Friday, June 29, 2012

My ICS Life: Teaching primary schoolers about their environment

Volunteer Abroad Philippines Asia

Going into primary schools to teach fifth and sixth graders about the Carood Watershed and other environmental topics has been a highlight of our volunteer work here in Bohol. The activities were headed by my co-volunteers Tristan, Vicki and Rocky. Me, Manny, Ayumi and JR helped them out in organizing the kids and in translating some of the things they'll be saying during the lessons. We also had the help of volunteers assigned in Alicia like Mark, Imogen, Nica and Raffy. KSVA president, Gee, also lent a hand in one of the schools we've been to. With the help of our supervisors, three schools in the town were chosen: Boyo-an Elementary School for it's near the town center, Cogtong Elementary School because it's near the mangrove areas, and finally, Canawa Elementary School because it's in the hinterlands. The entire thing lasted for three weeks.

Environmental Education Kids Primary School
Fifth grade students of Boyo-an Elemntary School after Vicki taught them about biodiversity.

The lessons taught were divided into four topics: the Carood Watershed, biodiversity, forest fires and waste management. We did the topics depending on what the situation in the school such as the time given by the school, or if the fifth and sixth graders are mixed or separated when we arrive. The lessons given had games related to the topics so that the kids won't be bored. Personally, I enjoyed visiting the schools to schedule the activity with the respective school heads, and just going to the schools during the activity itself. What we're doing now is just testing out the lesson plans to see if they are effective to the students. So at the same time that we're doing the activities, we're also observed how the kids reacted, and asked the teachers for their comments.

Teaching Kids About Environment
Fun and energetic fifth and sixth grade students of Cogtong Elementary School after the activity

The activities were done near the end of school hours so not to disturb the class hours. Despite being an afternoon activity, the kids were still very much energetic, making the activities fun-filled and happy for everyone, including us. We're lucky to have the support of the town's public school district supervisor as well as the respective heads of the schools we've coordinated with.

Youth Volunteering International
Canawa Elementary School might be our last stop for the activity but they're a bright bunch

No doubt that the activity brought smiles to the faces of the kids. I hope they'll remember the important parts of the lessons, especially about the Carood watershed. I wish we actually had more time to go into more schools during our placement. It's 'mission accomplished' for now. Certainly, improvements in the future brought by the locals and upcoming volunteers are to happen. This was a good experience for us, and hopefully it's the same for the kids too.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

My ICS Life: My volunteer work placement in Bohol, Philippines

VSO Bahaginan VSO UK International Citizen Service ICS Global XChange Youth Exchange Philippines Volunteer in Bohol Cebu Environment Internship Deaf Disability Inclusion

I've been blogging about some places I've been to while I'm here in Bohol since I arrived, but I haven't talked about my work here yet. It's been a little over halfway through our volunteering program, and I believe I should be sharing a bit of my experience here. It's a pleasant Saturday today so I reckon now is the best time to write about my work placement.

Since May, me and my Filipino and British co-volunteers were assigned to work on different projects of the Carood Watershed Management Council, the managing body in charge of the Carood Watershed. We are assigned to work in four different municipalities: Ubay, Candijay, Alicia and Pilar. The four said municipalities are part of the six municipalities within the watershed. We are working under different stakeholders of the watershed, but all in all, we are working for one council. 

Four other volunteers and I are assigned to work in the main office of the council. Since May, we have been busy preparing IEC (information, education and communication) materials catered to various audiences. As for me and my work counterpart, we busied ourselves with learning about the council, its objectives and the watershed for the first few days. I remember one of my placement supervisors lending me a book about forests in Southeast Asia which I learned a lot from. During this time, we also planned and started doing our presentations to village officials about the Carood Watershed, what a watershed is, the benefits of a watershed and its importance to the locals. We would normally do our presentations during the weekends as village council meetings are held that time. Bumpy motorcycle rides to the meetings are a stable if we're heading to a village in the highlands. I've also appreciated answering challenging questions from the village officers during the presentations as it reminds me to learn and work harder the next time around. I get to learn more from the locals as well as to know more about the place I am working for with this part of our job.

As June was taking a little peek, me and my work counterpart started to plan other things we could do for our placement. So with this, we then coordinated with one of the local youth groups in Bohol, the Kaugmaon Student Volunteers Association (KSVA). The said organization was partly started by ICS youth volunteers batches ahead of us, but it's mainly the local youth of the town that made it as a strong youth group. Me and my working counterpart recognized the contribution of the various youth groups in Bohol to maintain the spirit of helping others and the community. I think for any youth exchange activity, the volunteers should always get in contact with the local volunteers and student groups to know their plans and thoughts about making the community a better place for everybody. This youth group has been amazing from the start with its active members and good leadership.

Aside from me and my working counterpart's work, my other co-volunteers assigned in the main office of the council spent the month of May researching and preparing their lesson plans on environmental topics to be taught to primary school students when classes kick in. This week, we helped our co-volunteers in teaching biodiversity and proper waste disposal to fifth and sixth grade students in one of the local elementary school. It was fun seeing the kids very enthusiastic about the topics as well as for the activities we prepared. We have just finished scheduling the activity to our priority schools so I'm hopeful that everything will go well, and that the local kids will learn something from us. 

