Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009: A Review (Part I)

2009 was a year of transition, like the start of a vibrant new life where it almost feels like I relearned how to do everything. Sometimes I still do feel like I'm groping my way about, but having so much more fun doing it this time around.

Before letting myself loose into the new decade, thought it best to review the year that just past.

I realized I got to do a whole lot of traveling this year. And not just physical trips mind you! But let me being with that...

There were a lot of TRIPS, both local and abroad...

(Tokyo, Japan in January for THREE; first time here!)

(Tali, Batanagas in February)

(Cagayan de Oro for a quick 24 hours with the ACS; photo c/o J.Galindo)

(Cruise of Palawan in May, a first for me! Both on a cruise and to the places we visited)

(Pandan Island in Mindoro Oriental in May; another first!)

(Taipei, Taiwan in August for a festival)

(San Francisco, California in August to visit friends)

(Chicago, Illinois in August to be a ninang at a confirmation and to visit newly wed friends)

(Boston, Massachusetts in August to visit friends and to sing for a memorial mass)

(NYC & NJ in August to visit friends and be MOH at a friend's wedding!)

(Boracay in November to celebrate a friend's birthday)

I EXPLORED a lot of Manila as well, where I learned to embrace (albeit sometimes a strangled embrace..) commuting and see OLD PLACES WITH NEW EYES...




(Metropolitan Museum of Art)

(Even my own village!)

I EXPLORED MORE by visiting NEW places (well, at least in my eyes) around the metropolis, learning more about the city that has been my home for the last 13 years...


(Salcedo Market)

(Ayala Museum)

(Manila Ocean Park)

And as much as I was able to explore the external world around me, I spent a lot of time this year doing a lot of searching and growing within as well.

Wow my corniness is starting to make me gag..

Lol, but seriously, I kid you not! What would a year of experiences be without some more insight into yourself right? But more about that in the next installment.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Back On The Band Wagon

Of all the resolutions swimming around in my head, I know a priority for 2010 is to get back on the freaking health wagon and STAY ON IT.

So I bid farewell to the gorging of chocolates for my never-ending appetite for sweets and welcome constant and regular exercise back into my life.

Day 2 so far and I'm loving it already. Yehaw.

what the: holy sea creatures

Maybe I've just been spoiled by the masses I regularly attend but seriously, I think mass in the Greenbelt is not only crazy packed but super long. Perhaps more so because of the holidays? Plus each time the response to the responsorial psalm was sung after each verse, it came complete with a full instrumental intro plus the singing of the psalm TWICE per response! I almost strangled myself by the time parish announcements came along, but even THAT was two millions years long. Lol, feeling bratty today are we?!

Anyway, as captivating as Monsignor's homily was, I think I spent a great portion of the hour staring with bewilderment at the Christmas decor that hung from the Greenbelt chapel's inner dome.

Ok, so it's an ugly picture. But even in this fuzzy picture you can kinda sorta see what I mean. They look like atoms, or sea anemones, or holy aliens. Unless they were trying to achieve ugly, whatever they were trying to achieve didn't really didn't work out.

Sorry greenbelt chapel! Time to usher in a new decorator for 2010 perhaps?

Sunday, December 27, 2009


My room as it is is the favorite go to place for family members wanting to shut themselves out of the world for an hour or two. It's quiet and cool when the rest of the house is stifling. And thanks to a wonderful bed, my room is comfortable and cocoon-like. It also has teeny tiny windows making it rather dark; nice when you're seeking refuge, but recently, has been feeling more like a cave. I, perpetually in my pj's this holiday season, have been feeling like a modern day cave woman.

When we got wifi at home last week, the family joked that us laptop users would probably never ever leave our room. My family had just unknowingly willed me into a week of hiding out in my bedroom.

I miraculously stepped out of my room today and decided to work in the living room, in front of the screen door that opens up to our garden. Loveliness! I forgot how pleasant and refreshingly windy afternoons at home can be.

I think I'll move my virtual office to this location for morning and afternoon work sessions, then transfer over to the dining room for late evening work sessions. Cup of coffee in the morning and mug of tea in the evening and I'm all set. No work from my bedroom for 2010!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

A New Year

I like the idea of a new year. Its kind of a like a grown up version of the feeling I would have when faced with a new school year.

