Wednesday, October 29, 2008

my favorite picture of late

thanks so much to ernst,
who makes me beautiful and lets me believe and feel it

i never thought i would have a chance,
or an occasion to wear a filipiniana attire.
and when i did, it was an honor.
i am a filipina,
not just my looks,
but more importantly my heart and my soul.
and i am proud to be a filipina.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

my response

Bicol Rural Women Summit 2008
& Awarding Ceremonies

Macagang Business Center, Nabua, Camarines Sur

2nd Place Winner of the
Dept of Agriculture's Search for the Most Outstanding Rural Women 2008

i derive great pleasure and feel honoured to be addressing this group of women, and be associated with this very significant occasion – commemorating the International Rural Women’s Month and the Bicol Rural Women Summit 2008. and i accept this prestigious award with deep humility, hope and determination. as aptly themed, this assembly is about “Climate Change: and we, the Rural Women, are part of, if not THE solution. secretary Yap in his speech during the awarding ceremonies of the national winners, specifically said, that men must accept it, it is the women who do the better job, it is US.

marlyn sta. catalina - regional technical director for operations and regulatory, DA-RFU 5
dr. carmencita africa, PCA - vice chair, GAD-FS
usec. bernadette romulo-puyat – chair, GAD-FS
bernadette de los santos – 2nd place winner - region 5
hon. sec. arthur c. yap – dept. of agriculture
first lady lourdes n. bongcayao
baao municipal mayor quirino g. bongcayao, jr.
aloha gigi i. banaria, chief, institutional development section

my winning the 2nd place in the 2008 Search for Outstanding Rural Women has given me mixed feelings: pride, joy, apprehension, excitement, humility and hopefulness. but the most pervading emotions were the last two: humility and hopefulness. i was telling gigi when we were back in our room, after the awarding ceremonies, that i felt humbled standing beside the two other winners. one was an entrepreneur and the other a haciendera, with 300 hectares of farm/orchard in a land never visited by tropical storms. but hand in hand with that feeling of humility is a strong sense of hope and purpose. i was the youngest to receive the award and i was telling myself that when i reach their age, i will have achieved more, i just have to re-set my goals and be clear of my purpose.

being outstanding in any field, is never a birthright, nor is it handed from one generation to the next. it is a conscious daily choice. from the time we wake up till our hour of sleep, we are always presented with choices and i believe now, more than before, that it is our decisions and choices that make the difference between excellence and mediocrity. everyday, we are presented with situations where we can be outstanding, exceptional, admirable. we should grab those opportunities and be.

i farm, and i am sure a lot of you have been to my farm, or at least have heard of La Huerta. but farming is not automatically beneficial to the environment. in fact, a lot of farms have done more harm than good to our environment, with the unconscionable use of non-biodegradable farm inputs. it is always a conscious act on my part to be environmentally responsible when i farm. it takes a lot, it may also cost a lot, but when i sit down on my favourite spot at my balinese hut, and feel the cool breeze and gaze at the greeneries that surround me, i am at peace with myself, because i know, at the end of everyday that i farm, i am not only being a steward of La Huerta, but i am a stronger and more determined guardian of my environment. so i call on you, sisters, friends, fellow women, let us do our own small share in making our environment green, together, all these small share from each of us, will mean a lot.

to my mother, who is the “gardener in my garden of dreams”, she has sown the seed of love for farming in me. i have always wanted to make her proud, and now, i am sure, she is smiling. my brother martin and my sister terrie, for allowing me to “play” at La Huerta. to the dept. of agriculture, RFU5, my deepest appreciation and gratitude for all the support. gigi, ms. marlyn, glo, rose, sir dave, red dayao. to my allies in baao, mayor bongcayao, lucy, my “sisters in the hood”: ritz, tootsie, anne, lilette, shazam! members of my various organizations, i will make up for the lost time, as being in a competition takes a lot of time and energy, i was nearly amiss of my duties to my members. my farm helps: virgie, inggay, ponso, delia, jason, bataw, eboy, isko and grace, i would not have made it without their loyalty and industry. to my dearest ernst, my one and only brother by serendipity, for restoring my confidence and for making me believe i am "beautiful". for a dear person, who prefers not to be mentioned, you are the wind beneath my wings. and most of all, i offer my win to the Almighty. thank you and good day!

Friday, October 17, 2008

my button bracelets

a closer look at my vintage buttons (well, some might not be so vintage)

i finished 13 of these today. am a fast one.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

my button jars

yesterday i got the good news! but am not telling. no, not here, not right now, not yet. i want to savor the feeling, alone, singly. and i want to gloat and feel smug about it. i want to immerse myself into the joy of a win!
which is something that somehow brings me to my button jars.

i recently acquired a huge lot. you see, a need to have buttons in a button jar has been growing in me. for months it has simmered but in the last few days it has risen to a boil. and so i went...and not just to one store. no, i went to a buttons dealer, but what i was not ready to see what was waiting for me at home, and at 5:17pm i found a box stuffed with vintage buttons on yellowing plastic packets which somehow found its rightful home, and finally slaked my thirst. hah! i got a boxload of buttons! and i got the jars to fill them with!

i can't quite say what this is all about. i remember the magic of my grandmother's button jar and the smaller one my mother had. i remember the sound of them cascading onto the tabletop. i remember sorting them by size, by colour, or by shininess. i wanted a button jar. and today, i desperately wanted to find second-hand buttons. something within me rose up and demanded it.

so i sat on my verandah with a mug of coffee and four pieces of saltines for my supper, beginning to fill my button jars, as the birds sang and the grey rain clouds jostled with the puffy cumulus clouds and life was good, i hear the clinks as my favorite buttons find the way into my button jars. my button jars are my best friend when i am alone.

and now, even though there are many buttons to be liberated from the plastic packets, even though there is cleaning and mending and farming and walking and treasure hunting with the ‘sisters’ - among other things - ahead of me tonight, I can be, and i am . .a WINNER!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

a passionate woman who is also not a mother

i have always heard this from my mother, and now i hear it from my friends who are mothers. lucky (or unlucky for me), i am not a mother.

