Catching Up

Last night I met up with a couple of my classmates from the university – my first few friends when I moved to the campus way back in the 90s. It was a reunion of some sorts – something I’ve been doing a lot of lately, with different groups of friends whom I’ve known from school. My girlfriends were celebrating their birthdays this month too, so we treated ourselves to a mini feast sans the birthday cake. Funny how we reminsiced about the diverse not-so-healthy food we recklessly ate when we were teenagers – when nowadays we have to carefully consider ingredients and nutritional information as basis to decide what to eat. I’m glad I share the same dietary preference with one of my friends. I sometimes feel unnecessarily special when my other groups of friends would take a step back to plan out where to eat out with me because of my needs.

My girlfriends and I looked back and wondered at how we’ve grown. Out topics are now into the more serious stuff like taxes, work-life balance tips, raising children, and other things we didn’t even imagine when we were younger. Back then, our pressing needs included what and where to eat for lunch and dinner, who took the most notes and getting them photocopied in time for midterms and final exams, what to do in between classes (do we play billiards; or go bowling; strum and sing to the guitar; or on occassions we felt more responsible, study for the next class?). I kind of separated paths with them when, after several attempts to comprehend what’s being discussed by my Math 36 (i.e., Calculus) professor, compounded by the daze I felt everytime I went to STAT 1 and CHEM 15 classes, I decided to shift my course from Civil Engineering to Agricultural Economics. The College Secretary looked at me quizically at the time when I said I was losing sleep over these subjects and I remember to this day him telling me that “sleep is a luxury, and our bodies only need three hours’ sleep a day”. That sealed my decision to shift to the College of Economics and Management.

It’s been two decades since I graduated, and we started catching up regularly once again about two years ago. Thanks to social media, we found one another. I’m happy I’m able to keep in touch with my classmates from Engineering. The first year in a faraway university was gold – and I’ve built a lot of memories together with them.

Life Lessons From Mom and Dad

My folks

“As your kids grow they may forget what you said, but won’t forget how you made them feel.” — Kevin Heath

Back in the 80s, I grew up in a simple household – we were not well off but we were comfortable, close-knit and happy. Though our hard-working parents would have a long commute to work everyday, they made sure that everyone was together for dinner at night. It was during those family meals and weekends spent together that I would learn some of the lessons that I still practice to this day.

Respect and Gratitude

We started every meal with a prayer of thanks. Then we passed the food around and made sure everyone on the table was able to get their share. I was taught to show respect by getting only enough food that I could finish eating. I was reminded of the people who had nothing to eat, so I should not waste the blessings given to me.

After meals, my siblings and I would take turns clearing the table and washing dishes. Dad would always remind us to turn off the faucet while we were scrubbing the plates so the water won’t continuously be flowing. Dad would always say that we have to play our part as water is not an infinite resource.

Whenever we meet older relatives or family friends, we would do the “mano”, a Filipino gesture of respect where the younger person bows and takes the older person’s hand and puts it on their forehead – a sign of seeking for one’s blessing. Also, when we speak to people older than us we would use the words “opo”, which means “yes, with respect”, and “po” in every sentence as we talk to them. ‘Po’is a term for respect.

Building Relationships

At a young age, our folks brought us to their fellowship communities. There we attended Catechism with other kids, and because kids are easy to make friends, we were able to build friendships from this group. We would look forward to seeing our friends on weekends for fun and games. We also learned to share with the children in the community – from harvested fruits to books for school.

Be Resourceful

Mom and Dad did not spoil us. There were times we wanted some toys so bad but we either had to wait for Christmas for Santa to give them (that means being good throughout the year); save up for it; or make our own.

I had a childhood friend and we loved playing doctor. I created my own ‘medical supplies’ with a stick thermometer, a plastic bag filled with water and tied with a string as a pretend dextrose, and a headmirror made of paper.

Or when my brother and I played we would make our own memory cards; or make small towns on the garden using popsicle sticks and lego. I remember being extra careful so that the miniature town would be perfect in case some smurfs pass by – so they can make themselves comfortable.

For one of my birthdays mom gave me a big piggy bank. At the time, I put in only 2 peso coins there. When it was full, mom and I excitedly counted all the 2 peso coins I saved and I got a total of a little over 500 pesos back then. Afterwards, mom brought me to the bank where I opened my first savings account.

Use My Imagination

This was my favorite way of spending idle time. My parents equipped us with informational books – about the universe, birds, countries – and I remember my brother and I would go through all the books and play a game reciting as much as we can later on. When we play the badminton we would name a bird or a country with every strike on the shuttercock – no repeaters or else one loses the game.

We would look at the clouds and describe what we see. One night while playing hide and seek I looked up to the moon and saw a shadow of a witch on a broomstick. I panicked and called out to my playmates to quit the game and go home, or else the witch would get us. I must have looked silly back then but mom indulged me and said I was right, and it was a good idea indeed to call it a day.

What were the best things you learned from your younger years?

One’s formative years is usually during early childhood – up until 8 years old. This is a critical period where a person develops body, mind, emotions and social skills.

