A day with the Aeta Community

When traveling, a lot of us resort to visiting other countries, mainly for leisure. I’m all about activities that give back to the community. I love experiencing how certain people live their everyday lives. My friend then recommended MAD Travel. They encourage social tourism and have tours available where you can immerse yourself in activities that give back to the community. We decided to join their Tribes and Treks tour in San Felipe, Zambales. Rest-assured by the end of our trip, I had a new perspective in life.

Being working people, we took the night bus to San Felipe, Zambales. Victory Liner Cubao has buses going to Zambales every day. Our only mistake was that we didn’t get to buy tickets early as to why we got the very last trip going to Iba, Zambales. You need to tell the conductor that you will be getting off at San Felipe, Zambales (Sa may “bayan” if I may specify). From there, you’ll already find the tricycle terminal just beside the bus stop.

Tell the tricycle driver that you will be going to Circle Hostel. Most of them already know the place but just in case, it’s in Liw-Liwa area near the pier. The Circle Hostel is the jump-off point for the Tribes and Treks tour. We got there at around 1AM and it was dark indeed. Sorry to the people in the room who were bothered by ‘Ate’ opening the lights at 1AM when we came in. So yea, if you’re in a hostel with other people you know the etiquette.

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The Circle Hostel couldn’t be more laid-back. The beds were simple and they give you that province feel. I am happy to say that The Circle Hostel is also Eco-friendly! Here you can see that they have “Eco-Bricks” made out of plastic bottles stuffed with more plastic inside. What a great way to make use of plastic waste!

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The Tribes and Treks tour usually starts as early as 7:00am. From the hostel, we rode a jeepney for about 20 minutes to get to the starting point of the trek. Here are the very helpful Carabaos (Water Buffalo) getting ready for the long journey.

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We trekked along the ‘Lahar’ or volcanic ash for about an hour to get to the Aeta Village. The trek is quite easy if you are walking on bare foot or flip-flops. You will be passing by rivers as to why your feet will get wet. The heat can be absurd too because of the open fields, so do wear sunblock.

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During our trek, a little girl named Eliza kept me company. She told me stories on how they walk to school for an hour every day, and if they find themselves running late, they would run. She was also so enthusiastic as we exchanged stories about our families. She told me she had brothers and sisters she would introduce once we get to the village.

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There are rivers where you could take short breaks because the carabaos needed their rest too of course. That feeling of putting your feet on the cold water after walking through the scorching heat of the sun is one of the best feelings ever.

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We then arrived at Yangil Village. We were welcomed with smiles and greetings. As soon as Eliza saw her mother, she then introduced us. We had taro chips and lemongrass tea as snacks. I gotta say I loved the lemongrass tea to bits. Nothing beats the traditional way of making tea. Smack the plant you will infuse into boiling water and bam! Best tea ever! The ‘nanays’ (mothers), boil the lemongrass, which they planted by the way, into one big pot to make this lovely tea.

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After the short briefing and snacks, our group then went on to learn archery. There were quite a few people who hit the target. For me, I still couldn’t get it after numerous tries. It was still indeed a fun activity and a chance to interact with the Aetas of the village.

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Before having lunch, we helped the ‘nanays’ prepare the dishes. Being the culinary graduate that I am, I volunteered to do the cutting of the vegetables. Some volunteered to read books to the kids.

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Later on, I had a coloring session with the kids. It all started with me and two kids until others saw and joined us. It was really nice to be teaching kids some color combinations and how to do outlining. If I had more time, I would love to teach them more. There are so many things I wish to share to these kids.

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Our lunch consisted of various dishes such as adobo, chopsuey and fried fish. The Aeta people of Yangil village could never be more hospitable to us. There were dishes available for our vegetarian and vegan friends. Also, gluten-free! Please do inform them beforehand though.

