Showing posts from 2008

I love you too, Jason

Jason Mraz, that is.

Bohol, here I come again

My cousin Joey and her baby Jasmine are back in the Philippines, for good (for now.) They've been around since the last week of November, but I haven't had time to see them. This weekend, however, I'm finally going to see them--in Bohol!

Here are the things I'm looking forward to:

1. The Loboc River Cruise
2. Snorkeling in Balicasag
3. Staying at the Bohol Beach Club
4. Hanging out with Joey and Jasmine
5. Sleeping beside Mamu!

I still love you, you know

Maybe the point is not to understand.
“Love is a dark night. Dark nights are largely about love. Once you give up the bright light of consciousness and understanding, you may discover that you can be in this world in a darker way, living by love and desire rather than by rationality and control. You don’t give up your intellect, but you allow love its natural dominance.” - From Dark Nights of the Soul by Thomas Moore

English Trainer Chronicles: Long vowel, short vowel

My learner and I were working on a dialogue on dinner conversations.

Me: Thanks for inviting me to your house. It's lovely.
Learner: I’m glad you like it. Why don’t you have some snakes?
Me: ...
Learner: Oh. Snacks! Snacks!

It was her last lesson today, after almost two years. I'll miss her. :-(

At least we had a good laugh. :-)

Happy Halloween!

It's spooky time! I like Halloween because I like scary, spooky, creepy things. Is there any good horror film showing?

(This bat reminds me of a birthday gift I got from Lorie in college!)

It's also the last day of October, and, perhaps, the last day I will eat chicken. I'll think long and hard about this and decide at midnight. :-)

Here's a picture of my date!

Keona as Dora the Explorer

 Keona and her backpack

In the last three minutes before I turn 31

I found a link to this poem on Plurk.

Love After Love
by Derek Walcott

The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other's welcome,

And say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was yourself.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

Today is a good day to start the St. Therese novena

Apart from St. Paul, the wonderful writer, St. Thérèse of Lisieux is my favorite saint. Even if I weren't Catholic, which I am, I think she would be one of my most admired people ever. I haven't read her book Story of a Soul yet, but I've come across some of her words that reveal her wisdom and highlight exactly why she's the most relevant saint today.

On her quest to glorify God, she says:
"Love proves itself by deeds, so how am I to show my love? Great deeds are forbidden me. The only way I can prove my love is by scattering flowers and these flowers are every little sacrifice, every glance and word, and the doing of the least actions for love."
On spirituality, she says:
"Sometimes, when I read spiritual treatises, in which perfection is shown with a thousand obstacles in the way and a host of illusions round about it, my poor little mind soon grows weary, I close the learned book, which leaves my head splitting and my heart parched, and I take the Holy Scriptures. Then all seems luminous, a single word opens up infinite horizons to my soul, perfection seems easy; I see that it is enough to realize one's nothingness, and give oneself wholly, like a child, into the arms of the good God. Leaving to great souls, great minds, the fine books I cannot understand, I rejoice to be little because 'only children, and those who are like them, will be admitted to the heavenly banquet'."
On prayer, she says:
"For me, prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward Heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy; in a word, something noble, supernatural, which enlarges my soul and unites it to God.... I have not the courage to look through books for beautiful prayers.... I do as a child who has not learned to read, I just tell our Lord all that I want and He understands."
Simple. :-)

For those who want to pray the St. Therese novena, today's a good day to begin, as many devotees would be praying with you.

Well, hello, October!

So far this month, I've been:

1. A spa-goer. I made a last-minute decision to join officemates Donna and Marchie in the wee hours of Saturday to indulge in a two-hour massage and a buffet brunch at Wensha in the CCP area. I slept for like around five hours too.
2. A theater-goer again. Tanghalang Pilipino's Actor's Company in LAB was a blast. It was so worth the P100 I paid for it. I loved The Lover best, because of how it played with language.
3. An opera-goer. La boheme was a treat. It wasn't love at first sight, like with musicals, but a student told me to start with Verdi as Puccini is a bit difficult for the uninitiated. I don't know; I have a lot to learn. I'll find out, via YouTube. :P
4. A person who doesn't eat red meat. (21 days does a habit make!)
5. A person who doesn't eat fast food. (My October habit, which I will blog more about ASAP.)
6. A one-day pilgrim to the St. Therese Shrine.
7. And, perhaps, a baby gourmand. ;-)

That's just for the first week. Next Saturday, I get to watch West Side Story for free! :-)

Yes, I'm blessed.

This month, too, I am:

1. Very, very busy. I'm working two hours extra everyday for Christmas money.
2. Looking to buy a new cellphone.
3. Turning 31.

English Trainer Chronicles: Pantry

Student: "Pantry is underwear?"

He was referring to this sentence from an article on scent I sent him: "So an odor similar to that of your grandmother's pantry might be more quickly associated with your memories of that place than a similar sight, which might be more generalized."

I ended up laughing, and he said, "Stop laughing!" so I explained the mistake for him, and it was his turn to laugh.

Say a little prayer for me

Dear God,

You know who I always pray for, and you know how I always ask you to hold everyone I love and loved in the palm of your hand.

Tonight, hold us a little bit tighter. Me, especially.

I want to move forward without looking back, but it seems like something is always pulling me backwards. I don't want to be mean anymore; I don't want to keep protecting myself.

I want to be obedient. But I don't see what I have to do. Every time I talk to him, it takes me one day to pull myself back together.

Show me what to do.


New favorite student

Me: So, how did you find this lesson?
Him: Perfect.
Me: Oh, good, good.
Him: You're perfect.

He's not very fluent yet, but I'll take my ego boost where I can find it!


Beginning September 16 and up until November 30, I'll be working two extra hours per work day. I signed up for it for two reasons. First, the extra cash would be good for Christmas. Second, I really have nothing better to do past midnight and I can't sleep until around 2 or 3am anyway, so might as well make money.

I'm trying to imagine what my schedule would be like for most of the -ber months in the light of these changes. I still have some side jobs writing and editing, and while I've sort of gotten the groove of balancing those with my current schedule, I think I'm going to have to schedule things a little tighter. Two hours, after all, are two hours.

Before I started teaching English, I'd never thought of time in parcels. In fact, I'd never wanted to. In my first job (six months at a dotcom, handling talk show websites), I only thought of time in terms of when the shows would start. In my second job as a newspaper supplements writer for The Philippine STAR (see how I still *have* to write "star" in all-caps?), I only worried about making deadlines and being on time for interviews.

When I worked in the BPO industry as a marketing writer, I was introduced to the idea of man-hours, but it didn't quite catch on because I left before I could take on a big project. At that time, the idea of knowing how long a writing job would take was bizarre.

Blame it on my creative writing background, where some stories can float around you for years, never to be captured on paper.

Now that, barring no shows or technical problems, I know exactly what I'll be doing for the most part of the work day, and I can plan ahead what to do during my precious breaks, I'm also starting to think in parcels of time. I need 8 hours to sleep to be in top condition; 45 minutes max(times 2) to take shower; 1 hour in the gym, plus 30 minutes for the quick shower; 1 focused hour daily to edit SMS comments; 1.5 hours (on Sundays and Tuesdays) to write my column; 30 minutes to finish a complete meal; and 7 minutes to walk from the jeepney stop to my building.

On the other side of the coin, that now means I don't need any single second of pointless chit-chat--which is *not* the same as exchanging pleasantries or Plurking (!) with friends and colleagues to continue feeling human. I should also stop "half-watching" television shows, especially those late night Law & Order reruns (though, boo to RPN 9 for showing mostly home TV shopping shows now). More importantly, this also means I should stop eating junk because I really don't have time to be sluggish the day after.

The beauty of this all is that I get to splurge on weekends, and while my days are scheduled tightly, I get to go on long breaks, without the baggage of pending career-making/breaking tasks, once in a while.

It's Saturday, and I have a long list of tasks to accomplish, but for today, it still kind of feels like I've got all the time in the world.

Before 10pm, when the supermarket closes, that is.

Fried chicken

The challenge in acquiring a new habit--or, more precisely, stripping away a bad one--is that sometimes making the necessary adjustments takes a lesser priority than making someone happy and comfortable. I spent the weekend with Keona, a.k.a. The Baby My Sister Had For Me.

