Monday, December 17, 2007

No Room for "Perfunctory"

The weather outside is supposed to be -2c but “feels like” -7c, that is according to uk. But no matter, I survived the short evening walk with a friend going to church for the carol service tonight. There was for me a feeling of “settled comfort” in celebrating Christmas the traditional way—that is, singing traditional carols and hearing angel monologues and reading the Good Book and again reflect on the fact that what is being celebrated and remembered is an event so awesome it impacted history and humankind more powerfully than any other thing under heaven.

Yet after the whole thing, we stayed behind and over warm cups of tea or coffee, biting delicately on mince pies, chit-chatted about where everyone was going for Christmas, how the weather was getting really chilly, how some still have to wrap up work and all that. How ironically perfunctory life can settle back to be after a carol service.

An hour’s reflection on Jesus---or maybe a season, and lives move on--until the next season. I feel a bit of sadness that I could actually be so perfunctory about Christmas. It means more than minced pies, or the funny Christmas decoration of a stuffed Santa climbing into a window in the house beside the church, or hot tea with milk or a box of chocolates, or the number of Christmas cards I’ve received and arranged nicely in my room.

It’s a good thing that God is never perfunctory—that word may not even be in His dictionary…oh well, I simply breathe a little prayer, that my heart may be eased with this fact because I know that my love even at its best, can never even begin to match up to a whisper of His.

I pray that He will amaze you (and me!) with His love this Christmas.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Chocolate-Covered Bliss

I'm sorry that I'm not really sorry about not being able to share these unbelievably rich, melt-in-the-mouth pieces of bliss with you...

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

London 101

One of the first things I was trying to work out when I first came to the UK was how on earth I can get myself to London. And the answer came in the form of blogpal Jen! Like a true jetsetter, she came to UK for a visit after a job-connected training in France and asked if I wanted to come over and stay with her in her friend's place in Essex and go around with her in London. So, what else would be a better motivation to finish three 4,500-word essays, I ask you?

So here's the state of my room pre-London...

Anyway, Jen and I had a lovely (so Brit of me, ey?) Friday of walking around Central London. We took turns taking photos, enjoying the architecture of the Natural History Museum...
...enjoying clear blue skies (for a change, no rain, at least for that Friday anyway...),

...feeding a squirrel with skyflakes crackers (and yes he/she loved it and came back for seconds!),

...enjoying the scene at dusk at Kensington Park...

until Jen's hands turned numb from the chill...and mine, too a few minutes later. So a mug each of Starbucks' Eggnog Latte (yum!) to hold helped defrost our hands nicely.

It was great to have Jen as tourist guide since the London underground system looked scary...

...and her expert guidance gave me more of a handle on it--so actually being with Jen was like taking a course on London 101, which was a great help!

Hey, Jen--come back again when I'm still around, okey?

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

A Night in the Life of a Student in Panic

typetypetypetypetypetypetypetype……hmmm…. typetypetypetypetypetypetypetype


typetypetypetypetypetypetypetype (yawn) typetypetypetypetypetypetypetypetype






typetypetypetypetypetypetypetype typetypetypetypetype


wordcount 1504 *sigh*sigh*




readreadreadreadeditediteditreadread (I can’t believe I said that!)deletedeletedeletedelete


wordcount down to 1301 *sigh*




glanceatpacketofpotatochips *sighs*



typetypetypetypetypetypetypetype typetypetypetypetypetype


wordcount 2300 coughcoughcoughsneeze!sneeze!sniff!sniff!







wordcount still 2300 (ofcourse)





wordcount 2700






….1800 words more to go….*sigh*


PS. Sorry I am so deluged right now...will bloghop when I am free from all these...

Friday, November 30, 2007

Excitement Is In The Eyes of the Beholder

Events this week:

In the Philippines
An earthquake hit Manila!

In Gloucester
The sun sets at 4pm!

In the Philippines
A typhoon hits Zamboanga!

In Gloucester
The temp’s down to 6c at night!

In the Philippines
A coup attempt was squelched!

In Gloucester
There’s a Christmas Market at the Town Centre!

I miss home.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

When in Rome...

..spell as the Romans spell...*sigh*

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Globalization in a Dish

No, not to worry, this is not cute Miss Squirrel from my previous post.

The story behind this dish is:

A Welsh classmate went hunting for rabbits with his friends over a weekend and promised to bring two 'trophies' to a Gambian classmate. My Gambian classmate decided to cook it for Sunday dinner for some of us. One he decided to make into rabbit in peanut soup and the other (in photo) into fried rabbit. He didn’t have any seasoning for the fried rabbit, so I gave him a packet of Indonesian Ayam Goreng (Fried Chicken) Mix to marinade his fried rabbit in (which in the end I had to do for him…men!) His other problem was the peanut soup mix which he didn’t have, so he substituted it with cheap peanut butter from Tesco, which worked quite well. While he cooked his best friend from Malawi and a classmate from Korea assisted him by mashing the onions, all the while complaining that onions should be chopped not mashed.

An Indian friend realized that some of the Brits found it hard for their sensibilities to eat cuddly rabbits for dinner and so she decided to make some Indian chicken curry. The Irish classmate decided she will forego her ‘principles’ this time around and have rabbit for dinner. I cooked Thai Jasmine rice to go with the meal since Indian Basmati was more expensive.

While we were eating another classmate from China dropped by and joined the meal while another classmate from Zimbabwe asked “Is this really rabbit? Are you sure it’s not chicken?” three times while eating.

All the while we wondered if we can get the Italians do dinner next Sunday…

...just a wee personal take on globalization.

...and yes, it tasted like chicken.

..and yes, they are thinking of squirrels next time.

Friday, November 16, 2007

A Morning Visitor

"Could you be so kind to spare a cup of tea, love?
There's a bit of chill out this morning..."

