Idea to Action: The Mount Tagapo Project

It was a cloudy morning when we took off on a boat from Binangonan Port going to Talim Island in Rizal. Located in the largest lake in the Philippines, the island’s highest peak stands about 438+ masl and is called Mt. Tagapo or Susong Dalaga as it was previously known.


The dock – Brgy Janosa, Talim Island, Binangonan, Rizal


Brgy. Janosa Marker

Our goal was to reach the summit of this mountain while touching the lives of the few we can share our blessings with. No, we are not filthy rich, in fact some of us might have been in need as well. Nevertheless, it didn’t stop us from our pursuit to create a happy day for the kids we nicknamed “mga batang Tagapo”.

The moment we arrived at the island barangay of Janosa, the children and parents were already assembled at the covered court beside the port. Excitement was evident on the tiny faces grinning at us while we unload and prepare the goodies we’ve packed for them. Packages of school supplies, medicines, slippers, loot bags and foods for a simple meal that came from the participants and friends who sponsored the event. Beginning the activity wasn’t easy. In fact it felt chaotic especially with kids running all over the place and organizers rushing to put things in order. The locals were very helpful as they assisted us under the leadership of Kap. Henry.

Fidelskie Leamsi Acirol Irupaces-registration

(c) Fidelskie Leamsi Acirol Irupaces-Registration

The program was filled with fun games for the kids and gift giving-our simple expression of love and care for them. It was humbling to see the joy and smiles they give back after they receive their share of the packages. Some of them couldn’t help but start playing with their new toys right there and then. Surely the spirit of Christmas was felt at that moment.

Leomar Sese - kids

(c) Leomar Sese – The kids during the program as hosted by Jose Barcena and Jinky de Guzman

Fidelskie Leamsi Acirol Irupaces-tsinelas

(c) Fidelskie Leamsi Acirol Irupaces- Slippers distribution

Leomar Sese - Food

(c) Leomar Sese – Sharing a simple snack

The event in one word is raw in a good way. With most members of the group meeting for the first time, it was amazing how easy it was for everyone to complete the program according to plan. Of course there were some concerns along the way but the team was able to manage them quickly. Simply put, it was a success.

Leomar Sese - group pic

(c) Leomar Sese – The Mt. Tagapo Project Team

The local’s captain refered to us as the barangay’s mountaineer friends-people who willingly extends their fortune to the needy. It didn’t feel like that though because they have shared more. Not in kind but in lessons and realizations. The truth is that we are all blessed and it is up to us how we are going to manage those gifts we already have. These gifts, they’re not all material things; sometimes they’re our ability to act and participate on projects like this outreach climb-just being there to lend a hand and help make kids smile.

Now let me end by sharing this verse: “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7) Indeed, God is amazing and so are we.

More Photos


Ms. Juji Calura and her son Jude with her opening remarks


The kids enjoying the games

(c) Fidelskie Leamsi Acirol Irupaces- Kid playing with his gift

(c) Glaiza Fidel - The participants at the summit of Mt. Tagapo

(c) Glaiza Fidel – The participants at the summit of Mt. Tagapo


The Mt. Tagapo Team before trekking to the camp site


And off we go


Groufie at the trail


Day 2, the kids having fun with their coloring books by the road


Boodle Fight!


Jeepney shot before going home

Event Details:

Beneficiaries: Children ages 3-10 years old

Location: Brgy. Janosa, Talim Island, Binangonan, Rizal, Philippines

Date held: December 13-14, 2014

Event Coordinators: Juji Calura, Dine Opiana, Nikki Magahis

Cost Breakdown

Php 14,850.00  –  Cash-in (Sponsorship and Contributions)


Php 1,800.00 – Bread, gardenia cream rolls

Php 660.00 – Crayons, 90 pcs

Php 530.00 – Other school supplies

Php 4,290.00 – Slippers, 100pcs

Php 1,540.00 – Give aways for the participants

Php 300.00 – Toothpaste, 6 doz

Php 2,185.00 – Assorted Toys

Php 2,860.00 – Sponsored Meals

Php 685.00 – Others, Fare & Money Order Fee

Php 14,850.00  –  Total Cash-out

Fund Balance: Php 0.00


We would like to acknowledge the following persons who helped us turn a simple idea into reality: 