It was great to do an immersion where you could meet new people. Our group consisted of students from Australia and it was nice to hear stories from them and their thoughts about life. I also met a fellow Filipino who was traveling alone. Activities like this will open your eyes and amaze you that people from other parts of the world can come together for a great purpose.

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We were having a quick break when one of the Yangil girls asked if she could braid my hair. Without hesitation, I said yes. I was having a chat with Princess while she was braiding my hair. She told me they had a cat named Sapporo. The name rang a bell, then I asked her if she’s seen the movie “Kita-kita”, and indeed she did. Princess did an awesome job with my hair. I couldn’t be more thankful because it was so pretty.

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After that, the kids then had a braiding session with the other girls.

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The Aeta people then showed us their traditional dance and later on people joined in all the fun. The kids had their dance too and Eliza pulled us in to dance with them. Princess then sang a song which stuck to us for the whole trip. We all had a fun time sharing laughs with the Aeta community as we thanked them for their hospitality.

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We left the village to proceed to the nursery where we planted seedlings. The Aeta community have been planting them to restore the forests and also for their daily needs. This is where we come in. Just by helping them plant these seedlings, you will help generations of Aeta community. I could only imagine the number of seeds our big group planted. I felt a sense of fulfillment after that.

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It was hard to say goodbye to the people of Yangil. I’ve somehow become attached especially to the children. I was bid farewell with hugs from the children telling me that I should go back and visit them again. I told Eliza to do good and study hard in school so that she could achieve her dreams. I wish to see them all again someday, all grown up.

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Before heading back to the hostel, we had dinner by Chieftain’s house. Again, the aeta people were very hospitable to us. I personally loved all the vegetarian dishes during dinner. We taught some Filipino phrases to our new Australian friends. We also watched the sunset near Chieftain’s house. It was one of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen.

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This trip will leave you with a newfound perspective in life. I’ve also learned some things from the Aeta people. If they care about the welfare of others by building new forests and a better community for the future generations, I don’t see why we shouldn’t do the same. It is indeed a ripple effect. By doing this one small thing, we can help other generations in the future. Through immersing myself into their community, I’ve realized that sometimes all they need is company. Our presence together with a bit of a helping hand can change lives. It all starts with you. Will you go on an adventure that matters?

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The Reality of Manila Zoo

They say a photo is worth a thousand words. This time, I would let the photos speak for themselves. I visited Manila Zoo recently, because I wanted to see for myself the sad state the animals are in.

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Ma’ali and her spectators.

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This fella right here has a broken right arm.

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People feeding the monkeys.

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A mother and her baby.

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Nothing but a wall that separates them from the bustling streets outside, noise and fumes entering.

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A hebra peeks, the moment visitors came in.

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Deers walking under the absurd heat of the sun.

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Manila Zoo is always crowded with families, children, and students on field trips. I cannot help but feel sad whenever people make indistinctive sounds just to call out the attention of some animals, for them to get their photo op.

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Even though they’re not out in the wild, staying together is still crucial in this setting.

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The lonely hippo.

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Majestic tigers caged in small areas.

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Some tigers are divided in areas such as this.

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The lions of Manila Zoo.

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Sheep resting on shady areas.

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A first-timer’s guide: London

Visiting a country for the first time can get a little scary and I am very thankful for the little preparation I have done before the big adventure. I am a first-timer to London myself and I will share how I “winged” it in the British country if ever you’re going there for the first time as a tourist.

1. Flights and getting to London

Coming from the Philippines, you can imagine how far the UK is. I’m really not a fan of connecting flights, so we booked a direct flight instead. A direct flight from Manila to London Heathrow Airport will take about 14 hours. That’s if you can manage to stay inside a plane for 14 hours lol but do not fret! there are also connecting flights from Manila to London. Emirates has one I think but since we wanted to get there fast, we booked a direct flight with Philippine Airlines. Keep in mind though, when you book returning flights with the same airline, remember your point of entry. Our point of entry for our Eurotrip was in London, which means we go back to London for our flight back to the Philippines because we booked a returning ticket with the same airline. If ever you’ll be coming from another european country, there’s the option of taking the Eurostar train to London or going to London via Plane. If you’re taking a plane to London, you can choose British Airways or perhaps you’d like a more chill journey (but longer), then take the Eurostar. There are trains going in and out of London. Just make sure you have the right visa though.

