Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Live Life, Take Risks

"Life life."

"Take risks."

Today I bid goodbye to a friend who has been battling cancer in the last seven months. My friends told me, "Be brave" when I told them I was on my way to the wake. I told myself I should not cry (it's very bad for my heart). God sent an angel after I arrived at the wake, he accompanied me to see our friend. I was relieved to see that he was smiling and looked very much like the times we spent chatting during lunch and at airports.

I've had very meaningful conversations with this friend of mine. I miss my Dad a lot and chatting with him about politics made me feel that I was talking to a younger version of my Dad. We'd also talk about family and discussed his dream about building a very nice house for his family. He would excitedly share with me his plans for his dream house and he'd always say that he'd like to show me his house when it is finished.

He taught me how to dream again. And to enjoy living. I shared to him that I've been very prudent about spending, investing and just getting what I wanted because I want to make sure that if ever something happens to me (knock on wood) that my family would be cope and be financially stable. When I told him that he smiled and said, "But you are alive, you should just enjoy what you have now."

I only knew him for a few years and had these meaningful conversations at least once quarter. I'd bump into him randomly in the cafeteria or at airports. Unplanned. Unexpected. I can only hope that I provided some relief to him and for his family when he reached out to me to ask advise about what was going through. He swore me into secrecy and I kept it as he wished. I never knew though what kind of sickness he went through until yesterday. It was exactly the same disease my Dad had suffered through.

They say the people you meet, the people who become your friends come to your life for a reason. Life is so fleeting, but as my friend taught me. Live it. Take risks and enjoy your life and love, love, love.

Thank you Claro (Lalen to many of his local friends) for teaching me to live again.  It was an honor to be your friend. Pa-hug na lang sa Daddy ko ha.

PS Bakit nga ba wala tayong selfie noh?

Friday, June 12, 2015

Araw ng Kalayaan!

Nung nasa kolehiyo pa ako naisip ko na dapat matuto rin ako magsulat sa ating wika. Nagpaturo ako sa isa kong kasamahan sa org at nakapag-lathala naman ako ng ilang kwento. Iba ang kinalabasan ng mga sinulat kong kwento nun, mas mababaw at nakakatawa kaya malaki ang aking respeto sa mga manunulat na magaling magsulat sa ating wika.

Marami akong kaibigan na kahit nasa Pilipinas eh Ingles ang ginagamit sa pagsasalita. Aaminin ko natuto ako mag-Filipino sa school bus dahil sinanay ako ng magulang ko nung ako ay maliit pa. Mula nung ako ay matuto mag-Filipino yun na lagi ko ginagamit. Hindi masyado masaya magulang ko kasi sabi nila eh yun daw ang "language of business" and makakatulong sa akin kapag may trabaho na ako. Eh matigas ulo ko at mas komportable ako magsalita sa ating wika. Hindi naman ito naging hadlang sa pag-usad ng aking karir at ang mga kaibigan at katrabaho ko na Pinoy kinakausap ko pa rin sa ating wika kahit Ingles sila ng Ingles.

Bakit ko ito ginagawa? Sanay naman ako magkwento sa wikang Ingles (kaso sabi nila sa opisina makapal daw ang aking Pinoy accent). Dedma lang kasi sila rin naman ay may accent (at mas mahirap maintindihan yung mga taga-Europa), hehehe. Sa tingin ko malaki ang naging impluwensya sa akin ng kanta ni Florante noong ako'y bata pa --

"Wikang pambansa ang gamit kong salita 
Bayan kong sinilangan 
Hangad kong lagi ang kalayaan. 
Si Gat Jose Rizal nuo'y nagwika 
Siya ay nagpangaral sa ating bansa 
 Ang hindi raw magmahal sa sariling wika 
Ay higit pa ang amoy sa mabahong isda."

Kaya naisip ko na kahit na "English is the language of business" eh ang paggamit ng ating wika sa pang-araw-araw ay importante dahil kahit dito man lang mapakita ko sa iba na ako ay Pilipino at ipinagmamalaki ko ito.

Sa araw na ito, sana bawa't isa sa atin ay maipahayag natin sa kahit ano'ng paraan na ipinagmamalaki natin na tayo ay Pilipino... sa isip, sa salita at sa gawa.

PS Aaminin ko gumamit ako ng Google Translate sa ibang mga salita hehehe (mahirap talaga magsulat sa ating wika!). 

Sunday, June 7, 2015

My First Quilt Project After 20+ Years

When I was a kid I would spend my summers with my Mom teaching me how to make crafts. I went through sewing clothes for my Barbie dolls, making bags using straw rope, making crochet coasters, creating Christmas trees using pistachio nut shells and one summer in high school she taught me how to quilt. My Mom would get retaso from Tita Maming who had a clothing export business and should would cut them into square patterns. My school bag and lunch box in my high school senior year were my hand-made quilt products. I still have them and use them sometimes (yes they're still alive!).

