Thursday, May 30, 2013

Bonsai Day Thursday

One of the things I like about being in Eastwood is being able to attend to some "extra-curricular activities" minus the possibility of going through "overbreaks". In the four years that Eastwood had been my office location, I have tried some fun and relaxing activities -- from (window) shopping during lunchtime, stopping by to watch our homegrown bands perform before heading to work (when I was still on the night shift) to raiding the morning Food Market at CityWalk before I enter the office for my 6:30 am shift. Little things like that enabled me to get a work-life balance.

Just this week, Eastwood City became the venue for The Asia-Pacific Bonsai Friendship Federation Convention and Exhibition. I've always passed by the area and given that the open park is just three minutes away from the office building, and through the invitation of another office mate who I call Mommy P, we decided to drop by and take a look during one of our lunch breaks.

There were about 200 bonsai plants on exhibit. I just picked a few but trust me, the exhibit itself was a sight to behold. Some of the plants got me mesmerized style wise and some of them got me intrigued. Case in point that fourth photo from the top left. I was really intrigued by those tiny growing plants on the rock formation.

I just had to take a closer shot because I thought it's synthetic -- just like the glow in the dark toys that kids have. But in reality those were real plants taking refuge on the rock together with the moss.

This caught my attention as it does not display leaves at all. It even reminded me of a mythical creature from Greek mythology that I learned from my Literature subject in college. It just made me call this as Medusa. And just as Mommy P and I was thinking how'd they do it, I think we found the answer:

Sorry kuya but I had to take a picture of how you do it a least on a different and bigger plant. We also found a few stalls selling bonsai plants and other planting materials.

There were also a suiseki exhibit by the Natural Stone Society of the Philippines. The exhibit is free and open to the public and will run until June 5. So if you will be within the area until Wednesday, give it a peak. Trust me, if we enjoyed it, for sure you would too. It's worth the walk in the park. 

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Happiness Simplified

This is a long weekend at least for me. I had been on leave since the 24th. Over the past month, I had planned and promised myself that I will take a short vacation right after the midterm elections (I was actually planning to do it two weeks after). For the reason that aside from what has been a month, I realized that since working at the firm for a year and two months, I really have not tried to "take a break". Things had been good, aside from the fact that I had no pending jobs at the office and was able to partially turn-over the accounting task to our new recruit so I guess, I deserve some "me time".

I'm getting the most of it. Except on Friday, I had to wake up early and leave for the airport and took the opportunity of taking a long afternoon siesta which I have not done for so long. Yesterday afternoon, I found myself sitting inside the coffee shop after what has been a long time. In that place, over a cup of Moroccan Mint Tea and lemon square while Switchfoot's Dare You To Move was playing, I indulged in a novel and was finally able to finish Fairy Tale Fail by Mina Esguerra. I've had that book for weeks and it was indeed an indulgent read. It made me to further attest that books are one of the best companions (especially for a single girl like me), as it keeps my mind busy with something worthwhile even if I am on rest and relaxation mode.

I'm still on "Chick Lit" hangover as of the moment so I could not divulge a lot about the book. I'll write about it in a future post but for me it's a good one. And as per some two cents worth, these lines won me over:

"Good guys did not dump you and tell you they just did not love you. Good guys broke up only for very good reasons and gave you the impression that everything can be fixed. When you tell a girl that  you have to break up because of her 'issues', if she loves you, she will think that all she has to do is change and you'll go back to her. But if you weren't brave enough to just break up, honestly, then, you're just being cruel."

It's getting late and technically the last day of this long weekend. So far, I found out that it feels good to be on your own even for once just appreciating the simple things. It's like getting a breath of fresh air that my inner self has been craving for

Thursday, May 16, 2013

What You Lose Will Come in Another Form

"Grief can be a burden, but also an anchor. You get used to the weight, how it holds you in place.”

Sarah Dessen, The Truth About Forever

My grandma was laid to rest two days ago. When she passed away, our family made a quick decision that she be interred in less than a week. My mom wanted the funeral to be held on a Monday but given that it was a holiday, it was moved to May 14th. The decision according to her, was mainly because it would be inconvenient to prolong the burial and we are not waiting for anyone else from abroad to arrive.

