glue in the cup.

When they were finished mixing the soil with water and glue, the kids quickly went to their spots in the garden and started painting. Some already had an idea of what they wanted to paint while some asked their classmates for suggestions. I remember telling them what the Talaanding boys told me once: “just go with the flow!”

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Ellie
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Miggy
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Ayi
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Kevin

The kids were all smiles when they finished their paintings. Some painted flowers, some painted animals, some had abstract paintings, and one painted the mascot of a fast food chain. The kids were happy to see their paintings on display when they arrived the next day. It felt like their works were in an exhibit, according to some of them.

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Seeing their works on display made them even more excited to start working on their second painting but since James wanted the workshop to be memorable, they played some games first.

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Spreading the “break clap” virus one workshop at a time.
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Iya
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Ellie

While the kids were thinking of what to paint for Day 2, James suggested that they paint something for Mother’s Day. Some of the kids agreed that it would be nice to give their paintings as gifts to their moms. Here’s a picture of Iya painting something for her mom:

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We had a great time sharing the knowledge to the kids. The garden was filled with laughter and creative energies for a good two days. The kids learned from us as much as we learned from them. It will be very hard to forget how their eyes sparkled when we told them that they can bring their paintings home (plus two more blank canvases for them to paint on). The good thing about soil painting is one need not buy expensive materials to paint. All you need is cloth to paint on, brush (or your fingers if it’s not available), and soil. To the kids who joined the soil workshop last May, thank you for sharing your talents with us. Until the next workshop!

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