A letter home

Originally published January 16 2012. This is where my blog really began, I had been writing on retreat in the mountains, and published the first blogs once back on wifi.

Patag, 15 January 2012

Dear family and friends,

I am without internet. It is a good exercise, I reckon. We may be too connected these days.

Or are we? Because what is wrong about wanting to hear from the people you love? Especially when one finds oneself way out in the orbit of one’s comfort zone. Way out.

I am pretty much exactly where I pictured myself to be, yet I will admit it is a challenge. And I miss you.

The Cottage

our cottage

I write this email in a word document that I will send to you as soon as I am back online. I am in the ‘big’ house on the mountain, I sleep in the cottage.





The big house has a fridge, so we prepare our meals here, and it has a big table so Simone and I can both be on our PCs at the same time. Most of all, it has a shower – which the cottage doesn’t. And the toilet has a door for privacy, which the cottage doesn’t either. I prefer being here 😉

Things are well on my end. I am basically living with Simone and her Philippine friend Ramke; we stay at his sister’s house in Talisay, near the city, and we stay at the family’s cottage in the North Negros Forrest mountains, a 2-hour wobbly bus ride and a brief hike through mud away from the city of Bacolod. Up here it is lovely.

It is hot, and it is tropically humid – and so lush

All is lush and green, it is hilly and peaceful.

And it is cooler than down in the valley, I actually need to wear my fleece in the evening.

The cottage lies on the top of the hill, Simone and I walked down into the ‘village’ yesterday – which is a row of huts along a larger track.

We walked past ‘rooster farms’ on our way there. The racket of them is omnipresent and at first I didn’t know what it was. And it ain’t quiet at all. Think: seagulls in the morning. Lots of seagulls – and then up the volume by ten! The racket goes on, all day long. They are in lots of big gardens, they each have a wooden triangle/hut and stand on them and crow. Quite unusual. I asked. They are ‘cultivated’ for cockfighting.



2012 philippines patag shopThe village is where the ‘shops’ are, which are tiny windows in people’s houses out of which a hand reaches to give you your purchases.




I treated myself to sachets of Nescafé from an old lady at 2 pesos a piece (43 pesos is 1 USD).Shopkeeper in Patag, North Negros Mountains

She allowed me to take her photo and I love it.


We don’t physically ‘do’ much up here, but we are very productive.

2012 philippines patag home office

home office

So on the project: Simone, with her own organisation Nomadic Hands, has been working for one and a half years on setting up a social entrepreneurship training workshop for a local community here in Negros.

She aims to approach her overall goal, being to reduce child labour and abuse, from the other end, i.e. by educating the population, making them create their own livelihood by empowering them with more knowledge and skills.

The day I arrived she finally got the go-ahead from her local partner organization, and the first workshop begins next Wednesday. We spent a great deal of yesterday finalising the programme, going through each day and topic individually. She has planned 2 full days every week for about a year. Supposedly some 50 locals have enrolled. Her programme is on creative social entrepreneurship, a creative and simplified take on business planning. Very ambitious but also very well put together. She wants me to hold a day on Marketing, which is planned for 7 February, the evening of which day I will be leaving Negros.

We talked a lot; it took me a while to get what she is trying to do, it is all so complex.

2012 philippines patag washingThe thing is that, apparently, there is a plan to build a road up to this community which currently lives in seclusion. The community is being told that it will enable them to connect better to the world, sell their handicrafts globally and attract tourism.

A threat that Nomadic Hands has identified is that a road will most likely come with ‘development’ plans, big concrete housing unnatural to the area and false hopes, with the ultimate loss of a cultural identity.

So with the workshops they want to instil the thought of eco-tourism for the community as another opportunity, and by that participate in a sustainable and active manner. The workshops aim to spark a sense of ownership, incitation and also give all necessary knowledge and coaching to help individuals set up own businesses. And they should connect this community with a neighbouring community on the other side of the mountain (where we are right now) who are currently building an earth village made from mud huts. Their vision is to create a space where healing, arts and social entrepreneurship can help their local community.

The project is called Connect, Create, Conserve.

Connecting organisations, communities and social enterprises
Creating livelihoods for families as a way of preventing child labour
Conserving cultural and social structures and their natural environment

Now you know all about it.

We will see how it goes; I have no idea what this community will be like or how they will take the business and academic input. She has developed a more creative approach to it, using symbols and tangible examples to them, and we have worked on it together. Let us see what it does, Wednesday.

I am a bit apprehensive of this workshop as we will be up there for two days and nights at a time. Simone doesn’t know where we will sleep, ‘somewhere in the community’ – I am picturing on the floor somewhere with very basic sanitary installations (judging on the regular ones, which are already pretty basic to me).

But I will give it a go, this is a very unique opportunity to go deep into other forms of life and living, and it is what I came for.

Friends, I had a ‘moment’ this morning; one has ‘moments’ when far away and alone, so I know it. I called this moment here a Princess Moment. It’s why I chose to go on a project in the first place.

I have written for my blog, there are so many things I feel like writing about. And actually, there is no time. So I hope my texts won’t be sheer reports. Or maybe, over time, I will be able to dilute all my thoughts into a few short meaningful texts. But right now, it just comes out of me because I have a need to share. I won’t take it badly if you don’t read every detail.

So one of the things I am documenting is this raw-food diet I am on. What a random thing to do, and what a scary reality. ‘Cooked food is poison‘, they say in the book I am reading. I will also google it once I get online, I am keen to read what others have to say about it.

So there, I am alright, living the life and so grateful to be able to do so.

Much love,




Evenings at the cottage are very light and easy and rhythmic… with local furry company.

2012 philippines patag simone moonstar

2012 philippines patag evenings2012 philippines patag moonstar


2 thoughts on “A letter home

  1. Heh good lady I had a read it’s a great blog I’m with you but I’m not sure I wanna know too much about the foods I love being not so good for me! I figure they’re good as I feel good eating them sometimes a little bit of what you fancy and all that. I am sorry tho as I did chuckle re toilet adventures! I cannot imagine anything worse … Well I can actually …. No loo at all like on the island with only a moose for company!!!! Gah!!! It’s inspirational though and I’m reaching for a smoothie as we speak S xxx

  2. Pingback: The fruit of a random encounter | creating memories

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