Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Hitting the Big 3-0

No one's too old for a party -- not even at 30!
God's plan for my life is simple. He will take all my choices, mistakes and failures, and turn them into something good.
I turned another year older two weeks ago so this is a long overdue post. For years, I have lived my life always looking at things "in the future tense". While an is event unfolding in the present, I always have one question to constantly ask and think of: What will happen tomorrow?

Years ago, when I was just 18, I remember a time when I asked myself, "will I still be alive enough to reach the age of 30?" When my birthday came, I recalled that question only to find an answer -- I am still here. And I am here now. It felt like I succeeded defying some odds. In my 20's my life was filled with worry and anxiety, from health, career to relationships. I have a lot of those "paano na" momemnts in my youth. But the night before the big day, I tried digging stuff from inner memory and found out a lot of wonderful things among of which are:
  1. I was blessed a stable job for two and a half years and counting -- with a kind boss and wonderful colleagues to boot.
  2. I am able to cross out items in my bucket list one after the other.
  3. I am still able to see quite clearly (with the help of my trusty glasses of course). Contrary to my fear that I could be blind by the time I am 30 years old.
  4. I have a complete family and my parents are still here to celebrate such a milestone with me.
  5. That God allowed me to be a productive being despite having to battle health issues once in a while.
It may only be a few, but those are worthy discoveries. As I turn 30, when I try to look at how things has happened in my life, what I have now were more than what I wanted and prayed for. God indeed knows how to write a straight line from a broken one for He compensated me for the things I previously lost. As much as I'd like to use #30 on my photos or Facebook status posts, I'd rather not. For it signifies the end (those in the written profession, journalists and editors specifically would know).

But in reality, this is only the beginning of wonderful days that are ahead.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

A Letter to My 24-Year Old Self

To the 24 Year-Old Glaiza,

As you wake up today, you have reached a year shy of quarter life. How time really flies. While I am unsure as to what I should tell you in this letter, I'd like you to know one thing: Life is ALWAYS wonderful. 

I know that a lot of things are going in your life lately. Quarterlife crisis included but that is among those things that will remind you you're human. You'll go through periods of confusion and uncertainty but just like any other thing in life, it will also pass. Eventually you'll realize that all these has purpose. While you are living to fulfill your dreams and following your passion, you will come to a point that you will need to figure and weigh things out. Nothing endures but change and wanting for a life of feasibility is not a bad thing. It only means that you know the difference between what is stagnant and what is stable -- and which one you should take. Just be willing to try each and every positive opportunity that will come your way because it is in trying you'll get to find the one that fits. I cannot exactly tell the precise time (maybe in a year or two) but one thing is for sure -- you will find it in the most unexpected industry and you'll feel it in your heart that it's the right one. The heartaches you felt for the jobs that you've lost will eventually pay off because you'll soon be employed in an industry that will make you realize how valuable you are through your talents (regardless if you walk like a penguin or if your eyesight is not as sharp as an owl's).

It is in your job, you will fulfill items on your bucket list. Remember that wish of wanting to return to Ateneo that you wrote? You'll soon find yourself there not just to stroll around but for a noble purpose. You've always wanted to obtain a passport before reaching 30? That will happen. You've always wanted to do volunteer work? Surely you'll be able to join not just in one but in a lot of it. It will be in those activities you'll experience a different level of happiness and realize that part of your purpose is to serve others and you don't need to be in politics to do it. 

You would go through heartache and will try to go to a couple of dates but you'll end up ditching both. I know you'd be thinking you're old enough to know or to be in that point but through those heartaches, you'll know what you really want and decide on what you really deserve -- something real and not the one that will just waste your time.  The pain of being left behind (or to put it bluntly "dumped") may linger on but don't let that consume you. There is always a reason why the guy in your past won't make it to your future -- that is because there is someone out there who qualifies to have the kind and amount of love that you can give. You may wait for a very long time and feel like simply just giving up thinking nothing happens, but hang in there and keep the faith. God is never deaf to your prayers. Don't be afraid to give things a try because eventually, things will fall in place. Who knows, the boy you met when you were just 18 (and would meet again a decade later) could just be the same person you have been asking God for.

Life is wonderful. It always will be. Remember that.


