Giving Back Through Together We Share

Coining Together We Share
Kanlungan Sa Erma Ministry Inc., 
Malate, Manila, Philippines
October 22, 2011

Three months before my 25th birthday, my Mom told me to continue helping the less fortunate ones: that even I have nothing to share, I should always think of other ways to help other people. A month after, my Mom passed away. It was the saddest part of my life. However, as other people keep telling us: life goes on. We should stay strong and positive even we struggle sometimes.

A week before my birthday, I have asked my friends from social media to help me in raising awareness on the event I've organized. Since I don't have the resources and I was literally asking for donations, I decided to call the event as #TogetherWeShare, a collective effort; working together, helping together.

Luckily, we have received pre-loved clothes, school supplies, noodles, can goods, donuts, and medicines. We distributed these items to all the children and volunteers housed at Kanlungan Sa Erma Ministry Inc., in Malate, Manila. Yes, I spent my birthday here! 

Upon entering the gate, the kids were greeting me 'Happy Birthday' while some of them were kissing and hugging me. Such a priceless moment! 

The First Together We Share 
Kanlungan Sa Erma Ministry Inc., 
Malate, Manila, Philippines
October 22, 2011

Kanlungan sa Erma Ministry Inc., located in Malate, Manila, houses the neglected, abandoned and sexually abused street children from Metro Manila and nearby provinces. The foundation currently houses 17 street children with at least 5 volunteer workers.

Instead of spending my 25th birthday on a certain bar with booze, food and loud music, I decided to do it here in Kanlungan Sa Erma. With the help of my friends, we were able to donate pre-loved clothes, can goods, groceries, school supplies and a lot more. I keep telling my friends to do the same during their birthdays. Since then, my friends started giving back to the community. 

Together We Share II 
Reading Story Books Loud & Clear 
Kanlungan Sa Erma Ministry Inc., 
Malate, Manila, Philippines 
December 31, 2011 

Working in a call center or to any kind of corporate jobs, you meet awesome people who share the same passion as yours. On December 31, 2011, I and my friends Vanj, Cristy & Haruka visited the Kanlungan Sa Erma Ministry Inc., for a reading activity.

During this time, we have read story books loud and clear to at least four kids in a group. There were four groups representing the four of us: me, Vanj, Cristy and Haruka. Then, we're exchanging books so that all kids will be able to know the stories behind those donated books.

Together We Share started to explore other ways to have an impact to the lives of these street children. Teaching them how to read is one of the best things to do to heighten their interest to reading and to trigger their artistic sides.

You may check out our upcoming outreach programs, photos and videos through our Facebook Page, Together We Share. You can also follow our Instagram account via @togetherweshareorg.

Inspiring People of Today: Seth Daniel Atienza

For the past weeks, I’ve been receiving stories (and photos) of young boys, who successfully conquered two or more mountains. The senders? Proud parents. These parents are looking for ways to get their children involved in physical activities. Yes, some kids are becoming too focused on smartphones, playing video games and the newly craze, Pokemon Go.

Following the inspiring stories of Charwin and Alfred, this week, I want you all to meet SETH DANNIEL ATIENZA.

Seth have conquered Mt Batulao when he was 8 years old. A year after, he climbed Mt Talamitam. His love of mountaineering continues to this day. He’s one of the few children who enjoys the outdoor rather than just staying at home. Hershey loves hiking with her son Seth to keep him away from video games which is detrimental to his physical health.

Spending time outdoors is scientifically proven to reduce stress and provide a huge range of physical and mental benefits for children. Mountain-climbing requires a great deal of intense focus and concentration. It also requires the children to learn how to think and act with confidence and making quick decisions on the best route, relying on their own physical strength and mental abilities.

For parents, hiking with your kids allow you to learn more about them. These kids talk a lot while trekking and you get to hear everything about their lives. Let your kids enjoy the outdoors. Let them enjoy the forests, the mountains. And, when they get back to school, they’ll brag about what they’ve done last weekend.

Seth, not every climb will be successful but it provides you the opportunity to learn about the mistakes and it figures out to succeed the next time. Soar. Fly high. Keep on climbing as it prepares you for all the life’s challenges.

REVIEW: Siquijor Island's Coco Grove Beach Resort

Coco Princess, a yacht owned by Coco Grove Beach Resort brought us to the mystical, beautiful Siquijor Island.