On Saturday, we went to see C3PO and the Storm Troopers in Southmall (I was Auntie mode all the way). Before that, we had lunch with Tita Emily. Now, Southmall doesn't have a lot of kid-friendly restaurants (read: a restaurant a kid could roam around in that's not so traumatic for the Auntie), so we ended up in Shakey's, as usual.

And because we were in Shakey's, of course I ate fried chicken, thereby breaking my barely a week-old resolution. At least I didn't give in to the pepperoni pizza; I ordered my own Friday's Special.

The good news is that I had to run around Southmall, chasing after Keona, or carry her while shopping, so I had plenty of exercise.

The bad news is, for dinner, my sister asked for KFC takeout. She did lend me Keona and Nana Tin for the whole afternoon, so I gladly consented.

I did think of buying my own fish dinner, but I was too tired (read: lazy, too) to go to another restaurant, I just went ahead and bought a six-piece bucket of KFC.

The next day, my sister, her husband and my baby came over. There was nothing else to cook, except ready-to-cook spicy fried chicken. So guess what we had for dinner?

And because it was spicy fried chicken, it wasn't as popular in the household as regular fried chicken, so we had a couple of pieces left over. Which I ate the next day, of course.

So, this is exactly why I want to give up red meat and fried chicken. If not, I would be eating it everyday.

English Trainer Chronicles: Ring and then some

I haven't posted any of these lately. It's not like I haven't been getting any funny, cute, memorable moments; I just got addicted to Plurking, so I sort of neglected blogging for a while.

But I had some funny exchanges today, courtesy of my most quotable learner.

Act 1: Saved by the bell

I'd been having trouble with the phone, and I wasn't sure my call was getting through.

Me: Did the you hear the phone ring?
Learner: Yes, it belled for only one second.
Me: Belled? Do you say "belled" for a phone?
Learner: Yes. No. Yes... (He'd figured out the correct answer by now.)
Me: Yes?
Learner: In France, we have giant bells on our phones ...
Me: Sure, maybe in the sixties?
Learner: You are calling the sixties ...

Act 2: Take that!

Me: So, using discourse markers for "logical consequence," tell me how you got into IT.
Learner: I was so passionate about computers, so I really wanted to take in IT.
Me: Um, that's a little bit too passionate. When you "take in" something, you sort of put it inside you.
Learner: Yes! I eat my keyboard!

September habits: no red meat, no fried chicken

Beginning this year, I said I would start one habit a month. I tried, sometimes succeeded, and mostly failed. All in all, though, I'm still pretty much ahead because compared to the other years I made a gazillion resolutions and kept none, I've got three habits that feel like second nature now, and I'm seriously working on a fourth and a fifth.

And it's a new month again, so it's time I start a new habit. I purposely skipped August because I knew I was going to Cebu and I'll be damned if I don't have my share of lechon.

I've got pictures of my lovely vacation here and here and here. I'm pretty proud of myself, because it's my second long vacation this year. :) I did say this year's theme was love.

So I've gone and come back, and what do I have to show for it?

Happy, happy memories. A new love for snorkeling. A glowing tan that ceased to glow after three days (apparently, my natural skin color is really a little bit on the fair side). A couple of pounds gained. A renewed desire to be fit (for snorkeling). A someday plan for swimming lessons.

And a couple of health concerns.

In Bohol, my mom took a look at my feet and said they were showing signs of water retention, and, to cut the long story short, I took one of her tiny arthritis pills. It solved the water retention problem, alright, but it also left me with an upset stomach and dyspepsia for at least a week.

I don't think I've written so many big "health-related" words before, but I am 30, and while I'm thankful for my good health, I do know I haven't been taking care of my body.

I have sedentary and oftentimes stressful jobs, I don't have enough regular exercise (that's changing now, as I've committed to stay with Fitness First for one more year), and I wasn't really eating healthy.

Thus, my two new habits: refraining from red meat and fried chicken (because whenever I stay away from red meat, I end up chowing on friend chicken!).

Thanks to Jimple, I think I'm also inching my way towards vegetarianism.

Okay, habit updates:

So far, I've been staying away from burgers (186 days, as of writing); chips, except for nachos, since I'm giving this up forever anyway (94 days, as of writing). The February juice fast was a failure, but that's not a habit, so it doesn't count.

March to June was about walking away from someone very important, and it wasn't easy, so I'm excused. The July habit was a failure, and I have no excuse for it. :(

Savings, okay; accounting for food consumed and expenses, not okay. I now have my mom's newer old PDA, though, so it should get easier. But I'm taking it easy on myself, because, in all honesty, I'm doing better than I've ever done in 30 years.

Dear Universe/God: #6

I'm blessed. Thank you for ...

1. the lovely, lovely vacation I had with family
2. letting me fall in love with snorkeling
3. protecting my vacation from negative news and unsettling affairs :)
4. the friends I can cry and share my journey with
5. the delicious CNT Cebu lechon, Carcar chicharon, and mango shakes
6. keeping me healthy
7. the ego boost, and yes, I won't bite, promise.

To everyone past and present

I heard this song on Oprah (in that episode where she and Gayle went on a road trip) and I immediately connected with it.

I thought of Ray and Juan too, because I suppose this song captures best how I feel about them now. :)

This song's going in my wedding!

Leaving for a vacation

One other reason I love my job is that, while we Filipinos are not really blessed with 35-hour workweeks and long vacations like the French workers, I get to reap some benefits from this enviable perk. This is my second August teaching English to Europeans and, once again, we're getting a lot of free time this month as most of the learners are on summer vacation. I've decided to take a week and two days off to go to Cebu and Bohol.

Last year, I worked all throughout August. I wasn't one to take vacation leaves (maybe this is because my longest job was with a major daily, where we ate deadlines for breakfast), and I was only able to really indulge early this year for my first trip out of the country. As I said, I was bitten by the travel bug. No more homebody me. :)

I'm going with my sister's family (actually, they're going with me, as I was the one who invited them), and I'm excited to be taking Keona along. We've got a packed itinerary (we're visiting relatives in Cebu, going to my father's hometown, eating the must-eat foods...) and I'm hoping for nice unexpected adventures too. I'm praying for good weather. White light!

In the meantime, I still have some work and shopping to do. I'm also going to start a sort of creative non-fiction blog. And prepare to paint my room. :)

Lotsa work.

I'm on Plurk too!

I finally gave in and opened a Plurk account. Widget below.

Be my Pleep. Add me!

Dear Universe/God:

So many things to be thankful for!

Last week

1. The new sideline, which I think I'm going to really enjoy!

Last Saturday

2. The food trip around Pampanga, aka Viajeng Cucinang Matua. (I'll write a separate entry about this; pictures in my Multiply!)
3. Mang Jess' taking a different route and dropping me off at the entrance of my village
4. Garlic bread from my brother-in-law

Last Sunday

4. Sunday mass at OCCI, where I saw Fr. Blaise and my other LEAP teammates again.
5. Working lunch and free wifi at Podium with Candy and Jenny
6. Dinner and coffee with Jenny and Louie
7. The bag Jenny won and gave me!

This week

8. My officemates' pancit malabon and pichi-pichi (from Amber!) birthday treat

Life is great! So many blessings.

English Trainer Chronicles: Bath

She really had a good laugh after she realized her mistake--the first one I heard from her.

A typical Monday warm-up is: "So how was your weekend?"

Her: The weather was perfect! I went to my parents' swimming pool and had a bath.
Me: ...
Her: (Continues) It was my second bath in a year!
Me: What do you mean "it was my second bath in a year"?
Her: The water has been cold, but now it's warm.
Me: So you went swimming?
Her: Yes.
Me: It's better to say "I went swimming" because when you have a bath, you have soap...
Her: Oh! In a shower! (Starts laughing).
Me: (Laughs with her). Your parents wouldn't like that, I think.

What are you doing this weekend?

I'm doing this on Saturday. :)
Good day fellow travelers!

As the rainy season pours, we invite you to join us in our famous Pampanga Food Tour called Viajeng Cusinang Matua or Old Kitchen Tours. This will be on July 26, 2008, Saturday, from breakfast to dinner, we will just enjoy the company of food trippers and learn more about why Filipinos love to eat.

Bring your family and friends or if you have guests from abroad, just bring them in and prepare for a one of a kind and fun-filled gastronomical experience!

For reservations, you may reach us at 09209235615 or email us at alquimistatrails@

See you!

