A Heart With A Cause

     For all the years I spent living overseas, I never lost touch of my roots, my heritage.  The Filipino spirit still lives in me, though, this time, I consider myself a product of the fusion of the different cultures I got to assimilate with.  I began to discern and choose aspects of my culture that are still beneficial for me and try to get rid of the ones that do not serve me well anymore. But there is one thing that has been very close to my heart regardless of what I have been through in life, and that is, to be able to make a difference and give back to humanity in my own simple way.

     Doing charity work roots back during my high school years when I was part of an organization that conducted catechism to a group of youth in a nearby slum village.  Along with catechism, we also taught some reading and arithmetic.  It was such an eye-opening experience as I realized how blessed I was for having the opportunity to go to school and having shoes to wear–while the children were on barefoot during catechism.  Stepping on the muddy ground did not bother them at all.  But it was I, who was so bothered and worried of them walking barefoot.  Much as I would like to offer them a pair of slippers, I just then wished that one day, I could go back to their village and provide them a pair of slippers.  To this day, the memories I had with the children in the slums are still a part of me and have somehow inspired me of pursuing a career in Education.  I believe that they need more than just a pair of slippers or any material dole-out for that matter.

     Until recently, I came across with social entrepreneurship during my research and course work in graduate school.  I got to know some enterprises and organizations supporting children with special needs and their families.  From there, I did some personal research on social entrepreneurship and on how I could utilize this platform for Zen & Sea.  This world has so much to offer and that makes me now a believer in unlimited possibilities.  I also believe that I could spread more inspiration and accomplish so much more than just making a difference in a four-walled classroom.

     I am truly honored having participated in a weekend stay at the Gawad Kalinga (GK) Enchanted Farm in Angat, Bulacan recently.  I am humbled having met the people behind this very inspiring community of changemakers and movers in this nation.  It was yet another eye-opening experience of how social entrepreneurship is being adopted here in the Philippines.  The Farm provides an enlightening and engaging  platform for future social entrepreneurs.

the Philippines, a melting pot of social entrepreneurs

 

a living classroom for social entrepreneurs

 

The weekend program at the Farm also gave us some hands-on learning opportunity to know some of their homegrown products.  The Farm is, indeed, a living classroom of knowledge and idea execution.

 

Artisan Chocolate Making Demo

 

Gourmet Cheese Making Demo

 

Plush Toy Making Demo

 

And the highlight of our stay was an up close and personal interaction with Mr. Tony Meloto himself. Words are not enough to describe his heart and vision for the Filipino people.

Mr. Tony Meloto, founder of Gawad Kalinga having an intimate talk with our group

 

     Having lived in a desert environment for several years, a tour of  the Farm was such a great delight. Mama was in my thoughts while I feasted with the sight of different herbs and vegetables.  Mama has instilled in me an interest in gardening.  She once encouraged me to join her getting supplies from a nearby Home Depot or Lowe’s to have our DIY soil beds so we can grow our own herbs and vegetables. With the extreme weather conditions in Las Vegas, we were worried if the plants would survive.  We ended up going to a nearby nursery and just planted in pots.  Gardening is mama’s favorite pastime and her plants now are her babies.

     Mama will definitely love and enjoy a stay at the Farm.  I hope to bring her to the Farm when she visits the Philippines one of these days.

reminds me of mama

 

getting to know more of the Farm's mission & vision

 

had the pleasure meeting everyone at the Farm

 

Found my zen at the Farm

entrance to the Bamboo Palace

 

     I personally feel that doing charity work or making a difference has nothing to do with one’s gender, ethnicity, religion or political affiliation.  If people truly love their country, they will choose to have concern and care for it and its people, regardless of their status in society.  Social entrepreneurship is just one of the many ways we can contribute to the betterment of this nation and make a positive lasting impact to society.

     I live up with my vision and purpose not because I am a Filipino, but simply because I have a heart with a cause….I have a heart that cares.

     We envision Zen & Sea of becoming a social enterprise and at the same time, we aspire to spread some inspiration to the least of our brothers and sisters.

About the Author

 Angela Antonio, a native of Manila, Philippines, started her career as a marketing executive in the airline-tourism industry. In her pursuit of serving humanity, Angela entered the education field and earned her master’s degree in Special Education from University of Nevada-Las Vegas.  As Angela aspires to live her passion, vision, and purpose—Zen & Sea came to life. Angela founded and conceptualized Zen & Sea in summer 2006. Angela enjoys traveling, cooking, crafting,  music, yoga/meditation, and nature trips.

 

No Strangers at The Circle

     Right before my trip back to Manila in July of last year, I have been reading several Filipino travel blogs to get me acquainted of some of the new travel spots in the Philippines.  After a 12-year absence in my homeland, I hope to get familiarized again of some of the places I’ve been to and places I intend to visit and explore.

