Monday, November 27, 2017

NTC, telcos and amateur and civic radio groups offer “Libreng Text at Tawag” assistance to Marawi City evacuees

In line with President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration last 17 October 2017 that Marawi City has been liberated from terrorist influence and DND Secretary Delfin Lorenzana’s announcement last 23 October 2017 that combat operation in the City had been terminated, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) issued Office Order 179-10-2017 last 30 October 2017 instructing its Regional Office in Cagayan de Oro City, headed by its director, Engr. Teodoro Buenavista, Jr.,  to offer “Libreng Text at Tawag” services in evacuation centers for a period of seven (7) calendar days starting 31 October 2017.

The “Libreng Text at Tawag” services were located in five (5) evacuation centers in Iligan City:  Kanaway Evacuation Center, Tibanga; Sta. Elena Gymnasium, Sta. Elena; Buru-un School of Fisheries, Buru-un; Buru-un Gymnasium, Buru-un; and Maria Cristina Gym, Maria Cristina. In Cagayan de Oro City, the “Libreng Text at Tawag” services was offered in the Indahag Evacuation Center.
With the service, displaced families were able to inform their relatives, both here and abroad, of any further assistance needed.  The evacuees were also able to inform their loved ones of their safety and plans regarding their eventual return to Marawi City.  Reports say that more than 300,000 people were displaced by the conflict.
The “Libreng Text at Tawag” service included free NDD and overseas calls and was expanded to include other evacuation centers after its first week.  The NTC’s effort was implemented in cooperation with Globe, Smart and various amateur and civic radio groups, namely, Race9, ACTS Radio Club and KABALIKAT.
Here are some of the photos :)


Friday, September 22, 2017

#FastingInADay Challenge made meaningful during Ramadhan

Born from an impoverished family in Aras-asan, Cagwait, Surigao del Sur, I took the risk of pursuing my college education at Mindanao State University Main Campus located in Marawi City. I must admit I had second thoughts to be at the campus because of the negative stigma tagged to the Islamic City of Marawi being a horrible place and home to a number of kidnappers, murderers, rebels and whatnot.

I could still remember the first time I experienced Ramadhan way back November 2002 as a first year student. I was deeply asleep when the firing of guns and other artificial explosives woke me up. I really thought there was an encounter between the rebels and the military, that I hurriedly went to our landlord to seek refuge and he gladly explained it’s a manifestation that the Ramadhan has commenced. (sighs). Thank God we are safe. More than the superficial signal is a deeper meaning of Ramadhan. It is a month-long fasting where participating Muslims refrain from eating, drinking, smoking and from having sex with their partners during daylight hours and is intended to teach Muslims about patience, spirituality, humility and submissiveness to God. This spurred my curiosity to closely observe Ramadhan and try fasting in a day with my Muslim brothers and sisters.

Sometime in July 2014, I finally had the chance to experience fasting during Ramadhan season. I was taught that a day before fasting, one must commit and set his mind to refrain from eating, drinking and other activities. This was my mental preparation that as early as 2 o’clock in the morning the following day, I was already awake to prepare for the suhoor - a meal before sunrise. Kuya Tommy our landlord was generous enough to welcome me in their home for a meal at 4:00AM. I ate some food, fruits and drink plenty of water. The first few hours of fasting was way manageable but I decided to stay at home resting when lunch time came and the need for water intensified. At 5:00PM, we gathered in one of the rooms of our college, did an ablution and performed a Maghrib prayer (fourth prayer of the day). After a series of preparations, we finally had our iftar – a meal that literally breaks the fast. It was like a feast of great food and drinks. Thanks to Sir Peepo and some of our students for the awesome meal. We then rested for a while and readied ourselves for the taraweeh – a night of prayer in a mosque. One of the things I learned while attending taraweeh was the equal treatment among the Muslims regardless of economic status.

We then went home at 10:00PM and my heart was filled with joy as I successfully surpassed #FastingInADay Challenge during Ramadhan Season. It was indeed a dream-come-true for me to experience how our Muslim brothers and sisters withstand the challenges of depriving themselves from eating or drinking after #suhoor and before #iftar. While having the desire to try is the first step to satisfy my curiosity, it was also a doorstep to learn important lessons in life. Being hungry and thirsty are two of the tests of faith, patience, endurance, humility and self-discipline among others. I'm simply amazed how Muslims manage to overcome the struggles in 30 days. Moreover, bowing down is truly a gesture of utmost reverence to our God. And above all, it's the realization that we actually have the same God (with different names) whom we put our trust and hope that everything will be well. Our sins will be forgiven if we are willing to repent and move away from the bad deeds. Thank you to Sir Tommy Disamburon for the provision during the suhoor, to Sir Peepo Disomimba Lucman who was readily willing to help me realize my desire for immersion, more so with coordinating with the Muslim students for the iftar and taraweeh, thank you so much Sir. Thank you also to the students who were equally willing to guide and teach me the basics of fasting. Thank you to those who in one way or another have made that day extraordinarily remarkable, unforgettable and meaningful. May Allah bless you a hundredfold :-) Thank you, thank you, thank you J

Sunday, January 22, 2017

IN PHOTOS: Lanao del Sur's Nature Trek and Marches

Staying in MSU since 2002, visiting Marawi city several times, going to the viewing deck of the cliff, fasting for a day and joining our brethren once in Tarawih during Ramadhan, taking a glimpse and swimming in the Lanao Lake made me think that it's everything I've got to see. Until I trekked down the hill for me to realize that there's a hidden beauty far from the hustle and bustle of the city where lush environment is all I could see: no trashes, no pressures, just a peaceful living. :)

Sometime in November 2014, I received an invitation from Lt. Colonel Bienvenido Alabot from the 1006th Community Defense Center to join the 1st Lanao del Sur's Nature Trek and Marches. I got excited because I really love exploring places and the thought of doing it in Marawi City is truly interesting.

The day has come and I woke up as early as 5:00AM because the assembly time was 6:00AM. With me was a colleague in the Marketing Department, Sir Ralph Buca. 

When we arrived at Campo Ranao, we were welcomed by this awesome view. :) 

The participants started gathering at the Campo Ranao Grounds.

And so the trek begins...
Sharing with you the photos as we explored Marawi and neighboring places in Lanao del Sur.

Sir Ralph Buca taking photos :)

Sir Buca enjoying the trek. :)

It was a long and tiring day but my heart was filled with awe and gratitude. Indeed, Lanao del Sur is such a wonderful place. If only people from other places get to visit Marawi and explore its tourist attractions, one can realize that Lanao del Sur is not all about war, kidnappings and bombings. Thank you so much Sir Alabot for having us. :) God bless ;)

I'm looking forward to more adventures in Lanao del Sur :) Thank you Lord :)