Your 30 Year-Old Self

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Things on My List If I Were the President

While I was aware of yesterday's SONA, I did not have much chance to listen to it. I was given an opportunity to catch a few parts and while listening, these things suddenly popped in my head -- what I want to happen if I was the one speaking in that podium:

  1. To ensure that teachers, policemen and soldiers are well compensated and recognized with their efforts in each and every way possible. Because second to mothers and Overseas Filipinos, they are the people who carry more than the usual burden in their careers, they are part of what other people think of our country and what kind of nation we could become. If private companies give the privilege of salary increases, I believe the government should too especially because public servants in the form of these people have all the reasons to have them; their effort and sacrifice are more than enough to justify that.
  2. Reduce the retirement age from 60 to 55. This is due to the fact that you really could not predict mortality. Not a lot of people these days are lucky to live way past 50 and those who have been employed for years should be entitled to the fruit of their hard-earned labor -- most importantly their retirement pension for their sole use and benefit.
  3. Remove exclusivity in job opportunities. Simply because this is a form of discrimination. I do feel a certain level of anguish to see job vacancies that bear "exclusive for or preferably graduates of ____ school only". I believe that a person's worth is not measured by name of his or her school but what is in his mind that he can do to contribute to social improvement. Same goes with age requirement. Age could be a factor in the rising rate of unemployment, not because people could not perform jobs anymore but because they tend to be rejected by employers because of age limit. Age is just a number; it does not mean that when you grow old, you won't learn anything new.

Too bad, these things would just be written as a wishlist of some sorts for now. If only a corruption-free government is possible and cooperation would emerge, then these could eventually become real. But then there are also two realities: That not all politicians could become obedient disciples and our president is far to living the life of a saint.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Power of a Praying Employee

As I write down this entry, I have been with the law firm (and my job) for for two years and four months. Next to my former stint as a freelance writer, this is the longest job (duration wise) that I had and am currently having.

The journey to finding this stability was not easy -- at least for me. I had to shift from one career to another. I had to endure challenges from changes of schedule, termination and resignation. I even came to a point that I just wanted to quit.

But then, if there was one thing I kept praying for during those tough times, it was for God to grant my life the FEASIBILITY that I needed. I was not specific as to how. And recently, I just found myself praying with a more thankful heart because He had finally started granting me what I had prayed for. I simply could not believe that 28 months had already passed and I just did not feel that. Maybe that really is the feeling when you love what you are doing and if it is really what God meant for you to have.

Besides that prayer, I only once dreamed of two things: having my own office desk and going to work with regular compensation. But in the days that followed after I reached my first year in March 2013, I realized how God blessed me with more. As of this writing I, together with my other colleagues are eagerly anticipating the arrival of another good news that was revealed to us earlier this month. And while it was something we did not expect, maybe God saw that we did something which made us earn a very huge favor.

If there is one thing I learned besides the working power of prayers, it is that God does find a way to provide the answer in the best way that only He knows.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Fun with 3D Puzzles

Between my brother JR and I, I would say that it is he who has patience as long as EDSA when it comes to some stuff including  toys that has to deal with problem solving. But a couple of months or so, I came across 3D puzzles of famous landmarks from Cubic Fun during my usual visit to the bookstore. I got intrigued and fascinated by it so after weeks of eyeing on it, I bought one and tried assembling one myself.

My first project was the Eiffel Tower. The kit which contained 20 pieces takes 50-60 minutes to complete. In my case, the Eiffel Tower took 45 minutes.

I purchase the puzzles at Toy Kingdom and I am working on the S-Series. Depending on the landmark you want to assemble, each kit contains less than 70 pieces of parts made of styrofoam and cardboard.

Easy to assemble pieces with instruction. No need for glue or scissors.

And while the product is made in China, it's good to see that they have some safety precautions like this on their product too.

Paris, New York, London

Finishing one is interesting and well, addictive so from an Eiffel Tower, I now have Big Ben and this morning, I finished the Empire State Building. While my reason for trying out assembling a 3D puzzle was just to test my patience (if I'll be able to finish one) I ended up adding and constructing more. My ultimate 3D puzzle project? St. Peter's Basilica and Neuschwanstein Castle.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Is Reality TV Really a Necessity?

These days, given the workload that I have in my current profession, one of the "social activities" that I rarely get to do is watching TV. Save for news on weeknights and The Voice Kids on weekend nights, I really don't get to immerse much on what to watch -- not even Pinoy Big Brother.

When it first hit the prime time block back in 2005, I was just inquisitive about the show's format. You see, living in a house filled with CCTVs 24/7  together with strangers and without access to outside world can drive one nuts, so being able to survive the ordeal is really a huge accomplishment. I don't know if it's just me but I no longer found the succeeding batch of housemates interesting (those that followed the "pioneer" housemates).

It caught me by surprise when a friend confessed that becoming a housemate is also one of his dreams. At one point, I had that item on my bucket list too. On a certain level, the thought of what if he made it as a housemate made me worry -- and I am not after the competition for that thought.

When I think of it, there is always a question forming in my head. Is reality TV really necessary? That thought bubble of becoming a housemate had to burst after I finally contemplated the risks are rather many than the advantages -- and it involves not just me but my family and people around me as well. To me, CCTVs in a house shared with strangers isn't enough to reason out what is real.

