Young and Happy

Everyday, every second is a blessing. Today I was blessed even more being given a chance to volunteer for Kythe, a foundation that supports children with cancer. It was originally scheduled when I was in Philadelphia a couple of weeks ago, but was rescheduled to today due to a typhoon that hit Manila at the time. I took it as fate arranging for me to be able to go, and for that I am grateful.

En route to the event I was sucked into a bit of extended family drama, and for a while I was distracted. When I got to the venue I immediately saw the children and their parents at the registration line, and my focus shifted to the more important things in life. I tried to control tears as it dawned on me how trivial my extended family drama was, and seeing the children who woke up early in the morning to commute with their parents, yet readily having a smile on their faces was enough for me to remember that a couple of years ago I promised to live purposefully. This was a way to live that promise. How easily I faltered.

I admire how the children of different ages, from as young as 3 years old to sixteen, easily warmed up to me and talked to me as if I was a long lost friend. No pretenses, no judgment. And when I attempt to crack a corny joke, or just give them my full attention and listen to their stories about their favorite hobbies, color, or dance – they easily giggled and grinned back. They were present. They focuse on the NOW. And their energy and friendship with one another are so inspiring, I wish I can be like that once again. I looked on, feeling a bit envious, at them laughing out loud, hugging everyone and running wild as they played the game of tag. I asked who was playing “it” and a five year old confidently answered “everyone”.

Oh how the world must be better if we all kept our inner child.

Wishing on a Sunflower

“Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow.” — Helen Keller

Last Sunday I saw our first fully bloomed sunflower crane its face up to the east. Its height is same as mine, and I gazed at it for a few minutes – feeling warmth and happiness in my heart as I very gently touched it.

This morning, my aunt sent me a photo of our first bloom’s siblings who have likewise ‘woken up’. They’re now a colorful happy bunch.

I wish I am now standing in a field of sunflowers. That’ll be awesome!

First Onsen Ever

View of Mt Yarigatake from Hirayu Onsen bus station

When was the last time you did something for the first time?

I’ve thought about this for some time before I made a conscious decision to do one thing I have never done before. And this recent trip to Japan was my window of opportunity: try out an onsen.

Onsen is a natural hot spring bath. Japan has lots of these. Dipping into an onsen is said to relax the body and has benefits for the skin. It had never beem something that appealed to me though, as what’s daunting for me is that most onsens that I know of are communal, and one has to totally strip naked to be able to take a dip. In these public onsens, males and females are separated – but I don’t think I can still do an all naked stint in front of total strangers, even for the purpose of relaxation.

Until I booked our trip to the Japan alps. I intentionally included in our itinerary an overnight stay at one of the onsen towns, Hirayu Onsen because it is located halfway across Takayama and our ultimate hiking destination, Kamikochi. I figured D and I would need an onsen bath after a tiring day of trekking.

Hirayu Onsen is the oldest of five onsen towns on Okuhida valley. It was discovered in the 1560s, and is now basically the hub to Kamikochi and Shinhotaka (where the famous double decker gondola, the Shin-Hotaka Ropeway, leading up to the highest point where tourists can view the mountains is found).

I honestly did not know what to expect – from what I showed in the map it’s a little speck compared to Takayama. I was also a bit nervous as I only had a few thousand yens on hand, so I made a mental note to look for the ATM as soon as we got off the bus.Hirayu Onsen: our BnB’s backyard

When we arrived at the bus station I was awestruck by the surrounding mountains and the view of the alps at a distance. The climate was cooler compared to the first cities we visited, and there were still several cherry blossom trees that added color to the already picturesque town. True to its onsen name, there is a footbath at the waiting area of the bus station. On the second floor is a window view of the peaks of the Japan Alps, and Hida’s largest sarubobo doll is displayed.

View of Mt Yarigatake from Hirayu Onsen bus station

Our B&B, Tsuyukusa, was a 3 minute walk from the station. On the way to the B&B we could hear the constant flow of water. There were several establishments that we passed by that had steaming water fountains in front of their property.

