Sunday, December 21, 2008

Just an Update

Last week Friday, I was surprised to see that UP made the second page of Express. The Express is a publication of the Washington Post and is given to all DC Metro passengers. Anyone familiar? I think this one was taken at Diliman. I'm not so sure as it wasn't specified on the description.

Well, here are a few of my early Christmas presents. I just love Christmas =). Below is a set of marinade, chutney, and other butter/jam for breakfast, which came with a cute cheese board. I can't wait to use the marinade.

Recently, I've been receiving some mail love - "Love in the Moonlight" fridge magnet (S. Korea), pink dog cellphone charm (Singapore), and Jewels decoration set (Ireland). Thank you so much.

I hope everyone is enjoying the season. I'll be in Hawaii for the next two weeks, and I'll probably not update this blog for that duration. Have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Little Visitor

This little guy has been visiting me since last week. He perches on the balcony railing and sits there until he decides to move on. I don't know what he particularly likes on my balcony - maybe the view or maybe my company. I don't feed him, as I know these smart creatures are self-sufficient. Besides, there are tons of nuts and trees in the neighborhood, as I live close to a protected forest park. I took this photo when I first saw him. I took it through the screen, as I thought he'd scurry away if I'd open the door.
Here's a closer photo of him. This week, I even managed to stand on the balcony without scaring him away. I think he's cute.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Finding Healing

The first thing I do when I go through intense emotional upheavals or get stuck in a challenging situation is go to a bookstore and spend hours at the self-help books section. I know that books have been written about different ways on "how to," so finding a book that specifically addresses my turmoil is an out breath - a relief. I'd sit, order a cup of coffee, and pour through the book as if my world depends on it. This is how I found Pema Chodron's writings. While reading her book, "When Things Fall Apart," I found solace, peace and understanding in her writings. One of the best lessons I learned is that - whether it's pain or happiness, such feelings or any feelings must be accepted and felt wholeheartedly.

Most of us are uncomfortable with pain, and we try so many things to avoid the ache or find things or activities to distract us from feeling the hurt. We turn on the TV, full blast the radio, and get busy socially. But according to the teachings of Chodron, these are ordinary fixes. The best way to handle pain is to feel it at full blast. Feel how your chest collapses or how your breathing tightens. For it is during this time, "in the midst of chaos, that we can discover the truth and love that are indestructible."

I am reading another book by Chodron, and again, I am finding myself truly inspired. Today, I leave you with a wonderful quote from one of her books, The Wisdom of No Escape.

“There's a common misunderstanding among all the human beings who have ever been born on the earth that the best way to live is to try to avoid pain and just try to get comfortable. You can see this even in insects and animals and birds. All of us are the same.

A much more interesting, kind, adventurous, and joyful approach to life is to begin to develop our curiosity, not caring whether the object of our inquisitiveness is bitter or sweet. To lead a life that goes beyond pettiness and prejudice and always wanting to make sure that everything turns out on our own terms, to lead a more passionate, full, and delightful life than that, we must realize that we can endure a lot of pain and pleasure for the sake of finding out who we are and what this world is, how we tick and how our world ticks, how the whole thing just is.”

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Sam and Blackie

The photo above is a page from my journal. Every evening on my way home from work, I've noticed this black dog peering through a glass window whenever I pass by one of the residential houses. He or she, since I don't know the dog's gender, is always at that window between 6:15 to 6:30 PM. I've decided to name him/her Blackie. About two months ago, I started waving and smiling at Blackie, and I'd see his/her nose pressed on the cold glass window making wet, nose imprints. Sometimes, Blackie would held up a paw on the glass just to show that he/she sees me. Seeing Blackie respond to my gestures puts a smile on my face and laughter in my heart. I don't know, but I just love dogs so much.