While I realize that there is actually is no such thing as a "do-over" in life, a new year always feels like a chance to start over again with a clean slate regardless. An opportunity to FINALLY put away the past year's hits and misses and store it in that ever growing file called "older and wiser". Its the same excitement I feel when I open to the first page of a fresh new journal and I feel that urge to want to just fill it up with all my doodles and ramblings.

I also love that the new year sets in place for me a pre-determined time line to accomplish all my goals.

New Year's coming up so I've been slowly reviewing 2009 and thinking about what I'd like 2010 to be like.

I'm excited.

Thursday, December 24, 2009


Mom's homemade lasagna and Caesar salad dressing are my ULTIMATE comfort food.

I've been eating the lasagna for as long as I can remember. Nothing really compares. It's incredibly rich so mom makes it for special occasions (ie: my birthday or for Christmas).

It's good before it's layered into a lasagna, so while Mom creates it, my sisters and I, steal spoonfuls of meat & cheese sauce and eat it in a bowl. It's good when it's actually a lasagna, so right out of the oven or even microwaved. And as strange as this sounds, it's even good as leftovers! Meaning, eating it as a midnight snack and straight from the refrigerator :D

So looking very much forward to Noche Buena tonight because yes, you've guessed, lasagna's on the menu! Yum.

Happy holidays :)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Random Love

In a time where everyone is so busy running around and stressing and being productive, sometimes one of the best things in the world is to sleep in and wake up to a whole day of nothingness ahead.

Bliss I tell you, bliss.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Family Time

Growing up, we used to love decorating the Christmas Tree as a family. A few years ago, my siblings and I had a big fight the day we were supposed to festoon our home with yuletide cheer. While our relationship is stronger than ever, we haven't decorated the tree since.

Regardless, I enjoy doing mundane things with my family and small, random activities together are always a wonderful welcome. See, our home becomes a huge pastry production house during the holidays and mom, more often than not, always needs an extra hand. So over the last few weeks, one of my sisters and I spend a few hours in the evening helping out. Cutting up pastries, folding up boxes, ribboning them up, etc. The cool December air, smell of baking chocolate or melting butter, the Christmas carols blasting from the radio and a hot cup of tea, sets the stage for a few hours of pure familial bliss :)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Acknowledging Acknowledgement

We hear a lot of talk about the importance of gratitude. We were taught as kids that saying thank you is important and we learn as we get older the significance of expressing your appreciation for an act of kindness or generosity.

So personally, I make it a point to say thank you for all the little things I appreciate. From the policeman who stops traffic as I cross the street, to the friends who are unselfishly and wholeheartedly there for you even when you don't think you need them.

But this post isn't about saying thanks, it's about going beyond gratitude.

I've realized that at times, saying "thank you" is a little bit more difficult than originally anticipated. That's why I've come to realize that saying "you're welcome", reciprocating or acknowledging the acknowledgment is important too.

The genuine expression of appreciation and gratitude isn't so easy to come by now a day. While saying "thank you", should come with no expectations, it's always nice to let the person who is thanking you know that you appreciate the effort they made to appreciate you, even by simply acknowledging it.

Ok.. musing aside, I think I just drove myself nuts by trying to quickly express and thus consistently repeating words like.. gratitude, appreciation, acknowledgment. Gah.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Walking Companion

My little sister a's dog has grown to love me. They say spitz's are incredibly territorial and loyal to their owners. Kippy is this and then some. In fact, my family's convinced he's crazy bipolar. I do think age is mellowing him out.

The mutual affection has grown because I'm around so often. My own dog has passed (and Kippy hates seeing the family coddling the other dogs) and my sister has moved nearer to her school, so he and I spend lots of times together. He follows me around when I'm working at home, allows me to pick him up with being too much of a grump and sleeps with me even when his master is around.

The biggest reason I feel is because he has been my companion ever since I took to walking as my form of exercise. As much of jerk as Kippy can be, he's a really smart dog. Even when I'm not in my sweats or sneakers, he seems to sense when I'm about to go out for a walk. He starts going crazy, jumping and twisting around until his leash is on him and he makes that mad dash for the gate towards the world outside that he loves to explore.