Tsuyukusa BnB, Hirayu Onsen

The Tsuyukusa staff were very warm, and they gave us a simple welcome gift. Our room was Japanese-style, with tatami mats, wooden floor and sliding doors. There were 3 private onsen baths in the B&B: 2 indoor and 1 outdoor. Guess which one D and I used?

Private outdoor bath, Hirayu Onsen

What we learned from using the onsen is that we had to take a shower first before dipping in. There were small stools and basins next to the tub. The towels had to be left at the lounge, and there were reminders not to run around and make loud noises in the onsen area.

The outdoor onsen gave us a view of the mountains, and the hot water was indeed relaxing. We enjoyed the hot spring bath for only for about ten minutes as hot baths tend to increase blood pressure. Later as we went to bed and all througout our stay, the constant sound of gushing water could be heard – it’s almost like sleeping on the beach where the sound of the waves is nonstop.

There was no ATM at Hirayu Onsen, and there were no restaurants that accepted credit cards. Luckily the souvenir shop at the train station accepted credit card payments. Other than this hiccup, I’d say our overnight stay in Hirayu Onsen was a unique, surreal experience, and will definitely be something I’d always remember Japan for.

And since this blog is all about my first time doing something I haven’t done before, this is a perfect song to cap it off.

Window Seat

Sunset and the horizon

When was the last time you felt differently, looking at the same things you see all the time?

One of the things I’ve been accustomed to over the years of traveling is to get myself an aisle seat. This way I won’t have to excuse myself with the folks who have to stand up so I can scoot my way over to the bathroom when I feel like it, and I’d also have easy access to the door when it’s time to deplane.

Today is The Wayfarers’ first trip together to Nagoya. For the first time I didn’t fuss about securing an aisle seat. This trip was meant for us to unwind and let loose, and it begins with letting the check-in counter decide which seats we are to take. And as destiny would arrange for it, I got the window seat.

When we boarded the plane, I figured to take in this trip with a fresh perspective, imagining it was my first time to fly. I listened as I watched the flight attendant demostrate the safety features. When the airplane zoomed up from the runway, I gaped at the window, wide eyed as I quickly scanned the houses and streets as they got smaller and farther. Truimphant at having spotted them, I pointed to D what I believed were the malls outside our subdivision. And as the plane got higher, I saw from a distance the dramatic landscape of the mountains, dominated by Mt. Makiling at the south.

Now as I write this, my view shows me a sea of clouds, and every now and then some tiny specks of what seem like bodies of water as we head up north of Luzon. It’ll still be a little more than three hours for us to get to Japan. Until then, I’ll close the window shades first. I’m at the sunnier side of the plane after all.

Clouds

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.

Kindness

Art by Nate Frizzell

“A little consideration, a little thought for others, makes all the difference.” — Eeyore, Winnie the Pooh

Is kindness innate or learned?

I notice how babies look at me with smiles on their faces – and no one asked them to do it, they just do. And instinctively, I smile back. When I was a child, way before I was taught about the Golden Rule, I remember treating my brother and the kids I played with in the same way I wanted to be treated.

As I grew older, I admit my kindness towards others became selective, and sadly there were times I put up walls to allow room for self preservation. Until a life-changing event a couple of years ago, when my eyes were opened to the more important things in life, did I consciously try to re-learn what kindness is all about.

Do an act of kindness to a stranger daily.

  • This is my new mantra. At first it was a bit overkill, as I defaulted to associate kindness with financial charity. I eventually learned that kindness does not have to cost a thing. It can be as simple as opening the door for someone, or cleaning as I go (when I am in a restaurant or ina cinema) or accepting a brochure or product samples being handed out by a store employee and listening to what they have to say.
  • Now, on a scale of 1 to 10, my kindness level is still at a 6. There are still times I steer myself back to remembering (and standing by) my mantra whenever I slide back to moments of impatience and entitlement. Sometimes in the middle of thoughts of snapping back at someone, I would summon all my will power to breathe and count to ten. Well, it’s a start. Hopefully I will stick to the path I envision to be.

    How do you practice kindness everyday?

