Between home and home

A very strange feeling this is. I’ve been away from home for more than three weeks, and I mean from my current residence in Sydney. I’m coming home soon, but I’m also leaving home in the process, and I mean our family home in Manila where I grew up in and lived until less than two years ago. I am excited to get back to my place and start the rest of the year, but at the same time feel that little bit of sadness as I again leave my original home and not know when I’m coming back next.

This trip has been a great opportunity to reconnect with people who have played significant roles in my life, both in the past and at present. I also rekindled my entrepreneurial passion and will be revealing my new business venture soon. I truly savored being able to celebrate Christmas and New Year back home like years past. Met up with my truest friends (who were in town) over coffee, breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, or anything in between and shared so many stories that we have missed from each other. Spent time bonding with my sister and my cousins.

I somehow feel part of this world once again. But in reality, I am not. My current life now revolves in Sydney, and this is really just a break, a holiday from it all. Back to real life for me soonest. I’m not complaining though, cos my real life is also amazing. It’s just hard to reconcile that one cannot live two different realities at the same time.

See you next time Manila. ♥

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Christmas came early this year

There are just so many things that should excite me in the coming days. There’s the Coldplay concert next week, the family trip pre-Christmas, and most of all, spending Christmas and New Year back home. There are even more exciting things coming early next year – Adele, travels, and so much more. But somehow I feel like I’m not as excited as I should be for all those other things.

Perhaps it’s because of the health-scare I’ve had in the second half of this year. It’s quite unsettling to be face-to-face with that big word – cancer. I had a solitary thyroid nodule which was suspicious on tests. They couldn’t determine from initial tests if it was benign or malignant, and a lot of parameters were pointing to a risk for malignancy. The only way they could find out is to take out the entire lobe and do a biopsy of the entire mass.

Hence, I headed for surgery mid-November. I’m super thankful to my mom who came over to help me out pre- and post-operation. And my brother who has always been great support. I was lucky that I got myself a good private health insurance earlier this year. I am also very happy that I have good doctors and an amazing surgeon.

Christmas came early for me this year, as two weeks after my surgery, my surgeon gives me the great news that my nodule was benign! It’s the best news for me all year. Thank God.

Let me savor this moment to realise how truly blessed I am.

 

Post script:
Being the inquisitive geek that I am, I have been reading and I continue to read about my entire thyroid nodule saga. So beyond what my doctors were telling me up front, I was also researching and reading relevant references in my own time, because I wanted to know what it was all about. My surgeon just confirmed with me the findings of the biopsy, and I am also reading more about it. I might do another post later on with the more medical side-story.

Love and Christmas Time

You may think at first that I am writing about the importance of having a “lovelife” at Christmastime. On the contrary, IT IS NOT ABOUT LOVE LIFE. I want to write about LOVE itself, because Christmas is all about love

It has been a pretty interesting season for me this year. There was no countdown to December 25th, no office parties, no ham nor food bundle from the office. My 13th month salary has been consumed long before the holiday season kicked in (but for a good reason though). I did not get to decorate the Christmas tree this year. I was not wishing for or expecting any fancy gifts. In a way, I was so busy slaving away at work, and did not even notice Christmas fast approaching. 

And today, Christmas eve.

I am actually not anticipating anything this year. I stopped waiting the moment my brother arrived from abroad just four days ago. Once he arrived, our family was complete. Christmas is already here. 

In a way, this year is all about going back to the essentials, the true meaning of Christmas. It’s all about love – love of family, of friends, of new and past colleagues, of the innocent, and even love for humanity as a whole. It’s about sharing. It’s about reaching out.

I do not have a love life, this Christmas, and perhaps the last ten thousand Christmases (or maybe I’m exaggerating). That being said, I feel wonderful to be able to appreciate the true joy and happiness from God’s love, about which this entire holiday is all about. And instead of still asking God to bless me more, I pray that I may be a blessing to others, God’s simple gift in one way or another.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone!  