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2. Where to stay

You have lots of options in London when it comes to lodging. You have three options. Hotels, Airbnb, Backpacker Hostels. Of course, when we say Hotel it’s not always cheap, but you get the luxury of staying in comfy beds, clean bathrooms, room service and sometimes free breakfast. I would most definitely recommend staying with Airbnb. Sometimes I could find flats/houses that are much cheaper than hotels and it has like a room or two, a common room and your own kitchen. If you’re rather adventurous and on a very tight budget, there are also Backpacker Hostels in London. You’ll surely meet new friends there. I did consider though, that our lodging should be in Central London and quite near train stations. So we got a hotel near Regent’s Park. Your life would be easier if you consider these things.

3. Plan ahead and download apps 

Thank god for the advancing technology right!? Believe me when I say your phone will be your bestfriend in another country. Before going to the UK, I have downloaded offline maps of London and apps for the tube (train). I also did my own research and written down notes on how to get from Point A to Point B. What station is nearest and where to go down. Trust me, Google Maps will help you. But if ever you don’t have data, make sure you have your offline map on your phone. If you are fond of another language, you can also download english translator apps. List down things you’re going to do, directions and addresses. You’ll be glad you did so. I used this offline map called Ulmon. It also has a London Tube map and recommendations for activities.


4. Transportation in London

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Getting around London is quite easy. There are cabs, buses and trains you can catch. The tube is London’s underground train system and it will be the most convenient way for you to go around. You need to use an Oyster card for both the tube and the buses. There is also the option of taking a taxi but it’s ~*expensive*~. Well, everything in London is expensive lol. So let me teach you how to use the London tube.

  • Buy an oyster card: Since it’s your first time, you might get intimidated by the self-automated machines. It’s rather easy to navigate. You can buy new oyster cards from there as well as paper tickets for a whole day use. Take note of the Zones when buying paper tickets. Most attractions are usually included in Zones 1 and 2. Don’t worry, you can ask questions and assistance, there are people there ready to help. Some stations have ticket offices too if you don’t like navigating through a machine.
  • Reloading your oyster card: On the ticket machines, there’s a spot there where you touch your card and it reads how much credit you have. If you want to top-up (add credit) you can simply choose that option. Choose the amount you want to add, slide in the coins/bills/credit card, and then touch your oyster card again to the reader to add the credit (It will indicate in the screen). Keep in mind that some machines only accepts coins and credit cards, some don’t accept bills.
  • Getting inside: Simply touch your oyster card on the reader so the gates will open. If ever you’re out of credit, it will not open up.
  • Knowing what train to ride: Here’s the London Underground Map
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    You will be guided by the colors of the line. Once you know what line/train you will be using, all that’s left to know is which train goes in that direction. It will be either north, south, east, west bound. Once you go inside, every train line has two different directions. Make sure you enter the right platform. You can also check the big maps there before entering a platform. I’m gonna give you an example on how to ride the train. From Warren Street Station, I want to go to Victoria Station.  If you can see, there are two train lines stopping in Warren Street Station. One is the Northern Line (Black line) and the other one is the Victoria Line (Light Blue line). I need to ride the Victoria Line (Light Blue line) going South bound to go to Victoria Station. I will then go to the right platform and wait for the train. Inside the train you could also see the stops so you are aware when you’re getting down. As you arrive to your destination, you can follow “Way Out” signs to exit the station. You will need your oyster card or tickets again to exit the station.
  • Buses: You can also use your oyster card on buses. Every bus stop has a timetable and a list of buses stopping at that area. That’s why it’s very helpful if you check what bus you’ll be riding before hand. Same procedure with touching your oyster card on the reader next to the driver. Though, some buses have readers on the other entrance at the back of the bus. If you have a paper ticket, kindly show it to the driver.