    Reflections: Purpose and Legacy

    What do you want to be remembered for?

    If we met a few years ago and you ask me what my measure of personal success is, I would have said things like reaching a certain point in my career, conquering travel destinations in my bucketlist, being financially independent, and other similar ‘wins’. Thanks to a turning point in my life, I have since then redefined what matters most – like what is my purpose and what would be my legacy.Footprints

    My purpose is something I have not yet fully discovered. As for what I would want to be remembered for, it’s something I try to do every single day. I would like be the person that, one way or another, made a positive impact and made a difference to the world and to someone’s life.

    For this blog I asked some of my loved ones what they would want to be remembered for. My parents answered me without hesitation. Some of my friends would take a minute or two to reflect and process their thoughts. Here’s what I gathered:

    “I would like people to remember my smiles and laughter, and that I brought them happiness.” – Dad

    “I want to be remembered for being silently resourceful in providing to my family’s needs, and someone who is always grateful to God.” – Mom

    “For having a big heart.” – D

    “For helping Mother Earth and voiceless, even in my own little way.” – my sister

    “Someone who listens and is compassionate.” – R

    “That I cared for the people who matters to me.” – I

    “I want to be remembered for being a person – be as a daughter, sister, friend, mom and wife, who would go out of my way to help and do the right thing for my loved ones even when I don’t get acknowledged for it.” – K

    “I want to be remembered for the love and care I give to my family, for being a good daughter, sister, and FurMom.” – O

    “Someone who brought out the best in others.” – M

    In the end, everyone wants to be remembered not for what they have, but for what they made others feel.

    How about you? What do you want to be remembered for?

    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.

    Vivid Dreams

    Do you have a dream that you remember until now? Have you ever dreamt, and in that dream you thought it was real?

    I have. Multiple dreams that I remember until now, and multiple times I thought, while in the dream, that they were all real.

    From my childhood, the dream that I remember most was more of a nightmare, really. I dreamt that I was in Dracula’s castle, along with other children, and we were lined up so to be bitten. In that dream, the girl in the line before me was a young version of Lea Salonga (it was in the 80s, after all). And she was singing I Am But A Small Voice, hoping to be spared by Dracula. Morbid, right? I woke up with a fright, and then quickly followed by relief that it was just a dream. Lo and behold, from a distance, the radio was playing Lea Salonga’s song.

    Fast forward to the last decade, a dream that I’ve consistently been having a few years ago was losing all my front teeth, where they fall off one by one. In those instances I thought they were real, and I’d go through the denial-anger-sadness-acceptance phase. And then, again, a feeling of relief when I wake up, knowing it was just a dream.

    As for “feel good” dreams, one I can remember is about my Lola, a few weeks after she passed away. In that dream, she was on stage, wearing a white dress. She was performing a dance, and she beamed to the audience as she gave a bow. I felt a deep sense of happiness in that dream. I knew, when I woke up, that she was in heaven, looking down at me.

    Another dream I had just a few weeks ago was I was in a car en route to my hometown, when I looked to the right to where the La Mesa Dam was supposed to be, and instead I saw a very beautiful garden with a lake. It was glowing and very colorful, with lots of flowers and cherry blossom trees, and birds flying about. The person I was in the car with said I was looking at heaven. At that moment I felt a comfort in my heart, as it hit ne that I didn’t have to look far for heaven. It was just very close to home.

    Summer in the Tropics

    Sta Fe Bantayan

    Summer has kicked in – and though it’s generally warm all year round in the Philippines, it’s especially more hot and humid from the end of March through May. Today, it’s 32 degrees celsius (90 degrees fahrenheit) – not too bad. Yet. It’s in May when it gets to be the hottest.Secret Beach

    So as we prepare to keep cool during the next couple of months, let me share with you some of the sustainable activities in our itinerary:

    Iced Refreshments

    One of the things I crave for on hot days is a cold drink – and because I’m temporarily cutting off coffee from my diet, I’ve switched to tea. I brew tea, using either a loose leaf tea infuser, or reusable organic cotton teabags. I try to steer away from teabags unless they’re made of compostable material. After brewing, the used loose leaves are good addition to our compost too.