Yes, it may validate actions but only at a certain extent. To me, reality is what happens to a person every single day with or without the camera. Reality is how a person conducts herself with every circumstance she gets to run into even in the absence of cameras. It's really what you do (both consciously and unconsciously) but more particularly when no one is looking.

It's that plain and simple.

In the end, my friend did not make the cut. And I will be a liar if I said I was sad about it. I actually got to breathe a sigh of relief. After all, I would be among the ones who'd get affected if he did become a housemate. For I know I could not bear reading, much more hearing him being the subject of ridicule of other people who does not even know the real him.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Payatas and the Perception of Life

Since becoming part of the company's volunteer group, I have been to Payatas twice. Prior to joining the team, my perception of Payatas was provided by what I see and hear on TV. So when our crew made an announcement that an activity was scheduled for the students in that area last year, I did not think twice of joining -- mostly because I have never been there and I was hoping for that "first hand experience".

Sweaty me with the Grade 9 students.
A few weeks ago, we again visited 250 kids sponsored by our company through Payatas Orione Foundation bringing with us boxes filled with rubber shoes, raincoats and lunch boxes to prepare them for the new school year. Upon returning home that Saturday night, I remember my mom asking me "how does Payatas look like?". Sadly, minus the usual view of the usual dump site, the way media showed me what Payatas is is just the same. The place may show the comparison between the less fortunate and those blessed with wealth but in two instances that I visited Payatas, it never failed to make me realize that despite not having much of the material things, I am among the lucky ones in so many ways -- and regardless of being sweaty and that smell of the sun on my skin, I am happy to be able to give back to these kids.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Unplanned Reunion on a Long Weekend

Since I started working for a foreign business, my schedule had been aligned with that of the client country-- including holidays. It's a win-win situation still because while I get the perk of being paid with premiums working on Philippine holidays, the number of holidays between the two countries aren't much different. And besides being sick, there are just four holidays that I consider absence from work as a must: Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Day and Good Friday.

Yesterday was Anzac Day which is among the recognized public holidays in Australia. And since it meant another long weekend (I only reported to work three days this week given that Australians also observed Easter Monday last April 21), I had the liberty of time to either do anything or go somewhere else. Realizing that the mall is kind of overrated and knowing that going there will possibly burn my pocket, I opted visiting my alma mater again. 

Despite of the fact that the university is currently being evaluated for accreditation, it's a good thing that the schedule was not nerve wracking the day I went to visit. Coincidentally, I was told by my former professor, Ma'am Cez Villegas that Joemar Aquino, a former colleague was also going to drop by so I decided to stay instead. Joemar and I used to be colleagues in the school publication back in college and save for Facebook, I really have not seen him for a while. 

Likewise, just like in the past, this impromptu reunion was held over dinner (filled with the usual time-killing conversation) and two rounds of the game of chess at Bean Addicted because Joemar and Ma'am Cez's husband, Jonathan were former chess players. As luck would have it, our municipal mayor, Mayor Gerry Calderon was also in the same place brainstorming over dinner with his staff. While I don't know what have gotten into Joemar asking a photo op with the town's highest official, this one became a lifesaving evidence for me -- as this prevented me from being questioned and eventually scolded by my parents after coming home way past the schedule.

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Week I Was Not on Facebook

Image from this site

These days, I have been finding myself getting MIA on Facebook. I only normally do it only during Holy Week which comes once in a year but lately, I have noticed doing it often. Posting a single update and no follow up the whole week. People may find it either weird given that I did not deactivate my account but instead I was just not doing anything. Others may say it's another form of "kaartehan lang naman" and for sure some would say it's a way of grabbing some attention .

But then, to me, none of those apply.

When I tried going on a one-week Facebook hiatus during the second week of March, I was just testing myself if I could stay away from it for a week. And while temptations act up on me and that feeling of wanting to just take a peak and don't post anything, I was able to stay away from it for almost two weeks. During the Holy Week, I went doing it again, ignoring Facebook from Palm Sunday until later afternoon of Easter Sunday. If other people have different forms of fasting and abstinence, this would be my share of it.

On the other hand, this week-long break from technology has its advantage. I was able to be productive, devoting time to do the things that I had either neglected or put on hold like the following:
  • Having lengthy conversations with my family
  • Watching news programs and Holy Week-related shows on TV
  • Seriously reading a novel (38 chapters and counting)
  • Making updates by writing on my journal 
  • Picking those sampaguita garlands found in our garage and putting them in the altar every morning. 
  • Quality time with our family pets
  • Ticked an item on my bucket list by attending a Mass celebrated by a well-known priest.
Those could be just little things but I am unable to do those on regular days given that I spend a great amount of time at work and coming home, I just want a good dinner and quiet time to rest and recharge for the next day. And putting the tecchie aspect of my life on hold for a time being allowed me to appreciate the beauty in doing those things.

