I know I am breaking the rules again, but please allow me to give you a brief background. Two years ago, I left the comforts of Phnom Penh for a work assignment down south of Cambodia – to the coastal town of Kep. Our organization had no office there yet so I had to use the same guesthouse room (where I live) as my office. There was no electricity yet – generator operates only at night – and so I travel to our project areas by day and do the paperworks at night. Each working day I was absolutely knackered from the bone-crunching moto-ride visiting remote villages. But when I go home, all the exhaustion simply vanished because of this:
Hi everyone. I know I was quiet these past few days. I am in Sihanoukville, 4hours away from the capital of Phnom Penh. Sihanoukville is Cambodia’s beach town. Today is the last day of our project meeting and tomorrow we all go back to the city.
The past two days were productive. Most of all, after reviewing examples of ICT applications relevant to our pilots, we were able to finalize examples that can be illustrated and easily explained to the local management committees.
The hotel where we are staying is Malaysian-owned. The rooms are okay, but if given a choice, I would not stay here… There are better hotels in Sihanoukville in the same price range. There was no water on the second day and most of us didn’t get a shower. Choices for breakfast are limited. The hotel sits on top of Victory Hill and is far from everything – much to the disappointment of the locals. They were hoping to be able to go to the beach after our sessions but couldn’t because of the distance. The only thing I like about here is the free internet.
It’s already late in the evening, S the Finance Officer is already sleeping soundly on the other bed; I am still up. So please forgive me if I am blabbering here. The title has no romantic connotations at all – I just thought it would make a nice title. I simply could not sleep here so I am whiling away the time.
Anyways, the night before I left, I was telling R about an interview I saw on an Aussie tv channel a week ago about a couple who was celebrating their golden wedding anniversary. One of the things that stuck to my mind was about being together all the time. The beaming wife told the reporter that in the 50years of their being together, they have never spent a single night away from each other. And I told myself, this is a great achievement. Sadly, R and I can never be like them. My work requires me to be out of town, even out of the country, for stretches of days so we can never lay claim to an achievement like that. Oh well.
Yun lang po. That’s all. Bow.
It was very quiet at the office yesterday. Just a regular day with everyone doing their own thing. PAN programmers tapping their keyboards, iREACH staff doing the same.
Suddenly… the silence was broken by peals of laughter. I turned around and saw Sakal, a PAN programmer, showing an SMS around everyone in the office and laughing. A few minutes later, they were all gone – I didn’t know where they went. Fifteen minutes more passed and I heard them entering the office one by one, from the back door, all laughing. He then went up to me and showed me an SMS on his phone:
So that’s what the ruckus was all about! I had the same experience years ago and I can say that I know the feeling that V, the guy who was stuck in the toilet, felt while trapped inside. Truly, this is one example of how mobile/sms technology provides emergency assistance :).
Picture a posh, 5-star hotel.
Add in top honchos from an international organization’s head office.
Then throw in the local staff of projects that this international organization is funding.
Also present are the regional representatives of this organization.
Imagine trying to deliver a flawless presentation in front of these people. Then, in the middle of a momentary pause to change slides, somebody lets out this despicable sound…
Never in my wildest imagination would this happen to me. Okay, let’s make it clear before your imagination runs amok. I was the presenter and I did not fart. Someone from the audience did. I was taking a short pause to change the slides in the middle of the presentation and everyone was quiet, their attention was on me and the next slide, when this abominable sound came out. It was impossible for everyone to miss it! Instinctively, I turned to my left side, to the source of the fart, and immediately knew who the sacrilegious culprit was! He’s the same farter whom I mentioned here before.
The fart started shyly, gaining confidence as the flow increased. I swear, I could hear a tremolo-effect to it. Yuck. It was probably meant to be concealed as earlier on I saw the farter squirming his butt on the chair. Perhaps he could not squirm and hold on to it anymore and slowly eased-out a fart very carefully without moving.
It’s so fortunate that that hideous sound was not accompanied by a stench that hangs around long enough to vaporize us and annihilate mankind. Sure the hideous farter had an out-of-body experience when he did that… but why, oh why, did it have to happen during my presentation?
After the morning session, everyone was saying they enjoyed my presentation. Goodness, I hope they didn’t think it was me. Next time, I will really make an effort to find a seat far from the farter when we go to any meetings or workshops. In other words, I’ll keep a safe distance. (We’ll be in KL along with other iREACH staff for the GK3Conference in December.)
No amount of going out and dining out can erase the blues. So I just hang out with Fe-pie and agent Jk. At 8months old, agent Jk is already taking baby steps towards… independence. Above, he’s seen standing on his own with only a few strands of hair for support (ouch, Jk, ouch! wait till your dad’s not watching… *evil smile*)
Er, do these poses remind you of the Japanese monster… godzilla? Look at those log-sized legs… look at how he roars… arrrggghhh!
