Day 13 (30th August) Page By Page Service Project

Finally we came to an action day after nearly 2 weeks learning in the class and planning for the community project. The mentees were a little bit nervous and at the same time excited. 

Let me introduce about Page By Page Project first.

The Page By Page Project - Transforming lives page by page.
The Page By Page Project aims to promote the essence of recycling by providing new notebooks from old unused notebook pages for our younger brothers and sisters of the community.
The Page By Page Project is one of the service projects of SEALNet (Southeast Asian Service Leadership Network) Project Philippines-Leyte 2012 based in Philippine Science High School - Eastern Visayas Campus, Pawing, Palo, Leyte, Philippines and is headed by 6 high school students who want to make a positive impact to the community.

Today begins….

The students left the school and walked to the Pawing Elementary School which was about 5 minutes walking. We carried all the notebooks that we made to the school and were expected that 4 groups of kids would have neatly sit in the classrooms. However, when we came to school, we saw a big group of kids were at the school yard instead. But this was not a big deal, the mentees were very flexible to split into two groups. One group included Patrick, Jeffrey and Marianne took care of 3rd grade. Whereas, Karl, Pauline and Donna worked with the 4th grade kids.

The mentees started to have ice breaker to get attention of the kids. We feel really happy, because the kids were really collaborative. One of the kids was volunteer to come up and sing a song. After that, Pauline and Donna started introducing about themselves and about Page By Page Project. Karl was busy capturing all these moments. Looking at the mentees proudly present the vision and mission of the project and how it inspired the kids made me feel so touched.

Finally the notebooks that all the mentees made were delivered to the kids and they started to draw and design for their notebooks. While the kids were drawing, all of us walked around to ask them about their dreams and what they would want to become in the future. There were doctors, engineers, teachers, singers,… I hope all their dreams would come true and they all would engage to community service when they grow up a little more.

They had around 30 minutes to draw in the cover of the recycled notebooks. That was amazing. After that, several kids came up to share their picture and shared why they draw that. 

That was a meaningful day for the mentees, the kids, and also for the mentors like me. Love is all around!

All the hard work paid off! And we were really happy!

This is the SealNet Page By Page Project Facebook Fanpage. Say in touch with us for more updates of upcoming events!

Take care,



Day 12 (29 Aug) Saying Yes, Before knowing How: A Spontaneous Adventure to Samar

Spontaneous is perhaps an understatement of what had happened today. From the thirst of excitement, thrill and adventure, everyone have decided to do spelunknking in the island of Samar just the evening before. Since office hours still starts at 430 pm, another fun day trip did not seem a bad idea at all and coincidentally, most but not all from the team did not have any immediate task to do for that day. I particularly got very excited along with the rest of the team to spelunk in one of the caves of Samar. Although it was not my first time to spelunk, the spontaneity of  the idea made everyone in the team thrilled especially to most of the teamembers who were doing  this kind of sport for the first time .

Now everyone woke up at 4:45 am to catch the 5:30 am van to Catbalogan where the office for Spelunking was located. Cramped already in the van with already 10 people inside it, the driver still kept stopping along the way to accommodate more passengers. Soon everyone in the van had all their shoulders and knees right next to each other which made sleeping along the way nearly impossible. Yun chen especially felt nauseous and dizzy  which made her vomit a couple of times during the trip. When we arrived in Catbalogan around 7:30, everyone just wanted to get off from the van as quickly as possible. And from the look of their faces, everyone seemed exchausted and tired already after arrving in Catbalogan. Soon afterwards, we walked to the office where we met our guide named Joni who made us register and fill-up papers for the caving. After registering, we took a tricylce to go into my house where we saw a long table filled with delicious food prepared for us. My mom prepared an enormous amount of food which turned all the hungry and pale faces of ours to our gameface mode for caving. She also prepared Yum Burgers and water bottles for snacks which we ate and drank after our heavy caving experience. Sadly though Yun chen still had not recovered fully yet and continued having headaches. We thought that she only had motion sickness and would subside after we arrived but apparently she still continued vomiting, and could not even take a tablespoon of food. Because of that, we though that Yun chen had to stay and rest in the house along with Carmela who also had some health issues. Afterwards, we took a jeep to arrive to Jiabong where the cave was supposedly located.