If you're going to ask me of the grieving phase, I honestly could not give you a precise answer. I have always known myself to be such a weak soul but within the days that my grandmother's wake was held at our home, I never dared to cry much. Probably because I had already cried the hardest on three instances -- on the day that I found out that she died while I was on the phone with Januver, on the shoulders of my mom on Mother's Day and on Monday morning in one of the cubicles of the office restroom. 

It helped that aside from keeping it simple and almost resembling to a normal day (no one thought someone died in our home and we have an ongoing wake because there was no single clue -- unless we or other people said so), we were surrounded by wonderful people during one of the darkest points that our family had. From family friends, relatives, neighbors to even my office colleagues. They all made us feel that we were not alone. In some way, admitting the loneliness I was feeling made the grieving part bearable.   On one of the nights during the wake, I remember telling our neighbor, Tita Agnes Tiamson that instead of a wedding, it was a funeral that had to be held first in this house since we first moved in 17 years ago.   She simply held my hand smiled at me and said not to worry.

Words of sympathy still poured in as I came back to the office from a bereavement leave. One of our wills and estate planning lawyers, Atty. Stewart told me to not to forget to take good care of myself, when I told her that I know now how it feels that I got an experience of the thing that I only hear and read at work. In the Requiem Mass held two days ago, in the midst of  the sadness all of us were feeling, Father Roy Crucero's words during his Homily consoled me:

"She did not die to leave the people who love her behind. She died because God called her home so that He can love her there in heaven for eternity."

Those were more than enough to keep me strong and realize that the reason God gives us a chance to wake up every morning is because life has to go on and for us to witness each miracle from Him that is waiting.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

That One Vote That Was Yours

Yes. It's marked on my Outlook calendar too.

Could mean a lot to the world you live in.

Despite the hard time we are going through, I still decided to continue with my plan of spending the afternoon off last Monday and used it to vote. This is the second time for me to participate in the elections. While most of my colleagues opted to choose the benefit of getting paid twice the minimum salary given that May 13 was a non-working holiday, I on the other hand chose to balance my duties with my job and my duty to the country by lining up in the precinct with the help of my brother (who was the one who went room-to-room to look for my name. Isn't he the sweetest?)

As of this writing, my family still awaits for results as some of my distant relatives were also running for public office. I only found out lately that politics do run in our blood -- particularly at dad's side of the family. On the other hand, the elected officials in my hometown has been officially declared. Yes, there was sadness that enveloped our home, and yes there is dismay and that "how can that be?" period but there was also reason to rejoice even for just a moment.

This stain on my fingernail will stay for almost a month for sure but I don't mind. I made the good choice to go out and vote. And the best thing is knowing that those who I have chosen made it -- and they deserve to.

And more than just an annoying ink stain, that mark signifies one thing -- it meant power and you cannot just ridicule that.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Yesterday was Mother's Day

It's that day of May when I get that shy look in approaching my mom to greet her. Nevertheless, I still do so. Just weeks ago, when I realized that Mother's Day is fast approaching, I thought of throwing a surprise because there are three mother celebrating that day at home. I really intended to spend a fortune to give them something until the inevitable happened two days before Mother's Day.

While my female relatives were greeting each other Happy Mother's Day, it is still undeniable that half of it was a gloomy one. Yesterday, as I was at the mall, I looked around, while daughters walked hand-in-hand with their mothers, I was walking on my own attending to errands related to the wake. Still, I went on with my plan. But as soon as I handed the gift to my mom and greeted her, I was unable to hold those tears, I sobbed right on my mom's shoulders which caught her by surprise.

In the end, I hope this is going to be the first and the last time I shall write a lonely post on Mother's Day and will never have to do this again.

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Grief That I am Going Through Now...

..was almost the same kind of grief that first visited me years ago.

Yesterday, my grandmother passed away after more than three years of battling cancer. When I came home from work, it did not easily sink in my mind even if my mom broke the news even repeating it thrice. A lot of people are telling us that while death is a painful phase, we should be happy that her hardships are finally over and that she's now in a happier place.

As I climbed to bed last night, I started to feel and know that the grief I felt years ago would return. And while I was not grieving out of heartbreak like how it was then, the feelings were the same -- that feeling when you wanted to sleep but you cannot, wanting to eat but does not feel like doing so.