My love for dogs started when I was a kid. Our house was always filled with barks and chasing games with our dogs. At one time, we had seven resident dogs at once, and boy, it was rough. I still remember how rowdy they were at times, but they always brought me happiness, loyalty, safety and most of all - unconditional friendship. Actually, I had a dog named Sam, who was born on the same day I came to this world. Whenever we celebrate our birthday, I make sure to give him a piece of cake or anything that we'd prepare for the celebration. I felt so lucky having him. He died of old age a few days before our 17th birthday. We buried him in our backyard, and I've missed him ever since.

I've noticed that Sam and I were sort of connected. He follows me around, and would sit beside me when I had a bad day at school or I got some scolding from my parents. Sam was my best friend, and he never complained and never asked for much. Sam and I communicated in our own way. When I talk, Sam would raise one of his spotted ears. When I'm crying, Sam would just sit quietly as if saying, "I am here." Whenever talks about dogs come up, you can't blame me if I talk about Sam. Sam's always in my heart.

Everyday, I look forward to seeing Blackie on my way home from work. He/She gives me something to look forward to and that I appreciate that we communicate in some way. A wiggle, a nose imprint, or a raised paw on the glass, it's just wonderful to have a new friend on the other side of the glass window.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Friday Update

This week has been really dragging and boring. I think my brain went on vacation earlier than my flight. I keep telling myself one more week. I've also been eating unhealthy - strawberry pop tarts for breakfast, chicken quesadilla hot pockets for lunch, and tonight, I might just boil some hotdogs and eat them with relish and ketchup. Talk about five days of TV dinners...yuck...but they taste fine. Does it mean I've lost my interest in cooking? Nah, I think I'm just adjusting to living on my own, and I've also been feeling rather lazy. I blame it on the cold weather. Although, I'm thinking of cooking something this weekend - something good but I don't know what it is yet. If my plan to cook fails, there's always Chinese take-out to depend on. This is the beauty of single life, I can do whatever I want. The consequences I'll face later.

Happy weekend everyone!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Alone Again...Naturally

Why is it that no matter how crowded and busy the airport is, it always feels empty right after you dropped a loved one at the departure gate. It doesn't matter how good you are or have had the practice of saying farewells too many times, goodbyes are just hard - sometimes too hard. I don't mean to sound like a broken record, but this is exactly how I feel right now. Mom flew back to Hawaii this morning, and I awfully miss her. As I sit and type this entry, I can't help but sing that song in my head..."Alone again, naturally."

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Shaved Ice and Celestial Treat

Tonight, our area got a light dusting of snow. It looks like someone up there was making shaved ice.
Here's Mom enjoying her first snow. Hopefully, there'll be more snow throughout the night.
I've been meaning to post this photo I took on December 1st. I took several photos, but this one seems to be the most decent. This is supposedly the "rare conjunction of the Moon, Venus and Jupiter." Mom and I were in awe witnessing such a rare celestial treat.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Mele Kalikimaka me ka Hau'oli Makahiki Hou

This year, it's going to be "Mele Kalikimaka me ka Hau'oli Makahiki Hou" (Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year). I've decided to spend Christmas and New Year at home in Hawaii. My vacation's been approved, and I found a reasonable ticket price to Honolulu. In two more weeks, I am off to the islands. With my numerous trips back and forth to Honolulu, this is the first time I have a stop over at Kona, Hawaii (also referred to as the Big Island). Although I've visited the Big Island three times in the past five years, I am so tempted to stay there for a day, then hop unto a flight to Honolulu the next day. I am also planning a two-day trip to Maui, but that depends if I do find a good package deal on it. I am so excited to see all of my ohana (family, friends etc.), go holoholo (leisurely travel) with old friends, eat at my favorite local restaurants - maybe dig in to a plate of Island Style Loco Moco (this is not recommended to the health conscious), but most of all - feel the warmth of the Aloha spirit.

