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Saturday, 19 December 2015

True Spirit of Christmas - by Jo

On the 12th of December an event was held by Philippine Education and Technology in Japan (PETJ) to 'Bring the Spirit of Christmas to the children of batangas and Zambales'.

PETJ has as its objectives, to include free English conversation classes Philippines and culture exchange programs in English teacher training of Filipinos, in order to promote mutual understanding of providing Japan and the Philippines culture of place that you can use English in more familiar for Filipino independence and Japanese living in Japan we helped sponsor an event that was held in our resort, a feeding program, and gift giving called headed PETJ, teachers from Japan, Akira, Gina Bing and Juvy.  They were surprised to meet such a large number of local children who were dressed up beautifully and have make up.

We had the opportunity to participate by joining the sponsors and having a part of the event on Isla Verde to benefit the children of our local community.

Some of the kids at first were shy and not quite sure what it was about, because this is perhaps the first time such an event has been held on the island.  However they soon began joining in.  The kids were attentive and  enjoyed singing with the teachers.  They happily sang Christmas songs with 'Santa Claus' who joined their activities.

The teachers also enjoyed the dance numbers prepared for them by our local kids.  A girl from Mahabang Buhangin, sing a song for them too.  After the activities, we fed the kids.  Everybody got full with spaghetti stir fry noodles and fried chicken.

Before we ended our event, Santa started to give out gifts for the kids, and so did the PETJ teachers, who brought gifts,  to be shared with them.

When gift giving was done, we started to play pabitin.  A bamboo platform full of gifts was hung up in our mango tree, then pulled up and down.  The kids, sometimes with a little help from their parents tried to reached them.  You could hear laughter and screaming as everyone was reaching to get their own stuff.

It was a wonderful day, and everyone gave thanks as it was the first time this has happened here in Isla.  Parents have asked me, to have another next Christmas. If it is possible, we would enjoy hosting the event again next year.

This will be our last Blog Post for 2016.

Best wishes and Christmas Greetings to all our friends, old and new, on Isla Verde and around the world.
And to all families and others close to you at this joyous time.  And to the workers of Isla who helped us through the year.

From Tess, Jo, Papa and Ross.

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Marina - from the sea - by Nanay Jo at Isla Verde

Marina has been my good friend for 30 years and has been living overseas for some time.  She used  to bring me with her, to her hometown in Canas, Iloilo, when she returned to the Philippines for a holiday.   So now that we have built a small resort here in Isla Verde, she decided to come here to visit me.

She stayed here for 2 days before her flight back to Guam, and while she was here, she enjoyed an island walking tour.  She loves walking in the forest, crossing the bridges and getting up into the high land here in isla.  She also loves taking photos of the wilderness.

As we were walking, she noticed a lot and compared her place, Canas to Isla.  She was especially impressed with how quiet it is here.  Not many kids playing in the street, roads are clean, some house with fence,  are cleaned and tidied up.  People here seem proud of their island and their barangay.

One of her favourite experiences was enjoying Sinaing na Tulingan, and she brought 2 kilos of the cooked fish, and the local delicacies kalamay to take with her to Guam.

Marina also enjoyed soaking in our Japanese tub, the Ofuro.  It relaxes her and relieves any muscle aches and pains. The leaves of the citrus trees create a delicate aroma and she scrubbed them to her elbows, skin and legs.

After 2 days I went with her on an early trip to Tabangao.  She went back to Manila and will visit her husband, Don in hospital before she  returned to Guam last Sunday.

She will come back for another visit on her next holiday, and will stay for a longer time as she wanted to explore more of the hidden beauty of the island.

Monday, 7 December 2015

Isla Verde Tropical Friendly resort is not just for the grownups! - Bugoy's 5th birthday at Isla Verde

Bugoy stayed with us for a while last year when we were building our resort and I remember as a young boy he often walked around with his hands behind the back, looking at the workers while they were working.  Some of the workers called him "amo" (master).  We used to play music as they worked, and Bugoy would dance at the entrance door.  This made the workers feel happy and they laughed with him as he danced.  He even went to nursery here in Sampalukan for short time, before moving back to his family in Cavite.

When he returned to our resort last Nov.4, to celebrate his 5th bday, he told his mom I'm going to Batangas to my second house, which gave us a smile and we laughed.  As soon as he stepped into our resort he looked for his sports car which my sister gave to him.  He enjoyed riding, teasing his sister, Bebe, his cousins Xylus  Yujan and Micky.  The children had a wonderful time playing in our new playground.  We have small cubicles with a swing where Mickey enjoyed swinging herself.  Yujan and Xylus played matchbox while Bebe had her shovel and pail

Bugoy's aunts, Febbie and Lei helped me in the kitchen preparing the food for his birthday party.  As then while I was cooking the food the girls took a rest.

When they woke  up the food was served on the counter, ready for them all to enjoy the meal.

After they finished their food they rested for a while then decided to take their children swimming at Sawang before coming back to the resort after sunset, then it was time for bathing and dinner, with a few drinks for the adults until bed time.

On the second day of their visit, after their breakfast all of them prepared to have boat tour.  Kids were excited wearing their swimsuits with their goggles and life vests.  I made food for them as they were going to have a picnic at Tubahin, one of the popular swimming spots on our island.

Leo and Tupe took them in the resort's boat.  Once there everyone enjoyed the clear water of the sea and had fun snorkeling, and the gorwn ups took photos.    The children loved  playing in th water and it was late in the afternoon, before they all arrived back at the resort,  tired but with big smiles as they had lots of fun with the new experience of snorkeling.

They had dinner at 7pm, and as they were tired and would be leaving early next, everybody prepared to pack up their things and went to bed early.