Monday, November 12, 2007

My 110th Post


Since I missed celebrating my 100th post, (I think I was in the midst of transition then), I decided to celebrate my 110th post instead, first, by turning my blog pink and now, listing 110 of my favorite 'stuff' in life , in random order…

  1. Sleeping in, tucked under smooth, fresh-scented sheets on a queen-sized bed on a rainy day.
  2. Eating my favorite instant noodle while watching a really funny movie on DVD.
  3. Chilling in Baguio.
  4. Blogging.
  5. Taking “artsy” photos that actually come out really artsy.
  6. Rainbows.
  7. Chatting non-stop about everything and anything over Figaro coffee with my favorite people.
  8. Reading a page-turner late at night when the world is still.
  9. Walking along nature trails in cool mountain retreats.
  10. Wide windows.
  11. Tomato ketchup.
  12. Worshipping at Christ Commission Fellowship.
  13. Going for a one-hour thai massage at my favorite massage place.
  14. Mining up spiritual treasures from my Bible.
  15. Longsilog Breakfast (with tomato ketchup).
  16. Having “whatever” conversations with my nieces.
  17. Serving friends my specialties: Chicken Curry or Spaghetti Bolognese.
  18. Sudoku.
  19. People-watching at airport lounges.
  20. Swapping belly-aching jokes with friends.
  21. Foot spa.
  22. Getting around on my own in other countries.
  23. The smell of the ground after the rain.
  24. Practicing my meager Thai.
  25. Bringing foreign visitors around Manila (on public transport!!) and getting them to enjoy our local food.
  26. Earrings.
  27. Spur-of-the-moment out-of-town trips.
  28. Giving the right gifts to people.
  29. Dark chocolate.
  30. Crossing out stuff from my TO DO list.
  31. A good bargain.
  32. A good sneeze.
  33. The scent of Sampaguita (I think its Jasmine in English?)
  34. Meeting up with long lost friends I never thought I’d see again.
  35. Filling up forms. (Yeah, I’m weird that way).
  36. Figuring out people’s personalities/temperaments through Myers Briggs (and finding out I am right.)
  37. Finishing assignments.
  38. Flip flops.
  39. Finally making use of stuff I’ve put aside (read: hoarded) for future use.
  40. NOT getting spam in my inbox for a change.
  41. That “Eureka” moment when I finally understand the convoluted sentences written by academic scholars.
  42. Surfing for and installing nice desktop images.
  43. My Canon digicam, TK.
  44. Listening to foreign friends talk about behind-the-headlines stuff about their countries.
  45. Japanese Green Tea.
  46. Some structure in life.
  47. No-beating-around-the-bush people.
  48. Pleasant surprises.
  49. Writing.
  50. McSpaghetti.
  51. Tulips.
  52. Making lay outs.
  53. Warm hands and feet even when it’s cold.
  54. Warm “jumpers.”
  55. Long emails from my favorite people.
  56. A heater (at least, while I am here in the UK).
  57. Jack Bauer (in case you didn’t notice).
  58. My laptop, CK.
  59. Denzel Washington movies
  60. Ice cold Diet Coke or Diet Pepsi (whichever is available).
  61. Crossword puzzles.
  62. Sushi
  63. Freshly laundered clothes
  64. Staying in Thailand.
  65. Carnations.
  66. Summer rains.
  67. A warm tight hug from a friend.
  68. Light romantic comedies like “While You Were Sleeping”
  69. Yahoo Messenger (alas! My friends are online while I am asleep, and vice versa)
  70. Being the first to “get the joke.”
  71. Witty people.
  72. Babies (when not crying)
  73. Nice clothes.
  74. Josh Groban
  75. Rich, deep colors
  76. Treats and freebies.
  77. Strong warm shower.
  78. Violin music.
  79. Sharing.
  80. Reminiscing about my time at the refugee camp. (No, I wasn’t a refugee, I worked there.)
  81. Picking up a foreign language.
  82. People who know how to say “Thank you.”
  83. Comfortable chairs where I can sit with my feet up or tucked under.
  84. Bailey’s and/or Kahlua
  85. My space.
  86. Autumn (for the colors not the chill).
  87. Fresh air.
  88. Considerate people.
  89. Pure unadulterated silence
  90. Mushrooms (not the magic ones!)
  91. Common sense.
  92. Sincere smiles.
  93. Nice, accessible, hole-in-the-wall restaurants that serve good and reasonably priced food.
  94. Latin music.
  95. Class discussions (yes, yes, I am a bit of a nerd.)
  96. Thai/Vietnamese/Indonesian/Malaysian Local Coffee (served with condensed milk!)
  97. Different types of bath products (shampoo, shower crème, etc.)
  98. Nice immigration officers.
  99. Summer.
  100. Contact lenses (not the colored ones)
  101. Efficiency.
  102. Wings. (Ladies, you know what I mean.)
  103. Well-composed, powerful, emotive photographs.
  104. Everything from the 80’s (excluding fashion and hair)
  105. Picking an unfamiliar dish in a menu and discovering that I made the right choice.
  106. Philippine Mangos
  107. Pinikpikan manok at Café By the Ruins in Baguio. ( I don’t want to explain this dish to the faint-hearted.
  108. Clean, spacious, well-decorated, nice-smelling bathrooms (amply supplied with toilet paper and liquid soap).
  109. Neon yellow highlighters.
  110. Lists.


Saturday, November 10, 2007

Owning Up to Pink

No, you have not made a wrong turn, my friends.

This is still Gypsy's Haven...only pink!

A big "Thank You" to Aleks who helped me set this up! When I wandered over at Paolo's Blog some time back, he had all these different links to nice blog template designs and I found this template to be quite nice...and gypsy-ish....until it was set up. And Aleks, bless his soul, with his busy schedule and with blog celeb interviews, even walked the extra mile (and did a great job!) by tweaking the template design a wee bit to make the posts readable in this template.

I just didn't realize it was!

Life can be ironic. But, as we sometimes say, "C'est la vie!" Some of you might think just because I am a gypsy, I love change and spontaneity--well, not really, not all the time. I can be a really boring, cautious creature of habit. (For example, today is a sunny Saturday and instead of going out with friends to the city center, I opted to have a warm mug of tea, stay in my room and finish my readings and essays as the deadlines are about to break down my door!)

So this will take some getting used to, but I do feel it's high time I get out of the dark (blue), so to speak.

...I know my pink luggage will be happy.

What do you think?