Did you know that in Hawaii the Aloha Spirit is a state law? The world law is actually too strong, but more as a guidance to the leaders and people of Hawaii. I've heard too many people use the word "Aloha" too loosely. If you've lived in Hawaii, you'll understand that "Aloha" is much more than a word for hello and goodbye. In the traditional sense, "Aloha" is a way of life. According to the Hawaii State Legislature, "Aloha Spirit is the coordination of mind and heart within each person. It brings each person to the self. Each person must think and emote good feelings to others." Here's the unuhi laula loa (free translation) of the word ALOHA:

"Akahai," meaning kindness, to be expressed with tenderness;
"Lokahi," meaning unity, to be expressed with harmony;
"Oluolu," meaning agreeable, to be expressed with pleasantness;
"Haahaa," meaning humility, to be expressed with modesty;
"Ahonui," meaning patience, to be expressed with perseverance.

So, the next time you do say "Aloha," mean it from the heart just as Queen Lili'uokalanai stated, "Aloha to learn what is not said, to see what cannot be seen and to know the unknowable."

Aloha oukuo. (Aloha to all of you.)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Thanksgiving Dinner and Black Friday

My 2008 Thanksgiving went really great. I could not even believe it. Mom and I spent dinner with the P family. Mrs. P and my Mom attended the same high school together, so when Mrs. P's husband heard my Mom's in town, the family immediately invited us for Thanksgiving dinner. It was a wonderful and very relaxed party unlike the ones I've attended in the past. The company was great, there was so much food, and lots of stories to tell and listen to. Aside from the sumptuous dinner, I also met a couple of new acquaintances and friends. I was such a fool to dread the arrival of the holidays.

One of the days I've actually been looking forward to is the day after Thanksgiving - Black Friday. This is one of the busiest shopping days of the year, and it also signals the beginning of the Christmas season. The big word for that day is SALE; some as low as 75%. Prior to Black Friday, I spent a lot of time online researching which stores were giving the best deals. On Friday at 5 AM, Mom and I braved the chilly temperatures and headed for the mall. The mall was filled with shoppers busily hugging their latest toy purchase or pushing carts full of their new acquisitions. I was impressed at how organized the stores were in dealing with the huge number of shoppers, as more cashiers were added, store workers were ushering people to the right line making the check out process very smooth and orderly. Since I detest crowds, I made sure I had a shopping list, went straight for the goodies I wanted, paid for my stuff, and got out. I bought some new work clothes, sweets, and DVDs. Here are a few photos of my new goodies:

Yes, I finally got my very own Wii Console. It's been on my "wish list" for a long time. It feels really great to finally have one, and playing it is much more fun. Anyone up for a Wii challenge?

These movies were so cheap I couldn't resist ($3.99 - $5.99), so I bought a few additions to my movie collection.

Speaking of freebies, I got a free limited edition, handmade, glassblown "monkey hugging the world" Christmas ornament from my favorite store. There were a hundred of these given to the first 100 customers of the day.

In addition to the Christmas ornament, now hanging on my tree, I also won two wine glasses and a serving bowl from a scratch ticket from the same store. I guess this is one reason why it is my favorite store.

What is Black Friday?

* According to Wikipedia, "the term "Black Friday" originated in Philadelphia in reference to the heavy traffic on that day. More recently, merchants and the media have used it instead to refer to the beginning of the period in which retailers are in the black (i.e., turning a profit). It is not a term of endearment... "Black Friday" usually brings massive traffic jams and over-crowded sidewalks as the downtown stores are mobbed from opening to closing." To read more on Black Friday's origins and history, please click here.

My take? It is simply called "black" because of the stress it

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Today, I feel like I'm the only person in the office. It is so eerily quiet - the copying room is dead, the fax machine is asleep, and I could only hear my fingers typing on the keyboard. When I took the train this morning, it was uncomfortable to see seats empty. The usual line to the coffee shop was non-existent, as I walked straight to the cashier to pay for my favorite cup of Morning Blend. On the morning before Thanksgiving Eve, DC felt uncrowded, and as someone who deals with this city's hustle and bustle, I felt a sense of freedom and relief. There are times that this city could be so unkind and unfriendly. Countless times I've thought of moving out and finding a job somewhere, but something seems to keep drawing me to stay. It's probably because most of my college friends are working in the area, and that I've gotten comfortable to the culture here. Whatever it is, I have to admit that DC has its own charms.