Looking back, I remember I did not understand some of the things my folks taught me to do, and at times I wondered what the fuss was all about. As I got older I began to appreciate those little things that molded me to the person I am now.

Random Thoughts: Happiness part 4


And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand, They danced by the light of the moon. — Edward Lear, The Owl and the Pussycat

I was walking around the backyard and my attention was caught by the bright flowers of this plant. It prompted me to write once again about simple things that make me happy.Adenium

Happiness, for me, is waking up next to D under the warmth of our blanket;

It is hearing the sound of singing birds as they feast (and call on their pals) on the rice grains I have scattered on our yard;

It is the smell of freshly cut lawn;

Or filling my lungs with deep breaths as I make my way back up from trekking down to the falls;

It is the smell and taste of popcorn, and the feeling after a good laugh and/or cry from watching a fantastic movie with my BFF;

It is the delicious turn out of a new dish I’ve bravely created from scratch;

The sound of clinking glasses in a get-together to send off a repatriating boss, who I also consider as a friend, as we cite good memories and well wishes;

It is the excitement of plunging deep into the ocean to see the unspoilt corals and fish up close, the realization of being blessed with a chance to see a whole new world down below;

And then, afterwards, being lulled to sleep by the soft waves rocking the boat;

And lastly as we dock, waking up to the dramatically colorful sky as the sun begins to set.

Thank you for reading. If you want to check out my first 3 blogs on what happiness is for me, you can click here for Part 1; or here for Part 2; and lastly here for part 3.

🌸 Let me know what Happiness is for you! 🌸

Musings and New Year’s Resolutions


I woke up today thankful for the year that was and the beginning of a new one. 2018 was mostly awesome and I got to spend time doing things that mattered to me spiritually, emotionally, physically and mentally. I say ‘mostly’ because I still had bouts of anxiety, though I had my prayers and support during these times.

So on this first day of 2019 I started to transition my journal entries from 2018. As a tradition, I use CBTL’s Giving Journal, because I like the way it makes me plan my month while allowing me to reflect on ways to express more gratitude.

As I was thinking through what my 2019 would look like, I read through what I said was my new year’s resolutions on January 2018. I wrote:

I start yoga in 2018. In fact, tomorrow I go to a beginner’s class at TreeHouse Yoga Studio.

Yikes. I only did that for a couple of months. But at least I was able to stick to the other 2 that I’ve written, namely:

Read more books.

To which I was able to bump up my annual target and read 95 books set for the GoodReads 2018 Reading Challenge.

Serve at the community church.

Which opened up more channels for me to be able to serve the community.

Now it took me just a few minutes to put in my resolutions for 2019, because this time I’d continue the things I have already kicked off last year. In essence it’s about the evolution of my journey and the fulfilment of my purpose. I’m also pretty much leaving blank spaces in my list – so I can add more whenever and wherever my journey takes me.

Happy new year to you! I wish you a peaceful, joyful, blessed, and love-filled 2019!

Random Thoughts: Courage


I still know the lyrics written on my old Fisher Price music box. The thought of its tune brings back good childhood memories. I would wind up the music box again and again, hum or sing along.

Whenever I feel afraid I hold my head erect

And whistle a happy tune, So no one will suspect I’m afraid

I guess the words stuck to my head, along with walls I built through the years. Growing up I’ve mastered being calm, sometimes too much that I am perceived as unconcerned, transactional. Even though deep inside I feel like crumbling.

Until fate shattered these walls and reminded me of the beauty in humility and the refuge I can find in prayer. It was not an easy path, with fear lurking every so often. When this happens now, I say out loud, again and again:

My faith is stronger than my fear.

And then, slowly afterwards, I would feel a sense of peace. Always.

Just Love Dogs



This one’s a photo of me and our 3 boys. Behind me is Rex, on my right is Theon, and the frontmost one is Pedro. Rex and Pedro are senior dogs. We do not bring them out for walks anymore because of their hip dysplasia. This doesn’t stop them from playfully roaming around in the yard. I hear the three of them (well mostly just Rex and Theon) running about. Pedro tags along for only a few seconds and then he will be dozing off shortly after.

When I didn’t know better, we bought Rex from a petstore ten years ago. I remember how I felt for the older dogs who were waiting to be bought, and I wanted to give them all a good home. We realized years later that we should adopt and not shop, as buying dogs from petstores supports puppy mills which often operate just for profit, mostly neglecting the wellbeing and health of the dogs. Adopting dogs from sanctuaries and shelters give these wonderful creatures another chance at life, and allows for room for other dogs to be saved by the sanctuaries. We have many neglected and unloved dogs in Metro Manila – both strays and in their homes. Sadly, the unfair treatments like keeping dogs chained or locked in cages 24/7 are still widely practiced by a lot of dog parents, starting with my own neighbors.

We consider Rex as ‘our eldest’. We spent hours training him as a pup, had our share of chewed (and destroyed) furniture, lunches and dinners with family friends who also have furbabies. Rex loves to swim and is a gentle soul who loves sleeping next to my feet whenever I watch TV. His favorite spot in the house is the kitchen. When his legs were stronger we would move all edible food higher up where he wouldn’t reach them. Rex is so clingy and scared of thunder. We ordered Thundershirts for our boys because Rex’s fear of thunders seemed to have rubbed off on Theon.

