Saturday, March 07, 2015

That Magical Experience Called - Fusing Agritourism and Backpacking

Picture of Virginia's Garden by Stacey

It's been a year since we've joined We were among the first four hosts here in the Philippines - and I would think, the first All-Filipino hosts to take on this amazing phenomenon. To date, there are now 10 Philippine HelpX hosts hosting people from around the world. There are now hundreds in other countries such as New Zealand, Australia, France, the US, Thailand - everywhere!

What is

HelpX is more than just a website, it's a revolutionary fusion of travel, backpacking, volunteering, culture, agriculture and friendship. In exchange for food and accommodation, travelers get to help around the garden, farm, house, ship or actually practically any place. Travelers get to save on accommodation and food expenses by helping hosts with whatever needs doing in the venue.

Usually, work is done 2 to 4 hours each day - although there's no strict rule here as long as you're having fun!

Beyond Philippine Agritourism
At this juncture and with more HelpX hosts in the Philippines, I think it's high time to write about the many, many profound experiences both hosts and helpers have experienced thus far. Fortunately, we are extremely lucky to have hosted amazing HelpXers.

One general thing about us Filipinos is that we seem to have developed a bias and a certain pre-disposition against manual labor, particularly those related to agriculture. After all, it's always nice to stay in air-conditioned offices, with fancy executive titles, important sounding terms and not to mention high-paying salaries.

Those are all nice of course (I could really use some of that last part!), but if we think about it really hard - it makes one stop for a moment and try to foresee the future.

Zeee Future is Here:

We would all be connected to a centralized information system (something  .net) and would live and breathe to cater to that system. It's nice, convenient and all but I foresee people who pay more attention to their phone/computer screens updating facebook or twitter rather than what's around them. And that may be for good reason. With an exploding world population - I see a future of concrete and electronics! How would you pay more attention to your surroundings if you are surrounded by concrete with a sea of people in your midst!

Traveling would be about working like a donkey and saving enough money so you can spend it in 3 days in an overcrowded hotel, so you could swim in a crowded beach with people who are always selling you overpriced stuff and served with overcharged services! 

That's why to me, HelpX is also an interesting ongoing experiment. The question has always been, will this be self sustaining enough that we can continue to live beyond the ambit of 'modern civilization' and its trappings?

Now agriculture in the Philippines is an extremely hard field to work on. It's hard on your body, it's even harder for your pocket! Moreover, the culture in agriculture is rife with very, very difficult erm, "peculiarities" that not everyone is suited for it. Most of the time, it's a job that nobody really wants to take on.

HelpX can change that because of its impetus.

When our farm volunteers help in the garden, it's about the experience of something removed from modern life. Sure we have wifi and a hot tub , but that's the bonus part. Our HelpXers have helped us with things very few people have. From planting 500 pineapples, vegetables, weeding the greenhouse, resurrecting the pool, fixing our electricals, walking the dog, watching over the children and my favorite part - cooking exciting meals!

The great part about all the hard work? My wife gets to practice her culinary skills with an International audience! But that's not all - we also get to learn from our guests - dishes that we've never experienced or tried before.

Max (France)

Seb and Lucie (France and Czech Republic)

Maria and Rodrigo (Chile)

Byron and Stacey (UK)

Manon (France)

*Curiously, I don't remember the names of the dishes but rather the people who made them!
"Mom, we have a French chef in our house!"

When I go to Manila and meet new people (kapwa Pinoys), most of the time, I get to hear about their new cars, houses, doctorates and gadgets.

I still don't have a car and my phone is not to be proud of. But man, when we had a French chef as a guest in our house - that was certainly unique!

It truly is an amazing experience such that some of our neighbors would always cast suspicious and raised eyes and ask,

"Anong ginagawa niyan dito?" (What are they doing here?)

To which I would give them the truth they can't believe.

"They're helping me with our farm for free!" 

To which I'd be greeted by raised eyebrows, or at worst - more intriguing and privacy bashing questions.

But that's for another blog post. For now, as I publish this post close to midnight, I will await our next HelpX volunteers and look forward to another amazing experience!