A new generation

There is already a new generation that is starting to take its place, and will be taking over our future pretty soon. About 25% to 30% of all posts I see on my Facebook newsfeed are of my friends and colleagues babies and children. I am starting the last year of my 20s, and my friends are about the same age as I, give or take about 5 years older or younger. Considering that most of us are in our late 20s, my friends and classmates have just started getting married the past 2 to 3 years, and most of them are starting to have their babies this past year.

My childhood best friend gave birth to her beautiful baby girl seven months ago. The wife of a close guy friend just gave birth to a baby girl yesterday. A number of friends and batchmates have kids from about 0 to 4 years old. There are three babies born within a six month period to three of my second cousins based in Sydney, Australia, and another baby born two years ahead of them, and it’s so cute to find my cousins pictures with these babies altogether. So much bundles of cuteness around.

Oh well, here comes the new generation, the new batch who will be making their way into the world. These are the individuals who will be exposed to the current and future technologies, and given the vast opportunities of the future. What will the world be in 2080s to 2100s? We probably won’t be able to reach that point, but our children, the next generation, will be able to forge and experience this future world.

I won’t be reproducing anytime soon, though, not until I find me a good husband to be my partner. But I now see the shift in responsibilities and priorities of my generation. It’s time to be responsible for another individual’s life as we now start to be blessed by children. We’re starting to be less-selfish and childish, and more thoughtful of other people, more responsible, and more aware of the need to contribute to a better society and a better future.


P.S. I’m still trying to get used to my title as “Tita” (Aunt) Abii , after being just an “Ate” (Big Sister) Abii to a number of my younger friends in college, and to all of my cousins. My colleagues kids have already started calling me Tita Abii in the past few years, but only now is it really sinking in, perhaps especially when my friends’ kids start talking.

The Climb

We went on an adventure two weeks ago, set off early morning to Capas, Tarlac to embark on a hike to the Mount Pinatubo crater lake.

The base camp in Tarlac was about 2.5 hours drive from Quezon City (northern part of Metro Manila), sans the traffic, because we left before daybreak. At the base camp, we registered with the tourism office, with the help of our tour organiser. The payment to the organiser and the tourism office are usually paid separately. Once everything was arranged, we set off on a 4×4 military-style jeep across the lahar-laden terrain.

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After a 1-hour ride on the 4×4, the vehicle parked about a large open area, and we began our 7km hike on foot. Indeed, 7km seems not so very far, but if you consider that the terrain is all volcanic sand and rocks along the banks (or rather, criss-crossing) of a mountain river, and all uphill, you will realise that it is not a walk in the park. It took us about 2.5 hours to hike the entire 7km uphill.

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The climb was all worth it. The crater lake was a beautiful sight to behold. We arrived at the crater lake mid-morning, and was still fortunate to find some shade made by the rim of the crater along the banks of the lake. We had about an hour just to sit there in the shade, look out at the lake, and just relax.

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Just recently, they have already disallowed swimming in the lake. I think they just imposed it this January (2013), for a good reason. According to stories, someone died a few weeks (or months) back, not because of drowning, but because of poisoning after ingesting water from the lake. Besides the usual sulfur, the lake is also high in other heavy chemicals, especially Arsenic, which is well known as an instant poison.

Near noon, the sun caught up with the crater and we had to seek shade, and then have lunch. There’s nothing to buy there, except for drinks which are P100 per bottle (about US$2.5, but honestly x3 of its regular price at the city). We brought chicken and rice meals with us for lunch, and different snack items we’ve been munching on throughout our climb.

After about three hours at the crater lake, we already decided to start our descent. We went down the same way we came up, and somehow the descent seemed a little bit more difficult in terms of traversing the terrain. But speed and effort was not the problem, just the balancing while shifting your weight downwards on the rocks and stones. It was one hell of a leg workout.

The return ride on the 4×4 was extremely dusty too, mainly because the terrain was a lot drier than during dawn, and there were a number of other vehicles ahead of us. It is good to have a shawl to cover the mouth and nose, and shades to cover the eyes. Covering for the head/hair is helpful too.