As I type this blog entry, I'm still wearing my sneakers instead of my work shoes. I actually neglected to dress up for work today. Why? We're only working for four hours. I just thought that my boss is so considerate, that he's decided to close the office at 1 PM giving my other coworkers ample time for their drive out-of-state. I guess that's another thing I have to be thankful for. Also, I still have my job, while other companies are laying off their workers, my company is still intact and standing firm. It is not my intention to gloat; I am just thankful that we're surviving the storm. As my boss stated on our last staff meeting, "We will get through this." His words inspired me, and that's all I needed to hear.

As I think about last year's Thanksgiving, it will be different this year. Just like the past six years, last year's Thanksgiving was big and noisy with the ex's family. This year, Thanksgiving will be small and quiet, as I'll be spending it with my Mom. Mom and I are picking up groceries this afternoon, and that we'll be bringing some food and visiting my sick aunt who lives on the other side of Maryland tomorrow. This year's Thanksgiving feels so different. Is it because there's a big change of people involved? Or is it because I have started to embrace the change that was felt forced upon me a year ago? I prefer to think of it as maturity and coping with the challenges of life. Whatever the change or changes maybe, I like it because it's on a personal level.

Lastly, I could not have survived the storms in my life without my family and friends - this includes YOU, my blogger friends. My family's been so supportive and so patient with me. I still remember calling my sister, who'd stop what she's doing just to listen to me sob my heart out on the phone. My parents who took off from work, fly ten hours just to come see me and make sure I'm okay. For the countless phone calls I received from my friends encouraging and pushing me to get up and get through the day. For the inspiring comments from my blogger friends, who have truly lighten my load when it was too heavy to carry on.

To all of you, I am so ever grateful. Your generosity has humbled me, and that my world has been a better place because of you. Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Quick Thought on Thanksgiving

Today, I had lunch with my office mates at Elephant and Castle, a British pub/restaurant in the area. It was our early Thanksgiving lunch, as everyone seems to be going home to their respective states this afternoon. Like me, most of my coworkers are also transplants in the DC area, so when the holidays arrive, almost everyone seems to be planning their flight or train trip home. As for me, I'll be spending Thanksgiving here with my Mom. Mom was supposed to fly home to Hawaii two weeks ago, but she decided to spend Thanksgiving with me instead. Thank you, Mom.

Mom and I haven't decided how we'll celebrate Thanksgiving yet. As Filipino-Americans, we prefer chicken to turkey. Instead of stuffings and mashed potatoes, we cook pansit or macaroni salad. We Filipinize Thanksgiving. But Thanksgiving is not about the food; it is more than that. I've observed that as time goes by, people are forgetting the meaning of Thanksgiving. It isn't about how perfect the turkey is or how abundant food is on the table. It is about giving thanks to God, family, friends, and welcoming new acquaintances to your home. I do hope that as families dine together this Thanksgiving, they'd remember the true history of America, the Native Americans, the Pilgrims, and most of all, that different cultures can co-exist harmoniously.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Happy at 54

I went to my bimonthly check-up today, so I was three hours late showing up for work. As usual, the needles, the blood, and the checking of lymph nodes were routinely done. After about five minutes, my results came in. The platelets are up at 54. To someone who's been dealing with Thrombocytopenia and whose last platelet count was at 35, I was so happy they're currently at 54. I actually didn't know what caused them to go up, but for the past few weeks, I've been eating more fruits and vegetables. So, I'll definitely try to increase more my fruit and vegetable intake. My next goal is to get my platelet count at a normal level of 150.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