    There’s always a pitcher of iced sweet tea in the fridge these days – and sometimes to add a bit of a kick I would add mint or kalamansi from our garden.

    Solar Power

    One of the perks of summer is we get to maximize the use and benefits of our solar panels. Drying of our clothes is also so much faster, as we hang them at the backyard to let the sun and wind do their thing.

    Coral-safe sunscreens

    While it’s good for the skin to use sunscreen, most of the products out in the market are not safe for the corals. Some ingredients are harmful to marine life and the oceans, and cause coral bleaching. We must do our research and check the ingredients before making a purchase. Ingredients like paraben, oxybenzone and octinoxate are not reef and marine friendly, so these definitely do not pass my ‘sunscreen screening’. First thing I look for in sunscreens are words saying ‘reef safe‘ or if they contain non nano zinc oxide.

    Hydrate

    During this time of the year I would hear news about people and animals who get dehydrated. So we put up some water-filled basins around the yard that can serve as birdbaths, or simply just aid the birds when they’re thirsty. We also placed some drinking bins outside at the street so that they can aid stray cats or dogs beat the heat.

    When we go out for walks, I also bring my personal water tumbler so I don’t have to but bottled water. For out of town trips we bring our refillable water jugs and first thing we look for is a water refilling station.

    Savor Fruits of the Season

    Now’s the best time to drink up to this season’s fruits – and no trip to the beach would be complete without a taste of coconut juice, mango shake or watermelon shake. Yum!!

    What’s your favorite summer activity? Let me know what sustainable practices I can also try out!

    Random Thoughts: Happiness part 4

    Adenium

    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! 🌸

    Street Art Hunting: Unsung Heroes

    Magsasaka

    Magsasaka

    Years ago I left the corporate world to practice what I learned in the University. I took a project with the government and conducted market studies for three farmer group proponents, finding out what sustainable crops they could focus on. I was able to spend time with farmer groups of Real, Quezon; Negros Occidental, and Misamis Oriental. It was a truly enriching experience as I got immersed in community of farmers. In Real, at the time, there was no electricity in the farming village and we used gaseras at night. I sat with the farmers as they talked around a bonfire sharing stories of their lives. There was no radio, and I was lulled to sleep later on by the sound of the seawaves. That was why a few years later when the province of Real was hit by a typhoon my heart ached for the farmers who were mourning the loss of their crops – they worked half the year toiling the earth and in an instant the hardwork was literally washed away by the fury of mother nature.

    The mural above, Magsasaka is made by Archie Oclos and Aleili Ariola. It’s found next to Burgos Eats along Rizal Drive in Bonifacio Global City. A tribute to the unsung heroes, the magsasaka (in English, farmers), who tirelessly work the fields, rain or shine, to provide rice – the Filipino staple food.

    Thus this artwork resonates to me so much and whenever I see it I am reminded to honor the Filipino farmers who work with passion and perseverance, everyday.

    Street Art Hunting: Pangako

    “I’m not going to swear an oath I can’t uphold. When enough people make false promises, words stop meaning anything. Then there are no more answers, only better and better lies.” – Jon Snow, Game of Thrones

    I just had to put that quote out there. Because, Game of Thrones. It’s just around the corner. And I. Can. Hardly. Wait.

    And then in May comes the Philippines Elections. I’m not even gonna delve on that topic. All I can say is We deserve who we elect.

    But back to Jon Snow’s quoteand putting it into context: Have you ever made any promises that you had no intention to keep to begin with?

    I know it’s just words, but for every promise I have made there had always been a pure intention to see through it. And when things don’t always turn out as planned, for example, ending a relationship that just won’t work, there are several emotions that occur afterwards: sadness, anger, guilt, regret.

    img_3798

    Pangako is a mural by Anjo Bolarda. In English, it translates to promise. It can be found at the side parking of Bonifacio High Street’s B3.