I wish I could be that excited about exercising.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Giving Back

One of the best things that came out of the business I set up with friends was the foundation we put up. It began as our company's CSR program but grew into a personal project for one of my partners and myself. We fought about a lot of things, but giving back to our country in this particular way was one of the things we DID agree about.

One particular organization has been so happy with us, our cause and the way we run our projects, that we have been asked to run three simultaneous project sites for them this year. This is a huge jump from the the single site events we've done for them in the past. They have also referred us to another program and we are now meeting with them to discuss the possibility of running a similar event or project with them in the next few months. We also look to be running a similar setup up north next year.

We've been at it now for a few years, and I'm excited that it has slowly been growing; the list of schools we work with has been growing, as our the number of events, the activities we do and the lives of the students we are touching. It is rewarding and incredibly satisfying on so many levels.

Our most challenging event to date is coming up fast and we're scrambling to get things up and running. Fingers crossed!

"Thank You For The Reminder"

I received an email from a friend's tita who I've had the pleasure of getting to know over the last few years. She had just finished going through my albums on Facebook and had some very lovely things to say about my photos in general.

Her purpose in writing though was to thank me for reminder her about the joy and beauty of simple things around her that people sometimes may tend to overlook.

My heart literally did cartwheels of joy when I read her email.

You see, I realized in 2008 that I was having, and had been having for the longest time, a really crappy couple of years. So crappy that my unhappiness was manifesting itself in more ways than I had cared to acknowledge. After hitting rock bottom, it took me a year of discernment to get to the point where I was ready to pick myself up and move forward, making the choice to really start living a life that I truly love.

One strategy was to purposefully look for joy in the things around me, and that has played itself out in three ways. Daily, I jot down what happiness is for me in the day that just passed, listing down things that I am grateful for. This blog is also a product of that assertion as is my growing love affair with photography. I started taking pictures of random things that I saw that made me smile and things just kind of exploded from there.

So back to tita's email... well, I guess what really struck me, over and beyond the visual appreciation for my photos was how they were occurring to her. My reason for taking photos coincided with what she was for herself by looking at my photos.

Taking photos is really more for my own personal pleasure (and sanity.. lol). I'm thrilled that though it has been a source of genuine inspiration for someone else, even in its own small way.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Mind Games

I always look forward to things like massages, facial treatments and mani/pedis. Outside of the external benefits, opportunities like this are relaxing.. or at least are supposed to be.

I realize that while I may be physically resting from running around, time to "relax" has allowed my mind to run amuck. The funniest thing is that I always catch myself. Then begins this mental battle where I force myself to think about things that are supposed to be relaxing.. green meadows, blue skies.. heck I even try to count sheep. This either drifts back to something I'm worrying about or to the other inevitable; I fall asleep. Nothing wrong with snoozing I suppose, but I always feel that when I fall asleep, I'm being cheated out of peronal relaxation time. Lol.

It's like the mind DOESN'T know how to relax when given the opportunity to do so. So how DO you relax your mind?

Strangely, doing things that need my focus and ONLY my focus are mind relaxing for me. Activities like filing papers, fixing my files on my computer, editing photos and painting have all won gold stars in my book. Perhaps a level up would be things that require minimal / indulgent things for the mind such as de-cluttering and reading. Some people call these activities mind numbing but dare I say that mind numbing is akin, if not the same as relaxing?

Not that I'll be stopping massages and the like. But it was something I was mulling over recently while.. well you guessed it, while trying to relax.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

manila's metropolitan museum

i've been wanting to revisit the metropolitan museum for the longest time. last time i was there was 1st year high school.

with my two sisters and my sister's friend, we piled into a car last saturday afternoon and made our way over to the BSP Complex along Roxas Boulevard. entrance fee was an affordable P100, and made even affordable thanks to the generosity of my sister :)

we spent about 2 hours slowly making our way around the small museum. a lot of the paintings i recognized having seen during my first trip there.. i guess the museum's private collection isn't that big? they had a few other exhibits that were "new", like BSP's permanent exhibition (not my kind of art), the collection by indian artists upstairs (this was disappointing, the quality of the reproductions were really bad), a smattering of sculptures (loved the wire work.. damn should've gotten the name of the artist) plus an additional room with touchable art. they also have a gold & pottery exhibition downstairs that is unfortunately (and weirdly) closed during the weekends.