Mom never stopped quilting and eversince she would make blankets for her grandchildren and me. I was looking for a hobby to revive early this summer since I didn't really like creating loombands (I wanted to be offline while crafting and making loombands require you watch online vids). I wanted to go back to reading, but my eyesight has deteriorated (probably coz I use gadgets too much!). One day I realized I wanted to try quilting again, so I found myself in Spotlight buying some fabric and thread.

It was a journey for me to create my first project because I realized that my Mom only taught me how to stitch together square patterns. My quilting lessons didn't include how to put everything together -- the batting, the backing and the piping! My Mom used to finish my projects for me back then. To practice I made a small wallet first (project zero) to figure out how to finish a whole project.

I guess that's how life is as well. Your parents will teach you as much as they could, but you would need to figure out the rest. It took me 2 months and 20,878 kilometers worth of travel (I lugged it around with me) to finally finish this project - a sleeve for my Chromebook - and I must say that it's an achievement for me since I made it on my own. It's not perfect -- all the stitches are uneven, and ugh don't even look at the underside! But I think my Mom would be proud that I finished this without her help.

For my next project I'm going to make a sleeve for my tablet and after that I hope I can have the courage to veer away from solid colors and follow a simple project from a quilting book.


Thursday, April 23, 2015

Achievement Unlocked: Tiny Bag Living

I'm horrendous at keeping things to a minimal, probably because I had a lot of room and closet space when I was growing up and things just kept piling up. That certainly extended to my daily bag which had everything I needed - my wallet, a set of meds and my inhaler, toiletries, powerbank, facial tissue and extra this, extra that. My cardio has been scolding me for many, many years about lugging around a huge bag. Carrying heavy stuff is bad for me, so since my surgery in 2013 I started to reduce what I bring around.

A few weeks back I read an article which basically said, "When you don't need it, don't buy it". For some strange reason it struck a chord in me and pushed me to try tiny bag living. I knew that I was bringing too much stuff with me and I don't really get to use everything in my bag everyday. So for a few days I did a survey of what I really used daily and here's a list of what I use -

some cash, a few coins
a piece or two of tissue paper
my MRT card
lip balm (I don't like using lipstick since it makes my chaps my lips)
Chinese balm (for headaches)
oil remover face paper
Ricola (one or two only a day)

I certainly didn't use the following -

comb (yeah I comb my hair just once a day!)
alcogel (I wash my hands often since that's better actually)
cables (I don't even know why I have cables in my bag)
big pack of tissue paper
pens in a pencil case
small notebook (I've been using Google Keep!)
and a gazillion other things

So from big heavy bag I drastically reduced it to this -

Honestly, I was really nervous about doing this since I was taught to always have everything you need on hand. I waited awhile before I blogged about this move because I wanted to do it for a few weeks first to prove to myself that I could do it and well a few of my friends were skeptical that I would survive (old habits do die hard!). But alas! I've been living daily with just a tiny bag for three weeks now and I'm really proud of myself (it's seriously an achievement!).

The last few days I've made a move to reduce unnecessary clutter in my room and desk here in Singapore. I discovered that I had too many supplies. I had too many pens on my desks! I had at least about 20 pens on each desk (office and home). The pens were mostly left behind by colleagues who'd use my desk whenever I was out. I was shocked to find out that I had about 7 Stabilo pens on my desk and I don't even like using highlighter pens (I prefer dermatograph, the crayon like thingy). I had about 4 cutters, 3 scissors on and several markers. At home the pens piled up from collecting hotel pens and giveaways. How many pens can you dry out in a year anyway?

My Dad lived his life without focusing on material things. He had what was essential and this was evidenced by the fact that his only earthly possessions were his clothes and his favorite law books. I realized that with just what he needed my Dad had managed to focus on what was essential and I would like to strive for that.

It's just a start and I know it's going to take time before I become a pinky of what my Dad had managed when he was alive, so tiny bag living is my mantra for now.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Mama Lola and her Arroz Caldo

Philippine Airlines brought tears to my eyes during my flight to San Francisco.

It was happy tears actually.

I woke up disoriented half-way through the flight. The cabin was quite dark and it took me a few moments to realize where I was. After awhile one of the flight crew approached me and asked if I wanted some arroz caldo. I hesitated since I wasn't really hungry and well I only really liked the arroz caldo my Mama Lola made whenever I was sick. I eventually agreed and was promptly served a bowl of piping hot arroz caldo.

A familiar scent wafted to my nose and memories of my Mama Lola cooking arroz caldo came back to me. I immediately got a spoonful, blew on the spoon to cool down the arroz caldo a bit and took a mouthful. Wham! I was brought back in time and I felt I was once again having a bowl of my Mama Lola's arroz caldo.

