fun & travels

Voluntouring in Jomalig

photo by Mara Balayan

It’s this time of year again to explore yet another destination here in the Philippines. Yes, I’m referring to my yearly birthday trip. 🙂 Last year, I traveled to Ilo-ilo, Guimaras and Bacolod City where I had experienced my first ever CouchSurfing.

This year though, I decided to travel for a cause. One of my couchsurfer friends, James, had organized this so-called Voluntourism at Jomalig Island in Quezon Province. Without second thoughts (not to mention the short span of time in booking my plane ticket to Manila), I grabbed the opportunity. It was like hitting two birds with a stone. I get to volunteer and travel at the same time. 🙂

FYI, Project Jomalig is a community development project that aims to alleviate the condition of the children in Jomalig Island, Quezon, which has the most number of malnourished children in the Philippines.

More information about the project here. This project was also featured in a local TV program, Reel Time. You can view the clip here.

Okay, so here’s the details of my trip to the island:

Davao → Manila → Real, Quezon → Jomalig Island vice versa

That’s how far I traveled. All the Volunteers came from Manila (or nearby/relocated in Metro Manila) except me 0_o | from google maps
My plane arrived earlier (around 10PM instead of 11PM) in Manila on the 12th of September. I only have the jeepney routes as guide in reaching the meeting place which was set at 4AM on the 13th and I don’t have the slightest idea on which way to go. I spent almost 5 hours roaming around Manila (actually, I got lost.. hahaha) Yes, I’m bad at directions. I could have asked the locals but I just went on searching for clues/landmarks of the places that I had to go. I did ask some locals though. Talk about thrill and excitement. 🙂 I spent almost 2-3 round trips in every jeepney route I’ve ridden until I reached the meeting place. One jeepney driver almost scolded me for not pointing out my destination beforehand (who thought I was a runaway girl). In the end, I befriended him to which I shared a part of my story. 🙂 By the time I arrived at the meeting place, (i’m one of the early birds of course :D) I was dead tired and sleepy (from work plane ride jeepney rides getting lost + backpack). But I did enjoy the rides. Somehow, I was able to sight-see a part of Manila. 🙂
The next ride was about 4 hours from Manila to Real, Quezon. What I remembered on this trip were the circles, the ups, and downs and bumps on the road. And light rain? I was asleep the whole time (I was dead tired, remember?) By the time I woke up, we were already at Real. I think it was around 9AM. We stopped over for breakfast and project briefing.
photo from journeyingjames
photo by journeyingjames

And while we were heading to the port, I noticed this seemingly-old bar and restaurant. (I had this fascination with old architectural buildings :3) It reminded me of the wineries in Spain and France. I meant in photos, not that I’ve visited the wineries of those places. I wished I was. 🙂

Around 11AM, we headed to Isla Jomalig. A 5-6 hour boat ride from Real, Quezon port.
ready to row the boat
ready to row the boat
By the time we reached the island, it was around 5PM already. We camped at the beach since there were many of us. Plus, it was more fun. 🙂
the tent quarters, the beach and the sunset
the tent quarters, the beach and the sunset
The day after was the community reach-out. We traveled by boat again for 2 hours to reach Barangay Apad. And we also traveled for about 30 minutes by truck going to the port.
The families were already gathered by the time we arrived at the place. There were lots of skinny children. 😦 Somehow, we uplifted their spirits by sharing the goods that we brought for them. (toys, clothes and slippers) Even exchanged food with them. We brought chicken for the community and they gave us squid and fish for lunch. They were so happy. And we were also delighted just seeing their smiles. (despite the super hot weather and hours of transpo) 🙂
reaching out to the community | photo by wave 6 volunteers of project Jomalig
reaching out to the community | photos by wave 6 volunteers of project Jomalig
Of course, we did not let the evening pass without doing some childish acts. Here’s us doing the logroll on the sand going to the beach. 🙂 (Video to be uploaded later.. evil laugh)
do the logroll baby! :D photo by Ivy
do the logroll baby! | photo by Ivy Ignacio