they have one section with a few paintings by juan luna i think it was. there were 2-dimensional versions displayed infront with descriptions in braille. smart though i think it would've made more sense to do them for ALL the paintings and not just a handful as you always want to make the most of the time of your visitors right?

i do feel that the met museum ought to update their shop as i find it a little sad. and what is with being closed on sunday's?! i always thought it was a museum standard (and obviously so) to be open during the weekend and be closed on mondays?! i find it a little annoying that pictures can't be taken too (so yes.. the photos in this blog were stealthily taken. lol), i don't think they harm the photos if the flash is off right?

nonetheless, i do like the met very much. while its age is beginning to show, i do love the simplicity of the layout with it's crisp white walls and high ceilings. plus i like the mix of painting genre's they have, with a special focus on filipino artists. the size is no match for the likes of the louvre or nyc's met, but any bigger and i may not have paid as much attention to each piece. you get a better appreciation of the each work's individuality here i feel. with the bigger museums, i have a tendency to quickly make the rounds of the rooms i am not so interested in and skip on to the galleries with the work i enjoy more. bigger museums are obviously meant to be explored in more than 1 day and i unfortunately never have the liberty of time. and besides, anymore than 3 hours in a museum and I pretty much want to pull my hair out.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Art for Art's Sake

While more people may know more about my love affair with the theater and the stage, or the classical voice or piano lessons I took growing up, not that many people know about my affinity for visual arts. I think I've been painting, coloring, and visually creating longer than I've been involved in the performing arts actually!

I've been fortunate enough to have taken my share of art classes, both in school and as an extracurricular activity. Oil pastels, oil paints, water color, chalk & charcoal, pen & ink, working with plaster of paris, clay, lithography.. I don't think there was one medium I didn't like. The process of creating something in your mind then translating that into something tangible has always been, well, euphoric almost.
I used to have a growing stack of oil paintings back when I lived abroad. My biggest fan was (and still is) my mom, who wasted no opportunity in displaying my work all over the home. Lol. Unfortunately, I lost all of these pieces when the warehouse that was keeping our furniture while we were house hunting burned down.

Now a day, I'm an on and off dabbler. Sometimes I go a pretty long time without doing anything creative with my hands but I always find myself going back to it for a day, or week or two. I'll churn out half, or maybe even 2 pieces and then hibernate again for months, possibly years. Painting for me is therapeutic and very personal, which is probably the reason why many people don't know I do it. I do it mostly for myself and as a way for me to unwind and relax. My mind is so focused on whatever it is I am working on and so in the moment, that it's actually pretty much blank. Lol. I've seen the talent out there and am no where near calling myself an artist. I really just enjoy the creative process.

I think one of the best decisions I ever made in high school was dropping Economics (thank you for the C+ Mr. Jones, you know I love you regardless!) and taking up Art instead. Hehehe. It was at this time where I think I finally developed a style that kind of, well.. stuck. We had to come up with a theme and create a whole portfolio based off of this theme. I forgot what mine was verbatim but it was something like finding the human body in nature, or nature in the human body. Since then, I have also since confirmed that I still suck at free hand drawing but love love love nature and colors and patterns and textures. I think from the look of some of my work, I think it's rather obvious isn't it? Could be the earthy Taurus in me I suppose. Lol.

Uploaded are some of my favorite and/or recent pieces. Sharing for posterity's sake :)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Grocery Shop Carting

Till recently, I decided to regularly join my mom & sister on the household bi-monthly grocery shopping day.

I got behind the cart and saw this:

I really really had to keep myself from regressing. Flashback to shopping days with my mom as a kid.... when I got too old (and big) to be riding around in the shopping cart, I would eagerly push the cart around instead. Though eventually, mom had to keep me from this as well because I had discovered the naughty pleasure of ramming the cart into my mom's heels and royally pissing her off. Hehehe.

Now a day I limit myself to chasing after my sisters when we shop in places like S&R, where the carts are big, and the aisles are not only empty but wide as well. I don't actually ram into their heels anymore as I know it can be pretty damn painful, but it's always fun to see my sisters scamper down the aisle yelling "AAAATEEEE!!!"

I'm pretty behaved when we're in tighter grocery stores. But regardless, my mom and sister keep one eye on me when I'm pushing the cart around for them JUST IN CASE I lapse into a 2nd childhood.

