Saturday, July 18, 2015

Am a Rainmaker?

I really find this saying surreal, "When it rains, it pours!"

The mother-son tandem taking respite at Seda Hotel of Cagayan de Oro City, after the business planning and financial projection exercises in LGU Manticao, Misamis Oriental

I may seem like greedy but I am just trying to please everybody by not saying "No." And there is another saying that says, "To refuse an offer is an insult." So, yeah, I just said "Yes" to all my friends and referees that handed me good offers.

My racketeering (in the positive sense of the word) started in November 2014. All extra works coming my way were referred to me by my former colleagues and friends. Some I already promised to do while some are news. The one I promised to render are from the USAID-funded Be Secure Project and the National Water Resource Board (NWRB)- Accredited Technical Service Provider (ATSP). The expected deliverables for Be Secure Project were just like those I have done with the former USAID-funded Philippine Revolving Fund Support Program. These include training-workshops for local government units  (LGUs) with water utilities and then actual mentoring for selected LGUs that will continue on ring-fencing of accounts and business planning for their water utilities. The ATSP works are actually putting into actual practice the accreditation I got in February 2014 for water service providers that require financial experts to do business planning and financial projection in their processing of application with NWRB.

So I entered into a contract with AECOM, the consulting firm that implemented the Be Secure Project. It was in partnership with my mentor and colleague, Ma'am Stella Salas; each of us getting 45 days. It included the 4-day training-workshops and mentoring visits for the 3 selected LGUs: Manticao, Misamis Oriental in Region 10; Julita, Leyte in Region 8; and Ajuy, Iloilo in Region 6. Another collaboration we have was the 4-day training-workshop facilitation with the World Bank-funded ESWIF2 Project, contracted and implemented by a firm, OIDCI. The same consulting firm contracted me to do the ATSP works for 3 pre-selected water service operators: Metro San Pascual Waterworks Service Cooperative (MSPWASCO) in Ubay, Bohol; Calumpang Multipurpose Cooperative (CMPC) in Binangonan, Rizal; and, MacArthur Waterworks System and Services (McWSS) in MacArthur, Leyte. This however did not come at once but one at a time.

I was so grateful for these breaks because my current employment with an Australian Aid project does not have out of town activities, all activities are conducted in Metro Manila. My movement from one point of the country to another started with the Business Planning for MSPWASCO and that first visit to Ubay, Bohol happened on 13 November. Then the training-workshops on Ring-fencing and Business Planning were conducted in batches, batch 1 was on 1 December in Peninsular Hotel, Subic Bay, Olongapo City, second batch on 2-3 December in Iloilo Grand Hotel in Iloilo City, and third on 10-11 December in Koresco Hotel in Cagayan de Oro City. I returned to Ubay, Bohol in the last week of December to present the final draft of Business Plan and financial projection to the Coop's Board of Directors.

A pose with JUWAS management and staff of Julita, Leyte

My hectic schedules resumed in the new year 2015. I took advantage of the holidays in Metro Manila during the Papal visit and so I flew to Manticao, Misamis Oriental on 15-16 January to commence the mentoring assistance to LGUs to do ring-fencing and business planning for their water utilities. This was immediately followed by the conduct of the last batch of training-workshop in Pagadian City on 19-20 January. Just like in Manticao, I also fly to Julita, Leyte to also commence the mentoring assistance there on 12-13 February.

It was on the eve of Valentine's Day that I received the Notice to Proceed from Asian Development Bank (ADB) on the preparation of training modules for the Training on Community-Based Financial Management of KALAHI-CIDSS NCDDP of DSWD, which I happened to work for in years 2011 though 2013. I was initially given 33 days to work on the write ups and the inception meeting happened on 16 February at DSWD Central Office.

Stella and Cris tandem during the conduct of Training on Ring-fencing and Business Planning for LGU-run water utilities

The last week of March right through the Holy Week were the busiest days of my life. I went to Manticao, Misamis Oriental to present the draft Business Plan and Financial Management guidelines to the local officers  on 23-24 March. Then I got a call from OIDCI confirming my technical assistance to Calumpang MPC which commenced right away, so I traveled to Binangonan, Rizal on 25-26 March. A short vacation to Hanoi, Vietnam happened over the weekend. And then I went to Julita, Leyte also to present the draft Business Plan and Financial Management guidelines to the local officers  on 30-31 March. Then I went home to Surigao for the holy week, which most days were spent in General Luna summer outings with friends.

