Recalling Laiya


One year in the making yet I haven’t still talked about our office’s team building last year. It  was a two-day activity  held in Blue Coral Beach Resort in Laiya, Batangas. I could barely remember what happened except for the fact that our team won the games! Ha!

Blue Coral's beach front.

Blue Coral’s beach front.

 

Having a pool works to the resort's advantage.

Having a pool works to the resort’s advantage.

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A Grandmother’s Story


I still find it unfathomable that I have no more grandparents waiting for me to come home. Barely two weeks ago, my paternal grandmother, my last living grandparent, succumbed to coma and eventually death after suffering from a hemorrhagic stroke. What’s even more even more difficult to comprehend was the rate at which life surprised us. Lola Flor  just celebrated her 79th birthday last February 23 and I was even able talk to her through the phone. Three days later, our entire family was dumbfounded with the news that she suffered a stroke. 

On the last night of the wake,  our family  organized a short program to honor Lola Flor. The family members were requested to share their fondest memories of her.  I placed myself then on a time machine trying to recall significant moments, and I can’t help but be sad because I can barely recall them. During the program proper, I cried ever more, because  I gathered that among the grandchildren, I was the only  who never had a chance to live her. As I hear my  brothers, uncles, and extended relatives speak, I realized that there were many facets of my grandmother that I never knew of. 

I knew she gave birth to my father at  a young age. Yet, I didn’t know  that while taking care of her own children, she also attended to her siblings and even to to her nieces and nephew. She also took a lot of other people under her wing, the testament of which are the people who were present during her wake introducing themselves as either “adopted son” or “adopted daughter”. 

I wondered then, am I no different from a stranger? Every time I go home to Bicol, I visited her. Yet, I never asked or learned about these aspects of her life. I never got to ask how I behaved as a child, or if she remembered the days when I would spend some days at her home during summer vacations. As my uncle had carefully laid out during his eulogy, “I was probably very busy growing up and thinking about my own I life that I forgot Lola Flor was also growing old.” 

I feel sad  that I wasn’t to able to appreciate Lola Flor more when she was alive. However, I am still happy and thankful because in ever in her death, I still got to know her more or perhaps even better. 

Lola Flor, I hope you are at peace now.  And… forgive your grandchild for being so callous and carefree. 

 

 

My Treasures


“Take nothing but pictures.

Leave nothing but footprints.

Kill nothing but time.”

- From Nothing But Lyrics by John Kay

 

I am a firm believer of the above-mentioned saying and it is something I always remind myself of when I visit a place.  The saying captures the very essence of respect that travelers should practice—to leave a place in the same form as it is when we arrived.  The saying has also influenced my dislike for souvenirs—rocks, shells and even food. The only souvenirs I take from my travels are pictures and my memories.  This is the reason why I treasure my photos a lot and why I am very sensitive when others don’t ask my permission prior to using them. I just don’t take pictures for the sake of being able to say I have been to a place.  To me, they are the embodiment of a memory and a reminder of what it means to be in that place.

This post is my entry to Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge with the theme Treasure.

Puff


(Credits to bgfons.com)

It has to be now. There is no never. You don’t mind the place. You don’t mind the time.

You take out one stick. You then light it. Puff. Finally. You can now relax. You just need to enjoy it up to the very last bit.

When the stick is just about one-inch long, you threw it to the ground. The ember is still glowing red. You don’t mind the place. You don’t mind the people around.

But then I was right behind you. I almost stepped on the it. Thankfully, I was able to avoid it and save my feet from burns.

I was also right behind you when you took out the stick. I even cringed. I cringed even more the moment you puffed. I could not breathe from the smoke you produced. I didn’t have a mask to protect myself. The handkerchief I carry proved to be useless.

I wondered then. If I couldn’t breathe, how could you? If I can’t even stand just the smell, how could you? Why do risk your life for a piece of stick or perhaps for those boxes of sticks?

Further, I wondered. It’s lucky that that you threw the stick on a concrete ground. What if you threw it on a pile of dry leaves? What if it landed on a bunch of paper? Worse, what if it was left inside a house?

I have a lot of why’s and what if’s for that stick. It can ruin you and the lives of those around you. I saw how it ruined they very people I love. I do not want you and any other people suffer the same fate.

Please, if you can, throw that stick now. And I hope you eventually learn to never seek for one.

Public Enemy No. 1


I probably earned another enemy today. Earlier, I could not pass in a narrow sidewalk because 4-5 people were bolted in place talking loudly about a dog. So, I told one of the girls, “Excuse me, can I pass?”.

The girl turned around and stared rudely at me. Perhaps she was thinking who the hell I am to demand that from her. It took 10 tons of my patience to prevent myself to from further saying, “Excuse me. You don’t own the sidewalk so don’t block the passageway.”

To stress my point, I also stared. I flashed my signature killer stare until she moved out of the way. There goes my enemy.  On the brighter side, she didn’t know my name and I do not know her name either.  My encounter with her earlier will probably be our first and last cold war. However, she could morph…into another human being, into another public place hoarder.  I guess my unnamed enemy list could go still become longer.

I can also add to the list to that list the taxi driver who I stared at  while I waved the “hand stop” signal   because he refused to slow down while I was crossing in the pedestrian lane. And oh, I almost forgot the motorcycle driver who asked me to move out of the sidewalk  because he was passing by. Being the rude person that I am, I replied, “Why should I move when it’s people who should be using sidewalks?”.