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Isang Tulang Personal at Hindi Mala Propesyonal

Sa kaguluhan ng daigdig,
dahas madalas ang nananaig
Kung sinong malakas,
ay syang nangangalandakang wagas

Ngunit sa batas nasilayan
higit pa sa gintong alahas
Alin ang susundin ay syang bunga ng

Mayroong tatlo sa aking kamalayan
Batas ng tao
Batas ng kalikasan, at higit sa lahat
Batas ng Diyos

Dito pinakamababa ang batas ng tao
Naaamyendahan, naiikot ikutan madalas napapabayaan.

Batas ng kalikasa'y unti unti nating natutuklasan
Pwedeng baguhin kapag sapat ang kaalaman

Batas ng Diyos ay mahirap unawain
pagka't sino nga ba ang tamang sasambahin?

Ngunit sa proseso ng tao marahil mas madaling makita
Kung alin ang mali, at alin ang tama.

Pinitik ang iyong ilong, ikaw ba'y maghihiganti?
Siniko mo ang panga, siya nama'y nanadyak ng mariin
Mata sa mata, ngipin sa ngipin ano ang bunga ng paghihiganting
kay dilim?

Mahirap maging tunay na Kristiyano, mas madali pa ang maging
banal na aso...
Kung sarili'y sisiyasatin, ay lintik kay dami nating SIN!

Sa aking pagsilip nasilip ang munting katotohanan.
Na hindi paghihiganti ng dugong kumukulo ang sagot sa mga

Mahirap gawin, ngunit yan ang katotohanan.
Lalo na sa panahong ngayon na pera sa bulsa marami ang pinagkakaabalahan

Iba na ang mundo ngunit ang batas ng kaitas taasan ay nariyan pa rin
Sino nga ba sa kanila ang dapat sundin?

Yung mga kumakatay ng tao o yung syang namatay para sa iyong kasalanan?

Kaibigan, kapatid iyan ang dapat mong tignan...

Friday, December 19, 2014

Christmas and Forgiveness

It's far easier to lie and run away, than to ask for forgiveness - or forgive. 

I originally wrote this on my Facebook post since I've had a life event - again, unfortunately - that made me think about Christmas, Christianity, evolution, lying and money. The situation put me in another tough spot during a critical moment in our lives. It's funny how sometimes, the people around us become odd during the tougher stages in life.

As it is, I miss my grandparents and would love to see the land of my birth once again. I'd love to see familiar faces of my extended family. Faces, who I now see as heroes with their share of trials and tribulations, victory and sacrifice, honor and humility.

But as I write this, I am beginning to doubt that this would be achieved.

I am in a tight spot right now.

Anyway, here's the FB post I made. The latter portion rambled on and diverted but I'll leave it as it is for you to make the connection.

"I'm sorry, I was wrong." 

Five extremely powerful words that have that amazing transformative strength. Sadly, most of us don't have the strength to say it and face judgement - both human and divine. Instead of saying those amazingly easy to say words, we make it more complicated. We fabricate delusions upon illusions beneath lies upon lies. All under the mantle of having the illusion of power, strength and sometimes, even righteousness. 

But the thing is, we are all fallen and imperfect. 

If you've read thus far, and feel that slightest tinge of guilt, maybe someone out there is waiting for you to say it. Forgiveness may not come from that person, but at the very least - you can forgive yourself and plant the seeds of peace. A chance to right the wrong. 

A chance to change the course of history yet to be made. 

A chance to change who you will become. 

Sadly, I have seen far too many people live out the rest of their days like this. Angry. Bitter. And 'right' to themselves and to anyone gullible enough to believe the lies and share the delusions. I've seen persons, whole families, communities and even nations, get blinded by this and that's the reason why we are seeing so many painful and horrible things going on right now. It's the cycle of hatred and bitterness fueled by an unforgiving world. 

Christ was born and nailed to the cross.

Mocked, yes. Vilified, bloodied and eventually killed. Not so his followers can start a revolution. Not so they can have revenge and torture the Romans. Not so they can become the most powerful nation on the planet and dominate, but so we, as a race would learn. 

