I am still surprised when I see college students going out and about this summer. I often forget that major universities in the Philippines have already implemented academic shift. Classes now start in August and ends in May. This also means that summer breaks which used to be from April to May now fall on the not so summery months of June and July.
As a kid, I would always count the days until summer break. I felt 10 months for a school year was too long. Time also went by too slow. Summer meant I could wake up late, laze around for the whole day, and bury myself in the comfort of my books. I remember devouring shelves and shelves of books. It came to a point my mom would scold me because she had to keep my books in boxes under my bed.
Summer also meant lots of sunshine. We would go to beaches around the Bicol Region. Back then, sunblock was not yet a fad. Instead, we were forced to apply baby oil to protect out skin from the sun. And since I hated applying any form of oil in my body, by the end of summers I would end up so dark than my usual color.
I was in my hometown two weeks ago for the Holy Week break. It’s an annual practice—going home during Holy Week, All Soul’s Day and Christmas breaks. Apart for the reason these are only periods I get to spend time with my family, these are also the only periods I take long breaks from work.
A favorite habit of mine when I am at home is to sit in our terrace during sunset. Because it faces our gate and of the almost 1.5-meter elevation of our house above ground level, I get a good view of the setting sun, the road in front of our house, and railway that bisects the road.
During my recent stay, there was a day that I was suddenly overwhelmed by the utter calmness of my surroundings. There were hardly any cars passing by. Children were happily playing on the street. I could vividly hear the sound of chirping bird and insects, and even the sound of the blowing wind. It is a fact that in some places like my hometown, life can still be slow and uncomplicated. Yet, it still amazes me I am still able to experience how slow and uncomplicated life can be.
I frequent a massage shop called “Vibes” in a mall near my apartment. I usually go there twice a month to relieve myself from stress due to work and life, in general. One interesting aspect of Vibes is the massage therapists are blind. Unlike other regular customers though, I don’t favor a specific masseuse. I am fine with being assigned with the available masseuse because (1) I am generally impatient, and (2) it enables me to differentiate the massaging styles of the masseuses.
In the past three years of frequenting Vibes, I’ve observed a lot of things about their staff which often amazes me more than not. The massage therapists have very keen sense of touch and hearing. Even without saying a word and just by touching my back, they can tell if it’s me, if I lost or gained weight and if I am more stressed than usual. They also know my voice very well. They would say, “Oh! It’s Ma’am Melissa.” even if I just uttered, “Good evening”.
When they are in a light mood, some masseuse also share their interests. There is one instance when I had to wait for the masseuse for a while. When she arrived, she apologized profusely. She mentioned she was just replaying the episode of a drama she missed the previous night. I asked her how she replayed it. She replied she listened through the YouTube application in her smartphone. She further shared that sometimes she replays TV shows on her Acer laptop. I was simply dumbfounded.
It might be too late to greet everyone a “Happy New Year”, but hey a happy new year to you! 🙂 How was your new year? Mine was pretty uneventful. I spent it in my hometown in Bicol, waited for the clock to strike 12 on the the 31st of December, then I slept. Even my blog was uneventful. For the first time, I did not write a year-end post.
Anyway, to start this blog’s year and to lessen my travel diary backlogs, I thought of sharing some of the waterfalls I’ve been to in the Philippines. The Philippines is not only blessed with beautiful beaches but with bodies of freshwater such as lakes, waterfalls and rivers. It’s a good idea to check these out and include them in your must-visit list this 2016:
Hagitmit Falls is found in the island of Samal in Davao del Norte. One interesting feature of this body of water is that it actually a series of falls. The falls above is just one of the more gently sloping falls. The one below is more “rugged”.
As Alice in Wonderland has established, to a certain extent the best people are mad. If not, how does one one survive this world which on its own is chaotic? Similarly, who says Christmas can’t be mad and be celebrated ala Wonderland?
Our office has taken Christmas decoration to another notch this year! We transformed our working spaces into the world of Alice through the use of recycled materials. And guess what, we are battling for the “best decoration” title! So, friends, I am asking as small favor. If like me,you believe in madness that does not need to be outlandish, do me a little help and win our division (RDMD) clinch the title. Please click the photo below and hit the like button!
Thank you and Merry Christmas! I am sure your madness, like RDMD’s’, will certainly help you tackle difficult challenges with a fun and bright perspective. 🙂
Manila is home to the world’s oldest Chinatown located in Binondo. It’s funny though that despite living in Metro Manila for almost 10 years now, I only got to visit Binondo last October. Apart from being a historic place, Binondo is perhaps is better know as a food lover’s heaven. One of the cheap dining options there where one can try a variety of Chinese dishes is Estero Fast Food Restaurant. I wondered if the place is called “estero” because it is literally located near a big canal a.ka. estero in the Filipino language.
Apart from the variety of food options, I learned that part of the dining experience in Estero is a battle with cats. The cats roam around the tables waiting for leftovers. Some of them were even aggressive enough to attempt an eye to eye contact with me. LOL.