When we got off, everyone had to hike for an hour to reach the cave under the scorching heat of the sun. Although it was extremely hot, long and tiresome, everyone still enjoyed the clean and fresh air, the scenic views of the mountains and also the exciting dirt-slides along the way.

We also saw some of the locals and even stayed at their huts when we took a rest.

When we arrived at the cave, everyone just felt relieved and glad having succeeded the first part of the adventure and seeing the cave in front of us.  But little that we know that the adventure has just begun. 

Us, All set to enter the cave…

Walking through the cave, everyone had to crouch, swim and try to avoid the spiky rocks along the way. Perhaps most if not all had their fair share of slipping from the slippery mud pits inside the cave. I must say though that the helmet and jacket were very useful. Had we not worn them, we would have ended up heavily beaten by the hundred times we had probably hit the rocks. 

But of course, we also saw amazing formations of stalagmites and stalactites 

And more amazing stones…

And finally: Sunlighttt!!! as the person in the front shouted. We reached the end of the cave and everyone just felt so relieved. 

After we went out for the cave, our guide had also prepared lunch for us. Oh the food just tasted so goood after a day-long crazy caving adventure.

Now after wrapping up our things, we surprisingly been told that we had to take a boat to get back to the nearest town. Hearing this, everyone again got so thrilled and excited knowing that the adventure did not end there yet.

Finally, we arrived in the town with our proud smiling faces having to accomplish that incredible feat (at least for us)

And lastly our Victoryyy Jump! (except for Angela being too serious as always<kidding>) :


Day 10 - Yeah!! Things are going smoothly for us

Today I, Princess, Allison and Francis go to see Barangay officials to ask for their permission to hold the workshop of Project Clarity. Things turned out pretty well when we were all welcomed and well-informed what should be done for our workshop on Friday. Mr Tagawat was friendly and very open to the discussion, all of our worries have been answered. Thanks to the support, Team Water could be confident to prepare for the last steps of launching the project :D

 After the meeting, we decided to go back to the hotel, catch up with Yen and 4 of us went shopping at Robinson Mall. We could not wait to buy stuffs, haha =)). We had lunch at a very good food court at 2nd floor of Robinson. I so loved the chicken curry( thanks to Allison’s recommendation) and did eat it the second time this week :). But it’s so yummy, indeed. Then we split to spend time buying things for ourselves. I went arround the mall for 1.5 hours and finshed with a purse for my sister, some books and notebooks for friends and a nice T-shirt for myself J). At 3pm, we met up again to head back to the hotel. We were amazed with loads of book bought by Yen and dresses wrapped beautifully from Allison. Princess also bought some nice dresses for herself:”>

At 4.00 pm, we went to PSHS for office hours. My mentees had already worked on the filters. Thanks to dividing them into 3 small committees, every person knew exactly what he/she’s in charge of, quickly finished their tasks and moved on helping Design team to finsish 10 filters for the workshop. I stood there, looked at how focused and diligent they are when cutting the bottles, collecting sand, charcoal, cleaning small bottles, calling each other to get the murky water from the well. It did move me with a mix of emotions. Happy to see their devotion put into the project, admired to see those little students bravely holding the drill for making holes, running around to buy materials, sitting under the heat without a complaint, felt sorry to know that some of them had to stay up so late for their studies and for SEALNet’s project. From the bottom of my heart, I realized this is what they really want to do for the communties. This is what comes from their hearts, and somehow our mission to inspire these students to step up and make a change has become successful. Honestly, I found myself learn and grow up everyday through working with these smart and enthusiastic students. We talked, shared stories. We high-fived, cheered to do our best. We ate ice-cream, bread, drank Coke. How lovely every day is to meet this awesome team <3!!!

What if time could slow down! Only 4 days left. And I’m not ready at all to say Goodbye to them. All in my head now is hope and wish the best of luck for Project Clarity. Go Go Team Water!!!!



