Saturday, September 12, 2020

From girl scout to jail officer: GSP's National Young Achiever


"From girl scout to jail officer: GSP's National Young Achiever"
SunStar Davao, September 12, 2020

“Once a girl scout, always a girl scout.”    

This could not be any truer for Gilvee Chardyl Plana who was recognized by the Girl Scouts of the Philippines’ National Headquarters as one of the 80 awardees during the recent “Search for GSP’s National Young Achievers” in line with the celebration of its 80th year. 

The search aims to recognize active and former girls scouts ages 21 to 35 years old for “their notable achievements within and outside the GSP movement as well as their continuous efforts to contribute positively to social, economic, environment and development of their communities and the country as a whole.”

“I have been in girl scouting for more than two decades and it has been a big part of my life since I was a little girl. It made me who I am today, from a Twinkler Scout to an Adult Leader,” Gilvee proudly proclaims.

Selfless service

Gilvee, 26, was the first-ever Chief Girl Scout Medal Scheme Awardee from the Bernardo D. Carpio National High School in Davao City where she graduated as a salutatorian in 2010.

“Immersing myself in the community while still a student was one of the best experiences I had in scouting because I discovered the needs of the people. It made me realize that this was the essence of the mission and vision of the Girl Scout in molding girls and young women in extending selfless service to the people,” she says.

“Being a girl scout is not as easy as what others think because it has an equal responsibility. I can feel the pressure when some people tell me, “Uy! Girl Scout, dapat laging handa,” Gilvee shares with amusement.

Through girl scouting, Gilvee is grateful that there were countless opportunities in developing her leadership skills through enriching seminars, trainings, campings, among others. “I also visited many places for free and encountered respected and inspiring people who became my role models,” she reveals.

Agent of change

Upon graduating with a degree in Bachelor of Science in Criminology in 2014, Gilvee worked as a Technical Assistant for Training at the GSP Davao Council. In the same year, she also passed the Civil Service Examination, and the Criminology Licensure Examination.

While working, she likewise taught Criminology on a part-time basis at the Holy Cross of Davao College. After four fruitful years working in the GSP, Gilvee moved on to practice her profession as a Jail Officer with the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology-Region XI.

“My task is not only to protect and develop Persons Deprived of Liberty (PDL) but I am also trained to extend our services to other people in the community as a Community Relations Service Jail Non-Officer Task. I coordinate activities such as coastal clean-ups, tree planting, gift-giving, among others,” she relates.

“I thought I can no longer practice the fulfilling deeds that I used to do in Girl Scouting but through my profession, I have expanded my influence in doing good for others and be an effective agent of change in building a safer and better nation,” Gilvee imparts.

Congratulations to Gilvee and the other GSP National Young Achievers from all over the Philippines!

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Saturday, August 15, 2020

Taking root: Plant momma 101

Taking root: Plant momma 101”

SunStar Davao, August 15, 2020

You may know Jenny Uyking best as the woman behind Jenny’s Kitchen Davao where she creates intricately-designed bento art boxes and cakes, and rolls out mouthwatering homemade goodies.

Or, if you follow her on social media, you may have noticed her adorable twinning outfits with her 8-year-old daughter Natalie Kate who shares her kikay mom’s fondness for fashion even at a tender age. 

The mompreneur who works in the family’s buy and sell business is also an active barter enthusiast of Davao who loves to make gorgeous tablescapes at home.

These days, her fascination for plants has taken root, pun here intended, adding another passion project to her growing list. She is ‘Jen of all trades’, after all.

Connecting with plants

“I love plants because it helps keep me grounded. There’s something about digging in the dirt and growing living plants that settles my soul and helps me feel alive inside. Plants connect us to hope, anticipation, learning and nurturing,” Jenny, who is married to businessman Earlan Uyking, says.

“Owning a plant can improve your well-being. Aside from purifying the air, they are good for one’s mental health. Surrounding yourself with houseplants can boost your concentration and help your psychological well-being,” she shares.

Jenny reveals that a lot of her plants were given by beloved friends, customers, and family. “I’d get cuttings from people and we’d swap them. Then, I started collecting the rarer ones. It is fun to start with one inspiring first plant and then build from there. Collections are more fun when you’re learning about something new”, the busy mom adds. 

Plant momma 101

For those who want to start their own plant collection, Jenny suggests that they include gardening essentials such as pruning shears, gardening gloves, garden fork, hoe, trowel, hose or watering can, fertilizer, small stool, pots, soil tester, and digging shovel.

“Beginners can start with easy and low maintenance plants like Sanseveria, Aglaonema, Cactus/Succulents, Peace Lily, and Welcome or ZZ Plant,” Jenny recommends.

Jenny attests that the Aglaonema is one of the best indoor air purifying plants because aside from releasing fresh oxygen, it is a natural humidifier. “They like to be kept moist but not soggy so just water them two to three times a week when topsoil is dry. The plant likes bright indirect light, so they are simply perfect inside the house near the window,” she advises.

