Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Monday, October 02, 2006

Solomon Islands is 3 hours ahead of Manila.
This is my third day since our dramatic entrance to this country. We are here for a 25 day project that involves an interview of 150 household, of which their profile would be stored on a computer database.
This project has been implemented in the entire province of Bohol, Philippines. Then it was replicated in East Timor for Habitat for Humanity Home Partners. Now, UNDP wants this project replicated in Solomons. Isabel Province is chosen for the pilot phase.
Tony Irving, the lead developer of the Poverty Database and Monitoring Software is finalizing his codes. Fernando Camba who is connected with tne National Economic and Development Authority of the Philippines is presenting DevInfo 5.0 to Zakir Hussain, UNDP Project Consultant in Isabel Province, Solomon Islands.
Maria Paz Espiritu is revising our schedule since we arrived late and will leave earlier than expected. I have just finished a siginificant part of the PDMS Software's Manual.

Thursday, April 20, 2006


I left Timor Leste at 2:00 pm. Emotions were palpable but barely shown. It's better that way. I enjoyed my 3 1/2 month tenure as a database consultant. I arrived here in Singapore airport at 10:30pm. My connecting flight to Manila will be tomorrow at 8:45 am. It's my second time travelling alone abroad, but this is the first time I am on a transit travel alone. I guess I have to hang around for the night, else, i will sleep on the chairs....

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Fr. Cyrus Banque, CMF

6:00 pm, after helping Mr. Butch Batilong create a new Blog, I called up Father Cyrus Banque, CMF and confirmed our appointment at 7:00pm.

I arrived 30 mins late. Father Cyrus was waiting for me at the porch in Claret House and talking to a Poliklinik Sister. He gave the Sister a ride home to her convent in Bebunok, near a primary school and I went with them. We then proceeded to Balide Parish to drop a letter and drove straight to Little Padang Restaurant, and Indonesan-owned restaurant along the coastal road in Dili, East Timor.

This is my first meeting with Father Cyrus in person. I saw his picture before, on the internet when he was interviewed by the press about the conflict an Bobonaro, near the Timor Leste-Indonesa border.

We talked about things back at home in the Philippines, and things back at Claret Seminary in Quezon City. I didn't get to meet him during my college days in the seminary at Sanville.

Father Cyrus has been living among the Timorese for eight years. The way Alfonso talks about Father Cyrus shows how much the Timorese love this Filipino Missionary. Alfonso has been working for 5 years with the Claretians but he has been working with Father Cyrus for the past two years only.

He is the director for Justice and Peace Commission, Dili Diocese and has given seminar with the theme Promoting healing in divided communities. He has worked with the peace and reconciliation program established by the United States-based Catholic Relief Services after East Timor’s first democratic elections in 2001.

"The country is under pressure. Do we want justice? Or do we want economic stability? This is a tough dilemma."

- Fr. Cyrus Banque

Father Rick Solomon, also Claretian Missionary who comes from Bohol, did missionary work here until he got sick with malaria and was paralyzed. He is now living with his parents' house in Antequera, Bohol

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Household Interviews in Dili, East Timor

After the workshop on household interview in Dili, East Timor, the enumerators proceeded to do actual interview with 2 households..

Pak Orlando da Costa supervising the Enumerators

Natalino Soares supervising the enumerators

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Claret House

I was waiting for Mr. Batilong to pick me up this morning and head to the office. I would introduce a desktop to the network and Mr. B atilong would continue writing his proposals.

Mr. Batilong texted me at 11:00 am complaining of stomach pain. Maybe he has eaten too much last night, or he has eaten too little. I will ask him :-)

1:00 pm, I decided to go out and find Claretian Missionary House in East Timor, which I found the address and telephone number on the internet but the number is already not in use and the address is not very specific.

I took a taxi. The driver asked me in Tetun if I want to stop by Leader Supermarket, I thought it is already Bebunok Village, so I said "yes" and I got confused why he asked me if I want him to wait for me.

Then I realized that I am still at Comoro Village. So I walked more than a kilometer, under a very hot sun. Not knowing where to go, I attempted to ask the locals where is Claret House. I know they don't understand English but they still point me to somewhere and pretend to know the place. Maybe they don't want me to know they can't understand English.

I passed by a small Signage that reads "Poliklinik Madre ... ". I told myself, this must be a Catholic nun's convent or monastery because the word "Madre" in tagalog means "nun".

I asked a nun for directions but she just smiled shyly and told me she can't speak English. I told here "Claretian Missionaries ... ? ..... CMET .... ? Fr. Cyrus ....?"

I got her attention when she heard Fr. Cyrus' name. She spoke in Portuguese but I think she means to say she knows Fr. Cyrus.

Another sister gave me a sketch of the direction to Claret House. After walking for another kilometer, I found the place at last.

But Fr. Cyrus is not there. He is just left for Bobonaro yesterday and would be back in Dili on Tuesday. I talked to Fr. Peter, a big man, an Indian Claretian. I introduced myself, and my business. He offered me a drink of water and gave me Fr. Cyrus's cellphone number...
I am very tired today. Last night, we were supposed to arrive at Nang Loida's Eatery, a Filipino style restaurant along Timor's "EDSA".