I like you more when you were still little… You just smile and my heart would melt. But now? You pull my hair, you shout back at me, scream to my face and kick me as hard as you can… grrrrr! Fe-pie, get you son off of me! hahaha
You Are a Peppermint Cappuccino
You’re fun, outgoing, and you love to try anything new.
😀 So true, cute ‘no? Strangely enough, daw ako gid. Abaw a… Ginhambalan na ko ni doktora Marissa na mag-stay-away na kuno ko sa coffee, pero pwede from time to time basta mag-inom ko damu nga tubig.
Wala si boss subong. Nagkadto siya sa amon field office sa Kompong Thom… wohoo! Gin-abrihan ko dayon ang a/c, login ko sa YM kag gin-launch ang YM radio… nami e! Kanami gid sang akon adlaw subong, bisan pa gani naga-worry ako kay Papa. Wala nila ko ginhambalan daan na nagkadto sila sa clinic. High blood pressure. Tsk, tsk. Sige, Pops, kaon pa sang baboy… madugangan imo ka-high blood!
Ma-kape ko danay a… :)) Who wants to have coffee with me?
This is for my brother (kumusta, Bigg)who wanted to see more pictures than texts in this blog… hehehe. Yes Bigg, your wish has been granted. Ikaw pa, basta ikaw, kurog ko sa imo! 😀
The following are pictures of my trip to Malaysia. First part was the Congress (East Asian Seas Congress) where I presented a paper (ahem!) on environmental education and advocacy in Cambodia and, the second part, which was the fun part, when I traveled with my Thai friend, Anocha, to Pahang State and went jungle trekking in Kenong Rimba National Park. So there, enjoy. Will post some pics of my travels to Bangladesh (not so many good sights there though), Laos, Thailand, Vietnam and Sri Lanka later. Pangitaon ko pa ang mga pictures kung diin na. Baw, daw indi ko palakon, no? Tell Momsie and Popsie I will be home soon!!!
I. East Asian Seas Congress, Marriott Hotel, Putrajaya, Malaysia
The team is composed of journalists from all over the Asia-Pacific region. Standing from left: Yon Thayrun (Indonesia), Lee jong-Myoung (Korea), Ivan Lim (Singapore), Yang Ming Seng(China), Orex Cayaban (PEMSEA Phils) and Tim Yoshida (Japan). Seated from left: Din Thu Hong (Vietnam), moi (representing Cambodia), Elizabeth Roxas (Philippines), Sylvia Inciong (UNIC Phils), Anocha Pichaisiri (Thailand)and Tang Yandong(China).
Finally with the presentation over, Anocha and I relaxed and seen here playing around. Ivan saw us and took this.
During the conference, I had the opportunity to brush elbows with former Philippine Senator Letty Ramos-Shahani, DENR Secretary Gozum and APFEJ Deputy Chair Elizabeth Roxas, and other big names in Philippine environment sector. I remembered very clearly while I was delivering my presentation Ex-Sen. Shahani was looking and listening closely to me. She was smiling, and sometimes nodding. I was looking at her, nearly getting distracted and feeling so self-conscious. It’s not everyday that I deliver a presentation with none other than the former Philippine senator and other government officials of ASEAN countries in the same room with me. Thankfully my presentation was over with no major eff-ups. I quickly headed towards the girls room feeling queasy, haha. When I came back to the conference hall, the senator was already talking on the stage. She spoke about how women all over Asia are taking on more leading roles towards environmental protection. She also told the crowd how proud she was about how visible Filipino women are in the movement all over the world. She ended her speech by saying, that she’s now ready and happy to retire knowing that there’ll be Filipino women after her who will carry on her work. I was happy. I went to her and we hugged and she gave me a beso-beso. Hay. I feel like I’m doing something productive and important and just grateful for the opportunity to learn from ASEAN’s movers and shakers in environment protection.
II. Jungle Trekking in Kenong Rimba National Park, Kuala Lipis, Pahang State, Malaysia.
The second part of my first trip to Malaysia was a jungle-trekking adventure in Kenong Rimba in Kuala Lipis with my very good friend, Anocha. We extended our stay in Malaysia for another week after the conference and went to Kuala Lipis, a cosy little town in Pahang State. The town’s main street is narrow and, although it showcases its mix Chinese, Indian and Malay cultures, there were old colonial buildings that remind you of its important past. Walking along the old town is like walking in any small town in the Philippines.
We didn’t waste time so it’s off to the jungle we went first thing in the morning.