Aside, from our work placements, the entire team assigned in Bohol would also be planning various activities that would be of benefit for the community like mangrove planting and clean-ups. We got three weeks left here in Bohol to do our plans and prepare our reports. So far, my experience in Bohol has been a pleasant one with the locals being very friendly and hospitable, most of my co-volunteers and supervisors being very active and supportive, and Bohol just being a nice place to live and work in. In the future, I'll be looking back into this experience in a positive light.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Meeting Bohol's Best Bets: The Chocolates Hills and the Tarsier

I've been working and living in Bohol since May, but I never really had the chance to go see its two very famous tourism front liners, the Chocolate Hills and the tarsier. I finally had the chance to do so last Sunday as our team had a short tour after our programme's mid-phase review to see the famous geologic formation and the mysterious-looking primate.

Chocolate Hills Bohol Philippines

The Chocolate Hills are the most famous tourist destination in the province of Bohol. They are called the way they are because during summer, the grass on the hills turns brown which makes them look like large lumps of chocolate. The hills are samples of what we call karst topography. Karst means that the hills are composed of layers of limestone or dolomite. 

When visiting this world-famous tourist site, do remember to put on a lot of sun cream or bring an umbrella with you if you're coming on a hot day. Having a bottle of water at hand would also be handy as one needs to climb a steep flight of stairs before you can see a great view of the hills. Visiting Bohol will not be complete unless you have been to the Chocolate Hills. The area is located in the municipality of Carmen.

Tarsier Bohol Picture

The tarsier is the world's smallest primate. The Philippine tarsier holds the scientific name Carlito syrichta. Before seeing a tarsier in real life, I've always thought they were overrated, and not really cute. However, my opinion of the little critters changed this Sunday when we visited their conservation site.

Tarsiers are indeed cute in a very creepy way. Let's say they're adorable but very strange animals. They have a small frame, but their eyes are enormous. I have definitely appreciate them now. Also, if you happen to visit their conservation site in Bohol, please do remember to stay silent as they are very sensitive to sound. Also, never touch a tarsier as they get very stressed by it and would commit suicide.

Seeing the symbols which Bohol is famous for made me appreciate the beauty of the place even more. Bohol, is not only home to one of the friendliest people around but also to unique tourism areas. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Apply and volunteer for International Citizen Service in the Philippines!

As you guys know, I'm currently participating in the International Citizen Service programme where my batch and the two batches before ours are under its pilot phase. Now, the application for the official first batch of the said program is now open for interested youth applicants. You can possibly be a part of the 140 Filipino and British youth volunteers for ICS' 2012-2013 programme in the Philippines. Just so you guys know, ICS is sure to continue on in the next three years so you'll definitely have the chance to extend a hand and do volunteer work.

VSO ICS International Citizen Service Philippines VSO UK VSO Bahaginan Bohol Cebu Hagonoy Internship Volunteering Youth YA 030
For interested Filipinos, you must satisfy the following requirements:
Filipino, 18 – 25 years of age (at the time of application)
Completed at least high school/secondary education 
Willing to live with a British counterpart in a modest accommodation in a host family setting in Hagonoy Bulacan, Cebu City and Carood Municipalities in Bohol
Flexible, open-minded and with a genuine commitment to learning 
Sensitive to the needs of others and can work within a team 
Fit and can commit to undergo an active 3-month volunteer work (including preparatory training activities)
Application is for the program is all-year round. Only short-listed applicants will be notified and will be invited to attend the assessment day. To apply, email your application letter and accomplished application form (download the application form) to with the Code: ICSYAV as the subject line. 
To know more about the ICS Program (or if you're British and you just happened to drop by here), please visit the VSO UK's International Citizen Service website. To download VSO Bahaginan Application Form, please visit: 

Monday, June 11, 2012

MY ICS Life: Sunrise shots from Panglao, Bohol, Philippines

This morning, I went out of the house we were staying in while we were in Panglao, Bohol because we were sailing to Balicasag Island early. I was blessed enough  to witness this beautiful sunrise from the beautiful island. Good thing I had my camera with me, so here are three photos I took of the scene. I'd like to share them with all of you. Have a pleasant morning everyone, and make every day a memorable one.

Panglao Bohol Philippines Sunrise Photography

Panglao Bohol

Panglao Bohol Travel Photography Philippines

The Boss of the Universe blesses us with countless little miracles everyday. It is our responsibility to see, recognize and appreciate them as they come to us. Sometimes we are on the lookout for the 'big things' that we fail to appreciate how blessed and lucky we are with the small, but very important things. 

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Fanboying over Gary Go's Now Was Once The Future

Here's a short film by Gary Go called Now Was Once The Future. The songs used in the film are part of him soundtrack album of the same time. I think everybody knows I like Gary Go so it's no wonder why this film is here now. For the love of Gary, everybody has to watch this short film.

You can listen to the tracks of Gary Go's Now Was Once The Future soundtrack album in his Soundcloud page. You may also purchase a physical copy of the album from Gary Go's Store.

P.S. I will love anybody who'll give me a physical copy of any Gary Go album or product.