Stayin’ alive

Want to keep your plants alive? Jenny shares that it starts with getting the right plant. Choosing the correct pot and drainage are extremely important as well.

“Use good potting soil. Try your best when watering, fertilizing, and repotting your plants. Give them plenty of light but do take note that every plant has different preferences in terms of shade versus sun,” she points out.

Another enjoyable and integral part of collecting plants are the pretty pots and accessories that make them even more eye-catching.

“Before the lockdown, I scoured the department stores, local shops, and hardwares for planters and plant racks. For native-looking planters, you can buy them at Jonah’s Craft Store. A lot of online sellers are offering pots, too. You just have to check the price and quality,” Jenny says.

“Being a plant momma is not necessarily an expensive hobby, but it can be initially if you are not mindful. My plants are more than just a hobby. For me, it is a way of life,” Jenny declares.



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Saturday, August 1, 2020

Fifth time's a charm

"Fifth time’s a charm"
SunStar Davao, August 1, 2020

It was two days before her due date when Gladys Gonzaga-Togonon abruptly woke up due to slight contractions at 3:30 a.m.

“I thought I was in false labor and waited for forty-five minutes. The contractions were not as extremely painful as my previous pregnancies though, so I slept again,” says the 31-year-old mom.

At past 5:00 a.m., as the labor pains increased in frequency and intensity, she began mindfully packing things to prepare for her hospital delivery. Suddenly, Gladys noticed that she was leaking a little after a contraction. In minutes, her water broke.

“As I was calling my husband Ben to get ready, I knew it was too late when the inevitable was happening,” she recalled.

Gladys was about to give birth, unassisted, at home.

Unassisted home birth

The brave mom quickly rushed to the bathroom and secured her towel. Gladys instinctively felt the urge to push as hard as she could, loudly calling Jesus to help her.

In less than ten minutes, her little one was out. Hearing the loud cry of her precious 38-week-old baby, Dwayne Benjamin, was pure music to the mother’s ears!

"Our fifth baby entered the world during this pandemic, but God had His own way of showing us that life is beautiful. I delivered a healthy 3.59-kilo baby boy by myself, right at the comfort of my throne (toilet seat) at home and in the fastest and most natural way,” she gratefully expressed.

When Gladys  went to Davao Doctors Hospital, the umbilical cord remained uncut and her placenta was still intact. She decided not to push out the placenta and waited until she and Ben reached the hospital for fear of possible risks and complications.

Labor of love

Baby Dwayne was roomed-in from the beginning because all his laboratory tests were normal. Mother and child stayed at the hospital overnight and were discharged the following  day.

“Every childbirth has a different story and each time, it was a magical moment for me, but the labor and delivery are not easy feats,” admitted Gladys.

For her four previous deliveries, Gladys gave birth via Normal Spontaneous Vaginal Delivery (NSVD) in a birthing suite and used the Lamaze method for breathing and pain management. She also had one ectopic pregnancy where her right fallopian tube was removed and two miscarriages.

The Togonons’ “basketball dream team line-up” includes their eldest Brent (aged 13); Cid (8); Gabe (5); Benzy (1.5 y.o.); and their newest “recruit” 3-week-old Dwayne.

Team Togonon

“I am blessed with a husband who is a good provider, loving partner as well as a hands- on and caring daddy. He is my helpmate in everything especially in taking turns in watching the kids,” Gladys shared.

Last September, the Togonons took a leap of faith and started to homeschool their children through the help of their church’s Discipleship Group (Dgroup), learning coaches, homeschool provider, and other homeschool families.

More than just academics, homeschooling fostered deeper connection and bonding among Ben, Gladys, and their kids.

“Aside from interest-led or strength-based learning where they became independent learners, our boys showed continuous improvement on their values, time management, sense of accountability, organization, life skills, love for others, and stronger relationship with God,” Gladys observed.

Keeping her sanity

To keep herself fit and healthy, Gladys eats a balanced diet with vegetables freshly harvested from their backyard garden. Household chores, afternoon walks, and biking around the village with the family are her forms of exercise.

This quarantine, Gladys, who is a graduate of the Center for Asian Culinary Arts, reacquainted herself with the kitchen. She also enjoys reading and tends to her ornamental plants every day.

Once a week, she and Ben meet with their Dgroup family through Zoom where they study the word of God together. Her friendship with fellow homeschooling moms has also been an invaluable source of comfort.

“And, of course, tons of prayers keep my sanity intact,” Gladys revealed.

“The best part of being a mom of 5 boys is how they show their love and affection to me. I like how they are so attached and clingy although, sometimes, it can be overwhelming and annoying. There are also times I feel like I have failed them but in the eyes of my kids, I am a supermom”, said the Togonons’ one and only queen bee.

Asked if she and Ben had any plans of adding another “team member” in the future, Gladys promptly replied, “Nah-uh! The baby factory is officially closed and sealed. Enough is enough. Thank God!”.

Special thanks to Mima Tan of Mimathology for the studio photos.

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