Monday, November 05, 2007

38 Questions

**Answered on Saturday Night.

1. Name one person who made you laugh last night? A schoolmate who slurred his words, pretending he was drunk.

2. What were you doing at 0800? Sleeping in.

3. What were you doing 30 minutes ago? Struggling to understand a book on Globalization.

4. What happened to you in 2006? I spent six months in Davao and worked out my enrollment to a college in the UK.

5. What was the last thing you said out loud? “Most of the financial growth has occurred in the form of high risk ‘hedge funds’ and other purely money-dealing currency and securities markets that trade claims to draw profits from future production.” I read out loud hoping this would help me understand what sounds greek to me. (Didn’t work.)

6. How many beverages did you have today? 3 cups of hot tea with milk and sugar and a cup of coffee and a punch.

7. What color is your hairbrush? Cream.

8. What was the last thing you paid for? A box of cup soup

9. Where were you last night? Talked til 2am with some friends in the dining hall.

10. What color is your front door? Murky avocado green

11. Where do you keep your change? Small thai woven purse

12. What’s the weather like today? Cold and gloomy

13. What’s the best ice-cream flavor? Mango (Selecta only)

14. What excites you? Opportunities to travel and meet up with long-lost friends

15. Do you want to cut your hair? Did that before I came to England-- too expensive here.

16. Are you over the age of 25? Yes.

17. Do you talk a lot? Yes but I discovered I can be out-talked.

18. Do you watch the O.C.? No, am loyal to Jack Bauer.

19. Do you know anyone named Steven? Yes, a good friend’s cousin

20. Do you make up your own words? Yes, sometimes.

21. Are you a jealous person? Think so, sometimes.

22. Name a friend whose name starts with the letter ‘A’. Aileen

23. Name a friend whose name starts with the letter ‘K’. Keith

24. Who’s the first person on your received call list? My classmate here.

25. What does the last text message you received say? “Sorry for late reply, when are you coming? I am excited to see you soon!!”

26. Do you chew on your straw? I used to chew on a pencil.

27. Do you have curly hair? Nope.

28. Where’s the next place you’re going to? Ireland for Christmas!!

29. Who’s the rudest person in your life? Rude people are never “in” my life.

30. What was the last thing you ate? Cold buffalo wings and a caramel apple.

31. Will you get married in the future? No idea.

32. What’s the best movie you’ve seen in the past 2 weeks? East is East (it is hysterical!!)

33. Is there anyone you like right now? Does liking Hugh Jackman count?

34. When was the last time you did the dishes? This evening.

35. Are you currently depressed? No way, even if the weather out is gloomy.

36. Did you cry today? Why on earth would I?

37. Why did you answer and post this? Because I have no idea what to blog about and was tagged by Lazarus and Niceheart.

38. 5 people you tag next? Mon, Hoop, Jenny, Major Tom and Kayni.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Warm Autumn Ramblings

The clocks turned back an hour last Sunday. For me, this seemed like an official goodbye to summer in the UK. There have been other indications of summer leaving:

Like the frequent rainshowers (hello, umbrella and waterproof jackets)

Like the gazillions of leaves that you “crunch” on while walking. (hello, vacuum cleaner on my room’s carpeting)

Like the drop in temperature (hello, heater, jumpers, socks, socks and more socks)

Like the sun retiring early (hello, lamps)

Like the number of hot coffee and tea I have sipped from a warm mug (hello, caffeine!)

Saying goodbye to the summer months also meant one very sad thing for me—that is having to say goodbye to my flipflops pretty soon. I have been able to still wander around the corridors (and a few short trips outdoors) with it but my love for flipflops is not to the point of frostbite, so it will have to stay indoors or maybe parked in my room for sometime.

Not that everything’s all that bad now that summer is over—rest assured, the novelty of being in England has not exactly worn off. Autumn brings its own charms and most them are seen in the molten colors around me as I take walks. Thankfully the sun still comes out
most days. I also get to look “posh” ankle-length boots (bought from good ol’ ukay ukay) and nice jackets and scarves (courtesy of good friends).

Another hello that autumn brings is the warmth of new friendships. Having settled into the community life in college and finding your niche in it helps warm one up—it could be a hug, a cup of warm tea especially made by a friend, a special dish of extra hot Indian curry, a sweet, encouraging anonymous note slipped under your door, an exchange of private jokes and hand-signal greetings (too complicated to explain!), saturday DVD nights all huddled together in the warm TV room.

As a new friend would tease me when she clasps my perpetually cold hands, “Cold hands, warm heart.”

It’s nice to know that for every goodbye, there are hellos—and that for every draft of cold air, there is warm company to ward it off.

Friday, October 26, 2007

---and there's English (Part II)

...and I also learned that...

Bangers are not some kind of gang but actually something you eat (and we all have eaten it as sausage.)

Aubergines are what you put in moussaka and this makes it sound more posh than saying, “I put eggplant in my vegetarian lasagna.”

Barbies are not what little girls play with, in fact, kids are not allowed near it since its where they grill their bangers and burgers.

“Pee” is not what you do in the toilet but that’s the price range I can afford (and happy to pay for).

Chips are also made of potatoes but they are not thin and crispy (those would be crisps!)—and they are said to go well with fish and vinegar. (and I, of course, still prefer ketchup!)

Courgette sounds more romantic thus the Brits prefer to eat this than the humble zucchini.

Jacket potatoes do not mean fashionable spuds in leather, they’re just spuds baked in their skin. (Ouch!)

When you’re chuffed, it means you’re happy and not irritated or itchy with rashes.

Runs are not what you do everyday to keep healthy---in fact, if you have them everyday, you’d get dehydrated and have to admit yourself into the hospital (so be careful what you stuff yourself with!)

A garage is not where you park your car and leave, its were you “fill” your car and leave. (Fill it with…what? Remember the previous post? Yes! Petrol!! Well done!)

Powerpoints are not produced by Microsoft, but you need to get your computers plugged into them to use your Microsoft (or Mac).

A coach is not somebody who yells at you when you shoot the ball into the wrong basket, its what you might want to take when you need to go out of town.

A jumper is not the coverall Dennis the Menace usually wears—well, actually, he might need to wear a jumper when its cold…

A chemist is not somebody who works at a laboratory, it's a place to buy your drugs, I mean, your medicine.

A hole in a wall is not what you haunt for if you’re on a gastronomic adventure but it’s where you might need to get money from if you do go on one.

The Subway is where you get a nice (and pricey) sandwich and the underground is where you catch the trains.

