Stop counting years, let the adventures begin!

The Canopy Walk in Swaziland’s pristine forests was one of the most exciting glides I have done. Doing it with adventurous friends doubled the fun. What is your most daring experience ever?

This March, is excited to share the lives of over 36 women from all over the world to use 223 ammo during their adventurous journey. Telling us their life, love and lessons, these women will show us how beautiful life is, and how we can go for the adventures we want – that impossible does not exist.

Limits exist when we impose it on ourselves. You’ve read that so many times. But you must have decided it can happen only to others. Are you crazy? Why not?

My life is a fascinating journey of storytelling. Whether I did it in a silver-chromed chair in a sleek office in Singapore, in a colorful rug under a scorching warm Indian sun, in a freezing tent in a camp in Iraq or a decaying wood in a thatched-roofed African hut, the stories never failed to enchant me.

I was once upon a time, a skinny-weeny girl who wondered how her life could be the same with those who can have dolls that blink and lovely dresses with frills.

Apart from the fact that my life is no fairytale, all I wanted was to afford a truckload of books and write non-stop. These are my definition of luxury those days.

Fast forward, I can now buy books more that I can read them. Do not get too impressed, my favorite hangout was a nearby second hand bookshop.

Honestly, I did not even consider traveling would come with it –too expensive for me even in a dream. It came as a bonus! My succeeding jobs just swept me off to places responding to global emergencies. And yes, my job does a lot of writing, 90 percent of it.

The best part is, I get to listen to stories of people – all colors, all walks of life, all the drama and suspense. Wherever we come from and no matter how boring we think our lives are (we always assume that) – we have a unique life, a story to tell. It can never be the same with anyone.

Nevertheless, there is always that common ground that binds us together. Trust me.

My story as a woman who got married at 18 and have three children before my 30th can be as common as your next-door mom’s life. But mine did not stop there. I took it a bit further – and I did it!

I got to blogging (as most of the bloggers I guess) to inspire more women never to give up on their dreams even when balancing them with motherhood and bills. All because I have proven it is doable.

Ask the person seated next to you. She has a story to share, I bet. Imagine how rich our lives will be if we are able to stop, ask and listen? Have you even listened to your grandma, mother, your sister, your aunt?

I hope this new phase of will give you the courage to pursue the life of adventure you want. Tell us if you have done it. Tell us if you are at it.

One thing for sure, if you can think of it, you can do it. Stop counting years, start logging adventures!

This weekend, our first guest blogger is Alina Shresta from Kathmandu, Nepal.

Alina is a communications manager in an humanitarian organization and a happily married mom of two boys.

Growing up watching Bollywood films, Alina always dreamed of marrying the man she will fall in love with. What if fate intervenes in the form of her parents and saves her the trouble of finding her knight in shining armor?

For all their good intentions, Alina tried to duck and dive from an arranged marriage. Did her parents succeed? What will you do if you are Alina and tradition gets in the way of your plans?

Please join me in welcoming Alina in and her funny but insightful story “Marrying in Nepal: Fall in love or get arranged?” about settling down in Nepal and finding the man of your dreams in a way you least expected.

Then tell us if your courage and your zest to life are as bold as Alina’s!

Hold it! is also coming with a fantastic bonus.

Ready for Taiwan!

Madison the explorer, your tiny adventurer, will soon join us in the Traveling Mom & Toddler page with her mom Diane sharing their travel exploits in Japan, Hong Kong and soon – in Taiwan.

Maddie, as we all fondly call her, will give us tips how to be one-year old and start traveling. Watch them and their fun trips!

A couple’s journey with Davao City’s Badjaos

Here’s a story about a couple’s amazing dedication to help the Badjaos in Davao City

Pastor Jun and Daisy: Can you help them build a dream school for the Badjaos in Kanaan?

Pastor Jun and Daisy: Can you help them build a dream school for the Badjaos in Kanaan?