So that we could evolve - beyond our animalistic instincts and tendencies. Asking for forgiveness and forgiving are traits that make us more than highly evolved species of animals. The natural order is retribution and revenge. (Addendum: I don't know whether this is also true for lower forms of animals. From what I am aware of right now, revenge seems to be a human only trait too. From that, we can also put human action in this context.)

Absent forgiveness, life would be like Game of Thrones. Bloodshed that begets bloodshed. 

I feel sick at what Christmas has become. Things are things... Even certain animals collect things. But can animals forgive and have enough self consciousness to admit they were wrong? Are there animals that know how to forgive? 

To me, more than cybernetic implants or neural upgrades or even genetic engineering, it is this central theme of Christianity that truly makes us creatures of evolution.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

FOR SALE: FOUR monobloc tables and BONUS 20 chairs (A Buy and Sell Advertising Experiment - OLX vs AyosDito vs Craigslist Manila

We are holding a garage sale and selling four monobloc tables for only P4,000. Yes, that's the price for FOUR monobloc tables. All in!

The monobloc are second hand but have very sturdy plastic. Uratex brand

Height - 2 ft.
Width - 3 ft.
Length - 5 ft.

**For pickup only

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

An Irate SMS from an Anonymous Reader

I just got an SMS message from +63927-944-0072. As I routinely try to inform people who'd like to contact me, please, oh please, use my contact form or use the comments section. Moreover, if you will send my business number an SMS without informing me of your intent and without identifying yourself, I have no recourse but to respond in kind. 

I usually ignore these kinds of text messages, but I'll give this guy (or girl - credit for the effort). That's why I'm posting your message on my blog.

But next time, again, and again, please comment or use my contact form. Thank you have a nice day! I quoted the text verbatim.

"christmass"&"mass are NOT in the Bible!!!
"christmass" is from "christ's mass"
( o "misa ni cristo".
"Misa" ay PAULIT-ULIT na pagsasakripisyo ng "dugo at laman" ni LORD CHRIST (transubstantiation, Archbishop Hildebert, en c. 1055-1133, (
Nuon ang mga kriminal ay ipinapako sa krus upang "IBILAD SA KAHIHIYAN" (Heb6:6-12; 12:2).
offered HIS BODY & BLOOD, "ONCE & FOR ALL" or "ONE SACRIFICE ONLY"!!! (Heb. 9:28; 10;10,12,14; 1 Pet. 3:18) & HE CLEARLY said while on the cross, Jn. 19:30 "It is FINISHED"!!! or "NAGANAP NA"!!! KAYA DI NA KAILANGANG ULIT-ULITIN PA!!! GUSTO ng diablo ang "christmas" dahil si LORD CHRIST AY PAULIT-ULIT na IBINIBILAD SA KAHIHIYAN"!!!
Sender +63927-944-0072
Sent: 9 Dec. 2014

Well, actually, what you believe and what I believe about Christmas will be different. There are too many points here that need discussion. But I am not equipped with these knowledge as of the moment. For now, and you may not agree with me, but let's agree to disagree - we celebrate Christmas as the birth of Christ. You hold your beliefs, I will hold mine. Regardless of the actual date's purported pagan roots, let's tentatively put that on hold for the purposes of convenience, culture and happiness.

I think you are alluding to certain traditions by the mainstream Catholic Christian group. I doubt that they are doing so because of the devil.

Anyway, whatever you believe, I'll let you believe what you believe, so we're both happy.

Yes, Christ was humiliated, tortured and eventually killed but not for the devil's sake, but as payment for our sins.

I don't know everything my friend, sometimes, I even have doubts about certain portions of the Christian bible. Sometimes, I may even hold certain beliefs that may go against the Christian mainstream.

I don't want to get caught up in dogma and the intricacies of religious faith, though sometimes I'd like to get a wider worldview by studying different aspects of religion.

For now, Christmas to me and my family, is important and we will celebrate it as the symbolic birth of Jesus Christ. If you do not like it, well, don't celebrate it!

Wala kang pamasko ok?

Merry Christmas Mr. Anonymous!