 

5. What to do in London

Harry Potter Studio
If you are a fan of the magical world of Harry Potter,  then this is the place for you. I was giddy when we went here. Seeing the set and the stuff they used for filming were there. It truly is a heaven for Harry Potter fans. You may purchase tickets there if you’re going on your own. If you’re coming from central london, I would recommend joining a tour. You can google tours that go to Harry Potter Studio. Great thing about tours is that transportation is included. You get to ride the bus together with other tourists and the guide would give out the tickets on-board. No more hassle of lining-up in the ticket office! If you’re planning to buy souvenirs from the studio, let me warn you that they’re rather expensive. Well, it’s Harry Potter.

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Portobello Market/Notting Hill
If you have a knick for antiques or just want to visit the site where they filmed “Notting Hill”, Portobello is an interesting place to be. You can also find cheap souvenirs there. When I say cheap, it’s like the “divisoria” type items that are sold £15 for 3 items and the like. If you want a food journey, Portobello Market has a wide selection of food stalls, cafés and restaurants. You can check out my Portobello Blog <– here

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Westminster/London Eye
Seeing Westminster will give you quite the London feel. You will find the Big Ben there and the Westminster Abbey, so don’t forget to take pictures, for it will be your one true proof of London hahaha. When you get to Westminster, you will already see the London Eye by the bridge. It’s quite a near walk if you want to get a closer look, or even ride the London Eye. There will be a long line though.

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Sherlock Holmes Museum
Cue Sherlock theme lol but if you are an ultimate fan of Sherlock, I know this will be on your go-to list. Just having your photo at the facade in Baker Street is already an achievement. They also have guided tours if you want to go up the apartment. You can purchase tickets inside the souvenir shop.

The London Beatles Store/Abbey Road 
That popular pedestrian lane would most definitely ring a bell to Beatles fans. Abbey road is just a walk away from The London Beatles store in Baker Street which just beside the Sherlock Museum. They can provide you with a map if you’d like to visit Abbey Road to get your picture taken while crossing. But please be mindful of the cars passing by, it’s still a normal street after all. Don’t make people wait.

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Windsor Castle
This place is quite far from Central London. I would also recommend getting a tour for this so you won’t have problems with transportation and tickets anymore. Sometimes you can even catch the queen in Windsor Castle! I’ve learned that whenever the flag is up, it means that the queen is there. It’s really a marvelous place with all the great structure. There are also guards in red uniform, marching around the area. Please respect them and don’t poke them or something, they’re doing their jobs in peace.

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Roman Baths
I would still recommend getting a tour for this. We got a packaged tour for Windsor, the Roman Baths and Stone Henge. Well,  that’s if you don’t mind going on and off a bus and feel like being rushed. The Roman Baths can get crowded and it’s quite hot in this area. Be careful of the slippery rocks though so you don’t slip. You’ll find many performers outside the baths which was more enjoyable for me. I’d rather chill outside next to the abbey though. It was already like being in Italy.

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Stone Henge
Well, what can I say. It’s a bunch of rocks in an open field lol but still it’s a piece of history though. Once you get to the entrance, you’ll get to ride a bus to the actual stonehenge. To be honest though, I was more fascinated by the vast open field around it. I wanted to roll over the fields and just lay there.

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6. Don’t be afraid to ask questions

I cannot stress this enough. DO NOT BE AFRAID TO ASK QUESTIONS. People in London are rather nice. Well, most of them. They would be willing to help you out with anything. Just say thank you afterwards 🙂

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So yea, these are some of my experiences in The Great Britain. I hope I helped you somehow. London is a very clean city, so please follow the rules and don’t throw rubbish everywhere. Seat belts are very important! Even in taxis. Don’t forget to wear them. Enjoy your first ever UK trip! You will have loads of fun. If ever I forgot some more places to go to. Please comment them down below. Thanks!