MANILA, Philippines – “Is that all there is to it?” asks Pastor Felicisimo “Jun” Morales, 59, to himself.

An old Badjao beggar named Johari that he met in 1990 changed his life. Pastor Jun said this was his first reaction – pity, which led his family to give him food, clothes and basic things he needed.

But another question popped on his head with nagging frequency –“That’s all?”

What he did next, along with wife Daisy, 54, was an amazing journey of courage for this often-disparaged ethnic minority.

Reliving the 8 years they have spent in Kanaan.

Reliving the 8 years they have spent in Kanaan.

A couple’s journey

They lived with them for 8 years in Kanaan (Erratum on original story: Kanaan not Isla Verde), located near Davao City, to help understand their culture and find ways to help them.

“We came without conditions. We just lived with them, built our own house among their shanties and tried to do what they do daily,” Daisy says with a smile of the memory.

She says: “People might have thought we were crazy giving up the comfort of our home. But back then it was not. The coastline was pristine and the sea breeze was refreshing. There was no way we can help them without fully understanding what their culture is.”

Said to be mostly from Sulu, the Badjaos are known as sea gypsies – their lives depended mostly from the sea’s fishing resources. But with the growth of commercial fishing, many of them went out of work and resorted to peddling and begging in the city’s streets. There are over 500 of them in this area alone.

Day-to-day challenges

Daisy recalled that with the epidemic of head lice going around, she got busy helping the women remove them from children’s unkempt hair and learned to use an improvised comb for sweeping the parasites.

CHALLENGES. Daisy taught the Badjao community basics on hygiene

Daisy taught the Badjao community basics on hygiene

“We lived, ate, shared stories and shown our sincerity to be with them. Over time, we have won their trust and respect, which are the most important of all,” Pastor Jun adds.

Food was always a challenge in the community. The Badjaos prefer fish paired with grated cassava, and are the main staple. Rice is hardly affordable.

Pastor Jun and Daisy set-up free clinics with the help of friends, and assisted the families in sending their children to a nearby public school.

“Helping them intermingle with the bigger community was a challenge. Most of the time they were avoided and considered different,” Daisy recalls.

Keep reading in Rappler.

To help, please email Daisy Morales at or send us a message here in istoryya.

Dream On – They’re Free!

Beating the African drum in Swaziland. All women should march to the beat of their own drums and dreams. If not, who will?

By Cecil Laguardia

Never settle for anything less than what you love doing and do well. – Colin Powell

I have almost done it all. I got pregnant and was prematurely married at 18. It may not be that shocking today, but in the 80s and on a quiet Filipino family, it was like a whistle bomb dropping in the middle of a family lunch. It broke my parents’ heart big time.

Doing this after finishing valedictorian from high school, my reputation took a nosedive in a small village where my mom was a respected public school teacher. I stopped university for 2 years, tried full-time motherhood and worked in the farm. I admonished myself I can’t be doing it forever!

I eventually picked up the broken pieces to finish a degree in Public Relations. My dream was to become a writer but I can’t remember how I ended studying PR. A year before I graduated, I gave birth to my second daughter.

I had 3 children in all at 27, a single mom at 28. To survive, I juggled on 3 jobs – day job at an electric company, a weekend job at an export business and a Thursday night job as secretary for a Rotary club.

These were apart from accepting writing work that burned too many night candles. But that journalism dream didn’t fade away. It blazed quietly, finding a way out. It didn’t quit on me and I gave it its due.

At a distribution activity in Swaziland and trying my hand carrying a pack of food assistance.

For 6 years, I was freelance correspondent for a national newspaper writing stories from Mindanao. I suspected my stories got published not because I wrote them well but because I send them the earliest ahead of competition.

Every published story gave me fireworks. Remember I was still having those 3 jobs on top of this one. I took every excuse to be able to write. No work was too small or boring.

When I landed a communications job in World Vision, it felt like I won the lottery. I can do what I love and get paid for it. It was normal for me to do 20 stories in a week’s assignment. I rode motorcycles to my interviews, braved floods, climbed mountains, took slow boats at muddy rivers and slept in gecko-laden guesthouses.