After last night, a lot of things had changed -- immediately. For two years, the light next to my room is lit up 24/7. But last night was the first time to switch it off; and it was me who had to do it. This was the first funeral to be held at our home since we first moved here 17 years ago.

I've been employed for years and this is the first time I had to file for a vacation leave for a different reason --  bereavement.

Despite having seen three people dear to me leave for a much deserved happier trip, I've had a different, unusual perception of death; something that I find it difficult to put to words. That despite "being old enough to understand things" maybe, death is an exception to those.

The kind of grief I knew before was just the same ... or so I thought.

I still decided to go to work and my family did not object in letting me do so. I know I needed some diversion and it helped me deal with sadness. On my way to the office, I realized, God took my words seriously. I once prayed that if God will call my grandma home, that He would do it when I am away. She passed away at 2:15 pm while I was at the office and no one told me.

It also helped that I had friends around. My former teacher, Ma'am Cez took time to text me in the wee hours; office colleagues Mommy P and Cherry never failed in encouraging me to pray. Upon learning that my grandma was gone, Januver was among the first to phone me and as I broke down in chest-wrenching sobs, he kept telling me to be strong for my mom; to never let her see me on my weakest at this time. And his words were in a way, among those that I needed. I did not see my mom cry much and while she is not verbose about it, I know deep down that she was grieving too and I should be the one to lift her spirits.

During my morning church visit today, the priest mentioned the passage from John 16:20 You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. It was one of the verses that I kept when I first experienced grief and in a big way, it was a source of enlightenment. Somehow, it lightened the load. Yes, my grandma may no longer be here but she's in a far better, happier place happily reunited with my grandfather and free from pain or suffering.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Worth the (Election) Experience

Midterm elections is coming in less than a week. This year is going to be my second time to vote for my candidates of choice. And while there are sorties, caucus and election-related activities that happen left and right, I did not really remember being active in joining such because of my schedule at work. If I do attend a particular event, I really had to plan it. In 2010, I was able to attend a blogger's gathering for a senatorial aspirant and save for receiving a phonecall from their party to ask for my permission to feature my written article, I should say that was all about it.

Over the weekend, the Candidate's Forum of PPCRV was scheduled the same day I have to leave for Calauan Laguna to participate the Habitat for Humanity Summer Build. After weighing my options, I chose to set my dream of wearing a hard hat and doing construction work aside and I went to the forum instead.

Prior to my decision of attending the event, I won't hide the apprehension including the fears of being trapped in a commotion (you know, the campaign period is also a risky time in politics) but on the lighter side of it, I admit I want to try another challenging endeavor. And challenging as it is, I realized how worthy was to have tried given that aside from I get to know my candidates, I learned three four things in choosing who your "ideal candidate" should be.

  • Your candidate should know the law -- and know it well enough to expound it. Call it an influence that I work in an industry that deals with reasoning but I tend to lose confidence and interest on a candidate who, when asked a question, will just say "there is a law about that..." but could not even state and explain how that law works when requested for further explanation.
  • He/she should know how to be diplomatic and encourage people to do their part. You cannot always say "let the authorities do it". After all, once a candidate gets elected, he/she is considered a person of authority. And what's the use of being an authority if you don't know how to encourage constituents, but of course it will help a lot if a candidate combines it with becoming a positive example as well.
  • It's not always about academic achievement. Because in the end, people will not care even if you graduated with flying colors from an elite institution if you have not done anything. If a candidate isn't  that articulate, call it a forgivable offense -- especially if that person was able to help improve the community and his efforts assisted constituents positively. What matters is how their actions eventually justify their words.
  • A good amount of sense of humor won't hurt. Just like how it is in the judiciary, the legislative division is a serious endeavor and there will always be days of argument. That's one of the reasons why humor was created as part of human existence -- to neutralize the situation and put things in equal measure.

In the end I don't have regrets having to trade a day to wear a hard hat to go to this event as it was worth the effort. Never mind the sweaty evening weather or standing for two and a half hours while I should be at home curled up in bed. At least, it gave me a better perspective of one of life's realities, I tried a new activity and to me, it's a good thing.