Currency in the UK: £ GBP (Great British Pound)

 

A visit to the Deparo Dog Shelter

Before having my birthday, I was already planning on donating to a charity. I even considered those online sites where they let you donate your birthday to one of their charities but I just couldn’t find the one I was looking for. My birthday then had passed and I was given support by my family of my advocacy. I care deeply for dogs as to why I looked for dog pounds/shelters to donate to until I found out about the Deparo Shelter.

I joined facebook groups about Philippine Animal Welfare and learned that some rescued dogs were taken to the Deparo Shelter and thus, finding the shelter I would donate to.

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I bought 2 sacks (20kg each) of dog food, 5 food bowls, 2 Shampoos and 1 e-collar for the shelter (didn’t get to take a picture of it). We did have quite a hard time looking for the shelter. We were already going back and forth but thanks to Ms. Sonia for the help and Ate Linda for meeting us, we reached the place.

We were given a chance to visit the furbabies inside and I did not miss the opportunity of sharing my experience in meeting the doggies. As we were walking to the compound, we could already hear the dogs barking in excitement. I was guessing it’s not everyday they see visitors, and we were welcomed with wagging tails.

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This fella right here was the most jolly of them all

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Ate Linda was the caretaker of the shelter. She is taking care of 30 dogs as of now, and it was nice to know that most of them run freely around the area unlike dog pounds where the dogs are caged all the time. There were a few dogs caged too but these dogs are still adapting to the environment and we don’t want them fighting don’t we?

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This one below is “Scout”. He was found in the Scout area and was rescued all of his fur gone. I found out about him when one person reported his state. I also donated for his vetting and I am really glad the he is safe now.

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Scout

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I was told that this little baby right here was found near a drainage

It’s sad that there are people who abuse animals for fun also when people abandon their dogs just because they are already of no use to them. This is why people should learn about responsible pet ownership. Every dog in Deparo has their own story, all of these stories are quite heartbreaking.

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This poor thing right here was treated unfairly by people as to why she lost her right eye

The furbabies of Deparo are dogs that were rescued by Mr. Ronald De Castro. All of these babies are up for adoption and I encourage people to adopt instead of buying because of the growing number of strays in the country. Again, they are still capable of the same love as pets you get from shops.

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My short visit to Deparo was still a great experience. All of the people who helped these dogs deserve all the good things in this world. Thank you for building a shelter and giving them another chance in life. They would love it if you visit their furbabies too. If you are interested in adopting a dog please do not hesitate to check their group and contact them on facebook. They also accept donations whether be it monetary or in kind. Please help the dogs of Deparo find their forever homes.

DEPARO SHELTER PROJECT

Other Animal Welfare groups:

DAWG (Dogs Are Worth Gold)

PAWA (Philippine Animal Welfare Association)

Hope For The Strays PH

 

Thank you for having me! Until next time!

Going Cruelty-free!

Being an animal advocate, I became aware of the horrors of animal testing and this made me change some of the products I was using. If you want to learn more about animals being tested for cosmetics and other products, you can check out this link –> Animals Used For Experimentation

I wanted to share some of the stuff I bought that are cruelty-free and are available here in the Philippines. This post is in no way paid for. I am just here to raise awareness 🙂

For my hair products haul, I am currently using Human Heart Nature’s Natural Strengthening Shampoo in Soothing Aloe, Natural Moisturizing Conditioner in Lush Vanilla and the Smoothing Hair Serum.

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I personally love the Smoothing Hair Serum. I really does wonders! Apply it to the tips of your hair and it gives it a bit of shine. It’s also great for styling a day-old hair, especially when curling those ends.

As for the beauty haul, I changed most of the items on my kit. For a list of cruelty-free cosmetics that are available here in the Philippines, I found a blog post by Gale Loves Colors that you can check out.