My month of April was crazy. Other than the April fool's day, and the holy week, I got another contract with OIDCI to provide technical assistance to McWSS. Again, I flew to MacArthur, Leyte via Tacloban City on Day of Valor 9 April up to the weekend. That following week, I was pre-occupied with editing my training modules for the upcoming peer review hosted by DSWD which actually happened on 23 April at Discovery Suites in Ortigas Center. Then the series of presentations on the final drafts of Business Plans and Financial Projections happened as follows:
              27 April - in Cagayan de Oro City for Manticao, Misamis Oriental
              28 April - in Binangonan, Rizal for Calumpang MPC
              29 April - in MacArthur, Leyte for McWSS
              4 May - in Julita, Leyte for Julita Water System

Ma'am Stella and I taking a wacky pose with LGU Julita's Municipal Mayor (rightmost) and Municipal Engineer (leftmost), who happens to be brothers

The brainstorming Engr. Jun Rusiana and I usually conducts during the MSPWASCO and PAWASCO's planning
Then the LGU of Ajuy, Iloilo confirmed our technical assistance, so I went there with Ma'am Stella on 8-9 May to present the draft Business Plan and Financial Management guidelines to the local officers and the Municipal Mayor.

I was given additional 10 working days by ADB to complete the pilot test of the training modules. The pilot community volunteers' training on the Community-Based Financial Management using the modules I developed happened on 18-22 May, parallel to the wakes of my beloved Papa Tantong.

There had been lesser activities for me in the month of June. It kicked off with the presentation of final Business Plan and financial management guidelines to local officials of Ajuy, Iloilo on 1 June. After which I had completed all my part-time jobs: 7 June for Be Secure Project with AECOM, 15 June for ATSP with OIDCI, and 30 June for ADB.

With PAWASCO's management and staff

But before June closed, I received a direct contract from Padada Water System Cooperative (PAWASCO), as facilitated by one of my partner-engineer, Sir Jun Rusiana from Davao City, on the provision of technical assistance to document the Business Planning process and prepare Financial Projection. I went to Padada, Davao del Sur on 8-11 June. The finalized Business Plan and Financial Projection was completed and handed over on 18 July.

All are done. And hopefully my clients are satisfied.

I earned at the same time learned a lot from all these experiences. And I am sorry if I really have to boost in here, that for the past 6 months, I am kind of earning P13,500 a day.

Now I am waiting for the Terms of Reference ADB consultants have mentioned to me, about extending my service more. I am also waiting for some offers from my other mentor and colleague, Ms Nene Narvaez, who just called for my assistance. Then wait for the contract with Philippine Rural Development Project of the Department of Agriculture for the conduct of training on Financial Management System for their coop-beneficiaries.

Thank you God for all these blessings!

Monday, July 6, 2015

WanWan is Tinkering at Two

Tinker Bell as her second birthday's motif
Wanwan's parents, En (my sister) and Jun, decided to throw her a house party to celebrate her 2nd birthday. I can remember vividly that her 1st year was a pool party in one of the resorts nearby.

Photo taken during a family's lunch at Tokyo Tonteki, UP Town Center

It seems like just yesterday when our baby Wanwan was so little, fragile, swaddled and cuddled all the time. But now, she can run even before she can walk, and walk on tiptoes, matter-of-factly. She suddenly turns into a two-year own toddler.

At 1489 Cableway Resort, Calumpang 
Binangonan, Rizal

She inherited our (mine and my siblings') high energy-level. But she is beyond her own mother's adrenaline rush. She loves heights, adrenaline-pumping activities such as tumbling on foamy beds, sliding on every thing reclined, jumping, and climbing ladders up and down.

Playing Daddy's laptop computer; Nanay mentoring

A pose with 'Addy at UP Town Center ground

Sunday morning exercise with Lolo and Lala at Quezon City Memorial Circle

She is already good with gadgets, knows exactly what to do with touch-screen laptop computers and cellphones. She knows the tabs, understands the icons, and able to tenderly press on buttons and icons. The downside however, as for me is being disturbed when working with my laptop computers, because she will press anything and browse the built-in games. The same is true with her mother and father. They often argue on the use of cellphones, even when they had calls, Wanwan will go on tantrums just because she wants to play with the cellphones.

Enjoying the cake
Playing with Nanay's cellphone
Wishing to travel to Myanmar with 'Addy

She is precocious! Growing up with Lolo Tantong and Lala Dulcing as daily chaperons, she behaves and talks (though unclear yet and mumbles all the time) like a school age girl. She retells a story from what she used to watch, a movie (particularly "Frozen" which she calls "Anna," being so fanatic of the character Anna) or the tv series (Pooh, Barney, Mickey Mouse, Pocoyo), mouthing some words, mostly baby-talks-type. She can tell that you did not understand what she's saying that she will repeat the word over and over again until you get her. And once you understand her, she would say, "Aye!" She can construct a sentence now, though not complete, but you can read between the lines and her facial expressions.

