Palanan Isabela via Tuguegarao – The Wait Is Over (Page 1)


Last April 22, 2017, my friend and I took a 10-hour bus ride to Tuguegarao City up Northeast of the Philippines. From Tuguegarao Airport, we waited 5 hours for a 45-minute, 20-seater flight to Palanan Valley in Isabela Province. We were early and the plane was 4 hours late.

Palanan is not a popular travel destination, more so the village we went to. I was jobless with savings slowly draining away. What on earth was in Palanan that we were ready to get Php 8,000 (almost US$200) poorer and some backaches richer just to be there?

Continue reading “Palanan Isabela via Tuguegarao – The Wait Is Over (Page 1)”

Goodbye 2017

I still feel broken
Yet many times more whole
But I will not stay here
I will keep moving
Much like before
For sure I am most grateful
This time I can run and not just crawl

I haven’t posted about the ministry work in Palanan yet. I’m sorry about the delay (to those who asked for updates!). But just wanna share a blessed time I had with a friend, and another friend, yesterday at Rustic Mornings in Marikina City PH.

It’s a really lovely breakfast place tucked behind the historic Shoe Museum of Marikina.


I had salad greens with roasted vegetables and my friend had bacon and hash browns with rice! They agreed to put stevia instead of sugar in my strawberry-mango slush. (I brought my own stevia powder packs.) Later around lunch (we were there at 9am), another friend of mine came to consult me about business/marketing stuff. 🙂 Then we started to pray before we leave. My friend is leaving for Cebu and this is our last meet up before she starts working there. And my other friend needed direction and wisdom, and when I started praying… it also started to pour! Our table was at the pavillion-ish area but thank God we didn’t get wet! We had to wait for the rain simmer down. Danielle was in such a mood to stay longer but I had house chores waiting for me. And we’re not sure if it would start raining hard again. If it does, we might end up getting stuck a long time at Rustic Mornings…. Not that it’s a bad place to get stuck at!

I wish I had taken more photos. It was such a lovely place. I’ve been planning to go there for quite some time now since we transferred to Marikina 8 years ago. So glad I finally made it. The salad and fruit slush were good. I couldn’t speak for the other items though coz I can’t taste them. You know how most salads taste almost the same. This one has a unique twist though with the roasted veggies on top. 🙂 And the sweet-ish balsamic vinaigrette dressing.

It felt nice when it rained. It was like we’re wonderfully stuck on an island, surrounded by shrubs, bamboo trees and other trees. I was also reminded of God’s healing rain. I need healing and so do my two other friends, I believe… We are all going through a challenging life season and I guess we also needed the refreshing from the rain. It’s like God saying my presence refreshing like the rain, spend time in my presence! Let’s get stuck on an island with God. Why not get “stuck” with God for a while and feel stranded in the beauty of His presence? 🙂 Sadly though, we had to leave soon. Spent the whole morning there and had to do ‘stuff’ at home. It was mid-afternoon!


Campfires and Masquerades Lyrics

Let me know your thoughts on this song’s lyrics. 🙂 I love the part that says, “Those who fear the grave, never find the truth”

Campfires and Masquerades
by Jason Upton

I remember a story
A story of a little boy
The story of a mother’s child
The story of all

I remember the middle of the darkness
Reaching out for a hand to hold
Reaching out for anything
That will lead me back home

I’m still here
I’m still waiting for you
After all these years

I remember the shadows
On the walls of my memory
They more around like reality
In this prison that we’ve made

And I remember the first born sunrise
Couldn’t stand to open my eyes
Like a blind man wandering
On the edge of his grave

I’m still here
I’m still waiting for you
After all these years
After all these years

Campfires and Masquerades
Come and go like cheap parades
When nothing’s lost and nothings’ changed
We like it that way

Our politicians have to lie
Because if they opened up our eyes
We’d kill them just like the others who tried
To pull us out of this cave

Maybe that’s why we’re so shaken
When our questions have the courage to
Come and drag us from our fiction
Those who fear the grave
Never find the truth

Everyday begins at midnight
If we’re ever gonna see the sun rise
Somebody’s gotta wake up
Before the morning comes

Somebody’s gotta wake up
Gotta wake up
Somebody’s gotta wake up
Before the morning comes…




Farm Animals – Palanan Page 5


Four little pigs.