Broody is not when you are in the mood to brood but when you are in the mood for a brood (ie. bushel of babies!)

I could go on and on…but hey, I 'm still learning! Cheerio for now, mates!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

There's "English"--and there's English (Part I)

Last week, one of doors to the shower cubicle had a post-it sign that said ”Shower not in use.” I thought that was a strange—but I figured that maybe the lock wasn’t working and so you need to use that post to indicate when it's in use or when it's not. But since it wasn’t the shower cubicle I normally use, I didn’t give it another thought. Until one day when I was using one of the sinks in that bathroom and a bathrobed-Brit dorm mate came in and groaned, “Oh no, not again!” and left with a sigh for the other bathroom. It was only then that it dawned on me that “Shower not in use” actually meant it was NOT WORKING.

Obviously, there’s "English"---and there’s English—and no two are the same (nor created equal as the Brits would insist, and I know from experience since they have observed loudly that I spoke American English--observed with an accusatory tone, I might add).

I’ve learned that…

Rugby here is not to be sniffed or administered in “gaping” shoes, but actually it is all about grown men groping and clawing each other for the sake of an oval ball.

A bonnet is not where a bee flies into but where men stick their heads into when they're fixing their cars.

When you go into a surgery, nobody will cut you open, they might just check your tongue and make you say, “aahh.”

You can have dinner at lunch time and have tea in the evening, and be quite full.

A rubber is the innocent eraser and not something that controls population growth.

A boot is not what you give people who are not performing well but its actually where you stick your luggage in (or in the case of the Mafia, dead people).

The first floor is on the second floor and the second floor is on the third floor.

Half nine is not 4.5 but 9:30--am/pm.

People walk on pavements not sidewalks, and so do their dogs.

Brit cars prefer petrol to gasoline.

A crèche is not something you eat but it’s where you put your baby if you have to go somewhere else.

There is no yellow color on their traffic lights, only amber.

Afters are what you look forward to when you've finished your main meal but when you are dining with the Queen you will have dessert instead.

Friday, October 12, 2007

3 in 1 Meme!

Even with my assignments breathing down my neck, I know that I must respond to the three—yes, three!—tags from Ipanema over the past few months (read: centuries ago!!). My sense of duty and responsibility to my fellow blogger is strong and therefore cannot be ignored, so assignments can just wait a wee bit for now. Anyway here goes!

I was given the Thoughtful Bragger, ooops, Blogger award which is my third award from Ipanema (and the forth award if I go back to childhood, this would include my poster-making win at elementary, I think I mentioned this before so you can see how pathetically thrilled I am!). So thanks, Ipanema, my friend, you know you are always welcome if you decide to visit the UK ( as if I have a proper home here, but will definitely make a cup of tea with a spot of milk, my lovely.) See how thoughtful I am? *wink*


B. I was also tagged (also by Major Tom) to write about my second name (or middle name as some would call it), which I unfortunately do not possess and for this reason I sometimes get suspicious looks for immigration officers in airports because I obviously share my not so unique name with a couple of hundred other people. In fact, on my first trip abroad when I was about 17, the immigration officer in the then called Manila International Airport wanted to detain me because I shared the same name with a drug pusher. As if!!

But anyway, I have recovered from the so-called traumatic incident and so will simply give myself a second name and surprise, surprise, its GYPSY. *grin* So, okey, heeeere goes! First, the rules:

1. You have to post these rules before you give the facts.
2. Players, you must list one fact that is somehow relevant to your life for each letter of your middle name. If you don’t have a middle name, use the middle name you would have liked to have had.

3. When you are tagged you need to write your own blog-post containing your own middle name game facts.

Here’s what GYPSY means to me:

G – gallivanting. As many of you know, due to my job (and my nature) I do a lot of travelling. Sometimes I feel like I can’t do anymore but when I do stay put in one place for some months, I think my feet literally itch. For a month now, I am “stuck” in Gloucester since travel is incredibly expensive here and I need to save up for it. So, to keep my feet from itching, I go out for long walks. In fact, last week, I walked around town for two hours (that’s a personal record)!

Y – you. I am almost always curious about the people I meet. I ask questions and wonder why they are where they are, who they are, and what makes them tick, among other things. The problem is that I'm a talker myself and if you share something that piques my interest, I would end up gabbing about it! Oh well..

P – peer. As in a colleague. I had a long talk with a colleague who insists that I should develop my leadership potentials, but I believe that I can be of better help to people by coming alongside them than by leading them. Plus there’s less pressure, at least, expectationwise!

S – space. Somedays it means outer space. Depending on my mood, sometimes I go off somewhere into outer space and end up asking the same question a few times before the answer registers. It’s a good thing my officemates are patient with me. Somedays this means personal space, I am an extrovert who has a pig-headed hermit living inside me, and its name is Gollum (my precioussss ssssspacceeee…..).

Y – That’s “why” in text language. I have been accused of being over-analytical sometimes. I like to ask why about a lot of things and sometimes it takes a long series of whys before my curiosity is satisfied. But after only a month here in the UK and with the demands of the course I am in, I might just get tired soon of asking why since the lecturers here expect me to answer my own question. But why?! *sniff*


C. The third tag I got has to do with my deskstop. Boy, I feel like some celebrity being obsessed about by a movie magazine! (Humor me…!)

The tag calls for a screenshot of one’s own desktop, including all the possible icons thereon.

As you can see from my desktop--I am sooo missing the Philippines!!

Anyway, for those tagged, here's a complete set of instructions, please read this:

*Upon receiving this tag, immediately perform a screen capture of your desktop. It is best that no icons be deleted before the screen capture so as to add to the element of fun.

You can do a screen capture by:

  1. Going to your desktop and pressing the Print Scrn key (located on the right side of the F12 key).
  2. Open a graphics program (like Picture Manager, Paint, or Photoshop) and do a Paste (CTRL + V).
  3. If you wish, you can edit the image, before saving it.

For MAC users: Press [ Apple] [ Ctrl ] [ Shift ] and [ 3 ]

* Post the picture in your blog. You can also give a short explanation on the look of your desktop just below it if you want. You can explain why you preferred such look or why is it full of icons. Things like that.

* Tag five of your friends and ask them to give you a Free View of their desktop as well.

And so…I am tagging Beng, Abaniko, Aleks, Ate Grace, and Jap!