Coco Grove, situated in Tubod, San Juan, Siquijor Island, is the best tropical resort I have ever been to so far. The resort is being surrounded by complete nature: from crystal blue sea with white soft, powdery sand, tropical gardens all over the place, spectacular marine life (thanks to Tubod Marine Sanctuary) to stunning sunsets each day.

Coco Grove Beach Resort, Siquijor Island, Philippines

The resort has the friendliest staff ever (they memorize customers' names, impressive!). They need to improve the food being served especially during their 'barbecue' night where you can witness cultural and fire dances. 

Wifi connection is slow and its only available to certain areas. There's no telephone on each room, so you have to personally make reservations especially for food and massage services at the reception areas. Rates at their spa center is a bit pricey. 

Start your day with a morning run, enjoy the complimentary breakfast, snorkel, kayak, then end it by walking on the sea shores while waiting for a beautiful, stunning sunset. Call it a life. You can call it home, too!

Overall, I'm giving 5 stars for Coco Grove!


Inspiring People of Today: Charwin Real

Meet CHARWIN REAL from Manila, Philippines.

At a very young age, Charwin have conquered Mt Maculot, Mt Binacayan and just recently, Mt Pico de Loro. He’s one of those lucky kids who can still play at the mountains and get closer to nature. He prefers being with nature rather than staying at home, playing with his video and cellphone games. 

I met Charwin when we trekked Mt Binacayan few months ago. He’s meek and very humble. He’s a type of guy who is always willing to be taught. These qualities of a mountaineer will lead him to a better tomorrow. Who knows, he’ll be the next Romeo Garduce, who reached the summit of Mt Everest in 2006.

Exposing Charwin to unfamiliar places through mountain-climbing demands problem solving and learning of new movement skills. The challenges and joys of outdoor climbing has been introduced to him at very young age. And, that’s good. Look at Charwin now. He’s such a gentleman and his confidence radiates from simple to complex situation. 

I will never forget Charwin’s enthusiasm – he greets everyone with a smile and people around him (I’m one of them) wants to be with him because of his cheerful heart. If a 13-year old can reach the summit, why can’t you? Charwin is turning 14 on August 23rd. Jewel, Charwin’s mother, is planning for a birthday climb for him. 

Charwin, keep exploring the world.. and continue inspiring everyone!

Inspiring People of Today: Alfred Rafael Marbella

I couldn’t shake off the LSS anymore!

Do you know where you’re going to, do you like the things that life is showing you? Where are you going to? Do you know? Yes, I’m a singer… on my rest room!

For sure, after reading this story, your interest to mountain-climbing or even just at the outdoor will be awakened, signaling you to take various crossroads again. My point here is to go with what your gut and heart tell you makes you happy.

Last week, while planning my Catanduanes itinerary, I’ve received a message from Jhane, a proud Mom, sharing her son’s photos and stories. For the past weeks, I was featuring certain individuals I’ve met on the road. But, for the first time, I’m writing about someone I’ve never met yet his stories is worth-sharing. 

Everyone, meet ALFRED RAFAEL MARBELLA from East Rembo, Makati City, Philippines. This 9-year old kid have conquered Mt Pico de Loro, the Taal crater lake and recently, Mt Ulap.

For some, Mt Ulap is considered a major hike, spending 4-6 hours on the trail. Mt Ulap traverse is a combination of several hills and mountain peaks. The trail is a bit tricky and dangerous for inexperienced mountain climber. Just like Charwin, our featured individual last week, Alfred prefers being with nature rather than staying at home. 

Life can get so busy with work that we lose time for family and friends. Of course, work is a priority. But when you can, travel with your family and friends. You’ll learn more about yourself when traveling. Jhane’s way of spending time with her family, most especially to Alfred, is very inspiring too! 

To Alfred, continue inspiring people and keep on discovering the world. Fly high. Spread your wings. Soar. Let your confidence radiates wherever you are.

Inspiring People of Today: Rolando Campos

Meet ROLANDO CAMPOS from Rizal, Philippines.

He was our tour guide when we trekked Mt Binacayan last Sunday, July 3rd. The first time I've met him, I felt at ease right away. He's very friendly, approachable and is full of energy. He shared so many things about the mountains in Rizal including the stories of his students who crosses a river and mountains just to attend their classes.