Tracey Santiago
Alquimista Trails


The Kapampangan cuisine is highly regarded as one of the most delicious variety in the Philippines. Discover the secrets of the locals and explore the rich culture of Pampanga through this one of a kind cultural culinary experience. We will bring you to an extra special tour...we bring YOU to some of the old kitchens of Pampanga...because the best Kapampangan dishes are made at home.

Itinerary and Sample Menu

Breakfast - Cucina ng Atching Lillian Borromeo - Mexico
Native tsokolate, dinuguan, galantina, sinangag, etc. There will also be a baking demonstration of the famous San Nicolas cookies and a tour lecture of the cooking heirloom pieces of the family.

Merienda - Alviz Farm - Sta. Rita
This farm is owned by ArtiSta Rita's Artistic Director and one of Pampanga's cultural pillars today, Andy Alviz. During this time, experience the Rice Planting Festival of Pampanga with music, dances, and food. Tamales, pandan tea, empanaditas, and other native kakanin will be served during the festivities.

Lunch - Cucina ni Kong Willie Carpio - Sta. Rita
Willie Carpio is known for its authentic preparation of the famous sisig. A Pampanga food tour will never be complete without tasting this delectable recipe without the sizzling plate. Taste it hot or cold and you'll know the difference! Other included viands are sinigang na bangus sa bayabas and humba.

Side Trip - Betis Church - Betis
Pampanga is also known for its beautiful old churches. We will have a glimpse of one of the most famous baroque churches in the Philippines. Betis church is named as one of the most significant cultural landmarks by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts.

Merienda - Betis Crafts - Betis
Kapampangans are also known as excellent woodcarvers. Betis crafts showcases this craft through their fine world class furniture pieces. Taste the famous La Moderna ensaymada of Guagua after taking the factory tour of Betis Crafts.

Pasalubong Shopping - Susie's Cuisine - San Fernando
Susie's is famous for the "tibok-tibok," mochi, empanadas, and other Kapampangan delicacies.

Dinner - Everybody's Cafe - San Fernando
This restaurant is most famous for its camaro, morcon, and paksiw na bangus. A must try if you want to taste what the Jorolan Family has been serving their customers for more than 50 years.

Fee: Php2,500.00 per person
Inclusions: lectures, chartered vans, set and buffet dishes (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and Meriendas)

Pick-up points:

a. Makati - Mc Donalds Greenbelt along Paseo de Roxas - 5:45am
b. Ortigas - Mc Donalds El Pueblo - 6:00am
c. Quezon City - Mc Donalds MRT-Quezon Ave - 6:15am

English Trainer Chronicles: Grass root

A few minutes before this, my student told me, with a laugh, that he had asked his secretary for help with his English homework.

We were talking about idioms related to money.
Grass roots. The term "grass roots" refers to the ordinary people who form the main body of an organization.
Him: For example, my secretary is a grass root.
Me: Oh, noooo... when you say it that way, the meaning becomes literal.
Him: Oh. (Laughs out loud.) I will not be mentioning this.

English Trainer Chronicles: Birds and (the) Bess

Two amusing stories today, one from Evreux and another from Douarnenez.

Evreux (in Normandy)

My learner told me about the bridal shower and stag party they planned for her fiance's brother and his bride-to-be. The girl had to wear a cow costume and sell marshmallows. If she met someone with the same name as her groom-to-be, she'd be required to kiss him on the cheek. The cow costume was made up of a top en dentelle (lace) and a soutien-gorge (bra).

The groom, in turn, had to dress up as a rabbit (once described by another student who was telling me about the rabbit stew she ate as "a very cute animal") and run around in it at a rond-point (roundabout). One motorist called out, "Don't do it!"

What I would have given to have been there! :D

New French words for me! :D She said this originated from the north of France. I'd have to ask another student about this, but he's on vacation. :P

Meanwhile, in Douarnenez

Seagulls are protected there; if you destroy a nest you could get fined. During the lesson, the seagulls started making a lot of noise, and my learner apologized, and we got to talking about how the seagulls could be pests sometimes.

Me: Do they make a mess?
Him: What mess? I know mess, but which meaning?
Me: (Wondering if I should practice using what little French I know and say "Seagull merde.") Ahhh... um... you know, when they eat and then the food comes out...
Him: Oh, SHIT.

There was a cute line too. He was talking about his neighbor's roof, which had a nest on it. Apparently, seagull poop (yes, I taught him that word) is acidic, so it can put holes on the roof. He said he was watching the nest from his window, and then...

Him: The eggs let some little birds out. :)

Dear Universe/God:

Thank you for the past few days' blessings:

1. The Attracting Wealth seminar last Saturday, which helped me deal with the negative thoughts I've been having, thanks to news media. (Thanks for the discount!)
2. Weekend with the family, which included a free Gary V. concert and a yummy, yummy meal at Kanin Club.

3. Mommy and Ivan being safe home.
4. The stuff Ivan and Auntie Tita bought for us in the US.

5. The Naked Bar by NanWell (naughty name, healthy stuffy) Donna gave me.

Copyeditor Chronicles: Say what?!

How do you edit this?

Q: What do you have to say about Sen. Lacson’s call on the government to review the Church’s exemption from taxes?

A: Bakit pa ipapasa sa gobyerno, pwede naman gawin ng Senado?

N songs

You've probably seen this by now. You reply to this post, I'll assign you a letter, then you list five songs that begin with that letter.

Paul assigned me the letter N.

1. (The) Nearness of You - I first discovered (and fell in love with) this song in an ice cream commercial. Leave it to me to associate sexy with food. Now I associate it with that scene in that Hugh Grant-Sandra Bullock film, Two Weeks Notice, where Nora Jones has a cameo singing her own version.

2. Never-ending Story by Limahl, lead singer of Kajagoogoo(!). - I love this song because it stirs up giddy magical feelings from the first movie I ever saw on Betamax. I can still remember the exchange:

The Childlike Empress: Bastian. Why don't you do what you dream, Bastian?
Bastian: But I can't, I have to keep my feet on the ground!
The Childlike Empress: Call my name. Bastian, please! Save us!
Bastian: All right! I'll do it! I'll save you! I will do what I dream!
[Climbs to the window and yells out in the storm]
Bastian: MOON CHILD!
3. Never My Love by the Association - I love the lyrics; used to imagine singing it for someone.

4. New Age Girl by Deadeye Dick (whatever happened to them?) - Funny New Age girl's name (Mary Moon!), long words (transcendental, septuagenarian), and "she sure like the bone!" ;) I think this was one of the songs that made me think, hey, I'm weird but I can be cool. Only it doesn't seem so cool anymore now that I'm 30.

5. No Day But Today by the cast of Rent. - It strangely reminds me of my UP Quill/Loafer days. It also captures my LEAP 32 "The Power of Now" journey.

There's only us.
There's only this.
Forget regret.
Or life is yours to miss.

I believe in angels

I have a dream, a song to sing
To help me cope with anything
If you see the wonder of a fairy tale
You can take the future even if you fail
I believe in angels
Something good in everything I see
I believe in angels
When I know the time is right for me
I’ll cross the stream - I have a dream.
And my dream has always been to marry someone like Pierce Brosnan! Loyal, dapper, funny, artistic, sexy... I know he paints, he acts, and now I know he sings!
Listen to the whole song here.

My other love, Colin Firth, is a pretty good singer too:

English Trainer Chronicles: Nutshell

The language of IT is English, so it no longer surprises me when my IT students can talk about their jobs pretty well in English. What tickles me--and them, I think--is when they use technical terms to describe not-so-technical things.

We were talking about the expression, "In a nutshell."

Me: So, what does this mean?
Student: I get the meaning. It's like "in short."
Me: Right! But what is a nutshell?
Student: I don't know.
Me: Well, what is a nut?
Student: (Thinks.) Squirrels eat it.
Me: Right, right. And if it's the shell of a nut, what is it then?
Student: (Thinks, then laughs a little.) It's the interface of the nut.


P.S. Another learner told me he watched Hot Fuzz in English. I'd never heard of it before, so I looked it up. Tonight, I saw it was showing on HBO and watched it. Hilarious stuff. :P

Dear Universe/God:

Thank for the lovely surprises of the past days.

1. Saturday's flowing open bar at Sophie's Garden with my colleagues, where I had my first taste of Tequila Rose.

Picture from Marchie's camera.

2. My initiation into SEx--Sinangag Express, that is.

Picture from Marchie's camera.

3. Sunday birthday snacks for Dr. Bau, with lots of sugar-free goodies. I have pictures... to follow!

4. Monday's relaxing sked.
5. A learner's funny Facebook message.
6. The baked tahong Marchie gave me today. I'd been craving for it for days!
7. The small piece of Romana peanut brittle I got from Joanna. I know it's mostly sugar and peanuts, but I only got I small piece. :)

I have a request. I'm craving for really good Cebu lechon again. Just a small bit, for what's left of my suka pinakurat. Please.

Iris has the best lines

Today was a fun day for movies. First, I caught Bituing Walang Ningning on Cinema One. I texted Louie immediately and we had a blast giggling and gushing at the lines.

This evening, I caught The Holiday on HBO. Lovely script. I like Nancy Myers' worlds because she understands people are complicated, yet love is simple.

This one isn't my favorite part, but I love what she says here.

Iris: "I understand feeling as small and as insignificant as humanly possible. And how it can actually ache in places you didn't know you had inside you. And it doesn't matter how many new haircuts you get, or gyms you join, or how many glasses of chardonnay you drink with your girlfriends... you still go to bed every night going over every detail and wonder what you did wrong or how you could have misunderstood. And how in the hell for that brief moment you could think that you were that happy. And sometimes you can even convince yourself that he'll see the light and show up at your door. And after all that, however long all that may be, you'll go somewhere new. And you'll meet people who make you feel worthwhile again. And little pieces of your soul will finally come back. And all that fuzzy stuff, those years of your life that you wasted, that will eventually begin to fade."

More lines below. The last one's my favorite.

Arthur Abbott: Iris, in the movies we have leading ladies and we have the best friend. You, I can tell, are a leading lady, but for some reason you are behaving like the best friend.

Iris: You're so right. You're supposed to be the leading lady of your own life, for god's sake! Arthur, I've been going to a therapist for three years, and she's never explained things to me that well. That was brilliant. Brutal, but brilliant.


I've found almost everything ever written about love to be true. Shakespeare said "Journeys end in lovers meeting." What an extraordinary thought. Personally, I have not experienced anything remotely close to that, but I am more than willing to believe Shakespeare had. I suppose I think about love more than anyone really should. I am constantly amazed by its sheer power to alter and define our lives. It was Shakespeare who also said "love is blind". Now that is something I know to be true. For some quite inexplicably, love fades; for others love is simply lost. But then of course love can also be found, even if just for the night. And then, there's another kind of love: the cruelest kind. The one that almost kills its victims. Its called unrequited love. Of that I am an expert. Most love stories are about people who fall in love with each other. But what about the rest of us? What about our stories, those of us who fall in love alone? We are the victims of the one sided affair. We are the cursed of the loved ones. We are the unloved ones, the walking wounded. The handicapped without the advantage of a great parking space! Yes, you are looking at one such individual. And I have willingly loved that man for over three miserable years! The absolute worst years of my life! The worst Christmas', the worst Birthday's, New Years Eve's brought in by tears and valium. These years that I have been in love have been the darkest days of my life. All because I've been cursed by being in love with a man who does not and will not love me back. Oh god, just the sight of him! Heart pounding! Throat thickening! Absolutely can't swallow! All the usual symptoms.


Iris: "Shush. You broke my heart. And you acted like somehow it was my fault, my misunderstanding, and I was too in love with you to ever be mad at you, so I just punished myself! For years! But you waltzing in here on my lovely Christmas holiday, and telling me that you don't want to lose me whilst you're about to get MARRIED, somehow newly entitles me to say, it's over. This - This twisted, toxic THING between us, is finally finished! I'm miraculously done being in love with you! Ha! I've got a life to start living."

The opposite of schadenfreude

I've been feeling a lot of this lately, even when watching this Yahoo video on jilted brides.

Wikipedia says:
Mudita is a Buddhist (Pali and Sanskrit) word meaning rejoicing in others' good fortune. Mudita is sometimes considered to be the opposite of schadenfreude.

The term mudita is usually translated as "sympathetic" or "altruistic" joy, the pleasure that comes from delighting in other people's well-being rather than begrudging it. Many Buddhist teachers interpret mudita more broadly as referring to an inner spring of infinite joy that is available to everyone at all times, regardless of circumstances. The more deeply one drinks of this spring, the more secure one becomes in one's own abundant happiness, and the easier it then becomes to relish the joy of other people as well.

Copyeditor Chronicles: Chuckling

I also enjoy my other job, in which I edit text messages people from all over the country send. Sometimes, I uncover gems that have me smiling all day too. :)

This one's
already slightly edited.
As for my twilight years, it’s still a toss-up whether I will wake up to the chuckling of chickens or the honking of cars!

Dear Universe/God:

Thank you for today's lovely blessings.

1. The lunch of dried fish flakes and steamed rice. (Next time, I'll remember to add the diced tomatoes.)
2. The cup of mashed potato with corn that my officemate gave me.
3. The chocolate my best friend will remember to bring me tomorrow.

Friends, family, and Avenue Q

Can it get any better than this?

I had an amazing weekend, if I may say so myself. It felt like one of those MFA Saturdays all over again. I met up with Jenny, Louie, and Michelle to watch Avenue Q--and we bumbed into Razel in Starbucks at the third floor of RCBC Plaza, who'd watched the 2pm show. I have pictures (of us; sadly, no Avenue Q pictures), and I'll get around to posting them someday.

I also bumped into some people at RCBC. One of them, Patrick, was a freshman year classmate. I actually subscribe to his blog, and while we haven't really seen each other in years I felt like we'd been in touch, so I think I was a little bit too familiar. I think I blinked and said, "Oh my God, long hair ka na!" Hahaha.

Has that ever happened to you?

I also saw my LEAP 32 teammate Haids. And the guy my mom buys her discounted Atlantis tickets from (duh!).

Louie had to leave, so the two other girls and I had dinner together at Greenbelt. We had corned beef sinigang and crisy pata at Sentro. Heaven.

Sunday, I spent time with family. My mom, two brothers and I met up at Southmall, and somehow ended up having dinner at Alabang Town Center. We watched the last full show of The Happening.

The entire time, my mom kept saying, "This is like a Filipino film." And she doesn't watch Filipino films. Poor M. Night Shyamalan. The Sixth Sense was so good, it would be difficult to come up with another hit like that. I'll still give you a chance, baby.

We had a funny dinner, because the girl just Nena's Barbecue (I'm not sure if I got the name right), where we decided to eat, kept trying to sell us this Father's Day mug, telling us that if we bought a mais con yelo, which nobody in my family eats, we'd get the mug for free. My brother finally said, "Our dad's there already." and he sort of pointed to the St. Jerome and Sta. Susanna Parish Church, where my father's ashes are interred. :P

Happy Father's Day, Daddy!

You must know--

I found this and thought of you.

Sonnet XLIV
By Pablo Neruda

You must know that I do not love and that I love you,
because everything alive has its two sides;
a word is one wing of silence,
fire has its cold half.
I love you in order to begin to love you,
to start infinity again
and never to stop loving you:
that’s why I do not love you yet.
I love you, and I do not love you, as if I held
keys in my hand: to a future of joy-
a wretched, muddled fate-
My love has two lives, in order to love you:
that’s why I love you when I do not love you,
and also why I love you when I do.

Walking in the rain, in the flood

I walked through a couple of meters of knee-high floodwaters the other day. Fortunately, I was wearing flip-flops (thick ones, thank goodness) and a short dress. I was scared for a while, but only because I was alone, it was way past midnight, and I remembered I'd scratched a scab somewhere on my right thigh and a word I hadn't thought of since college came to mind: leptospirosis.

I waited for a group of people to wade ahead of me, comforting myself with the thought that if I fell into an open drain, they'd notice and get help. But they walked too fast, and when a couple of cars passed through the flood, causing some waves to come crashing at my legs, I panicked and stopped on higher ground, hoping another group would come for me to follow.

I waited for a while, but nobody else came. When I checked the time, it was already close to 2 am. Some men pushing a stalled car called out to me and told me to walk right on ahead, the waters weren't deep. But they were too far, and I was temporarily paralyzed by my fear.

I shrugged it off and told myself: I'm a big girl now, and I control my destiny, and my destiny does not involve falling into open manholes or drains, dammit. It doesn't involve getting sick because I walked in dirty water. And it doesn't involve being alone for the rest of my life, either!

So I walked on, and walked part of the way home, where I realized it wasn't really the meaning of the word "leptospirosis" that made me worry; rather, it was remembering it's context and knowing that, once upon my lifetime, I had a hand to hold while wading through floodwaters. Remembering that, I was made aware of not having one at the moment, and the thought of being alone scared me.

Strangely, it was going deeper into that memory that also comforted me.

Most of my college friends would know why I'd say it was a "color of the wheat fields" moment. Really, I think it's lovely that when I walk through flood, I can be scared on the surface, but deep inside, I can still find an ember of a beautiful memory of love, of friendship that warms me.

(Then I remembered a poem I received years ago that was written about that moment, a poem I'd lost when I lost Hotmail. Thank God for Yahoo Messenger. I got another copy from the great poet himself!)

Tulad nuon sa España, sa ganitong gabi, sa ganito karaming tubig
Jaime Jesus Borlagdan
Kay Dat

Kung meron man akong hinanakit
sa pagbagsak ng langit, maliban sa tubig
ay ang iyong pagkapit na wala ngayon

sa braso ko na nuo'y nanliit na baka
bumigay o mabali sa higpit at lapit
ng iyong init, ang iyong balat
sa aking balat, ang paa natin
walang ingay
sa ilalim ng tubig.

Mula Mabuhay, hanggang Lacson
inihatid natin ang isa't isa
(kahit tayo'y dalawa) sa isang simula
na magmula nang matapos natin ang baha
ay nawalan na ng hangganan
ang pagdugtong ng ating mga lansangan.

Sa isang pag-ulan ibinuhol tayo
sa kasal ng pagtampisaw sa sanaw
sa isa't isa tayo humawak para di maitangay
ng paglimot sa imburnal at lagusan.
Ipinasya nating itigil muna ang pagdaloy
ng panahon at paglaruan ang naipong sandali
hanggang lunurin tayo nito sa malabong tubig
At tayo'y nalunod, oo, at ginusto nating
huwag huminga, huwag umahon.

Salamat at nagtiwala kang di ko hahayaang
madapa ka sa nakalubog na daan. Salamat
at di mo ako iniwang nangangapa
ng mahahawakan

tulad ngayon
tulad ngayon.

Agosto 5, 2000, Sulu Sta. Cruz Manila

English Trainer Chronicles: Sink

There's a You Tube video that I find really funny. It's an ad for Berlitz. In it, a new guy in the German coastguard receives a mayday from an English ship.
English ship: "Mayday, mayday! We are sinking! We are sinking!"
New guy: "Hello! This is the German coastguard. What are you sinking about?"
I've noticed that many of my students don't know the word "sink," and I've heard this action described/depicted in so many ways. Today's was the best ever.

We have an exercise called Timeline of the Twentieth Century. It divided the significant events of 1900-1999 per decade, and I ask my learners to use the past tense and give me sentences about some of the events, never mind historical accuracy.

I used it with a student today. His English was already good, but, as he said, his words were "trapped inside his head." He tried his best to talk about what happened to the Titanic, and his attempt had us both laughing our hearts out: "The Titanic dove into the ocean. It broke into pieces that couldn't swim."

Same direction, he said. Make sense. :)

Unsettled, unsettling

At some points in my life, I question some of the roads I've taken, some of the decisions I made, and some of the people I've given time and attention to. When I was younger, I'd agonize over having done the "wrong" thing; now, I just forgive myself faster.

I understand more than ever that I can't be blamed for not being ready for a lot of things. Some things just can't be rushed. I'm happily learning, though. Underneath it all, I'm just really happy to learn, and I know that everything, everyone I cross paths with is there to teach me something.

I was reading Jim Paredes' latest post on the "mid-life crisis," and something he wrote struck me, even if I'm only halfway past 30:
When we let go of attitudes, beliefs and ways that don’t work, there appear newer ones that take their place. This will happen repeatedly until we find the right ones that apply to this new stage in our lives. We are like a house in renovation except that the dust has not settled and so we are not sure what we really look like inside. But be assured that there is a lot of activity happening there.

We can also compare ourselves to snakes in the sense that we must shed off old skin periodically to continue living in a supple, energetic new body.
It doesn't seem so clear to me now where I am at this point in my life, at least where my personal life is concerned. Some things that I thought I had already figured out, like love and friendship, have come undone again.

I welcome the unsettling, though. And I welcome the activity. I'm sure when the dust does settle, I'll see even more clearly. This, I'm old enough to know. ;)

Small delights

Keona turned 2 last May 21. I stayed less than 45 minutes at the party, I didn't get to sit down and eat, and I had no pictures. But at least I was able to kiss her and see her jump up and down with delight upon seeing all of us there and watch her do what little tots are extremely good at doing on their first three or so birthday parties--smudge the lettering on her bumblebees and daisies cake.

She went with her mommy and daddy when they brought me to work, and she sat on my lap and pointed out the window. "Sun!" she said, and I remembered how, as a tiny little baby, she would stare transfixed at the plastic bead curtains in my room that glittered when the light hit them, and how, when she was old enough to crawl and stand up, she would try to grab at them and hold on so tight, I'd have to gently pry her little fingers off. She's discovering bigger and brighter things now; I can't believe how fast they grow up!

I'm having my "Sunrise, Sunset" moment here, and she's only two!

Back to the gym

Thanks to Emily's prodding, I went back to the gym today. I challenged myself to reach 400 calories or one hour on the treadmill, whichever came first* and I won! Afterwards, I did 100 crunches on the lower-tech, er, crunch machine. I feel... good. Tired, but the good kind of tired.

It had been so long since I last exercised; in fact, I was already toying with the idea of already cancelling my Fitness First membership. Thank God for the extra cash that comes my way--I can afford to maintain it some some.

I'm back to my pre-FF form, stamina-wise. I haven't regained all the pounds just yet, but I'm getting dangerously close to it.

I'm hitting the gym again tomorrow. One hour on the treadmill again. If there's a yoga class, I'll take it to. The schedule is somewhere in my gym bag.

Baby steps.

* The hour came first, even if I alternately raised and lowered the incline, and alternately increased and lessened the speed. I can walk 5.5kmph. After that, it's running and panting. Imagine these in treadmill time: a two-piece chicken joy and rice is like more or less 500 calories. A Yellow Cab pizza slice is over 1,200 calories.

Blah, blah

I was going to write something about that what happened today, but in the end, I decided it wasn't even worth writing about.

I'm just really happy I made it through this stressful work day. I had to wing six or so lessons, (almost) in a row, without having the documents I sent to my students. Such is life--when the connection's bad, the connection's bad.

It wasn't the end of the world, though.

I'm just wondering: Did today have anything to do with the earthquakes? I've only experienced two earthquakes in my life, and both times, I really thought I would die.

Just in case, this: The Prayer for a Happy Death

Refusing to cling again

If there's anything that the recent months have taught me, it's that taking control of your life does not always mean you should have complete control over it.

This was something I've always known cerebrally; in fact, one of my favorite chapters of all time is the following chapter in Richard Bach's Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah.
Yet in time, as the creature refused to cling again, the current lifted him free from the bottom, and he was bruised and hurt no more.

And the creatures downstream, to whom he was a stranger, cried, "See a miracle! A creature like ourselves, yet he flies! See the messiah, come to save us all!"

And the one carried in the current said, "I am no more messiah than you. The river delights to lift us free, if only we dare let go. Our true work is this voyage, this adventure."

But they cried the more, "Savior!" all the while clinging to the rocks, and when they looked again he was gone, and they were left alone making legends of a savior.
You can read the complete chapter here. But it wasn't something I fully understood. I am, after all, a hands-on learner.

However, this little ball of knowledge just stayed snug in my head, lying dormant, until the time came that life would force me to draw on it.

(Truly, life always prepares you, in its own way, for the paths it has prepared for you. I wouldn't have thought something I read in the comforts of my own bedroom, so long ago and so far removed from the people I've wrongly held responsible for my bruises, would help me deal.)

I've realized that the many times I've hurt myself and I've hurt others were times when I wanted to be in control. I wanted this person to treat me this way, I wanted this person to behave this way, I wanted this person to feel this way towards me... when, I've realized lately, the only true thing I want is for me to feel a certain way: happy.

Another lesson for me at 30: I've tried to hold on to life with a tight fist, afraid of losing whatever it was that I thought brought me happiness, and I was wrong.

Every good thing in life points to sharing: You can't call yourself a writer unless you've been published. You can't smell perfume unless it's released from the bottle. And you can't say you love someone, unless the person knows it.

While the jealous, zealous Scorpio in me still remembers the delight of rightfully, righteously claiming something, someone, to be her own, and her own alone, I want to claim something even bigger than what my fist can hold on to this time, something so big, I have to hold it with my palm open.


I'm working on a script for Ana's wedding reception program and, for inspiration, I've been re-reading my long-forgotten Shakespeare.

I used to think she was pathetic, but this girl Helena has spunk!

Tempt not too much the hatred of my spirit;
For I am sick when I do look on thee.

And I am sick when I look not on you.

You do impeach your modesty too much,
To leave the city and commit yourself
Into the hands of one that loves you not;
To trust the opportunity of night
And the ill counsel of a desert place
With the rich worth of your virginity.

Your virtue is my privilege: for that
It is not night when I do see your face,
Therefore I think I am not in the night;
Nor doth this wood lack worlds of company,
For you in my respect are all the world:
Then how can it be said I am alone,
When all the world is here to look on me?

I'll run from thee and hide me in the brakes,
And leave thee to the mercy of wild beasts.

The wildest hath not such a heart as you.
Run when you will, the story shall be changed:
Apollo flies, and Daphne holds the chase;
The dove pursues the griffin; the mild hind
Makes speed to catch the tiger; bootless speed,
When cowardice pursues and valour flies.

I will not stay thy questions; let me go:
Or, if thou follow me, do not believe
But I shall do thee mischief in the wood.

Ay, in the temple, in the town, the field,
You do me mischief. Fie, Demetrius!
Your wrongs do set a scandal on my sex:
We cannot fight for love, as men may do;
We should be wood and were not made to woo.


I'll follow thee and make a heaven of hell,
To die upon the hand I love so well.

A video worth posting

What will your life be like 50 years from now?

Donna gave me the link, and I looked it up on YouTube. More information about this video here.

"Stay out of perfection"

I haven't been able to complete a short story for ages. I've made myself a pretty little writing space, I've dug out the manuscripts I need to revise, I've worked through most of my excuses... and I just can't finish any of them.

This is something I needed to hear/read:
Stay Out of Perfection

Perfecting everything slows down success. Stop organizing and perfecting everything, just allow things to flow their course. If you must correct, organize, and perfect; allow the natural successful flow first. Get things out first, then optimize.
Read the rest here.

English Trainer Chronicles: You took what off?

Laughter, really, is a great de-stresser. France had a four-day weekend, and many of the French went out of town. My learner arrived in the nick of time to have our lesson, and he was breathless over the phone.

He explained why he was almost late.

He'd decided to take the morning train, and would work half day today.

Learner: This morning, I took it off.
Me: ... You know, when you say that, you're usually referring to clothes.

2008 Habits - 1st quarter update

Early this year, I said I would start a new habit every month. I started by logging in my food intake and daily expenses in January. I'm sorry to say I've stopped doing that since I got back from Thailand in March. My vacation expenses were crazy--I kept all the receipts, but I simply gave up.

But that wasn't the only reason.

As I mentioned a couple of days ago, I sort of have three jobs now. The third, I started on March 1. It's a daily thing, and it takes me at least two hours a day--roughly about the same time I take writing down what I ate and how much I spent.

I seriously need to learn how to manage my time better. I spend way too much time day-dreaming and watching TV and being my emotional self.

I also went on a juice fast in February. I was successful for exactly two weeks, and then I caved in to lovely Italianni's food on my mom's birthday. I'm disappointed in myself, but I'm not beating myself up over it because it really was hard to do it while working full-time. I needed fresh juice, and I just couldn't make some at work for two reasons: 1. I don't have a portable juicer; 2. Our pantry doesn't have a sink.

It isn't all bad news though, because in March, I gave up *some* fast food: all kinds of hamburgers. I'm going to add that to my Count-ups.

I spent April catching up with work, spending time with Ruth, and dealing with a personal problem. No new habits there. Except that I started wearing dresses more often--but that doesn't count.

Now, it's five days into May. This month, I'm giving up red meat, which means I'm acquiring the habit of eating only poultry and seafood. So far so good. That's going in my Count-ups too.

I figure that I can also wean myself off the bad stuff I take in. It worked with soda and it worked with cigarettes.

First quarter grade:

Flowery summer

This summer, I've taken to wearing dresses to work. I only have a few, but wow, the difference it makes. No more heavy denim clinging to damp skin! I rarely used to do this, as I've always had the commute to deal with.

I had this notion that it would be difficult to take jeepneys and tricycles and all manners of public transport wearing a dress, but it's not that difficult, really. I don't think I'm ever going to go back to wearing jeans again.

Well, what do you know--I have a girly girl inside me after all.

Speaking of which, here's a pretty little summery picture I'd like to share.

I took this at Festival Mall when Ruth was shopping for her engagement and wedding rings. Giant hibiscuses were all over the place!

This area leads to the movie theaters.

More here.

Where April went

Is it May already? Wow. I've been struggling to get right back on schedule since I got back from my March vacation--which totally threw everything off track--but April, oh, April was beautiful because one of my best friends, Ruth, was back in the country for a three-week vacation from her "new" life in Toronto, Canada.

Sherwil, me, Ruth, Emily. We all lack sleep.

For a couple of days, we were a foursome again.

It was also around this time of the year that Ruth left five years ago. It was a year of letting go for me. My dad also died that year. Seeing her back sort of brought me back to the girl I was for a while, but it only highlighted the fact that I'm so different now.

In fact, we're all so different now. In a really nice way. :)

More pictures here.

Where April also went

I have three jobs now, sort of. I'm an English trainer, a columnist for the regional newspaper The Freeman, and, since March 1, a copy editor for The Philippine Star's Inbox World section. The last of which takes up some of what used to be my idle, thus, blogging time. So that's also why I haven't been blogging much.

But I've finally had time to breathe (thanks to Labor Day) and organize my schedule, and so, this blogger's back!

Back from vacation

I'm back at work, after a week in sizzling Bangkok. I think I'm sunburnt, and I'm still dog-tired, and I'm really happy to be back home. I had a nice time--but more about the trip when I finally get the pictures.

I hardly had any time to go online for fun. We had free wifi, and I brought along my mom's Asus Eee PC, but I only had time for my real work and for some, er, jobs for Dope Wars in Facebook for my pretend work.

A lot of interesting things happened during the trip. I learned a lot about myself.

I can't wait to go on my next one. Homebody me, finally bitten by the travel bug.

In the meantime, however, send me some Facebook love by clicking here:

I ♥ Dope Wars!

English Trainer Chronicles: "Something"

Scene 1: I'm in Manila, at my work station. Learner is in Europe, in what learner calls a "meeting box," which is like a meeting room, but smaller. We are talking about the lesson, and learner is suddenly quiet.

Me: Hello?
Learner: Something is entering my box!
Me: (Instantly alarmed; imagines all sorts of "somethings.") What?
Learner: A colleague.
Me: Oh... (Laughs) You don't use "something" for people!
Learner: I mean, someone!
Me: (Continues laughing) ...
Learner: He is not saying anything. He must not speak English very well.

Two messages from the universe

One, from a British chatmate in Madrid. Another from a French learner in Switzerland. The British guy, when he told me a story. The French learner, simply because she remembered me.

I felt the *tingles* and just knew they were really meant for me.
"In order to change height one must dump ballast."
The words of Bertrand Piccard, a ballonist who circumnavigated the world and set a record. My learner attended his talk, and she said she thought of me. :)
"Getting over means simply to understand there is nothing more because one side says so."
The Brit said, referring to a friend.


Edit, a few minutes later: I messaged another old friend on YM, and got this from her Multiply blog.

Whee. Whee. (And whee, all the way home.)

Good night!

English Trainer Chronicles: Nice saves

Last night, I fell asleep with a cross between a smile and a giggle thinking of these exchanges.

Nice save #1:

Me: Would you like to talk about some English song lyrics? Pick a song.
Learner: I don't really hear English lyrics.
Me: You don't hear English lyrics? Remember the difference between hear and listen?
Learner: Yes, I remember. I meant to say I'm deaf.

Nice save #2:

For a lesson on phrasal verbs.

Me: So, tell me about the last time you showed off.
Learner: The last time I showed off was a long time ago.
Me: Go on...
Learner: I was 80.
Me: 80? How old are you now?
Learner: 31.
Me: So, what comes first, 80 or 31?
Learner: I was talking about a past life. I can still remember it. So, in my past life, I was 80, and I had a new cane...

I ♥ my job.

Missing UP

I can still remember how, before college, studying at the University of the Philippines was somewhat of a myth. My mom was teaching chemistry at De La Salle University-- another university close to my heart and my soon-to-be graduate school alma mater, if things go well--but mass media (movies like Moral and songs of the The Eraserheads) really sold me to the idea of going to UP.

Five years in Diliman, however, can take its toll on a suburban girl like me. Manila is no picnic either, but it's just one comfortable bus ride away from my village, so I chose to go to DLSU for my MFA.

But I've been missing UP lately. I think this a feeling that most alumni get every so often, and this is why they keep going back. I wasn't able to go to the Centennial celebrations, and I've backtracked on numerous plans to go there for whatever. It's high time I go back for a visit, I think--and the universe is giving me signs!

To begin with, this article, written by Gilda Cordero Fernando, was published in today's paper: A gourmet’s guide to UP and other concerns.

At my age, I'm more of the Chocolate Kiss and Chateau Verde type, but I miss these two places:

The best barbecue on campus, however, is found in Beach House beside the Main Library. Unfortunately they’re open only for lunch. But there’s Kha’s place in the arcade near the swimming pool. It serves Middle Eastern food. Their specialties are rice biryani and ox brain soup and they have lassi.
Sadly, though, it doesn't mention this hole-in-the-wall Thai eatery I discovered through my orgmate Vincent Coscolluela. I suppose that one's long gone, because when my MFA classmates and I went there a couple of years ago, upon the insistence of Allan Popa, the place was nowhere to be found.

We did manage to have this picture taken, though:

My DLSU friends and circa-DLSU-again me, posing at the AS Steps, a la Moral. It didn't seem cool to do it when I was actually a student! Besides, we didn't have digital cameras back then! Left to right: Candy Villanueva, Razel Estrella, Heizel Mainar, Jonathan Siason, Allan Popa, and me.

Also, yesterday, this pleasant coincidence:

I forgot I had my own, but wearing it would have been too contrived anyway.

More here.

Les amants d'un jour

This came from my French learner, and I am now sharing this with a certain Paul Kurrien in mind. Hihihi.

And for the English version:

Cute dog, by the way.

The lyrics:

Les amants d'un jour
English Version -- translator unknown

Shine another glass make the hours pass
Working every day in a cheap café
Who am I to care for a love affair?
Still I can't forget I can see them yet

They came hand in hand, why can't I forget?
For they'd seen the sign that said "Room to Let"
The sunshine of love was deep in their eyes
So young, oh so young, too young to be wise
They wanted a place a small hideaway
A place of their own if just for one day

The walls were so bare, the carpet so thin,
But they took that room and heaven walked in
And I closed the door and turned to depart
With tears in my eyes and tears in my heart

Shine another glass make the hours pass
Working every day in a cheap café
Who am I to care, one more love affair?
Love is nothing new I have work to do

We found them next day, the way they had planned
So quiet, so cold, but still hand in hand
The sunshine of love was all they possessed
And so in the sunshine we laid them to rest
They sleep by side two children alone
But I'm sure they've found a place of their own

So why must I see the ribbon she wore
The glow on his face as I closed the door
Be still children, still, your shadows may start
The tears in my eyes and tears in my heart

Shine another glass make the hours pass
Working every day in a cheap cafe
Evrything is fine 'till I see that sign
How can I forget -- it says "Room to Let."

(And the sound of glass breaking.)

Flowers and weeds

On my way to work, I decided to walk on the Bellevue Hotel side. Beside it is an empty lot, and these made me smile.

I don't know what they're called, but they sure look pretty.

This makes me think of my childhood. And reminds me of UP.

I uploaded a few more here.

An almost empty pot of hand cream

One of the small excitements of my life: cleaning out a pot of hand cream (or a jar/bottle of body lotion). It takes me so long to finish an entire jar (think years), it's always an achievement when I reach this point!

If I'm not mistaken, this is only the second pot I've completely used up in my entire life.

Just a tiny little dollop left.

No more! Yay!

Hey you! (Yes, you.) Will you marry me?

From Wikipedia:
There is a tradition that women may make a proposal of marriage to men only in leap years, further restricted in some cases to only February 29. There is a tradition that in 1288 the Scottish parliament under Queen Margaret legislated that any woman could propose in Leap Year; few parliament records of that time exist, and none concern February 29.
Another component of this tradition was that if the man rejects the proposal, he should soften the blow by providing a kiss, one pound currency, and a pair of gloves (some later sources say a silk gown). There were similar notions in France and Switzerland.
If the answer's no, you can only soften the blow with (a.) one pound currency, (b.) a silk gown.

Overheard at work

I think they were talking about an online news article.

The teacher next to me: So how was he taken?
Student: [I'm guessing.] By the force.
Teacher: No, not "by the force," but "by force."

It's just love, actually

Everytime I start to feel a little bit jaded, I find myself going back to one of my favorite films of all time, Love, Actually, the many love stories of which I can relate to, depending on the stage I'm in.

This time, it's this exchange that I want to go back to:
Sam: There's this big concert at the end of term, and Joanna's in it. And I thought, maybe if I was in the band, and played absolutely superbly, there's a chance that she might actually fall in love with me. What do you think?
Daniel: I think it's brilliant! I think it's stellar! Uh, apart from the one, obvious, tiny, little baby little hiccup...Sam: That I don't play a musical instrument. Daniel: Yessir.
Sam: A tiny, insignificant detail.
Unfortunately, I can't find a clip of this scene.

But here's another one on the total agony of being in love. (Note: For those who haven't seen this film, Sam's mom has just died, and his stepdad Daniel is worried.)

My name is Althea, and I'm fond of a serial killer.

Wow, I feel like I've just been sucked into a warp zone. Where have I been? Britney's regained visitation rights, there's a big-ass sex scandal to end all showbiz sex scandals involving stars I don't really know in Hong Kong, the Facebook (fluff)Race rules have changed, I haven't even blogged about ending my juice fast two weeks early...

... and all because this week, I've been feeding my addiction to Dexter, relatively slow internet connection notwithstanding.

Good read: The Sacrament of Waiting

Patience is a virtue... and apparently, a sacrament too. This is a good read.

The Sacrament of Waiting
by Fr. James Donelan, S.J.

The English poet John Milton once wrote that those who serve stand and wait. I think I would go further and say that those who wait render the highest form of service. Waiting requires more discipline, more self-control and emotional maturity, more unshakeable faith in our cause, more unwavering hope in the future, more sustaining love in our hearts than all the great deeds of derring-do that go by the name of action.

Waiting is a mystery—a natural sacrament of life. There is a meaning hidden in all the times we have to wait. It must be an important mystery because there is so much waiting in our lives.

Everyday is filled with those little moments of waiting—testing our patience and our nerves, schooling us in our self-control—pasensya na lang. We wait for meals to be served, for a letter to arrive, for a friend, concerts and circuses. Our airline terminals, railway stations, and bus depots are temples of waiting filled with men and women who wait in joy for the arrival of a loved one—or wait in sadness to say goodbye and to give that last wave of hand. We wait for birthdays and vacations; we wait for Christmas. We wait for spring to come or autumn—for the rains to begin or stop.

And we wait for ourselves to grow from childhood to maturity. We wait for those inner voices that tell us when we are ready for the next step. We wait for graduation, for our first job, our first promotion. We wait for success, and recognition. We wait to grow up—to reach the stage where we make our own decision.

We cannot remove this waiting from our lives. It is part of the tapestry of living—the fabric in which the threads are woven that tell the story of our lives.

Yet the current philosophies would have us forget the need to wait. “Grab all the gusto you can get.” So reads one of America’s great beer advertisements—Get it now. Instant pleasure—instant transcendence. Don’t wait for anything. Life is short—eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow you’ll die. And so they rationalize us into accepting unlicensed and irresponsible freedom—premarital sex and extramarital affairs—they warn against attachment and commitment, against expecting anything of anybody, or allowing them to expect anything of us, against vows and promises, against duty and responsibility, against dropping any anchors in the currents of our life that will cause us to hold and to wait.

This may be the correct prescription for pleasure—but even that is fleeting and doubtful. What was it Shakespeare said about the mad pursuit of pleasure? “Past reason hunted, and once had, past reason hated.” Now if we wish to be real human beings, spirit as well as flesh, souls as well as heart, we have to learn to love someone else other than ourselves.

For most of all waiting means waiting for someone else. It is a mystery brushing by our face everyday like stray wind or a leaf falling from a tree. Anyone who has ever loved knows how much waiting goes into it, how much waiting is important for love to grow, to flourish through a lifetime.

Why is this so? Why can’t we have love right now—two years, three years, five years—and seemingly waste so much time? You might as well ask why a tree should take so long to bear fruit, the seed to flower, carbon to change into a diamond.

There is no simple answer, no more than there is to life’s demands: having to say goodbye to someone you love because either you or they have already made other commitments, or because they have to grow and find the meaning of their own lives, having yourself to leave home and loved ones to find your path. Goodbyes, like waiting, are also sacraments of our lives.

All we know is that growth—the budding, the flowering of love needs patient waiting. We have to give each other time to grow. There is no way we can make someone else truly love us or we love them, except through time. So we give each other that mysterious gift of waiting—of being present without making demands or asking rewards. There is nothing harder to do than this. It tests the depth and sincerity of our love. But there is life in the gift we give.

So lovers wait for each other until they can see things the same way, or let each other freely see things in quite different ways. What do we lose when lovers hurt each other and cannot regain the balance and intimacy of the way they were? They have to wait—in silence—but still be present to each other until the pain subsides to an ache and then only a memory, and the threads of the tapestry can be woven together again in a single love story.

What do we lose when we refuse to wait? When we try to find short cuts through life, when we try to incubate love and rush blindly and foolishly into a commitment we are neither mature nor responsible enough to assume? We lose the hope of ever truly loving or being loved. Think of all the great love stories of history and literature. Isn’t it of their very essence that they are filled with the strange but common mystery—that waiting is part of the substance, the basic fabric—against which the story of that true love is written?

How can we ever find either life of love if we are too impatient to wait for it?

Heaven and hell

From Paulo Coelho's blog.
A violent samurai warrior with a reputation for provoking fights for no reason arrived at the gates of a Zen monastery and asked to speak to the master.

Without hesitating, Ryokan went to meet him.

"They say that intelligence is more powerful than brute force," said the samurai. "Can you explain to me what heaven and hell are?"

Ryokan said nothing.

"You see?" bellowed the samurai. "I could explain quite easily: to show someone what hell is, you just have to punch them. To show them what heaven is, you just have threaten them with terrible violence and then let them go."

"I don’t talk to stupid people like you," said the Zen master.

The blood rushed to the samurai’s head. His brain became thick with hatred.

"That is hell," said Ryokan, smiling. "Allowing yourself to be upset by silly remarks."

Taken aback by the monk’s courage, the samurai warrior softened.

"And that is heaven," said Ryokan, inviting him in. "Not reacting to foolish provocations."

I'm back on Facebook

I've reactivated my account. I've been been squeezed, hugged, flirted with, and sexypoked. But I'm officially hooked on Scrabulous and (fluff)Friends (please pet my Wuv, although gifts would be nice too--she's partial to high-calorie stuff like cupcakes).

I'm still streamlining. The way I see it now, Facebook isn't a redundancy because it serves another purpose altogether. Now, I maintain the following:

1. Friendster - for the contacts
2. Multiply - for the videos, pictures, and the social interaction
3. Facebook - for play!

Add me!

January habit

Beginning this year, and true to my theme for 2008, I'm starting a new habit every month. I've read that you only need to do something for 21 days straight to make it a habit, so, at the rate of one habit a month, I'd have 12 new habits by the time 2009 rolls in.

January was for logging my food intake and expenses. I've been doing it for 26 days now.

I first started logging my food intake when I had a weight management trainer at Fitness First. It was part of the process. Having to write down every morsel I ate was frustrating, embarrassing, and very helpful. I observed that I do have stretches of time where I go on a fast-food binge with a couldn't-care-less attitude. I also realized I was an emotional eater.

I stopped logging my food intake for a while when the training was done, but now I'm back to doing it. It's still frustrating, embarrassing, and very helpful. I still observe that I go on fastfood binges--and that I'm still an emotional eater.

I'd tried logging all my expenses before, but I probably wasn't as into it as I am now, because I'd give up after less than a week. But turning 30 made me face the fact that I'm not at all financially independent, nor am I financially responsible--even if I've always made it a point to spend less than I earn, and I do manage to save.

Now, it's my goal to be financially smart. Logging every centavo I spend has shown me that a bulk of my expenses go to--surprise, surprise--food. Unhealthy food, at that! A chunk of it also goes to transportation expenses. I don't have a car, but sometimes, I take the taxi to work. I seriously wish I could go to work on a bike! But it's just too unsafe here.

I made it a point to merely observe this month. Of course, writing my food intake and expenses down made me more careful, but I didn't exert any real effort on controlling them.

At the end of the month, I plan to evaluate my expenses for the whole of January, compute my net worth, and then start a budget, savings, and investment plan for February.

As for the food intake, I don't think I'm the type that will enjoy counting calories, so I'll have to figure out a way to get around this. I'm thinking that I'll just generally avoid processed food, refined sugar, visible fat, and refined carbohydrates.

I've found two useful applications that can help me with this. In Blogspot, I've included a graph from and a graph from Both sites are really useful in helping me visualize my goals.

Wish me luck! White light!

Heath Ledger (1979-2008)

You really never know. Or maybe you do, but you just don't pay enough attention:
“I stressed out a little too much,” Mr. Ledger said.

He tends to do that. He is here in London filming the latest episode of the “Batman” franchise, “The Dark Knight.” (Mr. Bale, as it happens, plays Batman; Mr. Ledger plays the Joker.) It is a physically and mentally draining role — his Joker is a “psychopathic, mass-murdering, schizophrenic clown with zero empathy” he said cheerfully — and, as often happens when he throws himself into a part, he is not sleeping much.

“Last week I probably slept an average of two hours a night,” he said. “I couldn’t stop thinking. My body was exhausted, and my mind was still going.” One night he took an Ambien, which failed to work. He took a second one and fell into a stupor, only to wake up an hour later, his mind still racing.

Even as he spoke, Mr. Ledger was hard-pressed to keep still. He got up and poured more coffee. He stepped outside into the courtyard and smoked a cigarette. He shook his hair out from under its hood, put a rubber band around it, took out the rubber band, put on a hat, took off the hat, put the hood back up. He went outside and had another cigarette. Polite and charming, he nonetheless gave off the sense that the last thing he wanted to do was delve deep into himself for public consumption. “It can be a little distressing to have to overintellectualize yourself,” is how he put it, a little apologetically.
From The New York Times.

What a pity, really.

MFA Saturday

We were supposed to have a Christmas lunch, but due to unforeseen circumstances, the date was bumped up to January 19 and what was a Christmas lunch became a New Year lunch. Following tradition, we still had a theme: "polka chic."

After lunch, we went to Quiapo to look for the "optical alley." It's on Paterno Street, if you care to know. Ana scored some cheap but classy eyeglass frames.

It was a good day to be in Quiapo. It had been drizzling, so the air was clean and cool. We tried street food in Plaza Miranda (fried calamares for P3.00 a piece and corn on the cob). I also managed to score a keychain screwdriver set, perfect for my glasses.

It wasn't a good day to take cabs though. We had to take two jeeps (one to Liwasang Bonifacio, another to Vito Cruz) to find a better place to hail a taxi. Then it was Makati for us.

We didn't take too many photos this time. Allan and Louie, who both didn't have polka-dotted anythings,  came wearing checkered shirts. They left early, so they missed the photo-ops. :)

Candy: "Sir, ang stiff niyo dito. Mag-pose naman po kayo."

Doc Bau: "O sige, ayan."