Or probably, one of the reasons why I decided to temporarily shut down my existence in social networks is because I too get a feeling of being tired about it. I realized that while humans are indeed creatures of habit, habits tend to be tiring too in the long run.

I could not say the disadvantages of being away from the keyboard are minor. Within the week, two former classmates got married, a great friend's grandmother passed away and my best friend moved to another country. All those were happening in silence. But I know I could make up to it in a more better form of presence -- the one that is physical and which is more realistic. And if you're asking me if I would try signing off again in the near future, I would say yes.

By not going online on Facebook, I got to "embrace what is real". And by real, it's what surrounds you and not the ones confined in the computer screen. So if I were you, even just for once, have a break, get a life, go offline. Be productive and trust me, you'll do yourself a huge favor.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Wattpad Wonders: Sir You're Hot by Lee Miyaki

I have not posted about reading any new book I have read for months. Given that my schedule at work has made me occupied, I had to put reading aside for the time being. But during my recent visit to National Bookstore's recently-renovated branch in Cyber Fashion Mall, this one caught my attention:

Scanning through the cover and blurb at the back, it mentioned that this book, Sir You're Hot by Lee Miyaki was one brainchild of the website Wattpad. I did not immediately buy the book upon seeing it and instead, browsed through some chapters found on the website. And it only took me two chapters to make my decision of getting myself a copy.

Just a short overview, the book tells the story of a kick-ass student Rebecca Canlas and a campus heartthrob in the person of a professor named Railey Medrana. In its blurb, the book promises a story that contains a riot of some sorts (and by riot, it does not mean violent) but more of a funny, nakakakilig one. And while student-teacher relationships are actually forbidden in real life, the author did not forget of putting the whole story in a wholesome perspective while giving its readers that giddy feeling.

The book brought me back to my college years -- complete with the scenarios of thesis days, gay college friends and yes even the terror and crush worthy teachers. The female character Rebecca reminds me of my best friend and myself (attitude-wise). And while anyone who could read this would even tell me I am somewhat old to get giddy over a Wattpad novel, I won't mind feeling so even for once. The book was a feel good one and a light read. Something to pick-me-up especially these days that schedules are so unnerving.

The last time I visited Wattpad, the author is working on the second book, and seeing the prologue, there's a possibility that I'll be including it in my reading list too once it's out in bookstores. 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

A Doctor's Visit and Another Answered Prayer

Due to the hectic schedule that I had the past weeks, this one is yet again another late post. I know that in some posts in this blog, I have mentioned being diagnosed with glaucoma and being on treatment for almost five years now. Since the diagnosis in 2009 and religiously taking the medication that the doctor prescribed, I really have not gone to see any doctor for follow ups and monitoring mainly because of again, my schedule with work and setting appointments don't sync with it. 

When I went to see my optometrist late last year, I was advised to have my glaucoma checked. And just like any other person, I had these fears of doing so -- simply because I was afraid to hear that my condition is progressing. But my optometrist had a point as she told me that I rely on my eyes to perform most of my duties at work and so I should invest in taking good care of it.

I decided to look for possible doctors specializing in glaucoma and found American Eye Center. As luck would have it, the clinic is accredited by the HMO provided by my current employer. My first appointment was last February 13 (yes, so it was technically a pre-Vaentine's date as how my officemates say). Setting up the appointment was easy as I only had to register and book a date and time through their website. It also gives you the option to choose your doctor. In my case, it was with Dr. Norman Aquino. I'd say that I made the right choice when I opted for American Eye Center for my consultation. My condition was well-explained to me by my doctor; from what the cause is to how it can be treated. And while he had informed me that what I have is not curable at the moment, it can be managed and controlled delaying the prognosis. During my appointment in February, Dr Aquino had my medication changed and asked me to return a month after for some tests and to see if there had been improvement. And just like any waiting game, I would go through times of fear and worry. But when those would strike, I try to believe on something good and seek the brighter side.

March 13 was exactly a month after the first appointment. I left work early and decided to meet Mama in Shangri-La where their clinic is. After going through routine procedures, Dr Aquino asked if I would like to have the procedures done that day of have it re-scheduled after a month. After verifying that my HMO provider would cover the costs for the tests, I decided to give it a go. Besides having  intra-ocular pressure evaluated, I had to undergo three different tests: HRT, OCT and visual field perimetry. All of the three tests lasted an hour.

It was a lengthy one hour. When the results were being read and interpreted by my doctor, the results showed that they are mostly in normal levels which meant that the treatment is working and that it should be managed and maintained so that the glaucoma won't worsen. While there were no happy tears, I was indeed happy and relieved. A couple of weeks before the March 13 appointment, I only prayed for a "good news" and when the results came out that day, it was good one indeed.