The Participants

Juji Calura, Nikki Magahis, Dine Opiana, Kennete Jym Baria, Ched Melliza, Jhunne Descalso, Jinky de Guzman, Lloyd Brian Arenas, Leomar Sese, Reynan Adora, Glaiza Fidel, Johnel Moterola, Dexter Calura, Jose Oliver Barcena, Jerz Elida, Alvin Lorenz Serrano, Reinard Arizabal, Grace Alforte, Jevener Ricohermoso, Aries Angelo Lopez, Mark Allan Oscobio, Long Weekends, Nhel Dichoso, Fidel Ismael Acirol, Kheno Lopez Pedroso, Denver John Gawaran, Shiela Celario, Jennine Bautista, Ven Addun, Irene Cabrera, Racquel David, Jayson Mercado, Tors, Aj Crizaldo, Rein Fabregas, Japoy Baybay, Benjo Garcia, Vic Mendoza, Pearly Mae Penales, Jovi Limbo, Princess Charlotte Galindez, Arvin Jay Morales, Timmy C. Carandang, Jo Russell Valencia, John Aubrey Cantal, Michael Orbe Curiba

 The Sponsors

Hershey Bantilan, Barbara Ornido, Allan Olazo, Randel Chavez, Yolly Fabito, Ronald Piad, Richard Tenorio, Kenneth Paredes, Jayson Mercado, Juji Calura, Quim Gregorio, Jinky de Guzman, Ched Melliza, Elaiza Marie Curato, Mhidz Aguila and the following corporate sponsors

10336803_246556432195721_1943406146250254972_n   10881407_848671988488341_1615119944_n  10872601_848672038488336_1495620922_n  10859576_848672961821577_1832548455_n  10872133_848672075154999_1028675173_n

Look through the curtains

Panic-stricken. Lost. Confused.

It was all in the past now. However on that dark period when you would dwell deep in misery, you cannot help but think you are not worthy. Let me tell you now to never listen to that voice. It will only pull you down in deeper shit that you’ll definitely regret in the future. Well, me? I never listened to it for a reason anybody can imagine: I was wallowing too much. And my guess if you are a typical non-social, pessimistic bitch like I was, you would too.

A few months into it and I was dragged to the bottom of the pit. It was a very sad and exhausting state to be in and that was what made it a life saver for me. I hope you would choose to make it a life saver too. When you get tired of all those that keep you from seeing the light, please make it a point to peek through the curtains and reevaluate the world in a different perspective. Stop thinking “it’s my fault” and instead say “there is a way to work things out in my favor.”  Soon it will happen. Just don’t give up…never ever.


For the longest time I have identified myself as an introvert. And by that I meant living the stereotypical impressions we all have of them – quiet, timid, boring, moody, nerdy and weird. Yep, that was all me. I never got to learn how that happened. Was I traumatized or something as a kid that made me afraid to try doing the fun stuff? Even my mom can’t tell me why. Until one day, I swapped the imaginary escapades with real life adventures. I started to go to real places and meet real people. I STARTED TO BECOME DARING. My first exposure was sports. As a woman who looks down at herself in terms of physical capabilities, I was surprised to know I couldn’t die from running—well not with my trusty asthma spray in the pocket of course.  I was going to learn the basics of badminton one day when my colleague asked me to jog with her as warm up before the drills. I went with a warning that I might slow her down because I am “afraid” I’d have an asthma episode.  She said no problem and we proceeded with quick steps at first before we actually ran.   And I felt happy. I loved the feeling of sweat dripping from my forehead, of having shortness of breath that is NOT asthma and having a really nice conversation with this colleague that soon after became a really good friend. The weekly jog and badminton lessons continued and before I know it, I was joining running events and badminton tournaments with people I never thought I’d enjoy spending time with.  At the back of my mind, I asked myself this: why the heck have I wasted 20+ years before I tried all these?   Featured imageFeatured imageFeatured imageFeatured image

Biñan Run 2012, My first fun run, Silakbo 2013, Milo Marathon 2014 and ISA Badminton Tournament

Afterwards I was invited to go for a hike. The first mountain I climbed was Mt. Manalmon (San Miguel, Bulacan). I went there with my best friend and cousin as a kind of New Year escape and oh boy, how many times did I think I’d die from the climb!  It was tough for my wobbly legs and (with the same excuse) weak lungs. But then I managed to walk through the caves, cross the river and reach the summit with a handful of help from my group mates.  It was an experience I told myself I’d try again if I could.

