Showing posts from April, 2007

There's still next year

I am so busy with my freelance jobs, I didn't make time to work on my Palanca entries. No excuses, just a rearrangement of priorities... that wasn't well thought out, but still ended up rewarding.

I like making money. But I sure would like to get that medal once and for all.

With that said, I congratulate Louie in advance. (And this entry will be proof I was the first to do so in public, because I believe in him and because I love my friends.)

More news below--

1. I'm leaving for Bacolod on Monday, April 30, to meet up with some of the guyguys, including Jonathan, who's joining us from Zamboanga City! I'll stay in Bacolod overnight--to check out those old houses from Bacolod's Spanish haciendero days, eat chicken inasal (recipe here), buy piyaya, and do every touristy thing I can do in a day.

Just kidding.

I'm actually just curious about the old houses, because in between job exams and interviews a few days ago, I read a Mabuhay Magazine article about the old houses of the old rich in Bacolod, some of them still displaying family crests from their Spanish ancestors. Interestingly, it was a French guy who married a Chinese-Filipino mestiza who brought the sugar to Negros Occidental.

May 1, Jonathan and I will fly to Cebu. Heizel will meet us there, coming from Bohol. I don't know what to do in Cebu City that I haven't already done, but I still intend to eat lechon at least once, buy trinkets near the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño or Magellan's Cross, eat/drink as many mangoes/mango shakes as I can, and meet Nathalie of course.

2. In less than a month, I'll have a full-time job. It's still unofficial; I have yet to sign the contract. But it's an interesting one I can do that won't take too much away from my creative writing. I'll be an English Trainer for Europeans (clients right now are German, French, and Italian). I'll be working on European time too.

(Hey, Fer, if you're reading this, this reminds me of the time we *tried* to do voice chat, but failed because my connection was bad or something. I was studying Spanish at that time, and you were studying English, and we figured that it would be good practice for both of us. Apparently, it's a lucrative industry now!)

It's a pity I haven't bought my dream camera yet.

3. I start LEAPing tomorrow. I have to wear business attire. High heels! Ugh.

My personalized browser

I have my browser (Firefox) arranged so that it's an instant picker-upper. The moment I sit in front of the computer, I'm given a jolt of positive energy.

For starters, I've changed the default homepage, which used to be Yahoo, then Google, to The Daily Motivator, a page by a man named Ralph Marston that posts short motivational and inspirational words on a daily basis.

Today's words hit the spot for me.
Someday has arrived

Life is now. Stop waiting for your opportunity to fully live and realize that it is already here. Perhaps you have always thought that someday you will follow your dreams. The fact is, someday has now arrived. Your authentic purpose is calling out to you. Now is the time to be fulfilling that purpose. Go now in the direction you've always known you must go. Allow the unique and beautiful person you are to come fully to life. Let go of the excuses and rationalizations that keep you mired in disappointment and frustration. Move quickly forward by continually reminding yourself of why you are doing so. This is the moment for bold, yet sincere action. Someday is here, and the richness of life is now yours to experience.
After I read what's posted on The Daily Motivator, I click on the Google icon on my Bookmarks Toolbar, which opens to

My personalized Google page looks like this:

The theme is a fairly new feature (I chose Cityscape), and what I love about it is that it changes colors depending on the time of day. I still haven't gotten it to follow Manila time, though.

I have several useful widgets in my page too: my Google Calendar, RL ToDoList, Word of the Day, Seize the Day (a widget that tracks your goals), and a Bloglines Notifier (I used Bloglines as my blog feed reader). I used to have a separate page for fun reads (widgets of, Reuters' Oddly Enough, et cetera) but I accidentally cleared the cache, and they're all gone.

My favorite feature is a Daily Affirmation widget from Affirmation Planet. It's a lot like The Daily Motivator, except that it only posts affirmations, which are usually only a sentence long.