Of course, the appointment did not end without the doctor's advice; the do's and dont's which I even wrote on my planner. The tests repeated after a year to about a year and a half and regular check-ups at least twice a year, and that if something comes up that I can just call up the clinic (which saves me time as I won't need to set an appointment).

For now, it means taking the prescribed medication and loads of prayers. There are three "miracles" I am praying for, two of which concerning my condition and I know for sure, God will work out something about it.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Sunday Morning at Kanlungan ni Maria

She's somebody's mother, boys, you know,
For all she's aged and poor and slow,
And I hope some fellow will lend a hand
To help my mother, you understand.

                                  -Mary Dow Brine, Somebody's Mother- 

I first learned about Kanlungan ni Maria from reading Rica Peralejo-Bonifacio's blog, Wanders & Wonders. Since joining Microsourcing's iVolunteer team last year, it has been one of my secret wishes to volunteer in an orphanage or in a home for the elderly. So when our CSR team had announced that this year's recipient of the fund-raising activity was this humble home, it was something I could not miss for the word.

Last Sunday's trip to the hills of Antipolo was also nostalgic. I spent a good four and a half years of my life fulfilling one of my dreams as a write for one of the offices located in this area -- it was also where I first got acquainted with the value of corporate social responsibility. So despite nursing a cold, I still pushed through and participated with the weekend activity.

Our group was composed of employees from branches in Eastwood, MDC 100 and  Two E-Com Mall of Asia. Besides the turnover of donations, part of the activity that morning was spending time with the lolos and lolas of the nursing home.

Kanlungan ni Maria is a nursing home run by Fr. Darry Dioquino and currently, there are 22 lolos and lolas in their care. Each of them have different stories to tell. Most of them have lost touch with their families or they no longer have family members or relatives who can look after them.

On the left photo is Nanay Bing, During our visit, she sat next to Yaya Cita, who was the first resident of the nursing home. Nanay Bing served as the "interpreter" between me and Yaya Cita, who since suffering a stroke last year, had difficulty in speaking. I tried to ask Nanay Bing why Yaya Cita preferred to be called that way rather than "lola" or "nanay". She told me that it was because Yaya Cita did not have any child of her own thus the absence of grandkids.

The lady with me in the middle photo is Nanay Remy. She's in her 70's and is a widow. Her husband died just a week or two after being diagnosed with cancer. I had spent quite an amount of time having conversations with her talking about realities of life which included marriage. Just like my parents, Nanay Remy was married to her husband for 30 years before he passed away. And for someone like me who is considering the idea of settling down in a few years, her advice proved me that the words of wisdom from the elderly are still the best reference to some of life's questions ( and that's despite the emergence of things you can just read on the web).

Nanay Puti. That was what's written on her name tag and it made us all curious. When I asked her about it, she just pointed to her white hair making me nod and smile. In the middle of our conversation, her carer approached us and said that she just turned 90 years old the day before our visit. She reminded me of my paternal grandmother who is living with us as she is now 93 years old. Her family was killed during the Japanese occupation making her the only survivor. She is also a widow, and did not have a child of her own. They adopted two kids (a boy and a girl) but sadly, both abandoned her.

Before we left, we mentioned our plan to return to visit them (even as a group or on our own) to which they said we are most welcome. Nanay Puti said that the shelter welcomes visitors and volunteers daily from 10 am to 4 pm. and help in any form is greatly appreciated. We were only visiting them for just a few hours, but it was time well spent. What earned my admiration was that despite of their experiences and circumstance, the lolos and lolas still remained and chose to live a happy disposition.

Kanlungan ni Maria 
#17 Lanzones Road Nayong Silangan
Antipolo City 1870


Thursday, March 6, 2014

Two Blessed Years

Standing at the edge of the Earth with a wonderful view.

"What on Earth am I here for?"

Even before this line became popularized in Rick Warren's The Purpose Driven Life, this has been something that I had asked myself. For years, I was trying to find my place under the sun career wise and looking for it was no walk in the park. But likewise things worth having  are worth waiting for.

When I was 23 years old, I was offered a job that would send me to Australia. But it was something I had to let go out of my own reasons. My parents, despite not saying any word were disappointed with my decision.There are times I regret it but then I also thought, it may not be the right time.

Yesterday was my second year in the Australian law firm. I had the chance to talk to my boss on Skype and upon hearing the words "Happy anniversary", he followed it with the expression "how time flies."

I tried to think of it. Time flies fast indeed. But it is a great thing that when I think of it, a couple of thousand case files, court documents, phone calls and appointment schedules, I am still here. I may have missed the chance of flying to Sydney Australia and work there for good, but God made up for what I have missed six years after.