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– Mega Protein Mascara by Wet n Wild
– Wine Room Lipstick by Wet n Wild
– Eye Brow Kit by e.l.f.
– Eyeshadow Quad in Butternut by e.l.f.
– Flower Lip Liner Pencil by NYX
– Eyelid Primer by e.l.f.

Most of them are from e.l.f., then I also bought stuff from Wet n’ Wild and NYX. My favorite has got to be e.l.f’s eyeshadow quad in Butternut. Whenever i’m running late and need a little shine on my eyes, I quickly dab some of this stuff on my eyelids using my fingertips. It works as an everyday-eyeshadow, small and very affordable 🙂

If you want to know which ones are cruelty-free, you may check their descriptions. They usually have a logo like the one below that says “No Animal Testing” has been done.

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I hope this helps you in choosing your beauty products next time. Going natural and cruelty-free can already help animals that are victims of experimentation. As much as I can, I try not to support companies that do testing, for animals are not ours to wear.

If you also want to go cruelty free, here are some links that can help you 🙂
Leaping Bunny
Cruelty-Free Products in the Philippines
PETA’s Shopping Guide for Cruelty-Free Products

Waiting For A Home

I just had the opportunity to finally volunteer at a dog pound this morning. Seeing more and more dogs left abandoned by their past owners, I chose to volunteer for Justice for Dogs at the Pasig City Pound. There were about 80+ dogs currently in the pound. The moment we arrived everyone of them started barking. I brought with me my one sack donation of dog food and wish I had bought more because we finished almost all of it when we fed the dogs. They eat only once a day because of the lack of volunteers and people to take care of the pound. Food is also quickly running low. Imagine having to feed 80+ dogs everyday, equivalent to almost one sack of dog food. I provided links by the end of this post if you’re interested in donating 🙂

As I was taking photos, I couldn’t help but get teary-eyed. Just seeing these poor dogs wait for someone to adopt them made me quite emotional. I have dogs of my own too, and I promise you that you’d want to hug yours when you get home.

Some of these dogs were surrendered by their past owners and some were left abandoned. If only I had a huge house and was capable of accommodating more dogs into our family, i’d save them by adopting.

All of these dogs are up for adoption! They are also capable of the same love and loyalty like the dogs you get from pet stores if you give them the proper guidance and be a responsible owner. I hope this post also raises awareness. I’m looking forward to volunteer again and to spend more time with the dogs!

If you are interested in helping or adopting, you can contact Justice for Dogs on their….
>Facebook page
>Instagram

They are open to volunteers and donations (Paypal and Bank deposit). You too can save these dogs! 🙂

A Time To Give Back

Last December 11, I did an outreach program for the cancer patients of the Philippine Children’s Medical Center. It was my first time doing an outreach like this and I wish I prepared more. Due to a misunderstanding about the program flow, we did not have someone to host. I was already pondering before on getting a magician for the kids. We experienced a few problems along the way but it still turned out great.

We set up a registration booth and my friend Rhazel was kind enough to help with this event.

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We held games before the meal time started.

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I had mini board games ready for prizes and I’m glad that everyone enjoyed.

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After eating, we gave out lootbags from Me, Rachelle and Rhazel. We also visited the ward patients, giving them gifts personally.

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Two hours of gift giving and bringing smiles to the patients of PCMC was worth it 🙂 It’s nice to give back to people who are in need. I hope more people do so too.

On my first visit in PCMC, I met an awesome kid named Van Ryan. He is 12-years old, a very nice lad and can sing beautifully. He came by the outreach and I was so happy he still remembers me.

This was just the start. I wish I could do more outreach programs in the future but this time with a few more volunteers. Thank you to the Philippine Children’s Medical Center for letting us have this event and sharing what we have to those who need it more.

Philippine Children’s Medical Center
Quezon Avenue, Agham Road, Quezon City, Philippines
Trunk line : 9246601 / 5889900
E-mail : hiss@pcmc.gov.ph