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Only Bigger



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Every restaurant to where Tony and I were treated in the US had servings so big, we always had to request for a take-home box.

On our third day of eating out, we caught on and wised up. We agreed to have a single order to be split in half. Good decision—no more left-overs. If any, it was not indecently wasteful. This arrangement was definitely nifty and thrifty.

We sometimes dined in restaurants with chains or branches in the Philippines. The menu—food, packaging, and presentation—were the same as those at home, only bigger. Be they hamburger, fried chicken, noodles, skewered meat (barbecue), or ice cream, the servings were the same, again, only bigger.

Deserts such as bananas, strawberries, mangoes, oranges, and all the fruits we grow at home were also in America, only bigger.

Once I needed a sachet of petroleum jelly for a lesion on my foot. I looked for one in store shelves but could only find them in big bottles.

America does not carry tingi packaging specially made for Filipino needs and lifestyle.

Coming home after 35 days, I noticed that the flora (roses, birds of paradise, orchids, poppies, peonies, etc.) I gushed over in America have existed here all along. The same goes true for the trees, roads, shops, malls, trees, linens, personal care products, and everything else.

They only differ in size: in America, everything is bigger.

As I compared sizes between there and here, something serendipitous happened to me: I grew bigger eyes!

Suddenly, my pair of orbs could see everything we also have, which I glossed over before.

“Look, how lovely those trees are!” I exclaimed on our way home from the airport.

“Mom,” son #3 almost sneered, “this is your usual route.”

Traveling can both enfeeble and sharpen the mind. What I thought were bigger blessings somewhere are actually the same blessings right here.

Bigger is not necessarily better. Smaller is not necessarily poorer.

I rubbed my eyes; they’re the same pair that came with my birth, now only bigger.


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Access Road: A dream come true



Image source: DSWD 7

It was a dream come true to the residents of Brgy. Anopog to see the 400 meters concrete access road inaugurated.

Dako kaayo among kalipay nga nahuman gyud ang karsada diri, kay sa una lisod gyud kaming mga ginikanan mag baba sad mi, ilabi na mga kinder pa, dili makasugakod og labang sa lapukon ug guba ngadalan (We are happy that this concrete road is finished. Before it was so difficult for parents to bring their children to school because they would have to carry the children especially those in kindergarten,” shared Cirila Benigay a resident of Barangay Anopog and a Pantawid beneficiary.

The town of Pinamungajan is one of the several towns affected by Typhoon Auring that hit the country on January 8, 2017. The town of Pinamungajan was severely flooded and its barangay roads were destroyed including barangay Anopog, where access road to school was destroyed and buried in knee-deep mud and flood waters.

“This concrete road makes a difference in the life of 680 students in our school. It brings positive effect on them. They are now motivated to attend classes despite heavy downpour because they no longer wade on muddy road. I am hopeful that there would be an increase on attendance rate of students especially the 156 Pantawid beneficiaries, which would eventually increase their education compliance rate,” said Mr. Vianney Abellanosa, school principal.

He said that since the road is now elevated and concreted, the parents and the 25 teaching staff of the school are already assured of the safety of the students.

Meanwhile, Abellanosa also expressed with gratitude for this life-changing experience he and his teachers and students have in working with Kalahi-CIDSS.

The students and teachers of Anopog Elementary School helped the community volunteers to gain votes during the Municipal Inter-Barangay Forum (MIBF). They presented photos of teachers and students carefully and patiently walking their way through muddy paths. Their vivid presentation convinced the MIBF participants to vote for them and indeed, Barangay Anopog got the 1st place in the prioritization list.

The completion of the 400-meter access road brings joy and hope not only to the students and teachers but also to the residents living in nearby sitios.

The Php 2.6 million access road has benefited 830 households and made their dream come true.

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Always Be Humble and Kind



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My twin brother and I were raised by our grandparents. They have taught us so many things about life, but the one thing that has always stuck with me is to always be humble and kind no matter what you do in life. My grandpa always told us no matter where life leads you, always remember your values and where you came from. He was a colonel in the Air Force for 20 years, and then became a lawyer and owned his own law firm for another 20 years. Today, at age 83, he is a cashier at Walmart and you would never know what all he has done because he is that humble. People go to his register to see him because he always puts a smile on their face. He has taught us that it doesn’t matter what you do or have done, it’s about who you are and your character. He really does teach by example.

Nicole Mansfield/

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My Support System



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Ever since I was young, my parents and older brother have always cheered me on – whether it was at a dance competition, piano recital, or an academic accomplishment. They were there even when I attempted 1 of 10 sports, only to later realize I just wasn’t that athletic. Point is – they never stopped to tell me I couldn’t do something or to quit. They encouraged me every step of the way, and went the extra mile to be the parent that was the volunteer soccer coach or would rearrange their hectic schedules for my passions and growth.

My family became a main value through these childhood moments, and are also integral to every other value I hold important – whether it’s learning persistence or respect for others. They have instilled in me these values from a young age, and continue to help me abide by them. At every major turning point in my life whether its choosing a college or a full time job, I rely on them for their advice, and consider how to maintain this value while being away. In 5 years, I know family will be of equal importance to me and will always strive to make it known to them that they are my greatest value.

Submitted by Ayeesha

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Poem of Peace



Our nation’s innocence is lost,
Stolen by acts of hate.
Helpless people paid the cost,
For them it is too late.

Daughters, sons, husbands, wives,
Sisters, friends and brothers.
All of them have lost their lives,
To senseless acts of others.

New York’s city has been defaced.
Bodies lay in rubble.
They can never be replaced.
But war won’t end our trouble.

Angers only escalate,
As we point out the guilt.
Violence will perpetuate.
While we dig through the silt.

Cries of anger, cries for war,
Echo in the air.
As if our bombs and missiles soar,
It will make it fair.

People claim “eye for an eye”
Our nation wants to fight.
If their innocent people die,
Then will that make US right?

Punishment surely must take place.
These murderers must pay.
But they are groups and not a race.
Keep liberty in mind, each day.

We are people of goodwill,
Of truth and love and light.
Please give thought before you kill,
Take heed before you fight.

We ask, what do we tell our children?
How do we give them ease?
Reactions set examples for them,
Should we not teach them peace?

Tammy Kane

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