Yes, you read it right! Mr. Campos is an elementary school teacher and a tour guide during weekends. Imagine this: he teaches from Mondays to Fridays; he prepares his lesson plans every night; and he plays the 'tour guide slash photographer slash porter' role during weekends. Plus, he's a family man! Impressive, right?

Mr. Campos is indeed a living proof that we can overcome anything when we have the determination to improve the quality of our lives.

To Sir Campos, thank you for being such an inspiration. To help out your students, I'm organizing an outreach program, hoping to get pledges from my friends and to you, my dear reader. Stay tuned for the updates.

Inspiring People of Today: Renz Galat

Meet RENZ GALAT from Basco, Batanes, Philippines.

The most exciting part of travel is discovery. That's what I've realized for traveling solo since 2011. I love the feeling of being in awe and to the completely unexciting things to happen. These might be the reasons why I enjoyed my stay in Batanes last year.

Kuya Renz is one of the tour guides in Batanes. He was referred by Amboy Hometel where we stayed for 4 days and 3 nights. I met him at the hotel's reception area, looking tired that morning but still managed to smile.

If you're new to a certain place and you haven't finished your research, you'll definitely listen intently to your tour guide and ask so many questions just to satisfy your curiosity. I have learned that Kuya Renz was working as a government employee in Batanes for years to support his daughters' studies here in Manila.

When Kris Aquino featured Batanes on her now defunct-TV show, the need for tour guides mushroomed. Without flinching an eye, he enrolled himself to TESDA and got certified. Few days after, he was invited by Amboy Hometel to guide tourists from Manila. He admitted that he's enjoying his current job as a tour guide (sometimes, as a photographer) because he has all the time for his family and helping promote Batanes - that alone makes him teary-eyed.

This is a shout out for Kuya Renz for being very informative, understanding and honest during our stay in Batanes. He played the tour guide-photographer role wholeheartedly. 

Kuya Renz is indeed an inspiration -- age is not a hindrance to enjoy what you're passionate about. He studied, got certified and now helping his community through tourism.

Inspiring People of Today: Felix from Gapan, Nueva Ecija

Meet FELIX from Gapan, Nueva Ecija, Philippines.

As soon as we get off from the tricycle, young boys immediately flocked together at the registration area offering services to be our porter, tour guide and even photographer. For solo backpackers (yes, budgetarian) like me, asking services from these kids would mean additional expenses. So, we politely turned down the offers and started roaming around.


The Minalungao National Park, covering 2,018 hectares, is one of Nueva Ecija's hidden gems. This national park is known for its marvelous 16-meter high limestone bordering a narrow river with emerald water coming from the Sierra Madre mountain range. 

While enjoying the views, I have noticed Felix, one of the boys at the registration area, feeding his younger sister. Looking at them -- broke my heart. Without flinching an eye, I asked him to join us, pretending that we needed his help to tour us around. To my surprise, he's a good photographer. He knows where to strike a pose then he capture it perfectly. Yes, a potential photographer! 

Felix attend classes on weekdays and works during weekends. He said that whatever he's earning every time he plays the 'tour guide slash porter slash photographer' role, he share it with his family and most especially to his sister. At young age, he knows how to work and save up for his future. Felix is indeed an inspiration, right? 

Uh, wishing these kids could enjoy their youth -- playing around, learning new things and not working hard for survival.

REVIEW: Siquijor Island's U Story Guesthouse

If you're on travel and is up for the best local cuisine, you better talk to locals. These locals know where the best restaurant is located and they can even suggest and direct you to places not included to your itinerary. This works for me most of the time.

Siquijor Island, Philippines

After the Palm Sunday feast, at around 8 AM, I and my friends decided to visit the 400-year old Balete tree (ficus elastica). Nothing creepy and spooky here. Trust me.

We were on our way back to Coco Grove when our tricycle driver recommended a place for our late lunch. He brought us to a very beautiful, relaxing U-Story Guesthouse.

Palaui Island, Santa Ana, Cagayan

U-Story is surprisingly beautiful. I appreciate the details given on each bungalow. The place is enchanting with Balenese decorations. Flowers are all over the place. According to one of their staff, at night, fireflies lights up the place. This maybe because of the trees and flowers in the garden.

Views here are absolutely beautiful!