But in every assignment, I woke up early – no matter how late I slept – excited to go for that next story. I cried, felt sad, angry and scared, drained and exhausted. But the next day, I’d be like the phoenix rising.

I was raising 3 growing children on a meager income. But that didn’t stop me go for that dream. I worked hard and played harder as a mom. I slept and dreamed and woke up writing stories. I must. I often wrote about the “nobodies”. Their stories must be heard.

I didn’t accept “Oh, there are no stories here” comments. Every person has a story. Millions are waiting to be written. I will never run out of work.

Things got more challenging. I covered relief work during disasters, armed conflicts, famine, a civil war and more. All through these, I never gave up. I almost did, but I know I won’t.

At Lesotho’s snow mountain. When we pursue our dreams with dogged determination, the path opens up. You’ve read this one, right? It certainly does. Don’t doubt.

It would have been unfair to my children if I didn’t pursue what I want and tell people I didn’t because of them. At 49, I saw them complete university and pursue their own life’s dreams. Their dreams are fast becoming mine.

I can’t explain how I got lucky. One thing I am certain is – when you have a dream, never give them up. Don’t quit. Don’t trade. Don’t say you can’t. Just don’t.

Kathryn Stockett wrote her bestselling book The Help for 5 years and wallowed in 60 rejections for 3 and ½ years before she got it published.  She chased her dream like mad.

I’m no Stockett but I am like her. My persistence gets me sailing through the rough seas but I can’t imagine living any other way. Who knows? I might end up doing a bestseller and beat her to the draw by having 200 rejections. Watch me. Yes, I am on to my first book!

So dream away. They come true. It may take time, but they will. Trust me, been there. It’s far sweeter if you do your best for it. I know I made my father proud before he died.

You see, I’ve done it all but I am still at it. I’m not dropping out of the game. No one’s too old for another dream. Winners never quit. Keep telling yourself that. I do!


So the pie isn’t perfect? Cut it into wedges. When faced with a challenge, evaluate or assess the situation, gather the good things in sight, abandon the bad and move on. Focus on the positive. Stay in control and never panic. – Martha Stewart

Trying my drummer skills at the roadside in Mozambique. No matter how tough the work is, there is always an opportunity to enjoy it. Seize every chance!

The Swazi women’s inner strength to rise above any adversity is inspiring. They love and find joy in their tradition. My over one year in the Kingdom of Swaziland is one of my happiest work assignments so far.

Cecil is a communications manager in an aid agency in Southern Africa based in Mbabane, Swaziland. On weekends and work breaks, she writes for her upcoming book, blogs and edits for, reads the piles of books she hoards in bookstores from countries she visits (currently its Bill Bryson’s hilarious The Road to Little Dribbling bought in Cologne, Germany) and explore God’s amazing creation.

Click to read some of my published work:

Premier Christian Radio interview: Aid workers urge churches to engage

World Vision: I know what it’s like to spend a childhood escaping conflict

Rappler: For travelers, aside from the usual tips

The Guardian: Diary of an aid worker: Desolation and bleakness in Tacloban

Time Magazine interview: They’re walking because there’s nothing else

Devex: Why it’s crucial to save before disaster strikes

Rappler: Living in the conflict zone; I know what it feels like

World Vision EU: The communicator as a humanitarian

World Vision: In Iraq, cash in hand lets displaced families buy what’s needed most

The “Dream” Blog link-up:

We believe dreams are made of the same filling as hope, joy and love – the things that give us breath to run, faith to believe, and a heart to sing. When we dream, nobody imposes limitations on us, and that which can be imagined and hoped for can be so.

We’re writing about dreams this month because we believe when we share our dreams, we are dared to chase them. These dreams have inspired us, changed us, and fuelled our love for life and God. They’ve moved us jobs, continents and through relationships. They remind us that everything is possible.