Last Sunday, I headed to Bantayan Island, located in northern Cebu, at three in the morning to give the P32, 000 cash donations and little gifts for the kids I would surely meet along the way.

Bantayan Island is the first site of our modest Project Rebuild, an initiative to support livelihood projects, provide cash gifts to the poorest of the poor, and wrap a little  Christmas joy for the kids. Project Rebuild sponsored two small boats (P6 000 each ) through the Bantayan Back to Sea Project. (Check this link to see the post dedicated for Project Rebuild: Post by Bantayan Back to Sea Project.) A separate blog entry and story for BBSP  is also in the process.

With the help of Jose Quieso, (a barangay councilor), Allan Monreal (one of the two heads of Bantayan Back to Sea Project), and his lovely wife, Tetet Pacheco-Monreal, we were able to identify those most in need .

My heartfelt gratitude to the Hays family in Georgia, USA for their active participation in gathering donations from their relatives, friends, and fellow Atlantans. Special thanks to Paideia School whose staff made generous contributions. 

Let me extend the beneficiaries’ salamat (thank you) through their pictures found below.  They stood in front of their collapsed houses.

Salamat, Georgia, USA!

Very grateful,

Jona and the Bantayanons

DSC_4389Before the ship docked, I sneaked into the captain’s quarters and took a series of overseeing photos.

DSC_4399He must be the captain or a ship’s crew.DSC_4414

Amid the debris and flotsam, kids played house on the beach right of the port. DSC_4407 This was the beach I stayed during my first visit three years ago. DSCN7221Wrapped the P12 000 for Bantayan Back to Sea Project and   P20 000 cash gifts: a little Christmas feel for the beneficiaries.

DSC_4443For the girls, two new undies.

DSC_4471 Slippers for the barefoot. DSC_4456 More slippers for the barefoot.DSC_4541 This girl walked from their house barefoot to a store to buy candies. DSC_4433Emilio Mutar | 37 years old | Married | Has two kids | Balintawak, Bantigue, Bantayan Island

He was the only trisikad driver who agreed on bringing me to Sayaw—a coastal sitio of Bantigue.  The others I tapped at Bantayan’s public market either said they were waiting for a particular passenger or picking someone somewhere.

DSC_4466Veronica Buytrago | 42 years old | Married | Two Kids | Balintawak, Bantigue, Bantayan Island

Behind her was what was left of her house.

DSC_4463-001Josephine Rosano | 41 | Single | Balintawak, Bantigue, Bantayan Island

She wasn’t there when we arrived. It seemed like she had to attend a  relative’s funeral. We left the little gift to her trusted neighbor, whom the barangay councilor knew.

DSC_4470Jonalyn Aparri and her husband | 22 years old | Married | With two kids  | Balintawak, Bantigue, Bantayan Island


Marciana Tidalgo | 63 years old | Balintawak, Bantigue, Bantayan Island

DSC_4487Gloria Buytrado | 83 years old | Balintawak, Bantigue, Bantayan Island

She lined up for the free yero (Galvanized Corrugated Metal Roofing) distributed by the local government unit. Her neighbor received the cash gift for her.

DSC_4490Margie Dacayana | 44 years old | Has two kids | Separated |  Balintawak, Bantigue, Bantayan Island

DSC_4534Maxima Marapot | 40 years old | Has three kids | Separated  | Cambyakiki, Guiwanon, Bantayan Island

DSC_4536Sol Cueva | 64 years old | Single | Tingdog, Guiwanon, Bantayan Island

She is a card reader. She had my love life and career read. The cards told her I have a happy and lovely life, and 2014 will be a great year for my career! Haha!

DSC_4539Rosalie Oropesa | 19 years old | Has a civil partner | Siong-on, Guiwanon, Bantayan Island

DSC_4554 Tourists, foreign and locals alike, flock Bantayan Island for its beach. Some beach resorts have now resumed their operations.

Bantayan Island Nature Park & Resort | Anika Beach Resort | Beach Placid Resort | Yooneek Beach Resort | Kota Beach Resort | Abaniko Beach Resort | Sunday Flower Beach Resort |
HR Lodge | Coucou Lodge | Tickety Boo Beach Resort | Coral Blue Oriental Villas

The act of traveling is already a big help to the locals. Come, visit Bantayan Island now! It is more storied than before. DSC_4557

The backpack was now empty and my heart full. I could now fly! 🙂

Again, thank you, Georgia, USA. Thank you, Paideia School!

December 17, 2013

Project Rebuild: Sending Christmas to Bantayan Island

Last Sunday, I headed to Bantayan Island, located in northern Cebu, at three in the morning to give the P32, 000 cash donations and little gifts for the kids I would surely meet along the way. Bantayan Island is the first site of our modest Project Rebuild, an initiative to […]
December 8, 2013

Palompon after Yolanda (Haiyan)

  In one of the rooms at Palompon Elementary School, these words were framed: Nobyembre Paglilingkod | Pagmamalasakit Ang pagmamalasakit at paglilingkod ay kusang pagbibigay ng ating sariling kakayahan na maaaring material, moral, at ispiritwal sa ating kapwa lalo na sa mga kapus-palad at nangangailangan. 
December 4, 2013

Twenty Days After: Post-Haiyan Lives at Tacloban

The highways are already cleaned up. The debris in the pictures are from the coastal streets especially Magallanes and the one by the public market. Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation is conducting a “cash for work” program. People—around 6000 of them—are paid P500 a day. They shoveled dirt, put them on a […]
November 3, 2013

Manila Bulletin | Newbie Encounter with the Siargao Waves

“They are rather small,” the hippie selling souvenirs at Cloud 9’s boardwalk shrugged her shoulders when I motioned the fierceness of the waves. “They seem furious enough,” I countered. We were at the three-story boardwalk, looking at the lapping tongues of the Pacific piqued and exploded by the lighthouse. Its […]
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