One of these days, I'll put the fun reads and games back. :)

I ♥ Firefox
I ♥ Google 

Gratitude journal

Life seems so easier, I've realized, when you always come from a space of gratitude. To keep me in this space, I've started to keep a gratitude journal, where I list five things I'm grateful about.

I first heard this from Oprah, years back. She started this long ago, she said, and her life has changed dramatically since.

I think it's also because when you're grateful for the things you have, you are free from all that whining and griping and complaining and hating and criticizing.

And you are in a better position to see the opportunities that keep coming your way.

My gratitude journal is a resurrected 2007 daily diary. At the beginning of the year, as usual, I bought two planners, one for appointments (a weekly) and another for my thoughts and illuminations (a daily).

I realized soon enough that to keep a daily diary was too ambitious for me. But because I wanted to keep at least one of my New Year's resolutions, I said I would fill up those 366 pages, even if I had to play catch up with all my entries, or even if I only write one-sentence ones.

I have entries that read, "Keona was here today. We played."

There are days when I have to write a full week's worth. Sometimes, I can't even remember what happened two, three days ago! And it's not just because nothing much is happening in my life--it's also because despite my blog entries sometimes being this way, I am actually averse to writing detailed accounts of what transpired in a day. I only do if I really want to remember a day in my life.

As you know, of course, not every day is worth remembering. My days are mostly vanilla! Haha.

So now my daily diary is a gratitude journal! Nothing to it. I just write, "Today I'm thankful for the following things." Then I write five things. That's easy enough.

I've been building a freelance writing career since, I don't know, a month ago? Three weeks ago? The other day, I had an item on my list that said, "Getting my first check from [client]."

The next day, a classmate said she was building up a pool of four writers, and asked me if I was interested. That was on my list last night.

I wonder if this is what Oprah meant? If so, she's on to something. I'd love to be as wealthy as her--and feel good about it, and use it, the way she does.

My schedule cleared up, and I'm even happier

This Law of Attraction thing is really amazing--I'd been looking forward to my fully-booked week, but then in the middle of all the things I have to do and traveling to Pasig City (that's four to five hours of my day already), it suddenly dawned on me that the deadline for the Palanca Awards is twelve days away. I looked at my calendar and wished more at-home time for myself ASAP because I already have a story revision brewing in my head.

But just when I thought I'd have to work on my entries in between income-generating work and long bus rides, my schedule cleared up--without any opportunity sacrificed.

As early as last night, Tuesday, I was already fatigued. After meeting Jing on Sunday, I slept over at her apartment (and of course we talked the night away). I got home Monday noon, having hitched a ride with my brother from Port Area.

On the way, we picked up Keona, whom I babysat with pleasure, so I didn't get enough sleep (it was worth it, though, because she started walking!). Tuesday morning I had errands, and then a 5.30pm meeting and the ALC 51 7.30pm reunion in Pasig. When I got home around 11pm, my mom was preparing for a 5am flight. I helped her with some last-minute stuff, and slept again at 4.30am.

I woke up Tuesday 8am with a really bad migraine. And remembering from FLEX that all agreements can be renegotiated, I called up ITI Consulting to postpone my 10am interview.

I hesitantly moved my interview to Friday, although what I really want is for this week to be dedicated to writing. Later this morning, I got a call from them and my interview is now Wednesday next week. A few minutes later, I also got a call from my Thursday appointment in Manila, moving our meeting to Saturday, 2.30pm, in Makati, where I needed to be anyway for a 4pm birthday party!

That gives me today, Thursday and Friday to recuperate and revise. And then a couple more days next week to revise some more.

I have no excuse not to join the Palanca Awards now. :)

Fully-booked week ahead, and I'm feeling so happy

I have a busy week ahead, which actually started since Sunday, when I went to the OCCI office in Pasig, but that's good. Most of my appointments are income-generating projects, so I'm happy.

I'm also looking for a steady part-time job (or a not so demanding full-time one) that will give me time for freelance writing, creative writing, and thesis-writing. I'm looking into teaching ESL. I saw this ad looking for English trainers for Europeans, and they're opening in Alabang soon. I have an interview and test at their Libis office on Wednesday.

