A Word A Week Challenge: Cross

Hi all!

It’s been a while since I last participated in this challenge. When I first chance upon this week’s topic, my first thought was that I’ve nothing in my meagre photo repertoire related to it. But this morning when I woke up, I realised I did have something which I would like to share with you guys from 2013. Given that a majority of Filipinos are Catholics, crosses were put in place by the locals to commemorate the deaths of the victims of Typhoon Bopha at Compostela Valley, Philippines. At a church located near these crosses, you can still see a look of loss across the faces of family members who were there to offer prayers to their loved ones. It seemed as if they were perpetually stuck in that timezone where everything they had/knew changed in a split second. Our guide also told us that there might still be bodies which could not be found in the land area (see picture 3). I cannot even begin to fathom the pain the family members are going through. Nor do I ever want to understand their pain. It might seem selfish but I firmly believe that the only way we can understand their sense of loss is to go through the same thing as they did and I would not wish it on anyone else.

Till the next post, bye.





All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy

Of course our days are not filled with work and no play. The marketing group would usually head off to the market in the morning to get the ingredients for lunch and dinner. Besides, going to the market is always fun since the day will be a rather relaxing one *ahem, less construction, ahem* 😉

Chicken heads, chicken feet and any other possible chicken parts you can think of, it’s likely available in the market.



Buying vegetables to feed 20 plus people is always interesting since the store may not carry enough of what we want. So the store owner (in blue) will ask from her neighbours around her and there’s this trading thing going on. Lol.


Another interesting thing to note is that the people there are not afraid of others stealing their business. One time we wanted to buy mangoes and Benny (our guide in the Philippines) asked one of the fruit store owner where we can get some. She directed us to some other stores even though she was selling mangoes as well. It’s quite heart-warming to see this kind of friendliness going on even though they are all trying to make a living.


The noodles/condiments store. Condiments are usually sold in small little packets compared to the bottles we are used to.


Major fish chopping with a hammer.


That day, we were preparing to cook pancit (pronounced pun-sit), a noodle dish. Typically, people will often debone and remove the skin of a chicken. But there, every part is used even if don’t eat the bones at the end… This kinda reminds me of the GK village motto: no one is left behind. In this case, no chicken is left behind. Hehe.

After lunch, we would usually start teaching the village kids at 2pm, followed by some sports activities after the lessons are done. Lessons are definitely a challenge given the different ages, level of comprehension and personality of the children. We were task to teach colours that day and the older ones have definitely learnt them and were quite restless. On the other hand, the younger ones, especially the girls, are a lot quieter and slower. I felt there’s a fine line between managing the older kids (so they don’t lose interest) and the younger ones (so they don’t feel left behind and start doodling by themselves).

After colours, was an origami session. The kids had not done it before and the session proved to be an eye-opener for them. We ended the lesson with tons of cranes and kids preparing for an origami boat competition.


All GK village would have sports amenities, usually the basketball/volleyball court. The idea is that sports reduces the possibility of exposure/interest in smoking, gambling etc. Besides, the children have an endless amount of energy. They can run about the whole day and still have energy to play at 10pm -.- The children also pick up new sports very fast. We taught them volleyball, frisbee, American football and they got it immediately O.O There’s definitely never a dull day here.


Building from scratch!

In the village, people work to get a house. As you contribute to the construction of the house, you’ll accumulate points that increase the likelihood of you owning the house. Of course there are exist other criteria. To accumulate more points so as to accelerate the “house-owning” process, the children in the family skip school to help in the construction.



Not the most ideal way for these kids to break out of the poverty cycle especially when they can take 6 consecutive off days before the school will contact their family. Back to the constructing process, we basically aided the skilled workers in the plaster preparation:

1. Separating the big rocks from the sand pile

2. Sieving the sand from the previous step to obtain the fine sand


Our bags of sand

3. Mixing the fine sand with the cement to form the plaster


Plastering is really needed since these “bricks” crumble easily if you exert even the slightest force when carrying it.


Besides that, we did some levelling of the floor as well as painted the houses.  The whole process was tough but as we were working, we saw kids as young as 6 or 7 shovelling the sand, preparing the cement etc. It made us feel quite guilty whenever we took a short break or break for lunch because these kids would continue with where we left off.

To cool off from the mid-morning hit, the villagers like to enjoy a good pomelo or coconut (freshly plucked from the trees by the kids/adults). The coconut was a thirst-quencher though the pomelo was kind of dry (and sour) and it made most of us a lot thirstier than we initially were. Though the kids find great enjoyment in eating the pomelo.



Despite the muscle aches, we pressed on for the next few days knowing that what we did accelerated the construction process so that someone can eventually live in the house.


At the end of our 13 days there, these are the “completed” houses. The 2 green ones are the ones we worked on. It appears incomplete because of the lack of materials for the roof, plaster, partitioning the inside of the house etc. But we did what we could and the the workers can enjoy a well-deserved Christmas break ^^.