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Mt. Manalmon Summit – January 2014

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 Lunch break by the Madlum River  |  The entrance of Madlum Cave

A few months later, I got another invite to hike up to the water falls of Mt. Romelo (Siniloan, Laguna). Then a few days after, we went for a day hike at Mt. Batulao (Nasugbu, Batangas). It was followed by camping at Mt. Talamitam (Nasugbu, Batangas) and the latest, a visit to Mt. Arayat (Arayat, Pampanga).   I fell in love with the mountains. It gave me the chance to fulfil my childhood dreams of being Heidi (a cartoon character living in the mountain with her Lolo Alp) although I assure you that climbing, let alone running up a mountain looked way much easier when she’s the one doing it! Most importantly, it gave me a chance to connect with nature and find peace when everything seems to be in a jumble.

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Batya-Batya Falls, Mt. Romelo – 24-Aug 2014

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Mt. Batulao, 21-Aug-2014

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Mt. Talamitam, 2-Sep-2014

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Mt. Arayat, 22-Sep-2014

Aside from the fun, thrill and scenic views I get from these trips, what makes it really amazing are the people I meet.  There never was a time that I go with exactly the same group but like magic, we always go back home with a new name to add to our friend list (and I’m not talking about FB here!). Friendship forms as naturally as vines intertwine with branches in a rainforest. People help each other despite meeting them for the first time. Kindness is shared to all.

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The Superheroes of Mt. Arayat Incident – Sir Quim Gregorio the event organizer (right) and Sir Arnold the Rescuer (left)

These adventures were choices I was glad to make and will continue doing as long as I can.  They showed me what the road less travelled looked like and proved that there is more to life than what I already know. They keep me looking forward to tomorrow. They’re my life’s treasures – stories I will tell my grandchildren one day.


When a girl has been an outcast for far too long, she tends to be insensitive of her surroundings.   She forgets to care for people. She forgets to care about herself.

A girl who has been an outcast for far too long will always have difficulty making a connection with others. Even when she wants to be understood, she finds it hard to express herself. Therefore she leaves all her sentiments within herself. And then the inevitable happens… all her pent-up frustrations explode when she can no longer contain it. She will be angry and cry and cry and cry until she forgets why she was crying in the first place. And then the cycle begins again.

The problem with a girl who’s an outcast is her poor ability to determine she is no longer in that situation anymore. Even when people around her want to reach out, she continuously keeps herself distant. She continues sabotaging her own happiness because she does not know how to identify the good stuff from the bad. She is too afraid to make a step out of this wicked situation that she has identified as her comfort zone. What a pity she finds comfort in misery.

There is a solution though for a girl who wants out of this… a way to save her from this evil situation. More than people helping her realize her value, the best and honestly the only solution is her acceptance of her fears. These fears come from years of keeping the wrong mindset that says she is not good enough. Years of isolating herself destroyed her character and developed her angry persona. Yes, she was a very angry person.  This anger though is what saved her. It made her constantly tired – and she hates getting tired. And from there, she started paying more attention to what she does every day.

With a little help, she used writing as therapy.  She took to writing what she can’t deal with in the actual situation. When she explodes, she would react, and then write about it later. It was a painful process to admit that she was wrong but nonetheless, she wrote, accepted the blunder and plan how she needs to react the next time it happens again. She kept doing this over and over until one day she realized it is no longer difficult to write.  There is no more pain. Her therapy notes showed less and less entries about anger issues. And somehow she felt that the world is a much better place.