    The Roots of My Travels

    walking

    Yay for Thursday! Two reasons why I’m excited today: because it’s almost the weekend, and I get to blog about my throwback travels.

    Today I’m writing about where my love for travels might have most likely started from.

    One of the things I remember vividly from my childhood is the big world map that my dad hung up the wall. Everyday my brother and I would, as part of our games, go up to that map and read through the colorful countries. I remember wondering about countries and how far away the Philippines was from them, surrounded by seas.

    Could we take a boat and row all the way to Indonesia? It seems pretty close.

    Why are these countries called Turkey, Greenland, Finland, Oman and Laos (Laos, when translated to Filipino, is ‘used to be a star, but not anymore’)?

    Mongolia is smaller compared to China, how were they able to conquer it? As well as Rome – it is so small yet it was able to establish an empire.

    If we go to the easternmost tip of Russia how long would it take us to drive all the way to Portugal.

    How do countries situated next to each other know if they already crossed the border? Is there a long fence or wall? Why are there lots of countries in one big chunk of land? Can’t they just be one country so it’s easier to remember?

    Why is there snow in other countries and not where I am?

    Of course no one answered those questions for me and my brother, as our mom and dad were at work and by the time they got home we would have already moved on from these thoughts.

    I believe subconsciously that curiosity lingered on. That was why as I got older, and the world progressed from the conventional way of booking tickets (going to an actual airline ticketing office and getting the plane tickets tucked in envelopes) to the more efficient online flight bookings, I’ve raced away as much as I could, visiting one country to another. I’m glad D is game to fly with me, and he’s also into getting lost and exploring our way around.

    Like the big map I grew up with, the world is bigger – with many beautiful places, people, cultures, nature to find and appreciate. I’m thankful to my Dad because he was the catalyst to my curiosity, and eventually motivation, to travel.

    Map

    Street Art Hunting: Where the Heart Is

    The Way Home

    The Way HomeThe Way Home is a composed of 3 murals, depicting its creator Solana L. Perez’s homesickness. They can be found at the One Parkade at BGC.

    What comes to mind when you think of home?

    I could take it literally and choose which dormitory, house, or apartment made an impact to my memory from the time I moved out of my folks’ to go to college, until I married and settled into a house of my own, with D and the boys. Or I could take this question metaphorically and think of what, where, and when I find peace and happiness most. I’d go for the latter – when I am true to myself and accept the people around me.

    Right here, and now, as I write this: I am home.

     

     

    Street Art Hunting: Courtship

    Tagpuan

    Tagpuan

    This beautiful mural by John Paul Antido is called Dating Tagpuan. In English it translates to the old meeting place. Very artistically done, where the painting was done on two joint walls. It’s located near the side street of BGC Central. I like passing through this street when I take the long route home just so I can see this art work.

    Oh, the age of innocence! Sometimes I’d bring my thoughts back to the days of my youth, when the world seemed bigger and everything was simpler.

    But way back in the olden days, the concept of ‘courtship’ was observed. Men would formally visit a woman’s home and bring gifts, usually for both the women they are courting and the women’s parents. They would make their intentions of courtship known, and they would patiently wait until they get the woman’s “matamis na oo” (in English: sweet yes). I believe this practice originated from the time the Philippines was colonized by Spain.

    I had my fair share of this back when I was in the university – I also experienced my own harana (serenade) though it was more of a thing the guys did for for fun really. They jammed and sang Eraserheads songs outside the dorm window.

    For me, personally, I cringed at the thought of courtship. I mean, it’s so formal and one way, I’d  just say no outright to save the guy his time and effort. More than a couple of times I found ways to dodge guys who would ask if they can go to the house to court.

    Anyway, I digress.

    Whenever I see this mural I would hum to Kanlungan, an old song that my friends  and I strummed the guitar to back in the university. Its lyrics go like this:

    Natatandaan mo pa ba nung tayong dalawa ay unang nagkita,

     Panahon ng kamusmusan sa piling ng mga bulaklak at halaman

    Doon tayo nagsimulang mangarap at tumula.

    In English: Do you still remember when first we met, we were young.