In my two years of being in this job, I had learned a lot of things. Numerous things had been added to my job description and seemingly, I could be called different titles, and yet I don't mind. I'm happy serving not only my boss but other people as well. Two years of observing Australian holidays, learning when to use the terms arvo, donatio mortis causa and knowing what a bloke is. My job has taught me patience and to not sweat the small stuff.

The people I work with are not just colleagues. They are my second family. My boss and his wife, despite just being some years older than I am are like my parents.

What I have now is more than just a career. For it is in the same place where I go everyday, I also found the fulfillment of some of my wishes, of some of my heart's desires. And each passing day, I can't let the day pass without being thankful. To be grateful that God is giving me the feasible life that I have always been praying for.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Luneta Park 22 Years Later

Hello Lolo Jose! Long time no see :-)
Earlier in January this year, I had the chance to visit Manila. My main reason for the travel was to collate medical records from Eye Referral Center to bring  to my visit to American Eye Center scheduled a month after (I'll be writing it in a different post). Given that Rizal Park is just across the street where Eye Referral is situated and I finished my appointment early, off I went with Mama and Papa to that historical landmark.

I have not been to Luneta for more than two decades so you can't blame me if the excitement gushed into my veins again, I was a giddy girl trapped in a twenty something body that day.

Since it took years for me to return to this place, I got to perceive a lot has changed. I was just 7 when I first visited Luneta, and likewise, perceptions change when a person gets older -- including that of places. Back then, I always thought Jose Rizal's monument is tall. But when I saw it up close during my recent visit, I come to realize it really was not. The grass is no longer green compared to the time my family first went there in 1992.

A lot of things had changed. Really. If there is one thing that fascinated me, it would be this:

There was a train roaming around Luneta. There was no such thing in that park back in the 90's.

Despite the huge difference, I still enjoyed the impromptu trip to Luneta with my parents as we don't get to do this often these days. The trip to the park just brought me back memories of childhood. While I felt somewhat disappointed with how the park looks now (the murky pools, unattended, wilting lawns and Rizal no longer has his honor guards), I hope that our government will make initiatives in restoring the place's original beauty (proper utilization of taxes please!). After all, Luneta has and will forever be playing a  huge part in our country's history. It should never be put to waste. 

Friday, February 14, 2014

God Also Reads Your Bucket List

In a few years, it will look like this.
In one of my entries, I remember writing about the items contained in my bucket list. And among those were seeing a product I wrote in print. When I was serving my stint as a freelance writer for a magazine four years ago, I was already fine with that. But I guess I knew just a little of what is ahead.

In the years of being employed full time, this is the first time I filed for a vacation leave coinciding Valentine's Day. Besides going on a doctor's appointment and obtaining a CTC from the municipal hall, nothing is really special about this VL. And in the week anticipating my leave, I only prayed to God to make my Valentine's Day meaningful-- according to His plans. I did not give specifics as I really don't have anything planned for myself.

Yesterday, I received a copy of this book, Love Handles by Kerygma editor-in-chief Rissa Singson- Kawpeng. I have known her and even had the opportunity to meet her when I attended one of the seminars she and Catholic preacher Bo Sanchez organized two years ago. A week after the said seminar, I remember sending an email to Rissa about one of the things discussed in the said seminar. She replied back and even politely asked my permission if she can peruse my letter (and that my name will be changed for the sake of my privacy). Unfortunately, I forgot to respond to that email.

I don't know what hit me but when I got hold of this book, there was this little voice that suddenly reminded me of that email. And while I have yet to read this book (as I still have an unfinished business with David Levithan's How They Met and Other Stories), I had flipped into its pages and lo and behold, it confirmed my haunch.

The letter I wrote to Rissa two years ago was included in the book (and true to her words, she had used a pseudonym in place of my own name). It took time for things to sink in, but when I saw it there, I could not control it, I just let tears well up.

A Catholic priest once said that God knows how to create things that could surprise us, and so we need to be prepared. While I was not really expecting, waiting and decided to just be lighthearted today, on the other hand, God took my request seriously.

And a lot of you may be wondering how I knew the letter was mine. Well, I still have the email (and Rissa's response) preserved in my mailbox. :-)

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Simple Birthday Asalto at Bean Addicted

Well, technically, this is a pre-birthday party. The past week had been both kind of fun and loaded at work. But despite that, I still got to visit my schedule for reminders on my list. This week, there are three birthdays marked on my planner, the other two were of my nephews, Felix Arthur and Kyle. Today my former school paper adviser, the then Ma'am Cez Rañola (she's now Mrs. Jonathan Villegas) is celebrating her birthday. And given that her big day falls on a weekend, I thought of dropping by yesterday to see her for some birthday blow out. 

Good thing we need not wander anywhere far. After packing up and finishing last minute tasks, off we went to the nearby coffee shop, Bean Addicted to welcome the weekend (warning, a few food shots ahead).