Day 9 (26, August 2012): Last Full Day Schedule w/ Mentees

I slept. Yes, that was the first thing I did today. 12:00 AM, to be exact! The other mentors and I stayed up late during the prior night, so I decided to sleep early to guarantee five hours of sleep. Waking at 5:00AM to work on my lecture on “Communicating Ideas through Drawing” was not so bad. I looked back on my notes from my Design Sketching class, as well as the slides Princess shared with me. (Thanks, Princess!) 

6:30AM - Exercise Time. Let’s just say that we ended with a few minutes of budots dancing (similar to the stanky leg). Oh, how the mentees influence us! 

We were supposed to start the schedule at 9:00 AM, so I was slightly annoyed that about half of the kids didn’t come until 15 minutes later. Filipino time is not a good excuse! Not under my watch. In fact, a good philosophy is having ‘no excuses.’ But after thinking about it, I realized that some of the students had Sunday morning Mass. Another lesson learned: try to understand before making assumptions. Ah, life’s little lessons (triple L). And naturally, to save time…guess what some of the kids demonstrated…budots 0_o yes, yes, as one of them mentioned, “the seductive dance” um… shout out to Sean C for showing how it’s done! (laughs)

Daniel led the ice-breaker activity: Miniature Tanks. I think that the mentees liked the game; they looked to be conscious of the people around them (eyes forward, instead of down) as well as being flexible in one’s path to accomplish the goal (any motion, instead of crawling in a straight line). Thank you for sharing, Daniel. Sharing the wisdom in an interactive way, that is. 

Then, I did the lecture. To be frank, I didn’t do my best. Still getting used to presenting in front of the large group of mentees. But I suppose that I’m grateful that I do get these opportunities to practice my speaking/presenting skills! The mentee’s energies picked up, when they drew out sketches of processes (activity) via their own creativity. I was glad that most of them participated.

I was really proud of my mentee group (Mosquitheroes). They accomplished so much in the two hours before lunch. F.K. managed to collect a lot of water bottles from the dormitory. Sam and Kim made a cute, catchy chant (a.k.a. the Mosquito Dance). Carmela and I tried to learn the moves with them; very fun! =] Dominic and F.K. worked on one of the seminar presentations. Alvek primarily worked on the flyer to the community, and Diane was polishing up the Mosquitoes 101 survey. Overall, they worked pretty well, as a team, and was productive! 

—- yes, food is importante. Thankfully (thanks, Leo lion) the lunch was not chicken. Adobe and pancit instead. The kids agreed that today’s lunch was the best. Oddly enough, I didn’t enjoy the meal as much, because I was craving some hard-core vegetables and/or tofu. —-

We had a lecture by Minet, from the LDCE (Leyte Center for Development). This organization had focus on natural disaster management in the Samar/Leyte communities. Although this presentation was half an hour, I felt that Minet did a great job in expressing the importance of working with the community, as opposed to merely helping them. Some of the mentors asked questions, and I was satisfied with the answers. However, I would have hoped that the questions come from the mentees instead. At that point in the day, all three groups were really busy, yet productive. These projects seem promising; I can’t wait to see the results for the project implementations. 

Now, my favorite part of today! Sam and Kim had to leave early for academic reasons, but the other four mentees, Carmela, and I went out to the Campetic community to distribute flyers, take Mosquito 101 surveys, and form personal relationships with the community. We split into two groups, one for me and one for Carmela. The Mosquitheroes accomplished to take responses for about 10 surveys (10 households). Best of all, Alvek mentioned that he loved talking to the community; really enjoyed the direct experience! Diane (who talked for the other half of our team) also felt good. pp’12 is doing awesome! I feel that our impact lies primarily with the mentees: their exposure to the local community problems leads to their now awareness and new perspective on service leadership. Whether or not the three projects are sustainable after we leave Leyte, I’m glad to know that I was involved in these mentees’ personal growths.

*Adorable Moment of the Day: The Education team was throwing away a big bag of used paper from their note-book making. Diane, one of my mentees, decided to sift through this ‘trash’ and collect the papers w/ large amounts of blank space to re-use at home. Ah, such a humanitarian! Or, a tree-tarian. 

pp’12 - sponsored by Shakeys! Pizza, rice, and chicken for dinner. The team had really fluid conversation, even when we were gossiping about celebrities and the definition of sketchiness. Um, enough said. There is a huge difference between team and family. pp’12’s team is almost a family for me. 