    Amidst flowers and trees, that’s where we started to dream and write poetry.

    Have you ever courted anyone, or been the one at the receiving end? How was it and how did it turn out? Would you prefer for this Filipino tradition to be revived?

    Sleepless

    Cat

    Alarm set to 5AM, settled myself comfortably on the bed, closed my eyes.

    Just when thousands of thoughts raced in my head.

    I tossed, turned, and reminded myself it’s time to sleep.

    It’s already 11PM I should get plenty of rest. But I’m not sleepy…

    Deep breaths, prayed for sleep to come, but no.

    What am I going to eat for brekkie tomorrow? Maybe I should wear my sneakers to work so I can walk around during lunch break. I gained two inches around the hips, Just when I already cleared out my wardrobe. Yikes. But maybe, instead of shopping for new clothes I should really just save up for my upcoming holiday. Let’s see, where to go? I prefer somewhere we haven’t been before…Or, for a change, what if I just hang out at home with the boys? I could not spend enough time with them on weekends, and I miss them so much. Wait, what’s the time? Argh it’s already 1:44 AM and I’m still not sleepy. I MUST SLEEP.

    Reminisced a good memory. Tossed and turned some more.

    What, I’m still awake! Roar. I’ll be grumpy tomorrow. Please make me sleep...please, please…

    And then my alarm goes off.

    What?! Was I dreaming I couldn’t sleep? What a bummer. Give me five minutes more. Please.

    Hit Snooze.

    Alarm goes off again.

    Pfft. Fine. I’ll sleep early tonight to make up for this.

    Cat
    Me, in a daze wondering where I am, sometimes.

    Street Art Hunting: Bear With Me

    Art
    Art
    Artwork by Nate Frizzell

    Welcome to the first part of my Hunt for Street Art in the Bonifacio Global City (BGC) in Taguig City, Philippines.

    Many would consider BGC as the new Makati. It’s a fast developing CBD, with new high rise buildings popping up before I could even familiarize myself with my surroundings. Last December I moved into my new office here, hence I had more time after hours to explore what the place has to offer. As an appreciator of art, BGC proved to be a feast to my eyes. One of the first art works that captured my eye is this painting by Nate Frizzell. It’s called We Are What We Pretend To Be, and here are the thoughts that came into my mind as I looked at it.

    No Dramas, they say, but just you wait…

    Nonchalance, when deep inside bubbles of anxiety are brewing…

    Fearless, because there’s really nothing left to lose…

    Stoic, after hardening one’s heart from all the hurt and pain…

    Boisterous laughter, and if you look closer there’s no joy in the eyes…

    I’m ok, LOL, why do you ask, it was not about me, don’t you worry. Life’s a blast.

     

     

     

     

    Random Thoughts: Happiness Part 2

    blooms

    “I see trees of green, red roses too. I see them bloom for me and you.

    And I think to myself what a wonderful world.” — Louis Armstrong

    During my 1 year hiatus from work, I would hear this song being played on the local radio everyday at 8 o’clock in the morning. I remember my dad whenever I hear this  – it’s one of his favorite songs of all time. He even bought a singing frog stuffed toy a long time ago, and he would play this song again and again.

    As I got older I could relate to this song more. Come to think of it, it’s the simple things in life and in the world that could bring a smile (or laughter) in my heart.

    Happiness, for me, is waking up refreshed from a good night’s sleep;

    It is the smell of freshly baked bread, and the sight of blooming flowers of the season;

    The pleasant surprise of stumbling upon a new find, or rediscovering long lost remnants of a fun childhood routine;

    A bird randomly perching on my shoulder one cold winter’s day;

    Clasping hands with D every now and then while walking thousands of steps on a sunny day;

    The feeling of accomplishment after hours of climbing up a mountain;

    Singing softly to a seedling encouraging it to grow strong, and stumbling  upon colorful dragonflies during tree planting activities;

    And finally after a day’s work, being able to snuggle under the sheets on a cool January night, recounting all blessings I’ve received earlier that day, and finally being able to sleep soundly at night being at peace with myself and with God.