Night came and we had our socials (back to the beach camp). We were graced by the mayor’s arrival and even more surprised when he brought crabs and lobsters for dinner and also some local drinks. 🙂

Wave 6 Volunteers of Project Jomalig | Photo by  Duane Bernardo & Erwin Nuer
Wave 6 Volunteers of Project Jomalig | Photos by Duane Bernardo & Erwin Nuer
And now for the most exciting part; our departure from the island. We left the island around 11AM (waves were still strong even by day so we had to delay a bit). Unfortunately, the waves turned out stronger in the late afternoon accompanied by rain. Some of us (including me) got soaking wet because we had a small boat and there were many of us (including other locals), some had to stay outside. And talking about strong winds and raging sea water embracing us… for 10 hours. (It was a good idea of slipping away from the drinks during the socials :)) Our boat ride was unexpectedly extended for more hours since we got lost in the middle of the sea due to the bad weather, with no light, no food and no good shelter. We were supposed to arrive around 5PM but we arrived at 10PM at the port of the province.
Of course, we arrived safely despite the situation. 🙂 (I wouldn’t be having this post if we weren’t.. hahahaha)
“We don’t mind the big waves there’s a space to forget the fear and sleep. sa bubong ng cargo boat sa gitna ng baybaying Lamon” #masandaltulog #higahigapagmaytime ~Shammy Lisay
“Honestly, it felt traumatic, tragic for some but after a few moments of silence. 
I continue to celebrate, I survived. We alive.” ~Shammy Lisay
“Pagod pa rin after a grueling 9 to 10-hour boat ride yesterday. Almost lost at sea, wet, cold and itchy, but still worth it.” ~Duane Bernardo
And supposedly, I should have gotten into a spa after the trip to island. But since I ran out of time (we arrived in Manila at 1AM and my flight back to Davao was around 4AM), I headed to the airport instead and had my massage in Davao. Sadly, most of us were not able to say goodbye to each other. (That is why thanks to Facebook and Twitter for reuniting us.) 🙂

This birthday trip.. It’s probably my best trip for this year! 🙂

TAG TEAM | Jas, Anne, Mara & Ivy | #tentRoomies #uniform
TAG TEAM | Jas, Anne, Mara & Ivy | #tentRoomies #uniform | photo by Mara Balayan

#ProjectJomalig: ” In meeting new friends, doing a community reach-out, eating simple yet satisfying meals, and staying on a cool beach camp.. I wouldn’t have experienced these all if it weren’t for #projectJomalig.. Indeed, it was a well-spent birthday trip..” ~yours truly 🙂

Oh, and by the way, there were five of us September celebrants. And for sharing and making this trip memorable for us five, SUPER DUPER THANKS to all Wave 6 Volunteers, to the community and of course to the organizers (without you, there’s no #ProjectJomalig “teary-eyed”) Boss James, Chef Arvin, Ms. Mitch and Ms. Em.  🙂
“being part of the wave6 of #projectJomalig and meeting you guys were more than enough to me. Happiness to the highest level na yun! Chos! ” ~yours truly
This trip has ended, but I’m looking forward on my next trip already.. (I still dunno where though)
And someday, maybe we can share another trip together. 🙂

4 thoughts on “Voluntouring in Jomalig”

  1. Wow Jas! Karon lang ko nasaag sa imong blog balik. 🙂 Kudos to this! If you’re looking for a companion sa imong next project, count me in! Hehehe. Gusto sad ko mag-ingon ani. Wala lang ko kabalo asa magduol. 🙂

    Btw, I’ve privatized (tama ba na word na? Hehe) my wordpress and blogspot account due to security problems. Char. Hehe. Sa karon, I frequent tumblr sa. You can visit me at 🙂

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