My camping gear were all borrowed from Yumiko. If you notice, my pants were tucked inside my socks, which were sprayed with a leech-repellant. I have to say, it was a really beating loud for fear of wild animals ambushing us. Appu assured me that there were none, except for wild elephants. hah. Saw some monkeys, didn’t know which kind though. They’re sat noisily on top of the tall trees.
Trekking in the jungle we saw a lot of rubber trees. Malaysia is one of the world’s leading producer of rubber. It seems to be so easy when Appu demonstrated how to tap a rubber tree, but when it was my and Anocha’s turns — totally opposite. We will never make it as rubber tappers. We will stick to office work.
We had a stopover at this hanging bridge, took a break and snapped some photos. With me is Appu, our Indian guide who was born and has lived in Kuala Lipis all his life. He also told us stories about his work as a guide. According to Appu, I am the first Filipino to have trekked in Kenong Rimba. I was elated to hear that, hehehe.
Kenong Rimba also had several interesting caves and we explored some of them. Appu gave us flashlights and I’m amazed at some of the formations around the walls and ceilings. In one of the caves there was a shallow streaming flowing. I’ve never done full-caving before and all I can say is that as soon as it gets dark and cold as you go deeper, it gets creepier. I was also beginning to get claustrophobic and was on the verge of a panic attack. (Un)Fortunately, I slipped and fell bum-first in one of the rocks that I ended up with a bruised backside and muddied pants – and that distracted me from my phobia and the impending panic attack!
Before I end, I want to share this picture of our generous hosts in Kuala Lumpur, Chris and Yumiko. Chris is Anocha’s colleague, both are part of the same network. Yumiko, on the other hand, was my colleague in Cambodia. She was a Volunteer Advisor in the local NGO where I work. There’s a funny story how Anocha and I ended up in their apartment (for one week!!!) in Petaling Jaya but that’s reserved for future post. Both also have the same birthdays so we had a celebration for them.
Thank you both for the lovely time in KL. We had a roof over our head and nice, warm beds to sleep after days and days of shopping and wandering at Kuala Lumpur. Yumiko, thanks for the camping gear and for picking me,Anocha and Hong at KLCC. You’re an angel. Please visit Cambodia again.
Chris, thanks for carrying my really HUGE luggage from PJ to KLCC. Would have taken you for breakfast but time is too short. Hope to see you both again.
I would like to tell you something about a friend of mine, who wants me to call her my Master. i am your master kekkekekee ipe. She’s Ipe (here in picture, with her cute little baby, Arsal). She is a reporter at Jakarta-based Internews. Ipe and I met way back in 2002 when we both attended the week-long training workshop on Women Perspectives in Broadcasting, at ISIS International in Manila. What drew us together? Oh well, let’s say we both like VJ Jamie and we sat talking about him at Isis’s veranda in between bites of banana cue, a Filipino snack made from banana fried in oil and coated with syrup. And oh, yes, how can I forget? We secretly mimicked our trainers — especially Stalin the Indian. Yes, she has a baby now whom I call Simba. Arsal means lion, thus the nickname. Thank you, Ipe, for your patience in teaching me how to blog and upload pictures. Truly, you are a master. If all goes well, I will be seeing you in August.
Last year, unknown to each other, we both applied for a 3mth training course at Radio Nederlands. We only realized that just this year when she mentioned it to me! She eventually got accepted while I wasn’t because of some technicalities in my residency in Cambodia. Well, some people at the Netherlands Embassy in Bangkok and Manila should be blamed for this. The Radio Nederlands in Hilversum accepted my application but needed some documents that — they told me — could be issued by embassy either in Thailand (nearest to me) or Philippines. I was surprised that the Netherlands embassy in Manila refused to issue such document. To make it short, and because it’s way past the deadline and no document was released, Radio Nederlands offered me another slot for the 2005 radio training. Now that is something else. There is a GOD.
Good luck in Netherlands, Ipe. Break a leg! I will miss our chats during office hours. Send me postcards. Buy me wooden shoes. And if not too much to ask, hitch me up to a single Dutch guy. Hahahahaha.
It’s been a while since I last wrote, and now it’s 2004! So many things have happened, as usual. Last week of December, or December itself, has been very hectic. The usual radio staff production meetings and out of town interviews, the annual program assessment and planning and the highlight so far, the trip to Malaysia!!
Can you believe it? Well, I have to.
If I look back at my past 29 years, those were full of uphill battle for finding my place in this corner of the world. Despite this, I feel truly blessed for God has given me a second lease in my professional life. Mlup Baitong has hired me as a full time Coordinator for the Environment and Radio Advocacy Program (ERAP). Isn’t this a reason to be thankful for?
Note: For some weird reason, my earlier entries before this mysteriously disappeared.