If you like the sound of snorting piggies outside your bedroom window early in the morning, then Dibungko is for you.

If you like to find them grazing at your back lawn, looking for food, then Dibungko is for you.

If you you like watching puppies feed in one batsa with piggies and duckies as if they’re adopted children of the big turkey walking around the place like a bully, then Dibungko is for you. 

The #farmanimals of #Dibungko in #PalananValley  #Palanan2017

Expect the Worst, Says the Optimist. But Not Anymore.

I was wrong again. Something is wrong with me. Or with the way I think.

I’m a negative-thinking optimist. Does that make sense? I hope for the best but I expect the worst. For the past few years, I have become more and more aware of this. And like a girl looking from the outside in, I watched myself prove my negative expectations wrong. To my joy, relief, and amazement. I proved that I was wrong in expecting bad things to happen. I doubt my worthiness too much. I doubt myself, too much. And here’s the evidence.

I want to start a magazine.

I am starting a magazine.

I am working hard and am getting close to getting this magazine started. I wanted to get in touch with the founder of another magazine in a similar niche. Perhaps, he or she could help me out. Perhaps, we could even work together. Besides, we’re both Christians and the magazine I have in mind also aims to glorify God.

Then, I started having negative thoughts about connecting with this person who I still don’t know who is. What if he’s not as good a person as I hope he would be? What if she takes advantage of my being a newbie instead of help me? What if…? Yeah, until I had forgotten the idea. That was a few years back.

Then weeks ago, I met up with her!

A common friend connected us. It turned out we have a lot of common friends! Friends I trust. Good friends. We should get along, right? I had forgotten that I had planned on setting a meeting with this person before. I didn’t realize that until (I think) we finally met up. (“Hey, I thought of this, but imagined it turning out really bad, years ago!”)

After that meeting, I rebuked myself. Thank you.

She was definitely a better person than I am. Based on my assessment. (Forgive me, I’m still struggling with being judgmental.) She’s more selfless, more hardworking, more stable, more mature, more… more… more… I was so wrong. And happy that I had been. 🙂


I think I’m gonna get in touch with her next week to ask her to mentor the team I’m starting.

And then there’s this other instance.

There was another person that kept popping in my head. Haha. You guessed it right, I thought that this person will reject me if I share my vision. I was so concerned and negative about it that I set aside the thought until a friend suggested that I get in touch with this man’s daughter. I thought, what the heck, I should probably reach out to them for help. He was thrilled about the concept. Wrong again.

leo carlo

Then last week, I sent a friend of mine a message saying, “I wanna reach out to this girl but she might not be interested in what I have to share.” That girl, it turned out, gave a resounding “yes.”




I have changed a lot. The negativity I carry now is a lot less than what I used to carry around. Just imagine DOUBT personified. That would be me. Self-doubting. Rambling for worthiness. Brainwashing self that she’s cool, but running away from validation. What. In. The. World.

But hey. I have some victories too. There were actually times when I told myself the opposite. Like I would tell myself, “I’m gonna do awesome.” “Things could only get better!” “Good things are coming my way.” And they do. They do! I’m not talking about positive talk. I’m talking about aligning my mind to God’s word:

“For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

This is probably one of the most quoted scriptures in our day. I cling to it. I speak it. I chew it. I translate it into declarations over my life and my days.

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.” Psalm 23:6

How about, “Surely goodness follow every minute of every day of my life”? I try that every morning. Not because I have the power to make that happen but because the God who said it does.