But wait, there’s more. As a celebration for finishing a long hard-working day with the mentees, the other mentors and I went to a karaoke bar. My voice is nearly gone, but the fun night was…well…fun. 

About five more days left in pp’12. I hope that this week doesn’t go too fast. 


Kelly Nguyen  


Party multicab


Day 8 (25 Aug.) Team Defenses & Party

Today is a big day! We had team defense in the morning, in which five judges examined their budgets. Students dressed up and arrived earlier to prepare for presentation. We had three teams working on water, mosquitoes and education, respectively. Each team had at most 3000 pesos for their projects.


Page by page project presented by Super Juice was about collecting blank pages from used notebooks to make notebooks to students in need. Why the team’s name is Super Juice? Because there is one girl in the team that likes juice so much. They met the principal of Pawing elementary school and planned to teach children there how to make notebooks.


Water Clearity is the largest team in the project (16 students). Basically, they wanted to make water filters for the community because they saw people there drinking water from underground with limited filtration.


Mosquitheroes is composed of “mosquitoes” and “heroes”. They wanted to make mosquito traps to kill mosquitoes. They already did a experiment on the concentration of yeast and a substitute for sugar to produce carbon dioxide which attracts mosquitoes.  


There were two problems judges emphasized a lot in the Q & A session: sustainability and cost. For the sustainability, it should not only be a one-week project. How to make the project continuously run in the community is very important. On the other hand, the cost of the projects should be affordable to the community. As a result, students revised their action plans and budgets with mentors.


In fact, I was so surprised that students actually made the one-week timeline of projects. I know the time is too short, but I believe that we will have good results on community service.


Oh, we also took a group picture. T-shirts were too tight for some people…….umm, you can tell.


Anyway, students started to work on their projects after lunch. Some went shopping for materials, some stayed at school testing their devices. They worked so hard that they were then hungry and tired. So………..


Ice breaker: Guess the person

Mentees and mentors were divided into boys and girls.

I still can’t understand why they laughed so much.

Dance Party:

We stood in a circle, playing music for people to dance in the circle. That was pretty fun. We should have SEALNet music and dance studio! Mentees and mentors were so talented in singing, rapping and dancing. Honestly, it was the first time I saw doing stanky leg with both hands on other. When Angela cut the music and asked them to do reflection, everyone just sighed.


It was not that bad for mentors because the party still went on. There were only twelve of us on the pink multicab. We asked the driver to turn music louder and turn on the red LED. Everyone crazily danced on seat in that small place. I couldn’t think of the reaction of someone on the street watching the party multicab.

The day ended up with dinner in Japanese restaurant and bubble tea. Haha, the bubble tea in Taiwan is still the best! However, there were many favors we don’t have in Taiwan, so I tasted the kiwi bubble tea. Then Allison and I tried the dancing machine. She was a pro, but I just didn’t know where to put my feet. What a party day!


That’s it, a well-spent day. I can’t wait for Sunday to see the project start!

P.S. Actually, I can’t wait to eat halo-halo tomorrow!


Yun-Chen Chien 


Day 7: (24 August, 2012) Fun Day Hangover

“Ringggg!!!” that was the first thing I heard today. I blindly scrambled through the plastic bag right beside my bed, reaching for the thing that made that noise until Yun-chen exclaimed “I found it!” She found the telephone under the bed. I then, slept again.

I remembered hearing Yun-chen telling me that she and Minh will be taking pictures. I finally decided to wake up fully. I found myself alone in the room, my room mates were Yen, Minh and Yun-chen. I thought they all went scuba diving without me :( but I later found that only Daniel and Angela went because they are the only licensed divers in the group. I also found that even though they didn’t see sharks, they did find Nemo with barracudas. I brushed my teeth and went out to see this:

I found Minh and Yun-chen by the shore, taking pictures:

Then, an awesome idea came up: Climb the cliff! Thus, a bunch of awesome pictures were produced…

Too bad my 100 peso slippers broke twice, I couldn’t get to the most fun part of the cliff: the cave..

but that’s okay I get to interact with the rock (coral) formations around the cave…

notice the broken slippers…

And to conclude the photodump, here is Yun-chen being a master climber…

After an awesome and a bit scary photo shoot, we had breakfast with the view of the sea: bangus, egg, langgonisa and chocolate! This is the right way to get fat. No, not with subway or chocolate or burritos while doing psets at MIT.

