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Cheap and artsy place to stay in Panglao, Bohol

Being a Boholana, I’ve traveled to Panglao island in Bohol several times mostly on day-trips to the beach, though on several occasions I stayed overnight and paid over a thousand pesos for accommodation. After living abroad for over 7 years, I found that the island has significantly changed. There are more hotels, restaurants and shops now. I always had this perception that accommodations there are all expensive because it is one of the most famous beach destinations in the country with its very fine white sand. Little did I know that there already exist cheaper options for backpackers.

A friend who traveled with me to Panglao suggested D’ Backpackers’ Barn; what I shame though coz I’m the one who’s from Bohol yet I don’t know much information. I was hesitant at first because it is so cheap – at 400 pesos (approx. 8 USD) per person for a dorm-type room for 4 people. I imagined a poorly maintained place with dirty toilets. I thought I’d stay somewhere else but got lazy to do the research myself and decided to stay there.

I fell in love with D’ Backpackers’ Barn right away. It’s definitely my kind of place, totally opposite to what I had imagined. It’s a place that has a ‘character’. I loved how artistic it is, with life quotes spread all over which got me all pumped up. I even asked the receptionist where they got their decorations and who did their lettering so I can get some for our house. I particularly loved the mini-living room. We spent the night talking there with my friends. It felt so comfy; the rustic feel of the decors added good vibes because I love anything vintage-like. Most of all, I loved having breakfast there and sipping my coffee while looking at the plants at their backyard. Oh, and their toilet is clean too!

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Totally forgot to take a photo of the room itself but you can check their Facebook page here.


Joy of giving

When was the last time you experienced immense joy from making other people happy?

The last five years, I celebrated Christmas in Bangkok. I still remember spending my first Christmas away from home by working because Thailand does not consider it a holiday. My colleague was kind enough to understand that I must have been missing home so she played Christmas songs from her old portable radio. It just made me burst to tears.

Last December, I decided to go home for the holidays. But I must have been away for way too long that I started to ask myself, how does Christmas feel? Holding my warm cup of coffee and listening to the sound of the wind chimes, I reminisced my childhood Christmas memories; the surprise upon waking up to see bundles of gifts which my mother convincingly said were from Santa Clause; the fun-filled games I played with my cousins; the apples and candies hanged on the Christmas tree; that’s how Christmas was like for a child that was me.

Then my thoughts went to the thousands of children who may not have had the chance to open a gift during Christmas; children who were deprived of the experiences I was blessed with. Then and there it hit me, I knew what I needed to do for Christmas.

I immediately informed my Hilot family about my plan of organizing a kid’s party for Christmas. Blessed with a loving and generous family, my siblings and cousins from across the world responded pledging their support and financial assistance. On Christmas day, we gathered about fifty kids in the chapel. Not all these kids are less privileged but regardless of what they have or don’t have, they deserve to have a childhood where they can play together and enjoy each other’s company.

Christmas in Bohol

And of course Santa Clause is part of the celebration so our cousins dressed up as Santa and went around distributing sweets.

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We also gave away two dozens of slippers to kids who need them most. The following day, one of the kid’s mom told us that his son kept his new slippers near the altar because he was scared that it will be stolen outside or the dog will play with it. Awwwwww (sniffs)

Filipino Children

We organized various games. We also let some kids showcase their talents so that they will grow up confident. It is important for children to feel that their abilities are recognized. I was thrilled when my cousin’s daughter who I thought was a shy girl turned out to be proactive, she even sang Elsa’s Let It Go! Before we ended our little party, the kids gathered to sing “Thank You, Ang Babait Ninyo”.

Estaca Pilar Bohol

We managed to give each of the kids a gift. The sight of their happy faces is just priceless. It made me feel guilty that I spend so much on expensive things I don’t really need when happiness is as simple as making other’s happy.

In the evening, I celebrated Christmas with my family. I have so much to be thankful for in life but what I am most thankful for is to have a family who showered me with so much love; a family who taught me that what matters is not money but charity; a family who values truth and fairness over fame and glory.

P.S the chapel is in the process of renovation. Donations will be most welcomed 🙂

Why I like the “20 reasons why I dislike the Philippines” video

A video “20 reasons why I dislike the Philippines” by an expat named Jimmy Sieczka who lives and works in Cebu for three and a half years has gone viral and garnered both positive and negative comments among Filipinos.

My first reaction: facepalm. It’s humiliating because what he said were true. This is something we need to ponder on instead of hating the guy. Although he can’t attribute everything to the whole country and he may have exaggerated some but still he presented issues that we know but failed to address/change. Actually, there are more issues he missed to point out that we, Filipinos, know but we keep a blind eye.

The way he delivered his rants was obnoxious though. But I wanted to look at it in a positive light. Maybe he intentionally did it to spark our rage with hopes that we will DO SOMETHING.

I like it simply because it provokes us. It entices us to look at those problems critically. The awareness it bring opens doors for social change. The shame it inflicts will challenge us to prove that we are better than this.

We should watch this and accept the criticisms with an open mind. This serves as a wake up call for all of us and we should really do something. There is also a video produced by Michael Goodman, “20 reasons why I love the Philippines”.