Some advise to those who intend to go on their own Mount Pinatubo adventure:

  • Try to look online for discounter vouchers. Or just research online the different groups and companies that organise trips to Pinatubo. Sometimes, the packages can include the transportation from Metro Manila, and even the meals. As for us, we chose to bring our own vehicles and bring our own food.
  • Keep your bag light. The most important things to bring/use are the following:
      • food – lunch; some snacks to eat along the way, such as sandwiches, cookies, and chips; candies and some sweets
      • drinks – water will do, but better to bring some hydrating drinks too such as gatorade. Best to bring at least two liters worth of fluids, unless you’re willing to spend money on the P100 drinks along the way
      • scarf, shawl, bandana or sarong – useful for a lot of instances, such as for keeping warm during the early morning, a covering for the face and mouth during the ride and the climb, and something to sit on at the banks of the crater lake… and perhaps a lot of other uses
      • hat or cap – to cover the head from the heat of the sun
      • trekking sandals – better to use this than rubber shoes, because there’s a lot of instances that you will need to cross the river
      • breathable clothes – I would advice to wear shorts or short pants, and sports shirt or singlet; bring additional clothes too, just in case you will need to change
      • light jacket – not sure if this is always applicable, but our January trip was very cold during the morning, and so the light jacket was really useful
  • Put all your stuff in a backpack

The lessons of 2012

The year 2012 is another landmark in my 28-year life, because of achievements and travels, but most of all as a significant transition stage in my life. So many great life lessons were learned, and not the easy way.

I finished one of the most challenging goals of my recent life – to finish and open The Mind Museum to the public. But somehow, I had to move away and move on, because I am still meant for something else, possibly something grander than the world I moved in while still with The Mind Museum. My career was to take a big leap forward, towards where I ought to be.

However, I had to go through a rollercoaster, just to find the guts to keep on moving. At first I resisted the change. I was personally committed to the project until we finished. Everything after that was already a bonus. Then, something really made me decide to leave. Whatever that something was, it turned out to be one of the biggest blessings in disguise for me.

I had about four months of “soul searching” after my resignation. Those four months involved a lot of staying at home, freelance work, travel, and job-hunting. The most challenging was the job-hunting, because there was so much possibilities, and I had to narrow down the choices and “sell” myself properly. At the end of it, I found what I wanted, and a company who seemed to want me for who I was and what I am capable of. Big career leap, I may say. We’ll see how it works this new year.

I got to travel around in 2012 too. Twice to Boracay for vacation, to Bacolod for a wedding, to Singapore for a conference, to Malaysia for a personal adventure, and to Australia for a vacation with the family. The Malaysia and Australia trips were after I resigned, and in a way it was good because I got to spend three weeks in Australia and go around a bit. We mainly visited my brother in Sydney, met up with a lot of extended relatives, and went sight-seeing. We also got to experience Canberra, Gold Coast, and visit other relatives in Melbourne.

That’s a gist of what happened in 2012. Some important realizations and lessons:

  • I am lucky to have a wonderful family who I can always rely on, and I am quite sure they will always have my back no matter what. And I also now fully appreciate when they say “mother knows best”.
  • Introspection is very important. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what everyone else thinks about you. You can never please everyone. Just focus on the things that are important to you, and just be the best version of yourself. I am who I am. I cannot be someone else. There are parts of me that I cannot change, and I would like to be accepted the way that I am, fluff and stuff.
  • We should be careful who we trust, even with the “good friends”. Be careful how much you share with them. I’ve been burned twice before, by two people who I thought will have my back no matter what. Seems like they were the ones who judged me the most, perhaps because they knew too much. They thought they knew who and what I really was, but they were already blinded by their prejudice and their own biases.
  • Boys will be boys. I can never understand how some of them are so willing to cheat on their wives or girlfriends, but I have no plans of getting involved in such. I can’t stand to be someone’s number two or someone’s mistress, and I do not want to be the cause of hurt to spouses, partners, and children.
  • I’ve completely closed and abandoned my “hope” for my first love. Finally, first love “dies”, after 15 long years. I now understand why it was never meant to be. It never was, never is, and never will be. The book is closed.
  • I’m bankrupt. I’m almost done paying-off my liabilities though. I’m now learning a better way of managing my finances, saving on basic expenses, and eventually putting something away for the rainy days. The credit card is taking the backseat from now on.
  • I’ve found myself into Twitter. It is indeed one useful tool of communication.
  • Home is where the heart is. It is not a single place, but rather, wherever love (and family) resides.
  • Simplicity and calmness. Two wonderful things I’ve learned from yoga and meditation.
  • I know now where I want to be, and what I want to be. I’m going after that now.