Sometimes, negative thoughts still come barging in my head. I chase them away with God’s Word. Positivity only goes so far. But God’s Words are powerful. It changed my life. It changed my mind, the way I think (negatively). And though I’m still working on it, I know I’m headed to a better place now.

Palanan, Isabel Trip – Brief Background (Page 3)

What did I do in Palanan Valley? More specifically, in Dubungko, a village tucked away on a hill beside Palanan River.

Palanan is difficult to reach. There are two ways you can find the village we went to. One is by taking a 10-minute boat ride after flying on a 20-seater plane for 40 minutes from Tuguegarao City to Palanan Airport. Tuguegarao City is 10-14 hours from Manila via bus.


The other way is by taking a 5- to 7-hour motor boat ride from somewhere in Quezon Province’s docks (I think), East of Luzon. Quezon is around 3-5 hours from Manila by bus.

(Read more of our travel and arrival at Palanan here.)

My friend Duane had been visiting Dibungko and its nearby villages one to two times a year for the past two decades. Duane lives in the US. He has patiently sown and gradually reaped for God in that place that now has a network of churches that pastors the villages.

He works with a Christian couple there that pastor Dibungko’s community of lowlanders and Agta families not only by sharing God’s word but by helping them improve their lives–teaching them how to farm, and make and sell handicrafts. They also helped them see the value of, and have access to, education.

The Agtas especially have gone a long way from not having access to education, to having two of their very own, graduate with degrees in education so that they are now the ones who teach their fellow Agtas in Dibungko.

Going back to the question… What did I do in Dibungko? Well, they didn’t really need me to teach them how to farm or weave. I think they have to be the ones to teach me that. I came there to teach at a youth camp. 🙂

As far as I recall, I had only been invited to speak to young people four times in my entire life. I am not exactly a preacher girl, or your resident Bible teacher. So I was surprised to have been given this opportunity to speak in a place this far.

Here’s our team of 5. Ate Ruth was the one holding the camera. The room behind us is the church hall where we had our youth camp teaching sessions. To my right is Masui, the main camp speaker. We split the number of sessions between us two. Masui is a missionary who leads a mission base in Canada. It was an honor to serve God and the young people alongside him. He would be your preacher-missionary type. I happen to be your ordinary gal from church. What an honor, really. More on the youth camp on the following blogs… 😉

Aaron, Duane, Me, Masui


Masui, teaching

I Wasn’t Expecting This – Palanan, Isabela Trip Page 2


I like physical activity so climbing the stairs, although it was tiring, was fun for me. So was the plane ride, and the boat ride. But I didn’t expect this kind of reward.

When we reached the top of the staircase, what met us was breathtaking. So, this is what’s on the other side?

The path on the left is the trail to the staircase. The edge of the grass lawn goes downward. The field and the mountains you see afar are on the other side of the river.

I felt like I was Poh of Kung Fu Panda after climbing that high wall (although my tiredness may be way less). After that last step, it’s like I just pulled the curtains to a different world.

“Hello lovely village. Thank you for the invitation to be here.”

The first thing that you’ll notice is the breathtaking view of the river, the fields and the mountains behind you. Then moving forward, there’s the basketball court (very Filipino!) and the village houses.





After a couple of steps from the basketball court, we get to our abode. Boy, it’s big. This is where they have their guests stay. I feel like royalty. Aren’t we supposed to be suffering when we’re on outreach?

Our abode for 1 week (for some of us 2)
View front of our “house”
Dining area
Dining area view at the back of the building
More view from our “backyard” (Some morning fog)
Sometimes we get visitors. The lone turkey in the village. No we’re not going to cook it! She’s part of the family! (Then again, maybe not!)
Our backyard view. Using DSLR cam.
One night, when the sunset was showffing off


We kind of panicked and grabbed our phones and tried to “capture” the sky while the scenery lasted.


Duane, our leader. Chillin’ one afternoon.


Laundry dries on one side of the house.
The boys set up hammocks up front 😉 Neat!
You can dine outside too…


So yeah, now that we’re all set up! We’ll go around the village next.