Human


Every now and then

You stumble, you fall 

To a point where you can’t stand up. 

You cry, you bleed

To take the pain out. 

You fear, you doubt

Because you can’t hope enough. 

Yet you smile, you laugh

Because that’s when you are at your best. 

You love, you give

Because you’re human,

You’re unpredictable. 

You’re beautiful. 

You live. 

Parallel Existence


You and me, we move in the same space.

The left is yours. 

The right is mine. 

An exact replica of each other. 

You, 9 to 6. I, 9 to 6. 

You look up to  sky to count the hours until sunset. 

I look down to count the hours  until sunrise.

You, wondering how it is to be different. 

I, trying to define what is normal. 

You and me, we move in the same space. 

But never at the same time. 

What Changed?


Your style has gotten classier.

You don’t fret over sales.

You value quality over quantity.

You don’t say yes to every invitation.

You don’t bother to please everybody.

You pause.

You laugh at yourself.

You listen.

You shut up.

You don’t stress over every single thing.

You stand up for yourself.

You choose your friends.

You choose your battles.

You are confident.

You are wiser.

Nothing changed.

You just got older.

Constant


If people were waves

That come and go,

Can there be a constant

That tie them to their roots?

 

If you were a constant

Amidst a sea of people

How much effort do you require

To keep you from drifting away?

 

Written on an early morning while walking the streets of Paranaque. 

 

Changing Paths


Yesterday after defending a research program for renewal, one of the board members of our office asked, “What is your background?”.

I replied, “I took Chemistry as my undergraduate course, then International Health for my graduate course”.

He then replied, “Wow. I never knew you were a chemist. Do you want to go back to the lab?”.

I was so tempted to reply, “Why, do you want to pirate me?”

Hah. It’s not the first time I got this reaction in my current line of work. The project leaders of one of the studies I manage once asked me, “Do you know any chemist? I need one for the project.”

I joked, “Do you want to hire me?”

Shocked, he then replied, “You’re a chemist? We’ve been working for a while now, but I never knew!”

Continue reading “Changing Paths”

Summer


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.

Continue reading “Summer”

Relativity


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.

Continue reading “Relativity”

Thoughts and Singapore


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.

Marina Bay Sands: one of the icons of SG.
Marina Bay Sands: one of the icons of SG.

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.

SG: Cultural melting pot
SG: Cultural melting pot

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.

Continue reading “Thoughts and Singapore”

Managing How to Work, Study and Travel Simultaneously


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.

Continue reading “Managing How to Work, Study and Travel Simultaneously”

Peaches and Friends


While waiting for our train ride to Hanoi, Vietnam in a restaurant somewhere  in Lao Cai a few days ago, my three friends decided to go out for a bit to look for peaches. They’ve been craving for peaches since we saw some in Bac Ha market earlier in the day. They asked me if I was coming, I told them I will just stay in the restaurant   since I don’t like peaches that much.

While waiting for them, I noticed that a Vietnamese girl in the next table was fidgety. She kept glancing around while holding her phone. So I asked her, “Are you looking for an electric outlet?”

She replied, “Yes. I need to charge my phone.”

I noted someone charged his phone near my table earlier  so I told her, “There’s one near my table. You can use it.”

She smiled and thanked me. She then asked me if I am from the Philippines since I speak good English. I responded affirmatively and thought finally someone guessed my nationality correctly. I was still mistaken as a Thai by some in Vietnam.

We then talked about her job, my job, her country and my country. She was very curious about the Philippines and certain places she wishes to visit. She even knew about Cebu Pacific’s piso seat sale.

After conversing for about 10 minutes, she excused herself . When she got back she offered me a peach as a sign of thanks. I almost said no but thinking there was no harm in trying to eat a peach, I accepted it. My friends arrived shortly, epmty-handed. When I asked if they were able to find peaches , they sadly replied they were not able to find a fruit vendor that sells them.

The Vietnamese girl probabaly heard our conversation so she went back to our table and gave each of my friends a peach. She said she bought a kilo in Bac Ha market and couldn’t finish it all by herself. My friends looked so happy and  enjoyed    their peaches with big smiles in their faces.

I smiled as well astounded at how the situation turned out. Fate? Coincidence? Whatever it was,  I was just glad to be able to make friends. 🙂

2014: Impulsiveness and Adventure


These words properly sum up my year: impulsiveness and adventure.