Maybe the greatest lesson of the year is learning to let go. Let go of things that you don’t need anymore. Let go of things that do not work anymore. Let go of the negative emotions. Let go of expectations. When you learn how to let go of the right things, you’ll learn to travel lighter, with less baggage. Then, you’ll have more space for new things, and possibly for the best things that have yet to come.

I have all the space now for everything that 2013 will give me. I’m ready.

Tonight’s Dress / Happy 25th / My life, profound

Let me start with an anecdote. There is this story about two dresses…

Dress one, a wonderful floral dress I bought last February. I got it the same time I bought a cocktail dress for my uncle’s wedding. I had no urgent use for it but it was so beautiful and it fit me so well that I just had to buy it. However, there was no other formal event to go to during the first half of 2012, so the dress just waited in the closet for its time.

Dress two was bought in Singapore, during my trip there last March. I wouldn’t let a Singapore trip pass without going to Bugis, and there I was able to buy this simple teal dress, among other clothes. I’ve always wanted to wear the dress, but every time I attempted to, it always seemed too formal for the instance. I even brought it with me to Australia during my trip, hoping that there would be some kind of a dressy affair to go to, but still it never got used. Sensing no urgent need for it, I left it together with a few stuff to save on baggage weight for my flight back. It was sent back via box shipment.

I attended a formal event tonight and I needed a good dress to wear. I was keen on wearing the floral dress. With much excitement  I tried it on a few days ago, but it would not fit! Though I hate to admit it, I gained weight these past few months and couldn’t fit into the dress it anymore. I could just wear my other dresses, although most of them have already been worn to previous events. Then, I remembered the teal dress. I tried looking for it but couldn’t find it anywhere in my closet. I eventually remembered that it was still en route in a box, which we haven’t received yet after more than one and a half months. Oh well, I had to find something else to wear, maybe re-use one of the dresses I’ve worn before.

Wonderful news when the box arrived just yesterday! The dress was there, I tried it on, and it still fit well! Pretty interesting for a dress bought from Singapore to come to Manila, travel all the way to Sydney, and come back to Manila just in time to be worn for the very first time.


The event I attended was the 25th wedding anniversary of my uncle and aunt who lives in Sydney. My uncle is actually my dad’s first cousin, and their entire family was so wonderful and gracious when we visited them in Sydney, how I wish I met them a long time ago! They are also so caring for my brother who was living on his own in Sydney. They welcomed him and treated him like family.

Happy 25th wedding anniversary and re-wedding to Tito Bong and Tita Isa! It’s so beautiful to see a family like yours. Health and happiness to you, and your children Jomar and Steph.


Things are coming together for me in odd ways. The universe works its unexplainable magic. When it wants to give you lessons, it sometimes does in whispers. Sometimes the universe talks to you in Latin, or hieroglyphics. It’s a bit difficult for me to find a way to communicate it properly so that it can be understood. What’s there about this dress, the wedding, and the universe?

I’m guessing that the two dresses are two views of myself. One is a really wonderful view, which does not fit me anymore, and the other, a view that couldn’t find its place before, that it had to travel around first before coming back and finding its right place and time.

Indeed the right place and time. I write in metaphors again, like my post about reflections or my post about train rides. I was somewhere I belonged from 2008 to earlier this year, but I was not meant to simply remain a certain way, or in a certain place, or with the same people. I had almost half a year of trying to find myself, and trying to find where I am meant to be. I am not yet there, but I feel that I’m getting closer and closer. I’ve already realized where I want to be. I’m hoping to soon find who I would want to be with. Everything will fall into place eventually. Now I simply let myself be carried away by the waves of this mighty river that is my life.