Then I went kayaking for the first time! There was a river near the shore, the end of the river is a cave. Too bad I don’t have pictures of this :( but I’ll try to be as descriptive as possible.

The river have some shallow and deep parts (I know duh.) The shallow parts are pebbly, I even got off the kayak to the pebbly shallow water, there are also murky deep parts which seemed to house baby crocodiles and snakes but I have no plan on testing that hypothesis.

Wait, before I continue talking about the river I should probably follow some form of chronology. First, there were 5 kayaks available to us. Leo is partnered with Francis (haha! wait, I laughed a little, you’ll know later) Allison and Yun-chen went together, Minh and I shared the same boat, and Carmela and Kelly shared theirs. Yen stayed by the shore but she told me she did kayak some and took some pictures (I’ll find her later for the pics). Allison, our master kayaker, briefed us the basics of kayaking: to move forward you paddle left and right alternately, to turn you either hold your paddle in the water or paddle on one side. Usually the front person is in charge of the turning and the back person will be the power paddler but we didn’t really take note of that.

And so I paddled for the first time. It’s too wet and fun and scenic. Too relaxing and rythmic. Too leafy, too crashy, too branchy. After some time I felt like the master of turning left. Minh and I counted one and two. Master kayaker Allison and Yun-chen are of course, ahead of us. I looked back and saw Carmela and Kelly doing “the matrix” to avoid the vines, I saw Francis and Leo mingle and tangle with the water lilies. Needless to say, this experience is too fun.

We decided to paddle our way back to the river cave end because we promised to meet the students at 2:30 pm and the travel time to the school is about 3 to 4 hours although Francis would dispute that claim because he lives in Sogod (see Daniel’s tale of “It only takes two hours” below). So yeah, we don’t want to be unprofessional and arrive 1 hour late to the designated meeting time so we turned back but not without a gimmick.

We raced back: team Italy with olympians Francis and Leo vs team USA with Allison and Yun-chen vs team Vietnam with Minh and I. Unfortunately, Kelly and Carmela paddled back early for the fear of unwanted creatures jumping into their boat (they had extensive interaction with vines) Allison had a gecko jump to her leg, she freaked out until the gecko jumped back into the river. Needless to say, Allison and Yun-chen is leading, we followed and saw Yun-chen go up the tree and Allison chilled. Francis and Leo crashed into the lilies again. There were people cheering for us, or perhaps just laughing at our wackiness but I saw them as fans nonetheless. We are star kayakers.

Francis and Leo’s boat were sinking due to extensive crashing and “water weight” inside their boat. LOL.

So we hastily got ready to leave, we are definitely going to be late for the office hours. We left the beautiful Kuting Reef, and traveled for more than three hours. That was one of the worst ride I’ve had, I was too sick. Turned out Daniel, with his intention to get back on time and to meet Francis’s 2-hour expectations (see Daniel’s tale of “It only takes two hours” below), drove for about 100 km/hr on the rural two-way unsidewalked, unshouldered, unconcreted streets of southern Leyte.

We arrived at PSHS, I woked up. We are an hour late. We went to Cai, have the students research about water. I am the mentor of the water group aka Project Clarity, together with Allison, Leo and Minh. They were preparing for project defense. I don’t think details would be necessary for this, but I heard the other groups had a productive office hours as well. We left hoping that they will be ready for Project Defense tomorrow.

Yours truly,



It Only Takes Two Hours by Daniel Greer

The story starts with two guys in a vehicle, the guy insisted to the driver, “It only takes two hours!” But it didn’t.

The end.


Day 6: (23 August 2012) The Two Hour 3.5 Hour Drive!

For me, fun day started when my alarm rang in the room and I woke up to ready myself for the drive. I’d slept early the night before because instead of paying a driver to take us around Leyte island, I would be driving our whole team to fun day at Kuting Reef in Southern Leyte.