Thanks again, Ipanema, for the tags! It was a fun diversion from my reading assignments!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Prayer on My Window

The prayer written on my window is in Portuguese. Inherited from a former student from Brazil. Perhaps it was written during times of loneliness, or times when her studies felt like it was too much, or times when all the "foreign-ness" around her seemed overwhelming. Then perhaps she felt she needed to look outside of herself and to God and how He would wish her to respond.


And if this is so, I share her prayer. Here it is in English:

"Like a lighthouse that shines in the night,
like a bridge over the water,
like a shelter in the desert,
I want to be used in a way that pleases you,
in any place you might place me .
Here is my life, use it."

And I say, "Amen."

Monday, October 01, 2007

Hugging the Space Away

I had to be the shoulder to cry on last week to two new friends. One because of terrible news from home of a relative’s death, the other from having to say goodbye to her boyfriend who stayed only for the weekend. As I put my arms around each one, I felt very keenly, how I was purposely causing the “space” between to disappear. And for the first time in the past couple of weeks, I didn’t mind.

Space—a word that people do not generally associate with Asians. But as a friend once said, and only half-jokingly, “Those who generalize, generally lies.” How true! Because in my case, space is so important. If I could get a restraining order out and keep people at about an arm’s length away, I would…generally.

Now that I am back to dormitory living, space is fast becoming a rare and, therefore, precious commodity. When I was shown to my room a couple of weeks ago, I felt relief wash over me just realizing that I don’t need to share my room with somebody else. But the relief was short-lived since a closed door does not seem to guarantee unlimited enjoyment of private space.

Well, wholly my fault, too if you think of it. My extroverted nature started making friends to the detriment of my introverted side. And so like Smeagol and Gollum, the battle rages, and the points actually go to the extroverted side. You see, I cannot ignore a knock on my door, even though I should actually bury myself under a pile of books stacked up beneath my desk.

But as I hugged a sobbing friend, I realize that part of what makes one human is the need for comfort from community and a sense of belonging—which I would not find if I choose to simply stay within the space. You cannot hug yourself properly, nor can you cry on your own shoulder.

It’s reassuring to know that one day when I myself will need a hug, I will get one.

So you see, Simon and Garfunkel, I can't be a rock, nor a mountain.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Walking Around Windsor

Just thought to share with you my Windsor walk three weeks ago (was that only three weeks ago?!)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

To Keep Me From Getting Homesick...

Aleks told me about this wonderfully indigenized version of "Troy" but never got around to watch it, until I got hit by the homesick bug in the middle of my reading assignments. So this got me snickering in my room, discreetly, though, as the Brits would. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Promises to Keep

There’s a nice apple tree outside my window. Everytime I look out to it, the word “temptation” comes to mind--and how I need to resist it.

The temptation to...

Go out and enjoy the remaining days of summer sunshine – or be holed up in my room starting my reading assignments.

Go out and have a cup of coffee at the dorm lounge with new friends – or go and check out reference books in the library.

Go out and watch a movie at the TV room – or do some research on the net for assignments.

Go out and learn how to play “cricket” with my dormates – or settle down and write a paper on this controversial topic called “postcolonialism.”

…and I am gently reminded by Robert Frost:

“The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.”

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Extravagance of God

*written on Sept 10.

“God cannot do things that are not extravagant.”

The preacher said on my first Sunday service here in England. How apt. How true. I’ve been here for 5 days and still I find myself incredulous that I’ve managed to get here. Many months back when I started the whole process, I was less than positive that I would make it—there were too many hurdles and hoops. But the whole process went amazingly smooth that I could not help but think that this must really be something that God wants me to get into.

Of course, I have yet to get myself to campus and face whatever academic hurdles there is--but the past 6 days have shown me so many glimpses of God’s extravagant grace.

He’s provided me with generous colleagues who have opened their home to me for a week’s stay. This didn’t just mean a roof over my head but food and hospitality!

He’s provided me with the best sleep I have ever had in ages—I’ve had a full 8 hours of sleep and at British time as well…funnily enough, no jet lag. I just slept when the sun went down and got up when it rose. Well, it didn’t hurt that I had an unbelievably cuddly duvet!

He’s provided me with fabulous food—and yes, I can honestly say that the English meals I’ve had have been good and they were as English as it could get: Toad in the Hole (not what you think it is), Scotch Eggs, Tea and Cream, Scones. Unfortunately no Fish & Chips as of yet (I wonder what they’ll think if I dip them with catsup instead of vinegar…)

He’s provided me with great sunny and comfortably cool weather, so I could take walks and enjoy the neigborhood I’m in (it’s obviously a fancy—or as the Brits would say—posh neighborhood, what with houses having names instead of ordinary numbers with the street name attached to it—like No. 10 Downing Street…)

He’s gotten my generous hosts to bring me to some sightseeing at Windsor…and with the Union Jack flying high on one of the Castle’s tower, the queen was even in residence! I never got to visit the Queen or chase the little mice under her chair (ugh) but just going around the outside grounds, watching a Society wedding from the outside of the Guild House where Prince Charles and Camilla exchanged vows, and having tea and cream in the Windsor church that the Queen frequents, taking a walk along the River Thames…how could I complain?

He’s given me the best Sunday I’ve had. After a stirring sermon, I was able to enjoy a scrumptious potato and beef stew lunch with my hosts’ family friends in their farm, then go off for apple picking and “brambling” that is picking blackberries in their orchard. Perfection was ending this whole fun day with tea and scones.

All I expected was a place to adjust my body clock and maybe some introduction to British culture but God have me The Works---and how extravagantly! I wonder sometimes why He bothers, but He does and I am thankful.

Friday, September 07, 2007

My Humble Conclusion

I have concluded, from my very limited (read: next to nil) experience, that the best time to arrive in London is at noon—when the immigration officers have just had their lunchbreak (and therefore too sleepy to bother with incoming travelers like moi) or going into lunchbreak (therefore too hungry to bother with incoming travelers like moi)!