And both are double-edged swords. If handled improperly, these can produce effects contrary to the expectations of the doer of the action. So, did my impulsiveness brought something good? I guess. Because if not, I would not have reached the places I went  to or did the things I really wanted to do. I realized sometimes courage is not only trait one needs to dive into a goal, a certain degree of impulsiveness is also required. For me, it’s the latter that brings out the “now or never attitude”. I know  my impulsiveness will take its toll sometime and I have to control it as I grow older. But what better time to experiment, make mistakes and enjoy youth than now?

So, cheers to a year full of adventures! I might lie low for 2015 because  I have big plans for 2016. But who knows where my impulsiveness and wanderlust can take me next year?

2014: Baler, Rizal, Bacolod, Iloilo, Guimaras, Cebu, Bohol, Dumaguete, Siquijor, South Korea, Tagaytay, Palawan. 

Happy New Year everyone! I hope the year worked out according to your expectations. If not, high five to another year and chance for creating a difference!

A Blessed Christmas to Everyone!


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Wherever you are
Whatever walk in life you are in,
I hope you feel loved
By family, by friends
Or at the very least
By our Savior who gave up
His life to save us all.

A Blessed Christmas to you. 🙂

Three Lives


I remember in December 2013 I posted that  I felt so “out of life” by the year-end. I concluded that I was not good at multitasking–juggling work and school. I am now wondering what I felt that way when my activities this year and last year were almost the same. It generally revolves around work and school. Then I realized the difference:  I traveled more this year. On the contrary, I only traveled twice last year. That two travels were not enough to sustain my enthusiasm for the rest of the year. It’s now October and so far I’ve been on four trips since January. I still have two coming up. My savings are dwindling yet I haven’t felt this sustained kind of happiness and enthusiasm for a while.  I  guess this saying really applies to me:

“I travel not to escape life but for life not to escape me. “

Travel has been my means to keep in touch with my sanity and to remind myself that there’s more to life that just my cubicle at work or my virtual classroom for school. It’s my means of getting in touch with nature and of relearning the simplicity of life. It’s my way of rekindling with friends and  rediscovering why we have been friends in the first place.  It’s my way  of discovering that despite every thing I learned, I still know too little about life, of what it means to live and breathe.  I officially caught the bug and I don’t think I will be able to let go soon.

So, forgive me if I have been on hiatus. I have been here and there, trying to juggle three lives. However, I will surely but slowly share what I experienced in life lately.

In a recent to visit to Siquijor, Philippines. Now or never.
In a recent to visit to Siquijor, Philippines. Now or never.

Thrill


It’s been a while since I’ve done something extreme. The last was probably my white water rafting adventure in Davao City in December of 2012. I don’t even know what made me do it back then. And I am not sure if I will ever have the guts to repeat that kind of experience.

 Last Friday, I was reminded partly of the thrill I experienced in Davao. I and few of my officemates decided to try out the ramen at Ramenagi at SM Mall of Asia. After dinner, I had a sudden urge to ride a bump car so we proceeded to the SM Mall of Asia Amusement Mark. We first tried a spaceship-like ride where the passengers are whirled in all sorts of direction possible. Because of its action, we even nicknamed it “The Drier”. Afterwards, we tried out the bump cars. The car was slower than I imagined it. I maneuvered it with ease reminding me of all the days I spent part paring for bump car rides in high school. Lastly, we tried the ride where we were bolted suddenly up in the air, then dropped at a rate even faster than we were holed up.

 At one point while suspended in the air, I opened my eyes and saw the bright lights coming from the streets and the mall. I thought it was such a good view but my bigger question for myself…why do we seek such kind of extreme experiences? The obvious answer is the thrill we experience from doing something extreme can be exhilarating…too exhilarating that some even make it as a form of living. But then again, why do we need to feel such kind of thrill? Why do we need to defy every possible law of gravity we’ve known?

 It’s a hard question to answer. I myself can’t explain the elation I feel why I am suspended up in the air while riding a zip line or even when I am just climbing a 500-step stairs not knowing what waits for me at the end of the climb.

 It’s one of the wonders of being human. The extent to which we are willing to put ourselves in just to explore the difference facets of our existence.

Quarter Life


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I rarely do this  but forgive me just this once. 🙂

Thank you to everyone who extended their greetings!

Thank you to my family, relatives, friends, professors, classmates and co-workers who have in a way or two helped me reach the state where I am today. I can’t thank you enough!

Thank You for giving me the opportunity to live in Your paradise and for constantly reminding me that despite my misgivings, life has so much to offer.

I am not getting younger but I’d like to believe I am still sharper than ever and hopefully getting wiser and lighter. 😉

If a quarter of a century is this fun and chaotic, I am so looking forward to next quarter. 🙂