The Change Direction Blog is about the joys, and practical impacts, of working from home online. It is about online businesses and techniques for internet marketing, traffic building. It is also about what it is like to work from home, working with family around, and all the practicial issues that arise on a day to day basis for someone working from home. Plus, an ex pat view of an English guy living in Palawan, a tropical paradise in the Philippines.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Internet Blessings for Palawan

The day after Christmas I wrote about a wonderful gesture by Dr Mani, who had asked me to donate the cost of his Ebook to a local children's charity. The Ebook was about profiting from RSS, or Really Simple Syndication. He had done this as Clickbank regularly refuse my perfectly valid credit cards, so I was unable to pay online. It was a warm, natural gesture that made my day.

That was a week ago now, and this morning Mary Ann and I had a meeting with a contact from just outside Puerto Princesa, who I knew to be involved in community projects, and had a special interest in helping children. Fe brought with her a man, known to his friends as Boots. I had not met him before, but he was from the community programme she was very much involved in. They did, indeed, know of quite a few children who were orphans and would benefit from Dr Mani's kind contribution.

After our meeting, Mary Ann went out immediately to the "Ukey Ukey" store. That is, for second hand clothing. There she spent almost all Dr Mani's donation on children's clothes, brought them back here, and is now washing them ready to distribute to the children later in the week. Over 90 items of young children's clothes will go to some very poor, grateful and smiling children aged 5 and under. The little bit of money that is left will go towards a special meal for the children after the presentation. No doubt it will be a very enjoyable occasion, which I will feature here at a later date.

One of the things that make life such a joy sometimes is the chance meetings that can sometimes have a great impact, even cause a change of direction, in your life, or, as on this occasion, bring an answer to a puzzle or need that has been with you, unsolved, for some time.

It was very fortuitous that Fe brought Boots with her. I have had plans for some time to start a website about Palawan rain forests, but without an easy source of information, and little time to go out pursuing it myself, it has not yet got off the ground. I am currently awaiting information from the Narra area to the south of Puerto Princesa, to use as the starting point for the website, but things move a little slowly here in the Philippines, and especially in Palawan. Well, I did come here for a more relaxing lifestyle.

Boots, though, was introduced as a landscaper, so I quickly got onto that subject. He spoke very good English, so here was a great opportunity to talk to somebody who knew about plants in Palawan. I was a keen gardener once, but my knowledge is of English gardens and gardening. When it comes to tropical plants, trees, and indeed wildlife, I am ignorant. I could not plan a garden, as I do not know what height a plant will grow to, what light it likes, what colour it's flowers will be, and all the other things I used to take into account in planning an English garden. Buy a book, you may say. Well, that's a nice thought, but please let me know if you find one about gardening in the Philippines. You can buy books here about gardening in England, but gardening in the Philippines? No, I have seen nothing.

It emerged Boots had the same problem in making the switch to landscape gardening as a career. However, he had managed to learn, through seminars, about the plants and trees of Palawan. We got more into the subject of trees, then forests. The community programme they are involved in is quite wide ranging: rain forest preservation, reafforestation, sustainable development, livelihood projects for local people, eco tourism, eco friendly agriculture, mixing agriculture with sustainable foresty, organic agriculture and horticulture, and other very interesting aspects that will be a great boon to the poor local community as well as the rain forests of Palawan.

As Boots spoke, it was very clear he was extremely enthusiastic about every part of the community program. Each time I mentioned something about my planned rain forest website, he responded with equal enthusiasm. He had all the knowledge I needed for now about tree species, a lot of knowledge about rainforest protection, sustainable forestry and agriculture in this tropical island. Then came the big bonus. "Can you write"? I asked. He had already told me he had worked in the tv industry as a set designer, now he told me he once had been a copy writer too. He was very happy to write up all the necessary technical info about trees and Palawan rain forests for the website, in which I would feature their community project. So I then asked, "can you write up a daily report or diary of the project"? Yes, he was keen on that too. Maybe I had found a super guest blogger for my new website when it was ready for publication.

So as it is evolving, one internet blessing from Dr Mani has brought a series of other blessings for a particular community in Palawan, for me as my website will have a great source of rain forest content, and probably for the preservation of rainforest more widely in Palawan. It is amazing how life flows when you work online in a tropical paradise!


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