We were not up to having dinner (I had gone by a McDonald's drive thru on the way home before coming to see Ma'am Cez) so we opted to pick something light from their menu. And after a few deliberation we decided to have fish and fries. I guess it's the country's version of fish and chips made famous by the British people. The fish as expected was a bit oily given that it's fried, and the fries differ from the ones that I have tried because it was not salty; something which I have been used to. But I guess variety is sometimes good.

I have been trying to minimize consumption of carbonated drinks with my meals. And this was not the first time I've been to Bean Addicted. During my first visit, this was one of what I picked on their list -- passion fruit iced tea. While I knew I missed it, I was a bit sad as this came bland to my taste ( The one served during my first visit was good, which I totally preferred).

But one of the reasons why we were here besides the food and celebrating was to spend some time for RnR. And what a good partner to laid back conversations is a cup of coffee. Yet, in the case of Ma'am Len, she preferred it to be hot chocolate.

Here's us taken while waiting for our food. Our table was situated outside which was good. The place is ideal if you're after al fresco dining. Besides, their staff are cheerful and had been accommodating and patient to oblige to our requests (talk about good customer service) and it's really one of the things I noticed. There still are items in the menu that I'm looking forward to try so I'd definitely come back some other time. Our group had a wonderful time spent in conversations and tons of laughter. And to me, it helped really wind down after a week filled of multitasking and crazy hours at work I've started on doing a photo of the month project and I think this could make it for this month. :-)

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Investing in Quality Eye Glasses

Besides my wallet, planner and phone, one thing I don't leave the house without is a trusty pair of eyeglasses. I have been dealing with myopia (or in layman's term, nearsightedness) since I was 9 which made me dependent on peepers every day. 

If I were to count, I had changed eyeglasses six times in 20 years. While it is ideal to have lenses changed every year or two years, my optometrist, Dr. Vangie Olmedilla told me in my recent appointment that it's a good thing that my visual acuity has not increased much, contrary to what I first thought. 

I have been using my old glasses for four years and so, a few days before Christmas last year and as a gift to myself, I decided that it was time to get a new pair of glasses. In my line of work, that requires a lot of reading documents and staring in front of the computer 40 hours a week, I should really invest and take good care of my eyes. Like what Dr. Olmedilla said, my visual acuity increased by 0.25 and my astigmatism from 100 is now 150. I only found out that astigmatism occurs as you age. I am now using this cute pair from Old Navy (yes, the shirt brand also has a line for eyeglasses) which I chose after checking five different styles. And just like how Frances of Topaz Horizon mentioned in one of her posts, eyeglasses don't come cheap. Given that I am using prescription Nikon lenses, I had to shell out PHP 6,000 for this pair. And while it made me cringe at first, getting a new eye wear had been the first thing in my priority list when I got my 13th month pay last year. 

This is me wearing the glasses on New Year's Eve :-)
I did not have second thoughts because given that my eyes are the most used part of my body in the kind of work I have, it deserves all the care and investment that I could avail to make sure that my eyesight is all okay. I've been using this for a month now and contrary to thinking it would make me look nerdy, I think scholarly would be the appropriate description.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Three Decades

Aside from New Year's Day, one of the things I look forward to at the start of the year is Papa and Mama's wedding anniversary. They got married two days after New Year's. But this year, I find it significant as they are have been together for 30 years.

Writing this entry is something that is meaningful for me likewise.Not just because I am writing about my own parents, but because of how privileged I am to have witnessed a lengthy, worthwhile bond that they have. In this era where everything comes instant, where values seem to be set aside and relationships (including courtship, couple hood and marriage) are all but short-lived, being together as husband and wife for 30 years are not just a milestone but a blessing.

And I am indeed blessed to see and be part of it. In those years that they have been together, I was able to pull out words of wisdom:

  1. Saying yes to marriage means saying yes to the whole kit and caboodle. I remember asking Mama five years ago if she does not get tired of doing the same thing for 25 years. She simply told me that she's used to it; for when she said yes to marrying my father, she also wholeheartedly recognized that marriage is a bond that involves dutiful service to each other and serving your partner out of love.
  2. Patching things up overnight is not always necessary. While it is often advised not to go to bed angry, Mama once told me, don't rush to iron out things as some of them needs some time to be fixed and it's not always in your control.
  3. If you cannot say it out, put that in writing. There are things that are better left unsaid. But in instances such as arguments where anger can do more harm than good in stating your point, putting down your point in writing is most often the most efficient resolve.
  4. Know the right way to discipline your children. I'd like to think my parents never believed in capital punishment. While my brother and I used to get scolded (for being mischievous as kids), we never got spanked black and blue. As parents they believe the need to punish out of love, but it does not have to come in aggressive form.