     Almost every day of my life is like an adventure ever since I got back here in Manila.  Most of the time, I don’t know what to expect–no idea where a road leads to, getting lost, asking questions from locals, and again, it’s an on-going moments of re-learning.  Never thought I would look on to a map of Manila again in my life.  Sometimes, I feel like I’m a newly-arrived immigrant (bagong salta) in a country. Having watched TFC (The Filipino Channel) programs back in the US might have somehow re-oriented me of the Philippines, but of course, it was just not enough.

     And now, it’s summer time. Classes are out.  It gives me some flexibility to do more of my exploring and re-learning.

     I came across The Circle Hostel in several travel blogs even before I arrived the Philippines.  Though I find it quite unique from other beach resorts, thought I’d give it a chance and experience it myself.   While I made my reservations,  I was still apprehensive of staying in this type of accommodation simply because of its concept of being “open” to everyone–no doors, no borders, common area for showers, common area everywhere.  The hostel truly lives up with their motto: There are no strangers here.

greeted by this at the entrance

 

where we slept, bunk beds with mosquito nets

 

     Oftentimes, we relate a getaway/vacation to privacy, where you enjoy the comforts of being alone and far away from the crowd.  But it was remarkable for The Circle Hostel experience change such perspective.  The concept of openness extends to the overall atmosphere of the sitio or town where the hostel is situated. Besides from the friendly guests, the hostel staff and even the locals assured tourists of having a home away from home given they are in a very remote location, that is, sitio LiwLiwa in San Felipe, Zambales. The best part of our stay was, indeed, the interaction we had with the hostel staff, guests and friendly locals.

thank you, Frexie & Ate Vangie

 

     I travel light and just had a backpack with me.  Before leaving, I had second thoughts of bringing some books with the hope of being able to finish them during my stay.  Glad I didn’t bring any of them. Aside from it being the best time to unwind, reflect, recharge and unplug, this eco-hostel was simply a haven for getting away with nature.

     For the longest time, I was disconnected and detached from any electronic gadget.  I was totally out of the loop of what was happening with the rest of the world and it made me feel uncomfortable at the beginning.  Until I went up to the common area where there was a lone hammock waiting to be relaxed on.  Most of the guests have not arrived during this time, and so, I got to enjoy the hammock all by myself.  With the scent of the sea breeze and view of the pine trees, it was simply soothing that I could stay there for hours or even sleep there.  In between sleep and meals, if I was not on a hammock, I was at the beach.

book and gadget-free me time

 

a school of relaxation

 

no TVs, no wifi, no cellphone signal--totally unplugged during our 4-day stay

 

found my zen at The Circle

 

getting artsy

 

leaving our mark

 

love this

 

great time with NFFs - Inad, Kristel, JV

 

another glorious day

 

     The warmth of the people, hammocks, sea breeze, pine trees, beach and sunset were more than enough to comfort me.  Moving on to my next adventure.  Journey continues for one certified turistang balikbayan.

 About the Author

Angela Antonio, a native of Manila, Philippines, started her career as a marketing executive in the airline-tourism industry.  In her pursuit of serving humanity, Angela entered the education field and recently earned her master’s degree in Special Education.  As Angela aspires to live her passion, vision, and purpose—Zen & Sea came to life. Angela founded and conceptualized Zen & Sea in the summer of 2006. Angela enjoys traveling, cooking, crafting, music, yoga/meditation, and nature trips.

Miracle & Me: A Life of Gratitude

     During the peak of reconnecting with longtime friends on Facebook to include sleepless nights on Farmtown, Farmville and Café World, in early 2009, I received a Facebook request from a high school friend to write a note on the topic “25 Random Things About Me”.

     I thought it was an interesting exercise for me to reflect on things I thought about myself, while it may have sounded trivial to some.  It was also a good getting-to-know-you activity for most of us who have lost touch after several years.  And so, I wrote the list and went with the flow of my thoughts.

     The very first random thought that came to mind was that of my gratitude for each and every day God has given me.  Interestingly, I ended the list, again with an expression of thanksgiving for all the people in my life and the life-changing events that have shaped me to what I have become now.  The writing exercise seemed as if I was starting my day giving thanks and ending my day with a prayer of thanksgiving, when actually, I feel grateful for each and every moment of my life.

     Living a life of gratitude is rooted from my childhood years when mama used to tell me the story of me being a “miracle baby”.  Mama, along with our relatives, would re-tell the story of me having an accident while I was on my walker when I was nine months old.  To their surprise, I did not inflict any kind of injury (internal and external) and not a single bruise.  All I did was cried my heart out, probably from the shock caused by the incident.  Mama only told me details of the incident when I was already in elementary when she probably thought I was mature enough to understand the story.  From then on, she would always remind me, to this day, especially during my birthdays, to give thanks for my second life and all the blessings I have received.

     Along with that, she would always remark, “Anak, may misyon ka pa sa buhay.” (Child, you still have a mission in life).  As a child then, when all I cared about was school and playing patintero and trading stationeries and Care Bear stickers with my friends, I did not fully understand the gist of the story and mama’s conviction in her reminders.  I did not care what my mission in life was back then.