I also promptly remembered the times I spent with my Mama Lola. She went to heaven when I was 12 years old. Being the youngest in my generation she was the only grandparent I got to spend time with (I didn't say "met" because I met my grandfather in a very surreal manner). I was a big headache to my lola because I always kept her helpers from working because I always wanted to play "teacher" and they were my students. I don't remember though if she scolded me for it, but I was told that I was the favorite apo.

My Titos and Titas say that I got a lot of my Mama Lola's quirks, eccentricities and weirdness, haha. I guess they're right. If you eventually find me watching TV with shades on and beach swimming with an umbrella then those would be just some of the things I got from my Mama Lola. On the other hand, I've also inherited her love for sewing and the one thing I inherited from her is her sewing kit. It's inside my closet at home with the pins untouched and with her heavy scissors intact. It's one of the things that I keep dearly close to me.

I miss you Mama Lola. I'm sure you are having a ball up there with all of my Titos and my Dad.  

Saturday, March 28, 2015

The Trip to the Mothership and More

I thought I would have time to blog in the US since I was spending 2 weeks here. That obviously didn't happen since I'm only blogging now. During my first week I was so badly jetlagged I just used whatever energy I had to make sure I was up and lucid during our summit (a.k.a. trying not to look like a zombie). I would wake up so early I'd do my Asia-related work during the wee hours of the morning so I wouldn't be behind with my mail. Things go really bad by lunchtime and it took every drop of caffeine I drank from the coffee to stay awake.

I was happy to meet my new team-mates and glad that to see the other half of my team again. Being alone in the region all these years (and well in the Philippines before) can get really sad. To not feel so homesick I then collected hugs!

I managed to clock in 12 hours of sleep Friday night, Saturday trip to SFO though was cancelled so Philip and I just went to our favorite place, the gigantic Great Mall in Milpitas! That place is dangerous since you could really go broke. Ate some merienda at Chipotle, shopped more and capped the evening by eating at Jollibee!

On Sunday I met up with my good friend, Rey, who I have not seen for 16 years now! We both got so busy with work and well he moved here (and well aren't we all bad staying in touch after college?). We went to hear mass, eat lunch at a Mexican place and bored Philip to death with our college stories.

I was planning to see another college friend, but then I injured myself -- scratched my leg on the trash can! Grrrrrr!

As always my second week at the mothership got busier with meetings, catching up with fellow Pinoys, more meetings and trainings. By Tuesday my head was already spinning with too much information, but all is well and I would just take late afternoon walks around my hotel (yes... to the nearest Target! Haha). My luggage is now full of too much chocolate! I just kept remembering friends and would go back to buy more chocolates (very, very bad stress relief activity!). Anyway, I ended up buying a new bag because of that (hmph).

I spent my last night in the US in San Francisco and just working out of the SF office. I'm glad I also finally met Fumi in person and she was so nice to walk me back to my hotel on her way to the train. I also managed to squeeze in some time to meet a childhood friend -- Maan (he now calls himself Marnie!). He made sure I ate some good ol' American burger and walked me around Embarcadero which talking about our crazy teenage years!

My trip ends tonight and I'm finally going back home! I've been away from my boys too long and I seriously need family time before I head back to my assigned ship in Singapore.

And no, I am not leaving my heart in San Francisco because it's in Manila.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Singapore, my second home

Today is a sad day for Singapore with the passing of it's first prime minister, Lee Kwan Yew. I feel sad as well since Singapore has been my second home in the last four years and I have so much to be thankful for what Singapore has given to me - work and an extension to my life.

Much as I try to stay in home in the Philippines as much as I could, Singapore is where I am employed and my second home. I've been sharing an apartment with my childhood friend for the past 4 years, I just travel a lot that's why it doesn't seem I'm around much. I do a lot of brain calisthenics when I'm in Singapore and so normally keep to myself and I'm probably busy hanging out over Hangout in the evenings with my boys.

I remember Prime Minister Lee Kwan Yew when I was taking my degree in Political Science. I had a class on International Relations with Dr. Wilfrido Villacorta as my erstwhile professor. We had discussed about Singapore a lot in class and the work PM Yew did for Singapore. He built the country and brought it to where it is today. He was a selfless leader who made sure his countrymen would get the best.

I am thankful for PM Yew for all that he did for Singapore. My move to Singapore just happened which on the hindsight I think was pre-destined since my cardiologist is Singapore's best cardio (yoohoo Dr. Koo!!!) and the most expert surgeon for my condition (Dr. Shankar!). My doctors said that I probably would not have survived surgery if it was done elsewhere (but that's another story, just back-read my old posts). So I would forever be thankful for this beautiful, efficient, clean city Prime Minister Lee Kwan Yew has built (the health care industry is so far the best!!!).

Thank you Prime Minister Lee Kwan Yew for building Singapore. <3