I created a tunnel for her out of carton boxes so that she can reenact the boom-boom episode of Barney's ABC

She adorably took a pose at the back of my new sofa bed
She loves popping balloons. So brave! She loves to see me juggle plastic balls. So demanding! She loves a good night kiss with a smack on the lips. So cute!

Wanwan is really tinkering at 2!

A pose with her Tinker Bell-themed cake

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Mama Dulcing turns 70

I had no officework that day, as it was local holiday in Pasig City, which commemorated its more than 2 centuries of cityhood. It was my Mama Dulcing's 70th birthday, too. I offered a small celebration with the immediate family. We enjoyed a buffet dinner at Tong Yang in SM Fairview, Quezon City.

The biggest birthday blowout for Mama was the Davao City Tour. She decided to accompany me on my final trip to Padada, Davao del Sur where I got a contract with the Padada Water System Cooperative, which July 18 was the agreed date for the final output presentation. Fortunately, July 17 was declared national holiday to mark the Eid'l Fitr or end of Ramadan for Muslim brethren. So I booked our flight from 17th to 19th of July.

This was my mother's first time to reach Davao City, a 9-hour bus ride away from our hometown in Anao-aon, Surigao del Norte, all within the big island of Mindanao.

We got the second earliest flight and thus we arrived at Dabaw International Airport before 7am. I pre-coordinated our arrival with my cousin on my father's side, Otol Abet who also is a taxi driver, to drive us around the city.

We ate our breakfast of Chinese cuisine at Ahfat Restaurant, located at the back of the old Victoria Plaza

We paid a church visit among other things at the San Pedro Cathedral to offer prayers and thanksgiving for this rare opportunity to travel around with Mama Dulcing at the same time reconnect with relatives

We proceeded to Museyo Dabawenyo (Davao City Museum). I was personally astonished to know that the entrance to this public museum is free. And the collections are awesome, inspiring, and so learning. And more, we got a guided tour for free.

We ventured next the noted Bone Collector's Museum. I don't know exactly where it's located and my cousin-driver doesn't have any idea where it is (take note that he's Dabawenyo). So before departing from Davao City Museum, we asked our guide how to reach the bone museum.

The Bone Collector's Museum opened when we arrived. We were the first guests inside then. The smell is foul, which really proves the collection and preservation of live remains.
The museum has 3 floors of bone exhibits, the ground floor is about general collection, the 2nd floor is bone-filled from land animals, as well as flying ones, the 3rd floor is filled with bones of sea creatures. The experience was tremendously awesome, except for the tour guide.

We proceeded to Davao Crocodile Park. I found it expansive than the one in Palawan. I found it picnic-friendly where onlookers can standby for a long time inside the park, roam around, eat and drink. The zoo contains a wide variety of living animals, from birds (eagles and ostriches) to sheep and tiger.

The butterfly farm however is disappointing. There is not much to see but you have no choice because you paid it along with the Crocodile Park.


We had our lunch at the Kaonanan (translation: Eatery), just beside the park. It has an ampitheater beside it, which is called Tribu K Mindanawan (translation: Mindanao Tribes). The food is okay, just the usual, but they have this food set in a boat-shaped board with 3 holes or popularly known in our dialect as Sungka. I noticed it when we finished our ala-carte servings.

Mama and I stayed in the newly-constructed First Pacific Inn. The mini-hotel is located very near the People's Park, a walking distance away from Gaisano Plaza.

Mama Dulcing and Nanay Senda, the widow of my late Uncle Clito, eldest brother of my late father, and the mother of Otol Abet
My photo op with Mama Dulcing, Nanay Senda, and cousin Neneng (Otol Abet's younger sister) and Leah (Otol Abet's wife)

Mama declared she enjoyed the city day tour. That second day, I left her alone in Davao City as I went off to Padada, to do the presentation with the water coop. I already asked Otol Abet to fetch Mama and bring her to their place and tour her around my other cousin's place in Bangkal area. That afternoon, I picked her up from there, after we shared with our relatives a dinner of grilled fishes.

19 July, Sunday. Mama and I attended the holy mass at San Pedro Cathedral. There we were picked up by Otol Abet and his whole family (his wife Leah and eldest daughter Angel in the picture) and we shared a buffet breakfast at Saluhan Restaurant.

Before heading to the airport for our flight back to Manila, I treated Otol Abet's family to a dessert of doughnuts at Krispy Kreme inside the new SM Premiere Lanang