I just figured that must be one of the reasons why I breezed through the whole process of coming into merry old England. The biggest problem I had was not being able to produce my letter of invitation from the college. “You should have brought it with you,” said Mr. Immigration Officer, looking at me sternly. “I’m sorry, but I gave it to your Embassy already when I had to submit all my requirements to get my student visa.” I said, widening my chinky eyes ever so innocently (a feat). Which to me means, “Hello, don’t you have records?! It’s YOUR government who gave me a student visa…”

Anyway, I somehow had the last say. He then kindly directed me to the Health officer. I got there and the lady in the counter asked me for results from a recent chest x-ray. “Huh?!” Nobody ever told me that! No, don’t worry, I wasn’t too cheeky this time. I just said, “I didn’t bring them with me, but I’ve had a chest x-ray and I did have my medicals done when I applied to the college.” She goes back into the office, called somebody and spent a few minutes chitchatting, I guess, about me. She comes out and says, “Well, the radiologist says you don’t need to have another x-ray since you got it done back in your country…so, could you have somebody send it over?” I said yes and that was it, I was sent off my merry way with the needed stamp on the back of my travel card. I went back to another immigration counter, handed the card to a nice lady staff. “Oh, lovely!” she says with a smile as she handed me my passport. I never had a more pleasant experience going through any immigration (even our own). I guess these guys just had lunch.

After collecting my luggage (and yes, Barbie Bag came along for the trip) I went to the sign that says 'NOTHIN TO DECLARE' and wondered if I would get into trouble with my instant Lucky Mee Pancit Canton…only to stroll through because there was no one around to man the counters. I guess they were on lunchbreak! Everything took less than an hour.

So I offer you my humble conclusion: that the best time to arrive is noon (and maybe this works in any airport in any country!)

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Half and Half

**posted at the old NAIA, which, to my delight, has a weak wifi signal.:-)

That is what I would have to reply when people ask me whether I am excited to leave for the UK. Half of me just went through a 2006 issue of Trafalgar Travel Book and got really excited about the places I will be able to visit while there, and the other half wishes I could stay on in Manila to do some more work.

The thing is, a lot of good things have been happening in work and it seems a pity to leave them. I am actually leaving them to able hands but still…

It’s the control freak in me who wants to always be around to set things up and work things out—but God reminded me, “You know what, the world actually continues to spin on its axis quite without incident while you sleep!”

Oh yeah, Lord, thanks for reminding me You’re in charge of my work since it is after all Your work.

So I take a step of faith—both ways—away from the work that I love, and into a new and unknown future.

Now I am 100% excited.

Cheerio, and may you also experience how it is to leave things to the Boss!

Monday, September 03, 2007


When I get very frustrated, I lapse into Cebuano…and this is the only word that can do justice to how I feel since yesterday afternoon!

I had mini-despedida merienda with a good friend and she, out of the blue, suddenly asked the “so-called” seasoned traveler, moi, “So you leave September 5 midnight? You do know that you have to be at the airport September 4 early evening, right?” Well, you would, of course, expect me to say, “Duh!! Of course, I know that!” I would expect me to say that---instead of the stunned silence and the hanging jaw.

No, Sireee, it didn’t occur to me! And for this silly oversight, I would have missed--err--nice airplane food! (?)

I could really knock myself on the head on this—especially as this is not exactly the first time I had my dates worked out wrongly. (Confession: I came late for my Davao-Manila flight last year—one day late, because I got my dates mixed up.) I also get my times wrong (I am not good with military time—why do they have to say 1300hrs when they mean 1pm?! Okey, please don’t bother to comment on this, I know why but I just don’t want it that way for myself.)

My friends, who know I have been getting schedules and dates mixed up (like expecting to go out with some friends on June 3 and then finding out later that I actually told them June 30.) , aside from being accused of dyslexia (can’t read time and tell my left from my right), are also now accusing me of on-set Alzheimers!

Anyway, all’s well that ends well—but wait, I haven’t exactly boarded the plane yet, so who’s to know if I get something else mixed up again??


Wednesday, August 29, 2007


As I sat on my bed, still recovering from a short trip, and surveyed the things strewn around me, trying to put away stuff from my recent trip, trying to sort out what to bring to the UK, what to put away and what to give away. I am overwhelmed.

Things. A vague word we use to refer to what we cannot or are too lazy to give specific labels to. Yet, what a meaningful, burdensome word.

Knick knacks from travels.
A collection of rupiah, ringgit, Singapore Dollars, Thai Baht.
Gifts hardly used: coffee mugs, trinkets, wallets, souvenier items, T-shirts, and more coffee mugs.

Pile them all together and they’d be a Mount Everest of things. Imagine if I were married, the pile could probably fill the whole stretch of China’s Great Wall…shudder.

I would like to think that there are worse ratpackers than me, but just looking at my collection of things—many of which are hardly used but never disposed of—I wonder.

Why is it so much easier to accumulate than to throw away things? Why can’t I throw away my old Kathmandu T-shirt which has been mothballed to one side of the closet for the past 6 years? Why can’t I give up a pair of well-worn (during its heydays) sandals that has not seen the light of day for two years? Why can’t I just give up a lot of these stuff.

Beats me!

There is a saying that goes, “The one who dies with the most toys, wins. Wins what, I wonder? Anyway, what does one do with all these toys if one is six feet under? Somehow, these “toys” or things hardly make me feel like a winner---more like a “drowner.”


Ironically, I just found out that my airline has graciously granted me extra 10kg luggage allowance…to make room for more “things” to bring to the UK. Now my feelings are mixed.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Talking to Myself

On the eve of an overseas trip:

Me: (taking a deep breath) Okey..I’m using Barbie bag tomorrow…

The Other Me (TOM): What’s that deep breath for? It’s just a bag!

Me: ..but it’s pink..*sigh*

TOM: So what? The important thing is for you to use it a few times, sort of like a test drive, before you bring it to the UK.

Me:…but I’m worried what people will say…it’s just sooo not me.

TOM: My goodness! Just because you got free media mileage from Snglguy’s blog post yesterday doesn’t make you famous enough for people to take notice! What an ego you have…

Me: But I’m worried about my colleagues when we meet up tomorrow night at the airport, I am sure they’ll laugh at me!

TOM: You don’t only have an over-active imagination but you’ve also got an overblown sense of self-importance…the thing is, who cares?!

Me: I can already see them snickering away—maybe I should just use the green one.

TOM: No, you are suppose to use this one and see if it works okey, besides you are only away for a week, you don’t need a bigger bag.

