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… More
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?
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.
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.
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.
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… 😉
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?
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?
So yeah, now that we’re all set up! We’ll go around the village next.
You can’t swim in shallow water
Your can’t fly above the ground
You have to fan the flame to fire
Don’t settle for the easy round
Who will go with you to deeper waters
Or are there those that wait beyond?
Who will brave with you to higher places
They must let go of safety’s sound
Don’t hang around with heavy travelers
Who hate the burning heat of sun
Who say but, “Hush don’t start a fire.”
“Mellow down, please mellow down!”
You don’t belong to shores
But down the ocean
Where waters roar and spirits soar
You have to fuel fire and be burning
Let it burn, don’t let the vision drown
Hello friends! If you’d like to read more about the Philippines, my friend Rhema blogs about her trips around the Philippines. Do check out her blog! 😉
The sound of gongs is strongly infusing the festive atmosphere. The bride and the groom were greeting well-wishers who had attended their wedding ceremony earlier. Looking closer at the floor near …
If you are young, promise me you will not turn your passion into an obligation. If you are old and have lost your fire, promise me you will do everything to get it back. If you are on fire and doing what you were created for, promise me you will influence others to do the same.
I think there are two ways to die before you leave this world. One is to stop doing work that you’re passionate about (in the positive sense of the word, e.g. you’re not doing drugs or selling it), two is to turn it into an obligation and eventually lose the fire and joy in doing it. I don’t know which one is worse but I think I’ve experienced both.