Call me public enemy number 1.  Call me impatient.  I stare and even reply back to exaggerate my point.  But can one call my actions irrational or immature?

Be the judge.

Framed by a Window


It’s 2014 already and this means new set of photo challenges. I am not so sure if I can keep posting on a weekly pace but I’ll try my best. For this week’s challenge, we’re asked to share a photo with a window. Here’s my share:

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This was actually taken last year during a trip to Ilocos Norte. I was with a group of people inside a tour bus and the setting sun caught my eye so I stole some shots inside the moving car.  I haven’t published a travel diary on that yet. I hope I will have some spare time to finish the posts in  time for my next set of trips. :)

Have a great week everyone! :)

This post is my entry to Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge with the theme Window.

2013: I am not a Superhuman


I usually scourge my folders for the pics that best represent my year. I decided to skip my  habit this year because: (1 ) I was sick for the past three days, (2) I have another exam due by the end of the week, and (3) I have mixed feelings about how my year went by.

2013 was still  a decent year for me but full of toxicity. I finally enrolled in graduate school and I am now my second semester. Work is also getting more hectic more than ever. The higher-ups seems to be happy with what we are doing so our budget and workload has almost doubled lately! I think the load from school and work is finally taking its toll on me. I am sick more than usual and I often suffer from tensional migraine.

I ask myself now whether I was ready for this kind of pressure when I started grad school. Looking back at how I handled things, I guess I was not. I tried to do everything at once…school, work, traveling, my other interests. I failed to prioritize. By the end of the year, I was pretty much dissatisfied with everything I did. My school performance were okay but so so. I had lot of backlogs at work. My travel posts are so delayed, etc. etc.

I will end 2013 with a note to myself that I am not superhuman. I cannot do everything I want to do just because I want to. I made certain choices, therefore, I should face them with better conviction and sense of responsibility even it means letting go of certain things. And finally, I now literally feel what ‘aging’ means, so I guess health is now an unavoidable priority.

2014 will be here in a few hours.  I am still so uncertain how to proceed. But as they say, BRING IT ON!

Straight Out of a Can


This morning, my aunt’s househelp prepared corned beef and dried fish for breakfast. I ignored the plate of corned beef and proceeded to savor the dried fish. I was never a fan of corned beef nor of any canned meat or fish food, expect perhaps the Spam luncheon meat. I wondered then how many people out there consumed such food straight out the can when I can barely eat them even after they are already heated.

 I remember the first time I was forced to eat tuna out of a can. It was in February 2003 during a high school trip to the coastal town of Prieto Diaz in Sorsogon. Before we left, we were advised to bring canned goods and cooked rice because the place had no facility for cooking nor there were nearby small restaurants. So when the night came, my groupmates opened the group’s stock of canned goods which consisted of tuna in various flavors—mechado, adobo, menudo, etc. One of my groupmates even mixed two or three flavors! I can hardly forget my reaction when I tasted the food. I said to myself, “So… this is how it tastes like.”

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(Travel Diary) Weekend in Caramoan Part 2


I’ve been wanting to finish this diary for  quite some time now. Heck, it’s been eight months since this trip happened but  since then work and school  has been constantly eating my time.  These days, it’s semester break already so I  have some extra time to backtrack my travel diaries!  I was actually alarmed that I could not remember already some of the names of the island we visited. Thankfully, I have my trusty notepad where I usually write the names of the places I visited and my expenses when I travel.

In my first Caramoan post, I last talked about Cagbalinad island. Day 2 was also about island hopping while on Day 3, we visited some sites in the town proper. Without further ado… here’s the rest of my Caramoan adventure.

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Panoramic shot of the Manlawi sandbar.

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Domino Effect


It is sad a time to be a government employee in the Philippines these days. It’s not that I am not proud of the work I do but because I am embarrassed by the non-stop controversies that the government is facing these days. It has come to a point that the whatever honest work some or most of the small workers have done and are still doing, it becomes easily forgotten because of the big mistakes committed by a certain few.

 I shared before in my FB account a letter by a South Korean who claimed that one of the reasons that the Philippines is not progressing is Filipinos are too doubtful of their system and instead of trying to remain in the country to initiate changes, many choose to leave. I posted an insight to the article saying I shared the sentiments of that writer and how I have repeatedly wondered why I am always being told that my skills as a scientist would be wasted here and that I would be better off in another country. Also, I choose to believe that there is still a very big hope in the Philippines.

 However, with the recent events unfolding in the Philippines—the Php 10 billion PDAF scam, the Mamplaya fund scam, and now the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) controversy—I cannot help but sigh.  I guess it’s a no brainer now why many of the people here have lost hope. It’s so disheartening to watch the news these days knowing that the people involved in these controversies are the very same people who I am working with, albeit indirectly, in the system. Also, how can I believe what they are claiming now when they are the very same people who are pushing for fiscal transparency and tuwid na daan?

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Good Morning!


Frequent visitors of this blog probably already know I am sucker for sunrises and sunsets.  Instead of thinking about coffee, news or how I look when I wake up, I usually look at the clock to see if I can still catch the sunrise or if I already missed it. Depending on what time I wake up or in which side of the Philippines I am, I can end up with a view like this:

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.. or this…

Pardon the electric wires.

Pardon the electric wires.

And if I am on a travel and I am with friends or offcemates, I can end up asking them  to do this early in the morning:

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Failed timing.

Good morning! Jump and feel how alive you are. :)

This post is my entry to Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge with the theme Good Morning!