Leave me a comment if you're interested, and I'll give you the name and email address of the lady I sent my resume to.

I'm a little nervous about going on job interviews again--

but I've always done okay, so I choose to be powerful, courageous, and committed to earning money to finally be independent.

My first FLEX enrollee

My first enrollee, Jing, a friend and former officemate at The Philippine Star, just graduated from the FLEX (Foundations of Leadership Excellence) seminar. She's part of FLEX Team 78.

We had dinner with Louie, my enroller last Sunday, and I was happy to hear that Jing thoroughly enjoyed the experience too. I've always seen Jing's light--which is why we're still friends even if I left the newspaper four years ago--and I've always wanted people, especially her officemates, to see it too.

I'm excited for her because she's taking the ALC (Advanced Leadership Course) beginning Thursday this week. Louie's staffing too, so I'm sure they'll get to know each other better.

Personally, FLEX was great for me, but it was with ALC that I really experienced a transformation. Louie even tells me I have a different aura now--and I feel it too. In fact, these days, I feel *kilig* (what's the English word for this?) without any special reason at all! It's like I sing the body electric. :P

I'm also looking forward to the last of the seminar trilogy, LEAP (Leadership Excellence Achievement Program), which will begin on April 27. Jing will be joining me, along with some of my ALC batchmates, and, I believe, a batchmate from FLEX.

But first, our ALC 30-day reunion, tonight at 7.30pm. :)

P.S. Dear Readers, if you're interested to know more about this amazing seminar trilogy, please contact me, and I'll tell you what I can about my own personal experience.

The shorter road to getting another book

Remember that Las Piñas book I was looking for back in February? Well, I picked it up today--also for free! My signed (by Congw. Cynthia Villar, I believe) copy of "Las Piñas: A City with Heritage" is now sitting right next to my "Captured Culture: An Interpretative Portrait of Parañaque City" on my study table. That puts the Villar Foundation on the list of people and groups I'm dedicating my thesis to.

My Las Piñas book experience wasn't as eventful as my Parañaque book one. It was still fun, though. Partly because it came so easy.

I'd been hunting this book down since I first read a press release that the Villars were publishing a book on Las Piñas City. The article said it was going to be in bookstores early 2007, and so I looked for it in all the bookstores I went to. I turned up with nothing.

After getting the Parañaque book, I realized I was too desperate for the Las Piñas book. So I let it go and just imagined myself having it, and for free too. And then I acted on it by first finding out how to reach the Villars' office. I sent an email to the Pinoywriters Yahoogroup, figuring that if anyone was to know how to reach the private office of the Villars (since the book was funded by their foundation, and not their public offices), it would be freelance writers, journalists, and the like.

A few days later, I got an email from the Villar Foundation. One of the members had forwarded my email to them, and they wanted to know my contact details because they wanted to send me a book. I told them I lived in the city, and I offered to pick it up.

The main highlight of my getting the book was when I decided I was too early (I'd texted the contact person I'd be dropping by in the afternoon, and by my standards, a little past 2.30pm is still closer to noon) so I treated myself to a stick of banana-que before heading for Congw. Cynthia Villar's District Office at Masibay Street, BF Resort Village in Las Piñas City. It was yummy, as expected. I mean, how can one seriously mess up deep-fried bananas?

Actually, buying the banana-que was also a way for me to chat up the vendor.

"How do I get to Masibay?" I asked her, as I paid P8 for my snack.
"There," she replied, raising her arm to point somewhere.

I turned to the direction in which she was pointing, half-expecting a moderately tall building, like most of the structures in my city, bearing a sign proclaiming it as Congw. Villar's office. I saw nothing. Well, actually, I saw a huge campaign poster of her reelectionist husband, Sen. Manny Villar, but no office.

"Where?" I asked her again. "You mean I can walk?"
"There!" she said, this time pointing clearly to the tricycle station. "Take a tricycle."