Yesterday, was the birthday of Sister Fernandez, the wife of the Baptist Pastor in Dili. We were supposed to start the party at 7:00 pm but, Mr. Butch Batilong and I lost any sense of time. I am reformatting the virus-ridden desktop at the office which the main gate to the internet. It has already infected so many systems at the office, including the laptop I am using now.

Mr. Batilong was very high on ideas about the Habitat Research Center to be built in Dili.

We ate our party dinner at 9:00 pm. I was so embarassed because everybody was already in their respective places at the restaurant, the food was ready, but they cannot start until Mr. Batilong and I arrive.

We went home 10:30 pm, I was very exhausted already

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

I missed Amie's wedding. I have no update on what is going on in Bohol at the moment. I am tight on by budget so I couldn't buy load for my cellphone. And worst, the phone line from East Timor to the PHilippines is vague. I can hear our executive director talking in Bohol but he could not hear me. I wasted $3 for my long distance calls.

My 15 day work contract with Habitat for Humanity Timor Leste has ended. I am now on the first week of the new 3 month extension contract with them but at the moment, I have not yet signed any paper.

Today, we are supposed to receive our salary. I hope I have something to bring home today.

Maybe I can now buy load for my phone.


I could not find any english newspaper sold in East Timor. My friend told me to get inside a Western Union branch office and pretend to do a business transaction. Then grab a free english neswpaper, which I did. I read the paper from cover to cover since I don't have the guts to take the paper home without paying for it.

My girlfriend offered me to send brief news articles in email.

Withdrawal Symptoms

I am having withdrawal symptoms at the moment. It has been more than one week since I cannot surf the internet.

Back home in the Philippines, the internet plays a very big part of my life. I don't watch TV a lot but I get news from the net. And communications with friends and love ones too.

Communication is very much critical in the office at this moment. My boss, Mr. Butch Batilong, has to email his report to his big bosses in Thailand, but we couldn't get the internet to work. So I called up Timor Telecom and I was told they are having "technical problems" at the moment.

We don't have any other options. If we go outside and look for internet cafe, they have the same problem because there is only one internet service provider in East Timor.

So, we used the HP officejet 4-in-1 machine to send our report to Bangkok through fax. It is the first time we used this machine other than for printing so I grabbed the manual and followed the instructions by letter.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Field work

Today is a very tiring day for me. I went alone with the local Habitat for Humanity staff into Liquica, a district (municipality) in Timor Leste. Tony Irving stayed in the apartment to finish his tons of work for the development of database software. I think Dr. Nestor Pestelos and Mr. Butch Batilong had a meeting with the World Vision officers.

This is my sixth day here in Timor Leste. Sleeping beyond midnight is a normal routine for me here. I brought the printer from the office into my room so I could print my revised survey questionnaires which is translated into Bahasa. I learn a few bahasa indonesia vocabulary in return.

I am so stressed these days. Maybe because we have tons of work. I feel like I have a fever, God forbid, it's not malaria. Anyway I feel better now after I sleep from 4:30 pm to 6:30 pm and i took a warm shower.

Mr. Butch Batilong knows how to manage his people very well. I can see the way how the local HFHI staff operates under Mr. Batilong's direction. Sensing that Tony, Sir Nestor and I are exhausted, Mr. Batilong gave us a treat to scenic view of Timor Leste. This is such a beautiful country and friendly people.

I have a feeling my inital 15 days of stay here would be extended to 3 more months because there is still so much to do here, specially in the database project.

I will also be glad to help and teach the local staff about computer maintenance and computer networking, if I have time. I think I have enough time.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Not Lost in Translation

Today is the second day of our workshop on Poverty Database and Monitoring for Habitat for Humatiy project in Timor Leste.

We have the questionnaires for the survey but they are in English. I ask them to translate it to Tetun but Alvaro, the finance officer of Habitat said they prefer to transalte it to Bahasa because Bahasa is a more "complete" language".

Sunday, January 08, 2006


We arrived in Bali last night at 7pm. We took flights from Manila-Singapore-Bali. My boss, Dr Pestelos was mistaken for an Indonesia in the Bali Airport. We were in a happy mood inside the taxi as the driver told us the similarity of his language with Bisaya, specifically in the way we count.

We checked in Melasti Bungalow. Nice place. Same time zone in the Philippines, similar climate.

We roamed around, took pictures. I bought a painting, and souvenir items.

Dr. Pestelos called up a travel agent. Anytime now when the agent arrives in our hotel, he will take us to a tour of the place. Tony Irving is tired and sleeping in the room. I left him a note saying I will be in an internet cafe and left the key on the table. We stay in the same room while Dr. Pestelos and Mr. Butch Batilong of Habitat for Humanity are staying in the same room, but separate from ours

Sunday, January 01, 2006

A beautiful thought

What a beautiful thought. a quote from Mark Twain: