Thursday, December 16, 2010

Happy birthday!

Maybe I'll see you one day in a field of wildflowers and everything would be okay.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Things I want to see more of

meteor showers
colorful beach glass
daisies
dragonflies
pretty notebooks
friends over coffee

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Sometimes I still miss you

Nelson Fox: I just have to meet someone new, that's all. That's the easy part.
Joe Fox: Oh right, yeah, a snap to find the one single person in the world who fills your heart with joy.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Happy commuter, part deux

So, I found the morning City Link bus!

When I got home last night, I asked my niece's nanny about the City Link bus to Eastwood, and she sort of gave me instructions. Wrong ones. She told me to wait at the Market! Market! bus station where the Bonifacio Global City buses stop.

But while waiting for the bus last night, I did happen to ask one of the people there, and he told me to "go down the bridge to the housing area." In Tagalog, his exact instructions were, "Bumaba ka sa tulay galing Market! Market! papuntang housing."

I had no idea what he meant by "going down." I didn't even know about any bridge, much less any place "down." Lost in translation, word-wise and geography-wise, I suppose.

You know how places don't exist in your mind until you actually navigate through them? It was like that.

I decided to walk to the BGC bus stop, cross the road to the closest thing to a bridge I could see, and voila! I saw the stairs down to the C-5 highway. I had to wait 15 minutes, but there it was, the City Link bus to Eastwood. Twenty minutes later, I was at the office.

I like that the place I live during weekdays is now bigger to me. I have got to stop living in my bubble.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Happy commuter

I finally found the bus from Eastwood to Market! Market! And it was on my first anniversary on the job, too! I was so happy, I just had to celebrate--with dinner and three new secondhand books!

Funny how I completely missed it just because I wasn't really looking. I'm sure I've missed a lot of things for the same reason.

Tomorrow morning, I am looking for the same bus, but from Market! Market! to Eastwood this time. I hope I find it without any trouble.

One year today

It's my first anniversary in the Eastwood City office. What a year!

I still remember how much I hesitated to accept the transfer, and how the pay had initially become my designated excuse. And how, in a split second, I just leapt and said yes, never mind if I hadn't done the math, because I knew if gave it a second thought, I would let the opportunity to step out my door pass me by.

It was all about that, really. Stepping out my door.

***

I was half out of my mind with everything I had to do and the people I had to deal with, both outside and inside work, but I always reminded myself that resistance was futile, and that I just had to keep saying yes to life and life would take care of me.

Some moments, resistance got the best of me. But I had always been a fearful girl, always in the process of learning to be brave.

I'm still learning, but this time, it's no longer just in theory. I keep telling myself to learn in practice.

***

One of the most valuable lessons I learned at 32, I learned from a woman who gave a talk on relationships with the self, with others.

One of the participants said, "I thought I knew myself, because I would always reflect on my actions. I knew why I did things. I understood my motivations. But now, I'm realizing I know myself in the mind, but not in the heart."

The woman replied, "All the reasons to your whys are mental. But the real answers are experiential. You want to know yourself more? Relate."

***

Relating--the most difficult and easiest thing for me to do, in real life. It's a constant, but now conscious stretch.

The rewards have been frightening and lovely.

***

So this is why people step outside their doors.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Oh, the places you'll go

First trip after turning 33 was to Corregidor. The pictures are still in France, like the photographers.

And this is where I am this week: a city with lots of lovely lights and not so much sacred starlight.


My learner Remi sent me the link to this video. :)

Friday, October 29, 2010

And just like that, I'm 33

It's my Jesus year. Looking forward to an even more beautiful life.

I'm off to a week-long holiday next week, a birthday treat.

Here's my birthday song.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Hello, blog

It's been a while. But then again, it's been a while since I've had alone time and I've felt alone enough to just write in this space I've chosen to share with everyone and, well, no one in particular.

I wasn't feeling so good today and I decided to go to my new favorite sanctuary: the Padre Pio Shrine. To be specific, the St. Francis of Assisi prayer room.

I love two things about this place. First, the scent of fresh roses that greets you as you enter the chapel. Second, the fact that it has papers and pens in many places for you to scribble your prayer requests on. You drop your paper in transparent boxes and put it in the company of other people's prayers. When you leave, you take with you the comfort that your request is just there, in a place that is almost never bereft of prayers.

Today, I knelt in front of the altar and filled three sheets of paper with my prayer requests. I couldn't really pray, because my mind just would not be still. I kept thinking of my many concerns, resentments, how tired I was, how embarrassed, how angry, how stressed, how annoyed, how... everything that was not and will never be my highest truth.

The act of writing it all down helped me find some sort of stillness.

Writing is like praying for me.

Hello, blog.

Friday, May 7, 2010

English Trainer Chronicles: Put to sleep


Learner: My journey today is not very good. I will go to the dentist in two hours.
Me: Why?
Learner: I have cavities.
Me: Oh. Sorry to hear that. How do you feel about going to the dentist?
Learner: It's not good, but it's okay. The dentist will sleep my tooth.
Me: Sorry, but that's not correct. The dentist can't sleep your tooth.

I introduce the expression "put to sleep."

Me: Now, please repeat.
Learner: The dentist will put my tooth to sleep.

We talk about how it's not really the tooth, but the nerves. And that the procedure is called a root canal.

Then I have the brilliant idea of introducing the other meaning of "put to sleep."

Me: Do you have a pet?
Learner: I had a cat.
Me: Well, you know when the cat is very, very sick and it won't be okay?
Learner: Yes. My cat was very, very sick. And now it's sleeping forever because it's die!
Me: (After correcting "It's die!") So, you put your cat to sleep.
Learner: I put my cat to sleep because it was very, very sick.
Me: Yes.
Learner: Yes.

Silence.

Learner: But for me, it's only the tooth?
Me: Yes.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

English Trainer Chronicles: Guessing nothing

Learner: It's good to all time change of computers.
Me: You have to fix your sentence. It's good to...?
Learner: It's good to change of computers...
Me: No "of."
Learner: It's good to change about computers.
Me: Not "about." Change what? What do you change?
Learner: It's good to change on? To? For?
Me: Just say what you will change.
Learner: It's good to change... computers?
Me: Exactly! Good!
Learner: No of? To? About?
Me: No.
Learner: Bah. It's hard to guess if there is nothing, no?

Sunday, April 4, 2010

My happy Easter



My daddy was cremated on an Easter Sunday, with the blessings of a Christian pastor and a Catholic priest.

The Christian pastor was brought in by a friend of my mother, because we were having a hard time looking for an available priest for the funeral rites, and we already had had to extend the wake over Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Black Saturday because masses weren't being given on those days.

I don't remember who brought the Catholic priest. It could have been Tito Ron or Tita Patty (+), two of my mom's oldest friends. All I remember is that he arrived in time for the scheduled cremation, and there we had it, our funeral and Easter mass in one.

Of course, the Christian pastor and the Catholic priest did not miss the significance of the occasion, and both pointed out that the message of Easter was renewal--of hope, of life.

It was this spirit that ushered us into our new life without my father.

***

One of the last things I remember Daddy saying was, "I want a grandchild."

The grandchild came three years later and she was named Keona.

Tita Patty, who was clairvoyant, said my father was in the hospital with us, ecstatic at his first grandchild.

Two days ago, I was feeding Keona her lunch, and she was being as difficult as three-year-olds can be. Suddenly, she looked at me and asked, in all earnestness, "Auntie Dat, where's your daddy?"

It wasn't long ago that she refused to accept my mother was her mother's mommy. One day, Kai hugged Mommy and told Keona, "This is my mommy!"

Keona screamed, "No! That is Mamu!"

***

One of the first things I will remember Keona asking is, "Auntie Dat, where's your daddy?"

How fast these children grow, and how wise they become.

Daddy would have been so proud.

Actually, I'm sure he is.

***

New hope, new life. Happy Easter, everyone!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Dear random person

I have no agenda. Well, okay, yes, I do. But it's mostly just to love you. Not love, as in love, but love, as in love. If I hug you, it means I wish you well in your leaving. It also means it's okay if you want to stay.

Maybe I do want you to stay, but loving you, as in loving, also means I want you to leave if it will make you okay.

I am no fan of complications. So, I wish we could just speak the truth about me loving you or you loving me--not in that way, maybe, but in that way that should not really be hard to understand.

I want us to be able to hold hands without worrying about when to let go because we don't want the other to think anything. I want you to be able to be with me and just be.

I want us to talk and laugh and listen. Maybe cry, if needed. And, most of all, love. Not love as in love, perhaps, but love as in love.

I want us to grow. We can grow with each other or for the coming of others. We can grow together, even apart.

I have no other agenda. I just want to love you, staying or leaving, crying or laughing, being or nothing, together, apart.

It shouldn't be that hard. Because I have no agenda, you already have my heart.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

English Trainer Chronicles: What do women get every month?

Last week.

Me: "I'm not feeling so well."
Female learner: "Why?"
Me: "I'm having a difficult time with... you know, the monthly problem of women."
Learner: "I don't understand."
Me: "What do all women get every month?"
Learner, oh-so-matter-of-factly: "A paycheck."

This week.

Same learner: "I'm not firing on all four cylinders."
Me: "Wow, where did you get that expression?"
Learner: "My (British) bf described me this way when I told him about our lesson last week."

Friday, February 26, 2010

We had joy, we had fun

Marchie

IN HINDSIGHT, I think it's only fitting that I first encountered March through somebody else's story. One of The Company's Alabang pioneers, Erika--Kristine, really, but the name change is an HR story--would sometimes share my late night commutes with me. On one of those nights, she told me about this girl at the next cubicle who had angrily flashed a note at her. "Keep it down!" it said, or something like that.

But that wasn't the first story.

The first story, again from Erika, was about the same girl complaining loudly when she and another one of our batchmates, Donna, had the The Company van, which was already well on its way down C-5, turn around and pick them up at Eastwood. There had been some misunderstanding about the schedule, the passengers were told. They were all tired and eager to get home, I imagine; a minute's delay was a minute too many. "So you think you're that important, huh?" she supposedly said when Erika and Donna boarded the vehicle. Or something like that.

At that time, Alabang's first batch had needed to spend an extra week in Eastwood, because the Northgate Cyberzone office wasn't ready yet. As Bobby and David rushed to sort out the cubicles and the wires and the puppy dog tails, we had our schedules blocked off. Since we all had been expecting to be working in Alabang by then and none of us really found the prospect of working in Libis appealing, Bobby offered to have the van bring us from Alabang to Eastwood and back.

I also remember Bobby telling us that some girl named March had already given up her rented room, and, thus, the extra consideration.

"What a bitch!" I must have told Erika. Or, "What a bully!" Then I confessed I didn't know who March was and asked her to point her to me. And one night, Erika did. She walked past me, made a signal and I finally, for the first time, really see March--

--the "bully" who would eventually:

A. Ply me with much-needed alcohol at the end of my shift
B. Give me generous helpings of seafood pasta
C. Nag me for weeks into filing a week-long vacation leave
D. Book me a flight to God-knows-where using her own credit card
E. Make me fall in love with the concept of traveling without a plan
  • Convince me to go through a small tunnel and swim in a lake so deep, you couldn't see where the water ended
  • Make me hike through mud
  • Make me climb ten effing million steps to a gigantic cross (or, wait, was that Eric?)
  • Encourage me to talk to strangers, especially if it meant halving the boatman's fee
F. Be the only person who could force me to sing videoke
G. Mark me with the dance steps to Charlene's I've Never Been to Me
H. Go with me to visit Tita Cory
I. Tempt me to buy a Nintendo Wii, even if she mercilessly beat me at every game we played
J. Teach me to just say YES, in the name of adventure
K. And show me that her toughness is easily surpassed by her capacity to love.

While I'm not really a dull person to begin with, often, it still takes a "bully" like Marchie to bulldoze me into saying yes to the most fun side of me.

Months after we first really talked, we would laugh at how she and Erika eventually became friends. In fact, if I'm not mistaken, she was the last person in Alabang who saw Erika off when Erika decided to make a run for the sky.

Story has it that she offered to sketch March nude.

A story I heard from Marchie.

Donna

IN MY VERSION of the story of how Donna and I became friends, I would say it began on the way home after the first day of The Company training, in the van, on Kilometer 8 or thereabouts, as the American trainer who had a penchant for watching porn and complaining about the Philippines whined about comfort rooms with no toilet paper and no toilet seats (*his shocked expression here*) at Muntinlupa City's effing Star Mall (*my shocked expression here*).

My thought bubble kept going, "Did you know that that mall you frequent used to be a cemetery? TRUE STORY, asshole!"

But I bit my tongue, and I thanked God for Donna, who sat at the guy's other side. Together, or so I would like to remember, we patiently, politely explained some of our country's realities to the foreigner, unaware that some of our other batchmates already knew of his not-so-secret passions, having been his co-workers at the Korean English training center from which he was fired.

He was eventually fired (again) and Donna would eventually go on the same journey I was going through when we met. Invited by her friend who was invited by my friend, she took the same OCCI personal leadership seminars I was taking when The Company hired me in 2007.

We speak the same happy language. When I talk about wanting to be the greatest version of the grandest vision I can have of myself, she immediately understands. Best of all, she doesn't scoff at the happy-happy-joy-joyness of it. This is why she can tell if I truly need a hug.

My friendship with Donna is often shaped like a triangle, my favorite point being our shared learner, Bruno, who spends his free time poring through a French-English dictionary, watching indie films at the small theater across the street and translating poetry by Jacques Prévert, if he's not doing--what's that word again?--bricolage.

Last week, Bruno told me he suspects Donna is not really going back to school, but is starting a business from his idea of a breakfast of bread and butter and chocolate. "She has to pay me royalties," he joked with a tinge of sadness. I thought it beautiful that we were both sad.

Another point I share with Donna--and now, with Marchie--is a learner I will call Remi. (Ha-ha). Through my non-stop giggles and laughter, she would be able to tell I was having a lesson with him, and she'd tell me so on Google Talk. "You're talking to that learner Remi again, right?"

Always right!

When I moved to Eastwood, I told Remi to try to schedule a lesson with Donna. But luck, if you believe in that, would bring him my favorite bully Marchie.

And the rest, as is often the case, is "loevly" Marchie's story.

***

IT HITS HARDER that Marchie and Donna are leaving The Company on the same day. But in the three years I've become friends with them, I'd learned to associate one with the other.

I understand this because I have my own best friend too. I love this because I love my best friend too.

***

THIS JUST GOES TO SHOW that you may or may not learn to love Any Company, but it's really the company that gets you.

***

IN HINDSIGHT, there couldn't have been a better time for them to leave, though, as they're both going on an adventure I find myself wishing I'd signed up for much, much earlier.

Godspeed, Donna and Marchie!

In my heart of hearts, as I sit here in front of my computer, still (yes, positively) making a living one blinking cursor at a time, I'm actually backpacking with you.

Thanks for the drinks, the laughter, the love, the songs, that lobster and the shrimp.

Love lots,
Althea

Friday, January 22, 2010

Commuter Chronicles: Taxi driver, sweet lover

It was, by far, the grooviest cab I have ever taken. It was bright orange and white on the outside, with a huge ad for something--fabric freshener, maybe--instead of a taxi light. Inside, the roof was dotted with stickers--of Jesus, cats, flowers, anime girls in short skirts--and glow-in-the-dark stars.

There was a big Chinese good luck decor hanging from the rear-view mirror, dangling in front of a statue of the Holy Family that stood beside a little statue of a spotty open-mouthed giraffe head that was presently home to a plastic black ballpoint pen.

The driver was in aviator shades and a brown flowery silk shirt. He had a leather cellphone case strapped on his belt. He was wearing a Saudi gold bracelet, a wedding ring, and shiny leather shoes.

"Neat stickers!" I told him, after I gave him my destination.
"The kids had a brilliant idea," he replied in the vernacular, instantly giving me a once over in the mirror.
"Your kids?" I asked.
He laughed in reply. "How many kids do you have?"
"None," I said.

And then, an exchange on whether I lived near where he had picked me up, if I was working where he was bringing me to. I never give any details. I just say no, I'm from a farther place and, no, I'm just looking for work, life being hard as it is nowadays. I add that last bit for some drama, so as not to sound haughty or too abrupt.

"Aren't you married?" he asked.
"No. I need to save up for it." Part lie. I'm saving up, but not for that. Or, not for just that.
"You should get married. The two of you can both save up," he said. "Then, have children."

My standard reply is that kids are expensive. I need to work harder. And that someone I know only has one kid, and she and her husband are both working, but they're still having problems making ends meet. I don't really believe that either, but that's the reply with least resistance.

"How many kids do you have?" I asked him again.
"None," he lied.
"Who put the stickers then?" I asked.
"My nephews, nieces."
Liar, liar, pants on fire.

"Are you going to work here?" he asked me, as the cab turned to my stop.
"Maybe," I said. "I might have to move to Pasig."
"Live in Taguig! The rent is cheap!"
"Yeah, but I'd have to take cabs all the time."
"I'll pick you up all the time."
Yeah, right, Romeo. Mrs. Romeo would sure like that.

I gave him my fare, with a fairly generous tip. But only because I had no change and I had no interest in quibbling.
"So, should I pick you up later?" he asked, with a sly grin.
I see you, fool. I see your ring.

Throughout the entire trip, on the radio, Dr. Margarita Holmes was being interviewed by Arnold Clavio and his co-anchor on the topic of Tiger Woods' supposed sex addiction, the state of sex addiction in the Philippines, and support groups for sex addicts in the country.
"Men are polygamous by nature," she had said three times, one of those times mistakenly saying, "Men are promiscuous by nature" before correcting herself.

Clavio insisted, "There are a few good men."

I'd like to think so. But count Mr. Basta Driver Sweet Lover out.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Hello, 2010!

Hello, 2010!

I'm spending more time in Libis now, than I am in Las Piñas. I'm spending more time on Twitter (well, ping.fm, actually) now, than on this blog.

But after giving microblogging a try, I've realized that blogging really isn't dead just yet. Microblogging is a conversation you have with others in real time; blogging is a dialogue you have with yourself after some reflection.

I love microblogging--I'd been waiting for this service since I started making my perenially Under Construction website on Geocities, which died last year, BTW--but my long-term relationship is with this blog.

***

So, how was 2009 for me?

It had more ups than downs, and I'm blessed to have lived through it and ended up with more than what I had at its beginning.

It sped by really fast, though, and most of the time, it was all about chasing deadlines.

***

So, what do I plan for 2010?

There's new responsibilities at work to look forward to. There's independent living. There's grad school to finish. Stories to have published. Contests to join. Articles to write. Old friends to get reacquainted with. New people to get to know better. True love to find. Deadlines to meet. Time to manage. Money to make. Gadgets to buy. Plays to watch. Places to visit.

The list is long and exciting.

The theme for 2009 was beauty. I tried to make (and do) beautiful things, and, if memories of 2009 are to be the basis, I succeeded.

The theme for 2010 is excitement.

And why should it be exciting?

The answer, in a poem.