“mothers can put their own lives and interests on hold as a sacrifice to their children”

Itonan Day Care Center, Buluang, Baao, Cam Sur

as noble as this seems, it is a sort of negligence: withholding who she is - the best part of herself - from her children.

we were having our weekly “meeting”, and our occasional treasure hunting in Iriga City. and it surfaced again (i actually used to get so uncomfortable when the topic smoothly shifts to being a mother, i not being one). and it seems particularly poignant this week with oodles of mothering talk in the air, this week being the time that i am awaiting the result of the recent competition i was nominated to (National Search for the Most Outstanding Rural Women 2008). and what came into my mind was how i answered the question posed at me by Ma’am Flor, the team leader of the panel of validators from the Dept. of Agriculture.

when the team of validators came over and interviewed me, one of the questions (which i was actually expecting to be asked) was: being unmarried and without child, how will you inspire women who are happily married and are fulfilled mothers? spontaneously, i blurted out the value of gratitude. “every woman dreams of becoming a bride, a wife, a mother, but if neither one nor all doesn’t happen, one can still be an outstanding woman, and live a meaningful life. to the happily married women and fulfilled mothers, i can evoke gratitude in them. gifts come in all different shapes and sizes, and having a family is one great gift any woman should be grateful for. being alone and single and childless is also a gift (i have learned to appreciate it sooner than later). it is in how we look at the situations we are thrown into, we can choose to see the sun or the clouds.”

talk fell to "how do you do it all?", a perennial favourite, and the answer is that i don't. i do far more than i thought i ever could and occasionally startle myself when i see myself through the eyes of the old me. i give to others in huge swaths of time and energy, thought and feeling. the secret is that i put myself on that list. my passions, which could easily be denigrated as mere hobbies, are the reason i wake with a joy in the morning, eager to see what the day brings and what i can do within its bounds.

dilapidated Aeta tribal hall - they seem to be invisible, nobody notices them, till now

i have learned not to be afraid to think of myself as a woman who also happens NOT to be a mother. when i do this, the vibrancy and passion that i bring to life makes me a better person. the self that does the self-sacrificing is that much stronger, that much more energized, that much more interesting. i will never be a mama. but i can be Bernadette, Bidibidi, B. and then i let that woman be a mother not to one child, but to many, to the children of the world. and i have a far more fascinating self to give.

the Aeta kids of Caranday, Baao, Cam Sur

Saturday, October 11, 2008

keepers of the earth

teaching the youth their responsibility towards nature

"respect your mother"

psychology students of the University of Sta. Isabel,
Naga City @ La Huerta
10 Oct 2008

agricultural students of don bosco agro-mechanical technology center,
legaspi city during their farm training @ la huerta
27 june 2008

student leaders of the polangui community college,
polangui, albay
25 may 2008

farmers field school trainees of bicol university, college of agriculture & forestry,
guinobatan, albay
24 june 2008

Thursday, October 9, 2008

rural women's month celebration @ la huerta

artful recycling

8 october 2008

proudly handmade

my students/trainees - DA-RFU5 Lady Employees Association

Monday, October 6, 2008

my quest to empty a vessel and make the most noise

6 october 2008

(dakak, zamboanga del norte)

the hardest thing i have to learn in this life is to remain open to whatever this life brings.

i am stuffed to the brim - full of wants (actually overflowing!): what i want, what i should want, what i need to want, what my community wants, what i want out of everyone else, what i want from it all and where all these wants will lead, build on, grow.

carrying so much weight of shoulds and needs and wants and musts keeps me moored in the shallows. a leaden anchor grips me by my ankle and prevents me from taking a step. further? farther? either. neither.

i am trying to empty myself out. to allow myself to remain unburdened with ballast. to enjoy the sensation of drifting with the tides and trusting enough to not be frightened by the waves, and instead welcome the buoyancy my weight will allow me. (the waves have always been a source of fear and marvel for me. i guess all my life till now, the fears were more influential than the marvel.)

of not grabbing for the paddle, running berserk of aimless and spatterful of meaningless sculling, or heading straight for my pre-conceived destination(?). shores or otherwise.

it involves re-learning to float, remembering the sensation of being held over dark, cold water, trying to summon the courage to relax my neck and put my head back and trust my “swimming instructor” to let me go and know that i will not sink. to overcome the urge to grab him tightly around the neck and not let go, to splash, and gasp, and choke on the water filling my lungs. (hah! how did i ever get to learn to swim? or do i really swim?)

supreme trust.

this week, i am working on emptying out and re-learning the joys of submerging myself in the world, ears muffled by the weight of water, keeping off any sound, nose pointing at the sky, vision straight ahead, the sky a bowl of blue where birds fly by and dip down to drink on the fly and have a peck on some carcass beside me.

do i have the trust to float?