Grocery day tomorrow. Nyeheehehe.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Hissy Fit

When I'm craving a certain food and I decide to go and get some, I REALLY DECIDE TO GO AND GET SOME. I will climb a freaking mountain if I have to. So it REALLY gets my goat when I go there and it's not available. If the restaurant for some weird reason is closed, or even worse, when you sit at the restaurant and then they tell you it's unavailable just for today.. because they've run out of something as common as I dunno, eggs or something.

But if there's one thing that can INSTANTLY turn me into foot-stomping, door-slamming, an ironically "i-would-scream-and-pull-my-hair-if-I-wasn't-an-adult" brat, is when I look forward to something at home, dream about it the whole day or whole night imagining it for dinner or breakfast, and I open the ref to find THAT IT'S GONE. I interrogate every member of the house hold until I find the culprit. Not that it can bring back the meal, but it sure gives me someone to blame!


Good morning :|

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Happy 1 year cigarette-free Anniversary to me!

Today I celebrate 1 year of being a non-smoker.

Prior to quitting for good, I went through several months of wishy-washy-ness. I wasn't smoking for a few months, then partied and relaxed in Bali for a week where I smoked a whole tobacco field, followed by a 1-month tour as a Soprano 1 (from singing Alto) so I stopped smoking again to aid my crying vocal chords. When I returned, I had coffee with a fellow smoker. I remember inhaling then thinking to myself.. I don't need this. I put it out, and that was that. One year ago.

My relationship with cigarettes has been love-hate. Cigarette smoking always evoked good times I've had with friends over the years; dancing the night away with cocktail in one hand and a Marlboro Light in the other, riding in a car full of girlfriends with the windows down and music up as we sang and laughed and flicked our cigarette ash out the window, intimate conversations over a cup of coffee or a rambunctious evening of side splitting laughter over dinner. As with any vice though, you know it's bad for you but you do it anyway. You know people who have suffered and died from lung cancer and the heartache it brings to the sufferer as well as to the family and friends left behind. You do it anyway. On a more superficial level, you know of the ugly smell it leaves on the on your fingers and the way it litters your bag with yellow tobacco leaves. But yes, you stubbornly puff away regardless. It was a favorite poison, it helped me deal with my stress, it gave me something to do when I was out but feeling anti-social. It was also cheaper than drinking.

But the decision to stop smoking was the first of many life style choices I made towards taking control of my life, a life that I realized was out of control and being pushed around by the circumstances I allowed myself to be in.

I won't lie, there are times where I'm tempted to smoke, even take a quick puff. This is usually when I'm stressed out, looking for a reason to put something off, after a full meal, at the beach, or out with friends. But I quickly talk myself out of it. It's not worth it. When you remove the drama, distract yourself and do your damn hardest to take your mind off of it, it becomes much easier than we make it to be. Goodness knows how long I'll be fighting the cravings, but glad to know it does get easier with time.

It has been great validation so far, that I CAN do something when I put my mind to it, that I am capable of that much inner strength and discipline. 1 year down, got the rest of my life to go. No plans of going back to that nasty habit that's for sure.

Now if I could only get this far with weight loss.. LOL.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Bangkal Tripping

I have been itching to explore someplace new for a while now. The most economical alternative for me was somewhere in the city. An even cheaper option was some place I didn't need to spend any money. Bangkal came to mind, an area in Makati known for it's collection of thrift stores full of flea market finds. I wasn't interested in buying, as so much as so much as exploring and indulging in a favorite hobby, taking pictures.

Thankfully after proposing the idea, my friends and I were quick to set a date or else God knows till when this would have been pushed back till.

Being 1 of 3 naturally lost folk, I'm glad we found our way! We LRT1-ed to LIBERTAD then caugh a jeep headed towards EVANGELISTA. Evangelista is a long street so get down along Apolinario or Hizon.

We opted to start with some food in our tummies so we made our way to Lacuña cor Rodgriguez for comfort home cooked food at the colorfully kitschy Fat Michael's.

The rest of the day was spent meandering from store to store finding some truly lovely finds.

And some a little creepy :|

Nonetheless, despite a gray day spent with wet feet, it was a lot of fun! Will look for a sunny day sometime in the future to make another trip back out.