My Christmas Tree

Here it is, my very own six feet, slim pine Christmas tree which I've been working on since Thursday of last week. I was so happy when I finally got the ornaments and lights together today. There's only 22 real ornaments hanging there and the rest are edible. There are mint candy canes and rounded, hollow milk chocolate ornaments. I decided to use more edible ornaments as it's easier to eat them instead of storing them after the holidays. I know, it's so silly of me. Anyway, I thought it was a cute idea to be able to pluck a chocolate ornament whenever I feel like it or nibble a candy cane after a meal. After all, it's the holiday season.The toys underneath - kissing puppies, gingerbread tin can and penguin - were presents from friends last year. As you can see, I have also started with my list and wrapped a couple of presents. I know that there are a lot of people struggling this year due to the global recession, but I am going to do my best to spread a little cheer to the people around me. I encourage everyone to spread joy and love not just this season but every single day. Let's make our world a better place.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Presidential Inauguration 2009

Four million people are expected to attend President-Elect Obama's Inauguration next year. I can't fathom that many people roaming around DC, and the thought of such a huge crowd is suffocating to me. I've never been a crowd person. Actually, the last time I was caught in a crowd was during the La Notte Bianca (White Night) in Rome. You can read more about La Notte Bianca here. I almost fainted at that time, as the streets of Rome were so crowded you've had to physically push people to get through. Going back to 2009's Presidential Inauguration, all hotels are already fully booked for that week, and DC, MD, and VA residents are renting out their houses and apartments. Some houses are even renting at $5000 per night and some even more. As for me, I've decided to rent out my one-bedroom apartment, as I plan to be out-of-town that week. Either my place will be rented or not, I'll be out-of-town anyway, as I don't plan to battle my way through the crowds. I'll be contented watching the Inauguration on TV - somewhere else. To read more about the Inauguration, click here.

So, if you know anyone planning to attend the inauguration but having a hard time finding a place to stay, I have available for rent, a clean, cozy, one-bedroom apartment, walking distance to the Metro, and 25 minutes to Downtown DC by train.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


I really like this award. Thank you, Cheryle.

“This blog invests and believes, in ‘proximity’ [meaning, that blogging makes us 'close' - being close through proxy]. These blogs are all charming and they aim to show the marvels of friendship. Let’s give more attention to them! So with this prize we must deliver it to eight bloggers that in turn must make the same thing and put this text.”

The following blogs have bridged friendships amidst geographical distances. Although at times, I couldn't visit these blogs often, I am and will always be a fan. Congratulations!

I’m passing this blog award to:

* My Little Moments
* Little Miss Firefly
* Wits and Nuts
* Sari-Saring Kulay
* Kumareng Grace
* Anything Goes
* Miskina Ano Na Isip
* Muffled Solitude

Monday, November 17, 2008

A DC Moment

I looked at my monitor; it's barely 5 PM. I gazed through the misty glass windows, and it's still raining outside. It's been raining since I woke up this morning. My thoughts were telling me that rain is typical at this time of year. I walked towards the window and looked 11 floors down. Colorful umbrellas adorned the streets. People were rushing to get home as if they're being chased by raindrops. I planned on leaving in thirty minutes, when at the corner of 14th street I spotted a homeless man, sitting on a bench and eating chips under the rain. My heart sank and was filled with pity. I couldn't stop looking at him.

After a few minutes, I saw the homeless man dumped a bunch of chips on the pavement. I guess I was looking at the man too intently that I failed to notice a number of birds have started to convene around him. My heart sank even more as I was touched by this man's generosity. I was delighted to see that more birds flew in to get closer to him. It was free food after all.

I couldn't see the man's face, but he slowly stood up and reached for his cane. He slowly turned towards the birds and out-of-the blue started whacking his unknowing victims. I was taken aback and was filled with shocked. Oh how my thoughts were wrong. I shook my head, got my things and headed home.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Mr. Kia

Weekends are too short, too short to even get enough rest and relaxation. It's already Sunday afternoon, and I've been fighting this feeling of not wanting to go to work tomorrow. After last week's meeting, I felt drained and couldn't get myself to do anything. If there is such thing as a stress bug, I think I've been bitten not once but ten times.