It’s no secret that I am very interested in Korean history and culture. This is the primary reason why in my travel bucket list, South Korea was the first country I listed that I want to visit. Last year, I was able to cross out that item off my list. That trip to South Korea marked my 1st overseas travel and what a gamble it was considering I had to apply for a visa.
South Korea has a very rich in history and it has done a very good job of preserving its historic places. The presence of several palaces in the heart of Seoul amidst modern infrastructure is a testament to that. Of the five (5) palaces found in Jongno, my favorite would have to be the Changdeokgung Palace. The palace complex is especially lovely during autumn.
While walking around, I chanced upon these quarters with a very ornate roofing. Imagine the detail placed in designing them.
Check out this week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge with the theme Ornate.
As an ASEAN country, it can’t be helped that the Philippines is often compared to Singapore. After all, Singapore is an epitome of a success story from its efficient government, transportation system, sustainable development strategies, etc. Considering it is such a young nation (at 50 years old), one can’t help but be amazed at how fast they have progressed.
I had the opportunity to visit the country last September for a training on the co-benefits of climate change and health. It was my first time to go there and it was great because part of my training was on the policy process of Singapore for environmental protection and air pollution management. I had nothing but admiration for how they do things in the country. At least from the training alone, I got the impression that the local leadership is strong and has good vision. Policies were evidence-based, and properly implemented and monitored. Pride is imminent not just in the manner our speakers, who were government officials, talked about their work but even in the way ordinary Singaporeans whom I had a chance to interact with speak of their government.
One does not even need to be in a formal training to learn a lot about the country. I realized from my daily encounters that the citizens are highly aware of their history particularly of the reforms Lee Kuan Yew carried out. They are also very knowledgeable on laws from housing, waste management, energy efficiency to air pollution and of the heavy repercussions for violating the law.
Earlier during the recognition program of the Faculty of Management and Development Studies of the University of the Philippines Open University, I was given the opportunity to give the message on behalf of the graduating students.
I will be forever grateful for the chance given to me. I hope I live up to the expectations for an Iskolar ng Bayan. 🙂
Allow me to share the speech I delivered earlier:
FMDS officials and staff, dear professors, fellow graduates, families and friends in attendance, good morning.
It’s fascinating to be here, standing before you all, particularly my classmates and professors whom I only interacted with online for the past two years. It’s funny that we only get to meet and bond on our day of recognition and graduation. A few weeks ago we were just joking among ourselves in our FB group what award we would give each other. I got the “Master Procrastinator award”. One had the “Master Crammer’” and another had the “Comments only during school season” award. Such is the testament that today education and establishing relationships know no boundary. And we are blessed that UPOU and our professors are here to help us take advantage of how modern technology can revolutionize education.
The other week, my classmates and I were joking on our Facebook group what we would award each other for our upcoming graduation this July 25. One classmate said he would give me a “Master Procrastinator Award”. I was appalled so I asked him why.
He replied, “Because every time I am cramming for our paper or an exam, I would see in your posts that you are either in Korea, El Nido or some random beach. You don’t seem to be bothered by school or work at all”.
Am I one?? (Image credits to keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk)
I was surprised that some of them had a perception that I am a “procrastinator”, so I clarified that when I am on travel, I bring my iPad and laptop. I study while waiting in airports and ports. I write papers at night or during the wee hours of the morning. I always put my phone on roaming to make sure I don’t miss anything work or school-related while I am overseas. Simply said, I multitask.
I always get questions related to this: How do you juggle things? How do you manage to keep up at work and school and still get to travel? So I thought I’d share of some of “tactics” of how I managed to do all three for the past years:
1. Multitask but do so efficiently. This is inevitable. I am not someone who can let go of my day job just to prioritize school or travel. I don’t have someone who I can say I can lean on in case I get into financial trouble. I don’t want rely on scholarships either because in the Philippines, more of often than not, stipends are delayed. I also still send money to my family back home every once in a while. Multitasking is not ideal, but to be able to do all things I want to do and have to do, this is the compromise I make.
I am lucky enough that my classes are online. So while on travel, I can still participate in class discussion late at night or write papers at dawn. When I have something important for work that coincides with my travel, I usually check my email at least three times a day to make sure my workmates would still get the information they need from me.
It’s so hard to blog these days. I don’t know if it’s a matter of my busy schedule or simply because I don’t have the drive. Anyway, for some “I am alive” post, here are some “historical” doors I want to share with your guys. Most of these are doors in old Spanish houses across the Philippines.
Hi everyone! How’s your summer (if you’re from the Northern Hemisphere) so far? Mine has been hectic and arid! I’ve been in delulu the past few weeks which pretty much explains my absence in the blogosphere. I turned a year older (yes, I’m now 26!), entertained a bunch of foreigners for a week due to an international conference our office is arranging, and completed my requirements for my post graduate diploma degree. Hurray! I am now graduating! Next semester, if I still have the drive, I will now enroll as a Masters Degree-proper student. One more year till that coveted XX X. XXX, MIH.
Anyway, for this week’s theme “enveloped”, I am sharing this interesting rock structure which I came across in one of the islands of El Nido:
Seems like I’m inside a fossil, enveloped by hollow structures of bones right? 🙂 Check out more entries at Daily Post.