Speaking of Theon, we named him after Theon Greyjoy. He is our second – though he’s the youngest of the three. My dad gave him to us when their dog gave birth, and Theon was the only one in the litter that survived. Theon is the smartest of the three, and the most alert. He looks up to Rex and follows him around all the time. I like to think he’s Rex’s shadow.

Lastly is Pedro, an English Bulldog that we recently adopted. Pedro is a sweet cheeky little boy that loves barking when it’s about time for their breakfast and dinner. He barks to announce he is awake and when there is no one next to him when he opens his eyes from sleep. Not that he throws a tantrum. It’s more of like a ‘hey, what’s up, I’m awake. Where’s everybody?’. He gets cold easily so he opts to step out when he feels cold from the airconditioning. Pedro is the kindest of the three. Before Pedro, Rex and Theon would chase our hens. When Pedro started ‘owning’ the backyard where the hens are, the hens warmed up to him quickly. Eventually Rex and Theon stopped chasing them too. It’s funny when the three are lined up for their treats, the hens would line up next to them hoping for a treat of their own. Pedro is a survivor. Before we adopted him he was not given his yearly shots for some time, and he got sick with canine distemper. After a few weeks of vet home visits and medication, he was in the clear. He is a fighter, and I am proud of how brave and strong our little boy is. He’s celebrated his 10th birthday a couple of days ago. Bulldog

We love our dogs. Whenever we reach home, nothing beats the warm, genuine welcome that the boys give us (except for Pedro who most of the time cannot be bothered if he is asleep). I love how they lovingly look up to me whatever mood I am in, how they curl up calmly next to me when I paint or read a book. They do not judge, they just long to be next to us. They’re mostly happy when we are at the yard for a barbecue with guests. I love the random kisses when I give them a bath. I love how happy they are when it’s time for breakfast or dinner – reminding me to live simply as they do, and be grateful for everyday blessings.

Random Thoughts: The Edge


My random thoughts in response to Aroused’s Friday Foto Fun question on what The Edge looks like to me. I liked the blog because it got me thinking…and here’s what I think:

Me on the Edge of a view deck at Sagada, overlooking the Echo Valley.

When I think of the word EDGE, the first thing that comes to my mind is END. But as I delve on the word more, I remember it can also mean a point of something new: a new territory, a new beginning. Sort of like The Beatles’ song “Hello, Goodbye”.

“I say high, you say low. You say why, I say I don’t know…You say goodbye and I say hello”

You see, I’ve come to a point a couple of years ago where I had a 180 degree shift in priorities and started to see life in a different light. Maybe it’s midlife crisis, or maybe it’s a result of a harrowing experience. Anyway, ‘the edge’ for me did not happen overnight – it took weeks of contemplating and assessing the pros and cons of decisions I would make. I asked what my purpose was and what really makes me happy. I figured I didn’t need all the riches in the world and what I have is enough. I prayed for guidance and for me to have the courage to take that first step to get out of my comfort zone and try something new.

And so here I am now, treating each day as a new opportunity to appreciate, to learn, to explore, to one way or another touch someone else’s life or make a difference to someone, somewhere. Hopefully.

Share Your World – 10.09.18


I just came across sparcsfromacombustiblemind‘s page and found the Share Your World questions fun!

Here are the questions and my answers:

Q: Do you prefer Apple (‘I’ products) or Android for your technology ‘fix’?

Me: I’ve had an iPhone user for as long as I can remember so I’d prefer to continue using it, simply because I’m more familiar with its features. I had an Android phone for work and I remember asking my peers all the time how to do what with it.

Q: What’s something on your personal bucket list?

Me: I’ve been saving for years to be able to go to Kenya to see the orphan elephants up close and personal in the DSWT sanctuary.

Q: What would you name your boat if you have one? The Unsinkable 3? The Please Don’t Sink? Your choice! Also, what would it look like? Do you want a motor yacht, a sailboat, or perhaps a dinghy?

Me: Never in my wildest dreams have I thought of getting a boat. But for the sake of this Q&A, I’d imagine it to be a yacht – so I can use it for my travels and be able to bring my dogs on board. I’d name it Viaje del Capitan Pedro – named after my ten year old English bulldog.

my boys at rest

Q: Which fictional character would be the most boring to meet in real life?

Me: Hard to answer, as the show I am thinking of now is Game of Thrones, and all its characters seem exciting. Maybe, for the latest season, I’d go for Gregor Clegane. I know he rocked on season 4’s The Mountain and the Viper, but because of what happened in that episode he really doesn’t seem to be much of a talker these days…

Q: What brought gratitude, a smile or laughter to your life this week?

Me: I was able to do some volunteer work for my animal advocacy and met new people. It was a humbling experience for me as I saw the level of work it takes to be done in the background.

If you liked the Q&As check out sparcsfromacombustiblemind‘s page and share your answers through the comments.