In my years of working, I've always managed my work load efficiently, but it is dealing with difficult people that really puts a strain on me. Aside from preparing for my meeting's logistics, I had to deal with our firm's "know-it-all" (Kia). Kia drove me insane, as he tried to manipulate his way and overpower my decisions. My head felt like a kettle overflowing with boiling water. It was tough containing my anger but still managed to do so. I was fuming inside, but instead of blowing up and be accused of unprofessionalism, I told him to fulfill his part while I do mine. When it got harder to deal with his behavior, I chose to ignore his antics and proceeded with my meeting as the team has planned. Amidst the challenges that I've dealt with, the meeting was a success.

After all Kia's behavior, I still thanked him for all his help. In this lifetime and wherever I am, I treat the people around me as best as I want to be treated. At work, I respect my coworkers and treat each one with respect and courtesy, but it is a different story when a receptionist who thinks he's the manager tries to manipulate or push me around just to get his way.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Hello All,

I've been very busy preparing for a meeting at work. I think this is the last meeting we're sponsoring for 2008, so hopefully, I'll be able to relax after this.

I hope everyone is having a wonderful week. Stay safe and well. I'll be visiting your blogs soon.

Best wishes,

Friday, November 7, 2008

What Are You Thinking?

Dear Readers,

For this recent historical event, the US electing the first African-American President, I would like to know your reactions. I have two sets of questions for Filipinos in the Philippines and Filipinos living abroad. Please read the questions and feel free to leave me a long comment. Your answers are not limited to my questions, so if you think there are questions we should be addressing, do let me know. If you know of other people interested to answer these questions, please let them know of this discussion.
  1. Questions for Filipinos in the Philippines: How did you view this election? Do you think the Obama administration will have an impact on Philippine-US relations? Do you think Philippine-US relations will improve under Obama leadership?
  2. Questions for Filipinos living outside the Philippines including the US: How did you view this election? Was the win for Obama a win for minorities specifically Filipinos in the US?
Comment away!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Politics Overdose

Working in DC during the elections is no walk in the park. Two weeks before the big day, radio and TV stations were constantly and irritatingly airing numerous political ads. People at work were debating, asserting and reasserting the parties they belong to. It is so SICKENING. At home, I've tried to avoid watching TV or reading any materials that ventilate politics; work is a different story. Thankfully, I found this channel that airs old TV shows like "Magnum P.I.," "The A-Team," and "Knight Rider," and they don't show political ads at all. These days, it's the only channel I watch. I think there is such thing as "politics overdose."

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Uber Amazing Blog

Thank you mumsified for this "Amazing Blog" award.

Uber (synonym to Super) Amazing Blog Award is a blog award given to sites who:
~ inspires you
~ makes you smile and laugh
~ or maybe gives amazing information
~ a great read
~ has an amazing design
~ and any other reasons you can think of that makes them uber amazing!

Now, I am passing this award to the following:
  • Artemis - for her amazing travel information
  • Angeli - her intelligent writings and thoughts
  • Cheryle - her inspiring and honest writings about life in Korea
  • Jo - for her creative thoughts and ideas ( I was inspired by the 1001 Letters post)

Monday, November 3, 2008

Weekend Update

Our board meeting concluded last week, and I am so relieved (BIG sigh). I was so exhausted on Friday that when I got home, I slumped on my couch and dozed off. It was 8 PM when I awoke to the knocks of "trick or treaters." Mom told me there were a lot of knocks earlier, and that I should take over answering the door. What a mess! I even forgot to get ready for Halloween. Anyway, I still managed to greet and give the ghosts, goblins and witches some sweets. It was a delight to see the kids in costumes. Too bad I didn't get to scare any of them this year. Well, as they say, there's always next year. Mom and I took to cooking on the morning of Saturday. Mom made a simple sweet rice dish while I cooked my oil splattering lechon kawali.