Me: Yiiiii-ikes…I can see myself and Barbie bag glowing beside me…

TOM: You know what, there are more important things to think about…like making sure you’ll bring your passport, your ticket, your money…

Me: Oh yeah, I’ve got that covered…sigh…it’s pink…

TOM: (frustrated sigh) Hello, will somebody out there give this girl the “Silliest Blogger Award?”

Monday, August 20, 2007

I Don't Mind...Really!

The fervently prayed-for rain has come and everyone cheers—of course! Since the lack of rain has been a real issue these past months, the rainy days has been a welcomed inconvenience for many of us commuters….yes, really, a welcomed inconvenience!

I don’t mind, really, that I get splashed by muddy water by passing cars, tricycles, buses and motorcycles…

I don’t mind, really, that the rain has made commuters sitting ducks to taxi drivers morphed into opportunistic sharks (hmmm….come to think of it, when aren’t they sharks?).

I don’t mind, really, that this means getting your shoes and pant legs all soaked because of the floods or water that has pooled up in our uneven sidewalks.

I don’t mind, really, that this means double the traffic especially along Cubao where, if you’re a commuter on a bus, you have no right to use the express underpass (only those who can afford cars or taxis have the right not to be late for their work or appointments, it seems).

I don’t mind, really, that you have to think three to a hundred times whether to make/keep appointments that would mean getting out of your house (where you stay warm and dry).

I don’t mind, really, that it means having to share an MRT ride with others who are all sweaty under their rained-soaked jackets.

..really! I don’t mind!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Five Over Three

That is, five goodbyes in over three days. Two of them are to people I am not sure I will ever see again. For the rest, if things go as planned, I will see them again in a year’s time. But then again, who’s to know in this unpredictable planet we live in?

It can be a trying practice, this goodbye business. No amount of farewells, hugs, despedida meals or goodbye gifts can take that pang away.

But, as I always try to tell myself, life goes on—everyone moves on. It would be unnatural to hang on to someone and refuse to move from a certain spot in your life unless that person moves with you. Now, that kind of messy goodbye, I can do without, thank you!

We all have our journeys to walk, and along the way we bump into people, we get helped—or lend a helping hand. And when that patch in life has passed, we go our different ways. Sometimes we meet again somewhere in the future, sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we keep in touch, or try to, other times we can’t--or don’t want to anymore.

Some people will be sorely missed as we go ahead with our journeys, others will become pleasant memories, still others will be forgotten. In some ways, forgetfulness can be a real gift—when the pain of separation, through the help of forgetfulness, will fade into hazy but good remembrances.

We then can go on with life, embracing new friends, not keeping them at arm’s length—knowing that friendship is worth risking the pain that goodbyes, which eventually comes, bring about.

Just as I thought, life is a bed of roses—you have to lay down on both the petals and the thorns.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Crying for Jack

*written a couple of weeks ago.
**WARNING: If you have not seen the last episode of 24’s Season 6, there is a bit of a spoiler here... but only a little bit, I promise you!

I haven’t cried for such a long time. But Jack Bauer had me sobbing away. Since he can do almost anything humanly possible, that shouldn’t surprise me, I guess. Just watching him fight to get his own life back for a change, at the last episode of 24, made me root for him all the more.

“Way to go, Jack!”

“About time, Jack!”

Season 6 ended with everyone in the United States of America getting their lives back after a series of terrorist attacks, with CTU staff, the president, the vice president and the rest of the gang, including the pregnant Chloe getting their much needed sleep after a stress-filled 24 hours.

Everyone but Jack.

Yeah, I know, I sound like a starry-eyed fanatic who can't tell my fact from my fiction. But just thinking of Jack Bauer made me realize how even in fiction, our heroes are all too human.

Whoever our heroes may be, like Jack Bauer, when they say “I promise you” they will not always be able to deliver, even if they promised with all their hearts and tried their very best. They will fail us somehow, sometime. Once you’ve walked with them and witnessed their own angst and struggles, you will root for them, cry with them and pray for them—but you will know for sure that they cannot always be there for you. Because they are just as human as we are.

Whatever the case may be, we hope to see you again soon, Jack!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Rocking Away!

After a scholarship, after a one-year visa, what would be the icing on the cake?

How about an award?

Imagine that, I was given another award from that girl who rocks, Ipanema! Oh wow, to be awarded twice is such a privilege--especially from someone I look up to as a really rockin' blogger herself!

So now, I need to pass the blessing again--and this is one other reason why I am so happy I got this award, I can pass it to those I would have also wanted to award the other time...

So here's the list of rockin' girls I am delighted to pass this award to:

Jenny! She writes well, she takes great photos and she speaks French! Trés cool, don't you think?

Toe! Which should not come as a surprise to many of us who are so much entertained by her posts...and the fact that she is making a difference in Cambodia, that rocks, too!

Chesca! She is a great gal who has a great family and loves to share her diving adventures with us. The fact that we both used to work in this unique place in Bataan makes her special to me, too!

Jojie A! Because not only takes great photos but she is an eagle-eye when it comes to those really funny ones that make my day! Plus she was my classmate in my college days--where we first discovered we have the same warped sense of humor--that keeps us both afloat through the rough times. Right, girl?

Another lady who is making a difference in Cambodia! I am sure the Khmer people are know that they are blessed with your contribution there. You rock, girl!

And, Ipanema, you know, I will also have to give this award to you, too! I know I may not be following the rules, but hey, I rock (as you say) so I have the license to break some of 'em rules, don't I?

Friday, August 03, 2007

Happily Tired

Ever been tired and happy at the same time? That is how I feel today. I just got back from an overnight trip out of town and had one meeting after another today—after a couple of hour’s trip back to town. The last meeting just wrapped up a couple of minutes ago.

But even with the tiredness, it’s nice to know that many things got done and that you can go to sleep happy, even though you know that there are still about a week of "meeting marathon" (one more long-distance travel included).

Two factors that make my work meaningful and fun are the fact that I believe that what I do and where I am in what I do is my “place in the sun,” so to speak—my niche—and the other factor is that I am with colleagues (though only here for a short visit) who are so easy to work with and who share the same vision and passion I have with what I do. It does help that we’re able to “click” in such a short time (two days!), so much so that we can swap jokes and laugh at each other’s bloopers and antics without fear of being misunderstood.

