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.