      Until one fateful night, my life changed forever.  In late 2000, at the peak of my young adult years, we had a car accident while cruising the dark, barely-lit streets of New Manila on my way home with friends.  The incident left our vehicle wrecked while all the five of us still intact in our seats.  It was fortunate for us having worn our seat belts on that fateful night.  I was on the passenger seat and got almost hit by the approaching car coming in perpendicular from our right.  I was spared from the collision with the arriving car getting slammed on the right side of the engine and not on the passenger side where I was.

     My world came to a pause.  My mind blacked out and I became unconscious for several moments, until one friend spoke, “Okay lang kayo?” (Are you all okay?).  It felt like I woke up from a long sleep.  My whole body felt so numbed that I could barely move.  The only major pain I felt was from a big scrape on my right arm.  When my consciousness and senses came together, my very first thought was being grateful for having awakened to a new life.  It was the beginning of my third life.

     Since then, for the last 13 years, I have striven to treat each moment of my life as if it could be my last.  For me, it means having total peace of mind in all aspects of my life.  It means saying what I need to say, especially to the people who matter most to me.  It means doing what my heart tells me to do.  It means being genuinely happy.  It means being true with myself.

     I have learned to accept that everything in life is impermanent and that change is inevitable.   I learned to accept that in any given time, in the blink of an eye, our life can change…anything or anyone in our life can change.  Letting go or accepting these changes in our life is one of the toughest things to do.

     During the past 13 years, I have been awakened to…

  • Take care of my health–mind, body and spirit 
  • Accept failure and use it as a springboard to better my self 
  • Turn my wounds into wisdom
  • Breathe and endure life’s obstacles/challenges with composure 
  • Open myself to learning and possibilities 
  • Focus and keep a positive outlook in life 
  • Remind myself to never assume, especially when dealing with the people in my life–personal/professional 
  • Say/write and express what I sincerely feel 
  • Pursue and work on things I am passionate about 
  • Be kind and compassionate whenever I can 
  • Let go of hatred, anger and negative vibes/energies.  Life is short to keep them in my life. 
  • Listen and follow my heart 
  • Accept that genuine happiness/inner peace depend upon myself.  External happiness, in any form, is what I consider an “extra bonus” as everything in life will come to pass. 

     Above all these, I still carry with me mama’s childhood reminder of me still having a mission in life.  I may not be able to fully discern what my mission is but I will forever live with a grateful heart, especially with all the “extra bonuses” that are yet to come.

     I no longer expect much in life.  I have been through so much in life that I simply strive doing things I would not want to regret not doing in this lifetime. I also strive letting go of everything that does not add to my happiness and inner peace.

     I am grateful for having this chance imparting with you my heart, my deepest thoughts, my deepest being.

Some of my most treasured childhood memories

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About the Author

     Angela Antonio started her career as a marketing executive in the airline-tourism industry.  In her pursuit of serving humanity, Angela entered the education field and recently accomplished her master’s degree in Special Education.  As Angela aspires to live her passion, vision, and purpose—Zen & Sea came to life. Angela founded and conceptualized Zen & Sea back in the summer of 2006. Angela enjoys traveling, cooking, crafting,  singing, music, yoga/meditation, and nature trips.


Milestones: Birth of Zen & Sea

      From thoughts to ideas to this piece of notebook—Zen & Sea was born.

     In the peak of the Vegas summer heat of 2006, while on a break from school, our founder thought of writing down her ideas on what she has been daydreaming about for quite some time, that is, having her own enterprise. Besides from making her free time more productive, she thought that creating an enterprise would serve as a culmination of everything she has been through in both her personal and professional life. Hoping it could also be an inspiration for others.

     Zen & Sea was originally created with the thought of having bath & body products as the main product line. Interestingly, our founder is a frustrated artist as she could hardly express her thoughts through fine art as evidently seen in the doodled drawing of the draft logo.

     Out of imagination, these initial thoughts laid the foundation for the work we do for Zen & Sea. Almost everything we have here on our page and website got their life from a pen and a notebook, some of the things our founder could not go a day without since childhood.

Angela’s niece, Ali, was a sole companion during the fateful day of Zen & Sea’s inception.

Beach Love: Ilocos

We love the beach.

It is such a therapeutic experience being in the beach.  During our recent trip to the Ilocos region, the northwestern coast of the Philippines, we had some dose of much needed zen and vitamin sea.

 

Poro Point, La Union

San Juan, La Union

Bangui, Ilocos Norte

Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte

After the Rain

Monsoon rains recently disrupted the metro. Spending moments with nature after several days of staying indoors.

 

[prior post on Facebook page dated 23 August 2013]

Sunset Love – Manila Bay

It is the rainy season here in the Philippines. We are glad having this time, and finding a piece of zen while enjoying the glorious Manila Bay sunset.

 

 

 

 

[prior post on Facebook page dated 15 August 2013]