She told me the fare was P12. That's already like a ten-minute trip in my village. So when I got on the tricycle, I settled in for the ride. The driver asked me, "Masibay left or right?" pertaining to which direction of an intersection he was going to have to turn and I had to say, "I don't know" which I hate saying to anyone who's driving me anywhere, but I figured they'd know the Congresswoman's office, so I told him that was where I was headed.

I had only started to think about getting lost in my thoughts when he stopped in front of a gate in the right side of the intersection. So much for left or right.

I only got as far as the office entrance, because Jewel, my contact person, happened to be there too. As she fished out a form for me to sign, I took a quick look around and saw that it looked more like a house than an office. It looked pretty, from the outside. The happy transaction was over in three minutes, maximum.

Going back to the village entrance, I took another tricycle. I expected it to bring me back to the station, so when he stopped in the middle of the road, before the short island that divided the road into exit and entrance lanes, I stayed put. I must have been sitting there two minutes--during which he must have assumed I was gathering my things or rummaging through my purse for money to pay him--when he said, "Ma'am, this is as far as I can take you."

I got out, paid the driver, and walked to the jeepney stop--which I promptly found out was not in front of the barbed-wire wrapped balete tree that seemed so huge and frightening when I was a child and now only looks sad and confined. I took the book out from the brown envelope it came in and opened it as I was walking. I read the dedication. Closed the book. Smiled.

And then I lived happily ever after.

Until I start actually writing my thesis.

Wish me luck--and power, courage, and commitment! :)

Visita Iglesia

My mom and I went with my sister, her family, and the in-laws to their Visita Iglesia for the Holy Week. I'd never done this before, but I had such an interesting time, and I think I'd like to do this again next year. We didn't do the Stations of the Cross, though. We just prayed and lit candles. A lot of candles.

Here's a list of the churches we visited.


The University Belt churches, all of which are within walking distance to each other. The path to all those churches were lined with vendors hawking all sorts of things, from food, like calamares (I'd never seen calamares being sold as street food before! Lucky U-Belt kids!), all-sorts-of-balls-and-the-like (chicken, squid, fish, kikiam, and kwek-kwek), to bottled water and flavored beverages, to candles and religious paraphernalia.

1. The San Beda Church, which I loved for the gilt of gold on the statues and the ceiling, and because once a Bedan, always a Bedan, though I didn't go to San Beda College because, first and foremost, I'm not a boy.

2. San Sebastian Church, "the only neo-gothic steel church in the Philippines and in Asia" (UNESCO's words, not mine).

3. Saint Jude Thaddeus Church, about which I can't find anything on the internet. I'm not surprised, because it looked like a new, very functional building. Nothing very striking, except that you have to go through heavily-armed guards before you can get to St. Jude because this church, and the school that it's associated with, is inside Malacañang. But this is where I prayed longer for all my loved ones, St. Jude being the patron saint of lost causes.


The one Chinatown church we went to is a special one for me. And not just because when I go there, I make a quick side trip to Ongpin Street to go to Eng Bee Tin to buy hopia and Lord Stow's to buy my favorite egg tart.

4. Minor Basilica of San Lorenzo Ruiz. I like this particular church because when my sister was still pregnant, and was looking at a tough pregnancy, we went to this church while touring my aunt and my cousin, and I lit candles for my sister and my other petitions, and all of them came true.


The churches here have a special place in my heart, because when I was working for The Philippine Star, I used to visit them a lot. I always thought I'd get married in San Agustin Church, and then have a reception at Father Blanco's Garden. And have sampaguita ice cream from Ilustrado as my reception dinner's dessert... But that was then, when I had a specific groom in mind.

Walking from one church to the other was like touring a Wow Philippines! display! The short road was lined on both sides with more native street food, including fresh coconut juice, roasted bananas slathered with margarine and coated with sugar, boiled Japanese sweet corn, roasted corn, green mangoes and bagoong (shrimp paste), and other products like malongs, native carvings, native bows, cheap but pretty shoes from Korea that's currently a rage in bazaars, and the usual sort of accessories.