We managed to leave at around 8:30 for a “2 hour drive” to Sogud, Leyte to meet Francis’s parents and grandmother for breakfast. Admittedly, I started off driving slowly, but at a few points, I did hit ~80-90 kph (50-55 mph), this despite a mixture of multicabs, jeeepneys, pedestrians, tricycles, bikes, people, animals, and trucks all over the road. Needless to say from the title of this post, the “2 hour drive” took us about three-and-a-half. Breakfast was great and we were all really happy to have some vegetables to eat after so long with only meat, rice, and fried chicken.

The van I got to drive!

Driving in the Philippines was interesting, a lot like driving in Mexico but with significantly more traffic. I have to say that I would do it again, but next time, it would be great to be able to wander a little bit more, stop at places along the way, and spend time in smaller towns.

Me in the driver's seat!

Along the drive, we passed through small villages, across flat coastal areas with rice fields,  winding hills, and across the tallest bridge in the Philippines, the Agas-Agas Bridge.

The Leyte Countryside

After breakfast with Francis’s family, we all returned Tian at the bus station in Sogud to send her back to Boston via Tacloban, Manila, Singapore, and London. When we finally arrived at Kuting Reef, we were excited to find a beach, an infinity pool, and a palm-tree covered grassy area. We hit the pool almost before the van had stopped and hung out there until dinner. After dinner, we held spotlight on and then had a sharing activity where everyone shared personal stories and thoughts that helped us all understand how they came to be where they are today.

The team in the pool

Project Leader Love

The team on land!

And one big moment that we all shared is seeing Kelly in the pool, her first time trying to swim and her first time in a pool! Congrats Kelly, you survived!

Kelly learning to swim


Day 5 (22 Aug) Workshop #3!

Can’t believe it’s only been the 3rd workshop with the students and they already have service projects conceptualized, albeit not completely planned out yet. Today, we had hoped that the workshop would go a bit more smoothly than the previous two because we had more time to prepare, but it was not meant to be.

We started off on a good note, with Potatwo (yay!) presenting, and Yen leading an amazing icebreaker called “I Am A Tree” (the students actually asked for an encore later in the day). But then some presentations were left behind, so lecture schedules had to be switched up. And then there was a decision to rearrange the groups from 5 to 3, so that similar projects could be merged, and that the students could be given a chance to choose exactly which of the three big topics - water, mosquitoes, and eduction - they actually wanted to research on.

That change in grouping required us to move the schedule around once more, and also required us to rethink much of logistics over an emergency meeting during lunch. All throughout the meeting, the only thought I had in my head (aside from logistics stuff of course :D) was “damn.” I just felt so grateful to be part of such an awesome group of motivated, efficient teammates, and I just felt so lucky to be able to work and learn from them. For me, it’s the same feeling (or better) that I get when I find an exquisite problem and solve it with an elegant solution. And that’s definitely saying much:D

With that said, the afternoon was not without problems. By rearranging the groups, we had to start from practically square one with group dynamics and getting to know our mentees again. And quite unfortunately, our new group’s personalities were rather different from the previous one’s. Thankfully I was still partnered with Kelly, so that saved me the difficulty of having to adapt to another mentor’s style as well.

By the end of the day, things started falling into place again. I think I can say that the projects began taking shape, and seemed much more concrete than before. Also, I’m glad to see majority of the students actually working on stuff they liked, rather than being partly disinterested. Tian, Kelly, and Leo also gave very informative lectures, so today I would think was a continuous learning process all throughout, from my mentees and from my co-mentors as well.

On the way home, we got lost, sort of. But thanks to Daniel’s amazing Google Map skills, we were able to find our way back! While walking back from where we got off of the multicab, we found a quaint little library-cafe called “Libro.” It looked really cozy, and the pastries looked mouthwateringly scrumptious. The walls were lined with bookshelves, which in turn had books upon books. It’s definitely a place I need to visit before I leave the land of Leyte!

Tomorrow is finally Fun Day, and we get two days off of workshops! I’m looking forward to finally be able to relax, unwind, and destress on the beautiful beach of Kuting Reef!

This is one of the things that our students want to change.

This is one of the things that our students want to change.

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