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.

Undas: Visiting the dead

Not quite sure how All Saints and All Souls days are commemorated elsewhere. But here in the Philippines, traditionally, almost everyone go to their hometowns to visit cemeteries, pay respects to their parents, grandparents, and other family members who have passed away. October 31 to November 2 of every year account for thousands, hundred of thousands, or even of millions of live people visiting the dead in cemeteries, memorial parks, and columbarium. Sales for all kinds of candles and flowers shoot up.

We go home to the province every year for this purpose. My dad roots from Pampanga, while my mom from Nueva Ecija, both provinces in Central Luzon and can be reached by road. We used to go on a road trip between the two, going to as many as four different cemeteries sometimes. But lately, it has been just Pampanga, since Nueva Ecija is much farther, and we don’t have a family house there anymore.

My grandfather (mom’s father) who has died four years ago has his cremated remains at a columbarium just near our residence. My cousin’s cremated remains are there too. So, now it’s possible to visit them three days without needing to stay overnight.


The remains of my other grandfather (dad’s father) is in Pampanga, and it’s not so difficult to visit it, since the province is just about a 2-hour drive away from the city. In a way, the scenes at a cemetery during this time is like a feast of the living for the dead. Informal family reunions happen at family mausoleums and in front of tombs. Besides the flowers and candles, there are a lot of food and drinks brought by the families, and a lot of others sold at stalls just outside the cemetery. It’s an interesting time to go on food tripping too.

Paying respects to the dead and meeting up with the living. Overall I would say that it’s still a good “social” event, to keep “in touch” with our past (our ancestors, I mean), and discovering the future generations (and yes, there were cute little “pamangkins” or nephews and nieces by our cousins).

There is Halloween too, mostly in the metro areas. I’ve seen a spike in Halloween parties and costume parties for adults, when it used to be popular mostly for kids. Halloween may be a very western tradition, but it’s getting big here the past decade. There’s trick-or-treating in some subdivisions and villages, and even in some companies, for the little ones. Adults are also putting a lot more effort to their Halloween costumes lately.

How do you celebrate or commemorate this holiday?

Undas directly translates as “the first of the month”, but traditionally used to call the first of November, the All Saints / All Souls day.

creepyNotice this photo… It’s the arch just outside a cemetery in Pampanga. The words are written in the local dialect “Ila ngeni, ica bucas”, which in English means “today it’s them, tomorrow, it will be you”. Creepy, isn’t it?

Home is where the heart is

The title may sound so cliche. But I came to realize how true and genuine it is. Home is not a single, constant place. It’s wherever our family and our heart is.

It was our very first trip to Australia as a family, and the first ever for me and my sister. Used to be that we do family trips to Singapore at least 2x a year to visit my brother, but since the start of this year he has transferred to Sydney and have been a lot farther than before. Because of the travel cost and effort required (visas, tickets, and the actual travel time), we decided to do a one-time trip to Australia altogether and spend a longer time there.

Those were a wonderful 3-weeks with the family. Add to that the super-extended family we found in Sydney. My dad has a cousin who lives there with his family. My mom has three cousins there, all with grown kids about my age. A number of our second-cousins have gotten married already and now starting their own families. There goes a mega-extended family, a clan growing by the moment. We even had a weekend trip with a total of 27 people with us, all relatives and their partners.

The importance and influence of the family is a significant Filipino trait, and it extends way beyond the physical boundaries of the country. I’m not sure what other cultures cling to their families as much. And family relationships and the warmth are not limited to the immediate family members, but as far as you could trace your blood relationships.

There was something about Australia that made it feel so much like home. Maybe it’s the fact that I was there with the family. Maybe the extended family added to the homey feeling a bit. Perhaps it’s also the environment that seemed so comfortable for raising a family. Whatever it was, I was drawn and enamored. And honestly, I didn’t want to leave anymore.

Wherever my family is, there my home will be. Furthermore, wherever I will be raising my own family in the future, there my home will be. Our family is all grown now, my brother working outside the country for the past 7 years, and the possibility in the next few years that me and my siblings will all leave the nest and explore abroad or get married, or both. It’s just interesting to imagine the possibilities. I wonder where I’ll eventually end up. Would be nice to have that somewhere be still close to family.