5. Manila Cathedral, or the Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. Cardinal Rosales was holding a mass when we arrived. The place was so crowded.

6. San Agustin Church, under which, they say, Spanish conquistador Miguel López de Legazpi is buried. Like I said, I used to fancy getting married here. But not anymore, because I already have a non-negotiable church in mind, the church where my sister got married.


The last church we went to, and which gave us a hard time in terms of traffic.

7. Malate Church. It's a beautiful 100-year old structure that stands on where the original church was built sometime in the 1600s.

That's all. :)

Lenten overview

It's now Holy Week, and I've officially refrained from red meat and chicken for 40 days. But that's the only Lenten resolution I pulled off successfully. That, and abstaining from resentment and bitterness. The rest, I broke, even the going to mass daily. Strangely, I don't feel so guilty. In the middle of Lent, I had what's called a paradigm shift in terms of my Catholic practices.

When I took the ALC, which I wrote about here, I realized that my energy is better served if I focus on goodness and pursuing my happiness. Really, the time to mourn is over; now, and always, is the season for joy.

Which is not to say I don't respect Catholic Lenten practices anymore. Maybe I'd been doing it all wrong, and I now understand it better. I always thought if it didn't hurt, it wasn't a sacrifice, and that that was all there was to it. Now, I understand that it's not about hurting for a while, it's about hurting for a while and then getting better. It's not deprivation, it's actually empowerment.

My failures

I had difficulty going to church everyday, because I went about it all wrong. I did it out of duty, and so I never got out of the struggle. (And of course, there was this whole matter of leaving for Pasig early and coming home late during the four days I took the ALC--but that's my victim story). If I had done it out of joy (and I had had that kind of experience before, when I was praying for Juan to recover), then maybe I would have enriched myself and my spirituality with 40 days of going to church.

I had difficulty abstaining from refined sugar, because I also went about it all wrong. I was thinking "diet" more than abstinence.It was hard to fast from anger and hatred, because I kept fighting with Ray. I was frustrated with his behavior (as he probably was with mine), but I guess... well, I still have no realization here.

It's just difficult to talk to people when they're more committed to protecting themselves or making you calm than resolving the situation and coming to an agreement. Then again, it's difficult to talk to people (and this time, I'm referring to me) when they're easily frustrated, and, generally just possess really evil temper. I'm currently in the process of uncovering what I contributed to the state of our friendship now, in the chance that we can still save it.

My successes

I managed to stay away from red meat and chicken because it was the only abstinence I was really committed to. Red meat was easy to quit, because I needed it for health anyway (we have a family history of arthritis, and at my age, I *think* I'm feeling it). The chicken was a challenge, because I had to impose it (at least in terms of restaurant and combined menu choices) on most of the people I dined with, but they were all very understanding. All in all, this particular sacrifice was one that I held up to God, because I knew it was good for me. And I was successful at doing it because it made sense for me to take care of myself to better reflect God's glory.

I'm not sure if I can still continue not eating red meat (already there's a kilo of frozen Ilocos bagnet waiting for my decision in the fridge), but I'm surely going to eat chicken again. Maybe I can do a weekly schedule thing (like no-meat Fridays, no-meat weekends).

I also managed to abstain from resentment and bitterness. The ALC helped immensely in making me see that there's more joy to be had than ever. Part of being bitter or resentful, I believe, is that you think you're never going to have it as good as you did. But I leave that all behind me now, and know that the best is on its way.

I therefore conclude

That while my Lenten fasting and abstinence was more of a failure, I don't really see it that way anymore. In fact, I think what I did (considering how I did it) was totally unnecessary. Next Lenten season, I should just focus on things that I should do to reflect God's glory. Like write. Or do 40 days of volunteer work. Some Lenten project that's better served by my energy.