If only everyday were like this, then there is nothing else I can ask God for …well, almost nothing!

Okey, better go and get ready for bed—another big day coming up tomorrow! And the next day…and the next…

Have a happy (even if you get tired) weekend!

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Living with Our Choices

A pink piece of luggage. Nobody who knows me would ever have imagined me buying such an item. But buy I did. I made the choice to buy it because it was the right size, the right quality, the right price. I chose it for these reasons---never mind that it was not the neon green piece I saw the week before (Alas! out of stock) but Barbie-pink.

So I endured the guffaws from a good friend who picked me up at the airport recently: “Wahahaha!!! Pink!” and my dear brother: “Eeow! What happened?!” I patiently, albeit defensively explained my choice (see above reasons).

But this doesn’t keep me from sighing everytime I look at it, innocently, quietly standing in the corner of my house…a silent reminder of my need to stand by the choices I make.

The worst that could happen is that I’d grow to like it, despite the fact that it is so against the very grain of my personality to go with pink-hued accessories of any sort. (No offense to pink-lovers, “It’s not you …it’s me…”)

The worst that could happen is the persecution I will have to endure from my friends (having already gotten initial, painful feedback, I think I can handle some more).

Whatever the case maybe, I will have to live with it.

Other choices that I may have to live with it in the future might not be as easy this.

In some sense, I thank God for this pink “thing,” at least I am reminded to be careful with my choices in the future, on more serious matters.

….like, maybe, dying my hair pink…!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Don't Know Any Better

“What should I do?”
“What must be done?”
“Why won’t she listen?”

He is frustrated.
She is in pain.
They are confused.

“It’ll be okey.”
“Do this.”
“Do that.”

I suggest.
I counsel.
I comfort.
Or try to.

Inside me, I sigh.

“Don’t ask me!”
“I don’t know.”
“I can’t help you.”

I don’t know any better!
I don’t DO any better.

They ask me this.
They ask me that.

“Counsel me.”
“Hear me.”
“Help me.”

But I don’t know how!
Can’t even follow my own advice.

I'm as weak as you.
As helpless as you.
Make mistakes like you.
Stumble like you.
Whimper like you.

I don’t know any better.

...and sometimes, I don’t want to come alongside.
...and sometimes, I just can’t come alongside.

I can’t.
I wish I can.
Will a hug do?

...and I need to fight my own battles.
...and you need to win your own wars.

Ask Him!
He can.
He wants to.
And He will.

After all, He did say,
"Come to me , all of you who are weary and burdened,
and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Who Knows?

It’s Sunday and I am enjoying my last few hours in this temporary haven in Baguio. The only sound I hear are the soft whirring of CK’s fan and my fingers dancing on the keyboard—otherwise, it’s pure, unadulterated silence.

My workshop finished at 9 pm yesterday and with the SONA tomorrow blocking my way to the office in QC, what’s the point of rushing down to Manila today? So I decided to just stay here for one more day, chill (literally) and enjoy the fog-enveloped view from my window.

Who knows, I might catch another technicolor sunset like the one I caught on camera the other day! Who knows if I would get to enjoy such a rare awesome treat again?

Then again, who knows if I will ever come back again to this nice haven in Baguio?

Who knows if this nice haven will still be around a year from now when I come home? Who knows if I would ever be able to enjoy this unadulterated peace and quiet again?

Who knows what life will throw at me tomorrow?

For now, I am A-OK and life is good. Cheers!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

15 Weird Facts and Feats

Since Wil, as payback, tagged me to list down 15 weird facts about myself, I have been mentally working on the list on and off for the past couple of weeks. I thought myself to be quite normal since I found it difficult to come up with a list of 15 weird facts. Hmm…should I just say I bite my nails 15 times a day? Would that qualify for all 15?

“Oh, wow,” I thought at first, “I must normal!” Until I am reminded of certain facts like…

  1. I can only sleep well if I sleep on my stomach, and with my arm around a baby pillow.
  2. I graduated 13th honor after 10 years of Chinese language classes…and am still only semi-literate in Mandarin (I fooled my teachers! BWAHAHAHA!!).
  3. I can put on my contact lenses in under 15 seconds--without the aid of a mirror!
  4. After a traumatic first-time experience of baby sitting, it took me many years to get over my fear of children…and I have rarely babysat since--even with my own nieces!
  5. I am embarrassingly slow at telling time with analog watches…thus all my wristwatches have been (and always will be) digital.
  6. I have difficulty figuring out the “open” and “close” symbols in elevators…I am sorry to the many I have victimized because of this…err…lapse.
  7. If I do not get to eat McSpaghetti or McDonald’s Longganisa Rice within a couple of weeks, I don’t feel well.
  8. I have an earthy, politically incorrect sense of humor that gets me snickering at the oddest, most inappropriate occasions.
  9. From childhood until now, I have moved house 24 times—and even then, I am no expert. I still lose something after every move ( a pair of shoes, a belt, a blouse, a pair of earrings, and lately, a pair of sandals, and, soon, quite possibly, my head.)
  10. I have seen “While You Were Sleeping” so many times I have memorized the script.
  11. I consider “The Simpsons” a serious comedy that accurately portrays/ parodies a certain segment of American society. I feel the same way about “Third Rock from the Sun” which parodies modern society and human behavior.
  12. I am proud of the gap between my two front teeth—it gives me “character” and puts me in the same league as Madonna and Lauren Hutton. So I can’t understand why my dentists are obsessing about closing it up or getting me braced!
  13. And speaking of dentists, I love to go for prophylaxis so much that she has to shoo me away and tell me to come back after 3 months.
  14. And speaking of dentists, I am proud to say I have very high pain threshold. The dentists don’t need to give me anesthesia when I go for major tooth filling projects.
  15. And speaking of prophylaxis, I meet regularly with a friend who is a trained counselor, over a cup of coffee. We vent, do small talk, a bit of soul searching and self-examination. She gives me what I would like to call my psychological prophylaxis—just so I know my neurosis is still within socially acceptable levels. (And I guess the fact that I do this would already tell you I am certifiably weird!)
Fear not! I won't be tagging people--but anyone who wants to re-evaluate their WQ (weirdness quotient), feel free!