We woke up at 3am, as the moms dressed up their own kids.  I walked with them to Pondohan, where the boat 'St. Paul' from Tabangao, picks up their passengers.  All of them thanked us for a great time and I know there will be another visit from them.

Sunday, 29 November 2015

My Life in Isla Verde - by Hanna

Recently we asked one of the young teenagers from our local High School to write a short story in English about what it is like to grow up on Isla Verde.  Here is Hanna's story.

It is not easy for a young person living on a small island like Isla Verde.  We are brought up to live a simple and peaceful life, but ordinary things like food and necessities are hard to find, especially during habagat and typhoon season, when rough seas and strong winds mean we cannot get across the Verde Island Passage to Batangas to shop for supplies.

Mostly we eat "tuyo", which is dried fish, and we pour "kape" (coffee) as soup for our rice.  We need to catch fish in the sea around Isla for viands and we eat kalamansi with salt and call it "dinidil".

There is not much work on Isla Verde.  So as a young girl I helped to earn money.  I fetched for other houses and with what I earned I bought food for my family.  There were times I went into the forest with my brother to cut firewood for cooking, and other logs for sale.

Because it is hard to find work in the Philippines and especially on a small island like Isla Verde, like many Filipino families, my parents went to work abroad.  During this time we were left to live with our grandmother and aunt.  They were very strict and I remember they used to scold us if we made mistakes.  It was especially hard for us when Christmas time came around.  At a time when most Filipino families are together to celebrate, we were apart from our parents.  I cried a lot, wishing I could spend Christmas with my mom and dad.  If I heard news on the radio or saw news about Saudi Arabia, where they were working, I felt scared and prayed they they would always be safe.

I study hard, and I am happy that I am one of the achievers in our school.  Even though we have to walk 5km every day to school, and it hurts my feet and legs I don't complain.  I have tried to become a much stronger, industrious and obedient girl, because I want some day to become an engineer.

Many people here just give up and give in to bad habits like drinking too much, gambling and they love to spread gossip.  I don't want to live like that and I hope never to be lazy like them.  With God's help I will continue to study harder and when I grow older I will help my family to have a better life.

I give thanks to some people who help us, guide us and care for us.


Thursday, 19 November 2015

Isla Verde - a visit by Teachers from Las Pinas City - by Nanay Jo

In September I had a phone call from Darwin, who had found our resort on the Internet.  At the end of October he called again to make a booking, then recently he arrived to enjoy time at our lovely island.  With him, he brought some colleagues, Jason, RS and Ronnie.

 They crossed the Verde Island Passage aboard the St Paul and were dropped off at the front of our resort.  On the trip across to Isla Verde, they met our local priest, John Paul, who is a Franciscan.  As their school is run by a Franciscan sister, they had mutual interests and their discussions made the trip pass quickly.  Father John Paul offered to bring them across to Puerto Galera on Sunday.

 Arriving before noon they rested a while, enjoying some fresh buko juice from our back yard while they waited for lunch.  They took lunch in their kubo so they could enjoy the cool sea breeze, then around 2pm after a rest they decided to take a walk to Sawang to take some pictures and then to Mahabang Buhangin for a bit of swimming before heading back to the resort at 4pm.

 There they enjoyed a snack of Suman, one of our local delicacies.  It is made from glutinous rice cooked in coconut milk and wrapped in coconut leaves, served with a cup of coffee.  Then it was time for them to be off again on another adventure.

 This time they went to Maliit Nalayag, which is part of the marine Sanctuary and is popular with SCUBA divers.  One of our locals, Alvin took them snorkeling near our Camel Rock and they enjoyed our underwater coral gardens.  Visotors love seeing the brightly coloured fish swimming in and out of the fascinating shapes of the corals and rocks.  About an hour later they came back to the resort and relaxed, telling tales of their adventure.

 They enjoyed taking pictures around the resort, posing with our statues and other landmarks.  RS said there are lots of things to see and he loved the peace and tranquility, and just watching the sea as it was calm.

 Our visitors made use of the Ofuro (Japanese hot tub) and I enjoyed watching them laughing and taking pictures of each other as they made the most of this wonderful new experience.
 The name 'Ofuro' is the polite form of Furo.  It is a part of the Japanese ritual of bathing, and the hot tub is not used for actually taking your bath, as it is generally used by several friends or family one after another.  So before you take a dip in the Ofuro, you first wash yourself by normal bathing.
 But then, the magic begins.  The Ofuro is a hot tub.  Sometimes if we can, we add a gentle scent to the water, usually with citrus leaves. With its deep sides of about half a metre, the person taking a dip is able to completely relax and let the warmth flow through the body.

 We served dinner at 7pm outdoors at the bamboo table and our guests enjoyed their meal as the boats passed by, coming from Batangas to Calapan, Oriental Mindoro. Then it was time to relax over at the cottage swing and chat over drinks of our local Emperador brandy, after which they decided to retire to their kubo and sleep.

 When we woke at 5.30pm, our visitors were already up and at the swing watching the dolphins.  RS thought they were sharks and Neri, one of my local helpers explained a local belief to them, that when you see the dolphin breaking the surface of the sea it will rain.

 As a thank you for being great guests I made a special breakfast for them of fried rice with veggies, cold cuts and egg.  With the exercise and the fresh air they all had a healthy appetite.

 Then it was time to say farewell as Father John Paul's boat arrived to take them across to visit Puerto Galera.  So they had time to take a few more photos, pack their things and then they were away to the noise and excitement of Mindoro.

 Before they left they said they enjoyed the island experience very much and plan to recommend our resort for a school retreat and return again with family.