Back in college, one of the signs I was taught of using is the sign #30. And as much as I want to use that in the title of this entry, I opted not to as the #30 symbol implies an ending. Marriage is a blessed union that God has put together, and therefore  no man should separate. On the day of their anniversary itself, I  had no material thing to pray for. Just for God to bless them with more happy, healthy years together.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Camaraderie Out of a Starbucks Planner

In my job, I tend to juggle with different tasks every single day. And I deal with all of those side-by-side my own personal agendas outside work. And given these activities, a planner is a must especially that I tend to be forgetful at times when workload piles up.

I have been familiar with the planners offered by coffee shops for quite some time. Given that I have been a lady whose workplace is a city near these kinds of establishments, I have seen how people literally go too enticed (if not obsessed) to complete stickers in order to get a planner good to be used for a year. But despite of this planner phenomenon, I never dared to join the bandwagon and kept my loyalty with the generic planner in bookstores (well, save for that Paulo Coelho planner I bought last year).

When I got my first sticker for the Starbucks 2014 planner, I simply found it a common thing. I was not really planning to take it seriously because I knew, it's going to be a long shot at best to complete all those 18 stickers (and I'm not out of my mind to spend a couple of thousand bucks for coffee).  But as days went on, I just realized the sticker booklet that started with one sticker had 15 stickers in it.

Sue me now, but I won't deny that I was also secretly desiring a planner even just for once and the feeling aggravated as the deadline for this approached.

Funny but I cannot say my office mates' obsession for a Starbucks planner is a mere craze because at a certain point, the spirit of camaraderie suddenly becomes alive (without having to force someone to do it, ha?) in a crazy way possible; in 2012 I helped my office mate, Mommy P, get her planner by contributing 4 stickers to her booklet (which meant 4 cups of coffee on four different days). This year, the "contribution"system was at it again, from a supervisor donating his booklet (with 9 stickers in it) to office mates contributing a cup of coffee so that someone in need gets entitled to a sticker on his/her booklet.

In the end, I got my "secret desire". Thank you to Mommy P, who, volunteered to contribute two stickers so that I'll hop out of the coffee shop with this planner in my mom's favorite color -- YELLOW. And while some people might even cringe, if not raise eyebrows on what I've written and tell me it's downright frivolous, I'd like to look at the positive thing that it has caused especially to some of us -- that even with craziness for things like this, the spirit of TEAMWORK is alive and working.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Blurry Tuesday

At least that is how I can describe it. It all started when I arrived in the office yesterday expecting my office mate Sunny to finally be there (we have not seen him since the second week of December). It was not until another colleague Fern said these words:

"Wala na daw ang mama ni Sunny."

It was something I never expected to hear that day. To know that kind of news left me with this gripping feeling of disbelief. Yes, it was a cool morning but at that time all I was feeling was numbness in my toes slowly ascending to my body. I felt it all the more when I came home, browsing on Facebook, I read this:

Reading this still makes my eyes well up as I type this entry right now.

For a time being, I sat in the living room at a loss for words. In a way, I knew how Sunny and his family is feeling for I went through the same ordeal with my own grandmother eight months ago and it's still a fresh memory. While I have been somewhat consoled by people's advice that death is really inevitable, there still are times those why's would pass by my head. It made me think that probably, the concept of death will remain as a strange thing.

Yesterday, in the midst of those confusion, sadness and disbelief over the news that we all received that morning, I passed by the church near my office before going home, hoping to seek solace and refuge, and to pray for the repose of the soul of Sunny's mom. No word could ever console a grieving heart thus, this would be the best thing I know I could do. And if there is one thing I have realized, it would be this:

That prayer is the most effective respite to the worries of the world.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Lessons from the Memory Jar

Took this photo using Instagram.
For the past three or four years, I have been observing some routines in time for New Year's Day. I rarely make resolutions for the sake of it because I believe you do not need New Year's day to do it -- or better yet, you need not make promises of change just on new year but the rest of the year.

I have heard about creating a "memory jar" last year. At that time, I was still on my self imposed tradition of lighting prosperity candles. But what is a memory jar? It's actually a simple method of keeping memories. All you have to do is write what good thing has happened to you for a day and keep it in a jar.

The catch? You should religiously do it for, read this, 365 days.

And just for a change, in exchange to prosperity candles that always told me my career this year would be  lucky (and it never failed), I took this challenge of keeping a memory jar. As of this writing, I now have 11 wonderful events kept in it. Doing so felt good because for one, it got me into the habit of recalling my day and look with gratitude the wonderful events that happened. I know this is just the beginning but it has taught me that regardless of how messy or stressful a day has been, there will always be one or two good things that happens and I should look at it that way. Wonderful. Beautiful.