U-Story, also known as Universal Story, is a testament of love -- of two different personality, race, and orientation. It is a love story of a former Coco Grove bartender and a french tourist. It was love at first sight, according to their staff. 

The place is very clean and the staff are very friendly. They speak English fluently. No wifi so just enjoy the books, the food and the breathtaking views. They serve delicious food at reasonable price. The ambiance is very relaxing and homey. This is one of the most serene places I've been to. 

If you're traveling to Siquijor Island, make sure you visit this surprisingly beautiful restaurant, alright? 

You will never forget this place. Swear.


Inspiring People of Today: Joann Salamat

Meet JOANN SALAMAT from Bulacan, Philippines.

I've joined an event on Facebook, trekking Mt Binacayan on July 3rd. Just like my previous climbs, I only knew one or two in the group. So, that time, I was with new faces, personalities and orientations -- and Joann was one of them. My Mom told me not to talk to strangers, so I pretended that I was sleeping all the time. Uh oh, I'm just kidding!☺


At the jump off, Joann approached me asking to check out their bags when heading to the rest room. When she came back, she started asking me questions until we have shared so many travel stories until we reached the summit and when we returned back to the jump off.

Joann, who works in an IT company in Ortigas, is addicted to black and white photography. She distributed coloring books to children in Barangay Wawa in Rizal before heading back to Manila. It was my first time to meet someone like her who carry books from jump off to summit then back to the jump off. Such an inspiration, right?

Joann started distributing books to children a year ago. According to her, she allot a certain amount for this cause. Her backpack will always have books. I'm sure with that.

Joann, you're indeed an inspiration. Thank you for making the kids happy. Thank you for inspiring me and other people. Thank you for your contribution towards creating a better world.

The Golden Sun Behind The Cordillera Mountains

Imagine this: The golden sun is rising behind the mountains of Cordillera over the horizons of sea of clouds and is slowly revealing the beautiful rice terraces in Sagada. Worth-seeing, right?

Kiltepan Peak, Sagada, Mountain Province, Philippines

That's what the Kiltepan Sunrise is all about. Tourists wake up early in the morning and trek for few minutes until they reach the Kiltepan Sunrise View Deck. From there, they wait for the golden sun to rise until they witness a beautiful blessing from above. What an amazing view! Please note that not everyday is a lucky day in Sagada. Weather is unpredictable there.

Kiltepan is located at the eastern part of Sagada. Its a three and a half kilometers away from the town center. This place is also known as the Kiltepan Peak being the highest point in the village.

Kiltepan Sunrise became popular because of the Filipino film, That Thing Called Tadhana where the lead stars released their emotions while mending a broken heart by shouting out it loud.


Meet Noel On The Road

Hello! I'm Noel Soriano from Ilocos Norte, Philippines. Welcome to my personal travel blog, Noel On The Road where I share my travel guides, hotel and restaurant reviews, travel hacks and other travel-related contents which might be of help on your next adventure.

Mount Hapunang Banoi, Rizal, Philippines

Just like you, I'm always on the look out for fun things to do. I've been traveling solo for years now and I'm enjoying the hits and misses of my life on the road. I recently quit my corporate job just to become a digital nomad. I know that it will be a long journey full of mistakes and mishaps before I find my personal blogging and fashion styles.

Getting inked by the bad-ass, legendary woman Apo Whang Od
Buscalan Village, Kalinga, Philippines

One of the biggest lessons I've learned while on the road is not to plan too much as it narrows down your views and disposition about life. I don't want to miss out on amazing new things.

I thought that there's only one path to take but when you travel, you meet random people around the world who do things differently. Life is also about grabbing new opportunities even if they're a left-turn when you were really expecting to go straight ahead.

Mount Maculot, Cuenca, Batangas, Philippines

Make your time more precious by discovering places, learning the local's culture, experiencing the local cuisine and meeting new friends. Let life show you what opportunities were waiting for you somewhere on the road.

Manage your own expectations and balance your life. You can't be perfect in everything. Please don't let fear or insecurity stop you from trying new things. Believe in yourself. Do what you love! Besides, we're only young once -- so travel, inspire people and just have fun!

Your feedback to my work is very much welcome. Let me know what are your thoughts, suggestions and recommendations so I can better my craft. Thank you in advance!  

Stay connected by following my social media accounts: Facebook Page, Twitter, Youtube and Instagram. Happy travels!☺