After Halloween, people start preparing for Thanksgiving and Christmas, so it was a delight to visit the mall on Saturday and see Christmas decorations already up and glimmering. Stores are either having their after Halloween sale or pre-Christmas discounts. At this time of year, the kid in me lights up to the sight of tin canned chocolates and cookies, decorations of brightly wrapped presents, the presence of Santa Claus taking photos with the kids, and most of all, the sound of Christmas songs playing in the air. To me, Christmas is the best time of the year.

After prowling at the mall, Mom and I went to our favorite store called "World Market," and boy oh boy, they've got all sorts of sweets and Christmas treats from all over the world. I went a bit crazy (what the heck, I went CRAZY) with the tin canned gingerbread cookies and chocolates. I bought a few of my favorites (photo) , and I'm sending some of those to some friends. It was as if, Christmas came early to my house.
Believe me, the shopping was great, but Mom and I also managed to make it a movie weekend. We watched "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" and "Journey to the Center of the Earth." Both movies have the very entertaining factor, which is what I needed when all I've been doing the past few days was sit through hours and hours of meetings. I've always been an Indiana Jones movie fan, but I didn't like the incorporation of superior alien beings with skulls/bones made of pure crystal. Anyhow, I'm just glad to see Harrison Ford back as Indiana Jones. As for "Journey to the Center of the Earth," I thought it was a fascinating idea that there'd be an existing world in a world beneath us. I guess that's the work of fiction, to take your mind off from the present undertakings of your current world and transport you to a world of imagination. I clearly needed to be transported to a different time and space, as my current world is so busy, so stressful, and so full of decisions. I need to get away - even for just a few hours.

Well, this is a quick update of what I've been up to. I have another meeting this afternoon and a planning meeting next week. Perhaps after all these, it will be smooth sailing towards the coming holidays. I am in dire need of a vacation because at the moment my mind is numb and spinning.

Happy Monday everyone!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


A Memory: Halloween 2007

I wore face paint, striped ears and a long tail. I drew whiskers on my cheeks, and made sure orange stripes appeared on my forehead and neck. The paint on my face was so thick I felt unrecognizable. When I answered the door to trick or treaters, I jumped-out with a Tiger's roar and playfully scratched the kids with my pretend paws. They ran away screaming with fear while their pumpkin baskets dangled sideways spilling sweets everywhere. Some kids hid behind their parents' back, who were having a Halloween time at their children's expense.

That night, I became a monster. I found contentment in hearing the children's screams and delightfully fed on their fears. I seem to have forgotten who I was as I stayed awake to the wee hours of the night admiring my whiskers and my tail. To top all that, I felt no remorse when I made a little girl cry wearing a ladybug costume. "I'm so sorry," I told her dad with my sincerest voice. Deep inside, I was silently grinning and having an evil good time.

Of course I gave them candies afterwards.

Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 27, 2008

7 Random Facts About Me

I was tagged by Cheryle to post "7 Random Facts About Me." Here it goes:

  1. I have a merchant marine's license and used to work as a purser for American Cruise Lines. I had a wonderful experience sailing to all the Hawaiian islands except Ni'ihau.
  2. I was the regional impromptu speech champion but lost in the national level. I was devastated because the national champion represented the Philippines in Australia.
  3. I have a black belt in Taekwondo. I have started training when I was 15 until 25. I haven't trained in years so I am very rusty. Through Taekwondo, I learned so much about myself and a lot of my friends I met through training and demos. Yes, I can still break boards.
  4. A number of my family wanted me to go into the medical field, but I told them that it is not my interest. Besides, I've always believed that if you follow your interest, the money will come. I was right. I am happy I took History. I am now in the process of applying for grad school.
  5. I spent three years working in Dutch Harbor (part of the Aleutian Chain), Alaska. I started as a processor and moved on to become QC. I then went on to work for a hotel there and was provided housing and food privileges within the hotel. It was a sweet deal. Housekeeping and laundry were also included.
  6. I met Svetlana Boguinskaya in Alaska. She was known as the "Belarusian Swan," and she's a three-time Olympic champion. You can read more stuff about her here. Since Dutch Harbor was quite close to Russia, I think she was there to encourage children to get into gymnastics.
  7. I am the third and youngest child in the family. There's a nine-year gap between me and the second. I love being the youngest child.
* I am tagging Artemis, Kumareng Grace, Josiet, and Layad. Do it when you have the time gals, and don't forget to have fun. I did.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

After The Rain

While it was gray and rainy on Saturday, I woke-up to a sunny and bright Sunday. I guess what they say is true - After a storm, the sun will shine again. It may be a few minutes later, a few hours, or even a few days. But it will always happen.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Let It Rain

It's a rainy Saturday, so Mom and I decided to just stay at home and relax. We've spent most of the morning watching scary movies. For lunch, I whipped up some fried rice loaded with garlic and fried some Sweet Hamonado Longanisa. Truly, rainy days inspire me to hone my cooking skills.

And look at what the postman delivered today. I got a package from my friend, Lily, who lives in Alaska. My Halloween treats came early, as Lily filled the box with a variety of sweets. Lily was my former boss when I worked in Alaska. Lily and I have been friends for more than ten years; I am so lucky that she also considers me as her own daughter. When I was working in Alaska, she was my friend, my boss, and my mentor.

I know some of you were wondering how my fudge brownies came out, and here's a photo I took last night. I have a few more pieces left, but I don't think there'll be anything left for tonight.

For the rest of my afternoon, I'll sit by my window, enjoy my favorite red rose tea, write some letters, and be lulled by the sweet sound of rain tapping my window pane.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Freedom Friday

It's Friday evening, and it was a rough day at work. A number of my colleagues have gone bar drinking but joining the happy hour crowd isn't really my thing anymore. When I reached the age of 27, I seem to have unconsciously decided that I'm through drinking and mingling with the nocturnal crowd. I think my definition of fun has completely changed. At the end of every work day, I prefer coming home to my apartment and shutting societal demands outside my front door. It seems so ironic that I feel more freedom in my one-bedroom abode than on the clamorous streets of big DC. In my small home, I can do anything I want from slouching on the couch and eating unhealthy food.

After a stressful day at the office, I like to come home and bake cookies or cakes. I like baking sweets or anything with chocolate, as I find them comforting and friendly. At the moment, I have fudge baking in the oven, and the aroma of the almighty chocolate is nothing but heavenly and relaxing. This is the first time I've added chocolate syrup with the mixture, so I'm excited to see how this will turn out. So tonight, as I turn on my cable and watch "The A-Team" outwit the bad guys, I'll have warm fudge topped with vanilla ice cream. This is what I call - freedom Friday.

Happy weekend!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Teaism and Singleism

My friend, B, recommended the Teaism Restaurant for lunch today. I didn't expect her to feel the vibe of my recent weekend adventure searching for that elusive Barley tea. I was so excited going to this restaurant, as I was hoping to find my fave tea. To my dismay, they have all kinds of tea except for Barley. I guess the saga continues. I keep thinking it's like watching the Indiana Jones movies expecting that there are parts I, II, and III or more.

For lunch, I had a Salmon Bento with a pot of Gen Mai Cha. The Salmon was cooked perfectly tasty and juicy, complemented with pickled Ginger and a box of Edamame. It was a light and healthy meal. The warm tea was perfect to ward off the cold specially at this time of the year. B and I tried to catch up on anything to everything, but an hour and a half isn't enough. Obviously, she's got a busier social life than I do. These days, I enjoy being a homebody.

B and I usually have lunch once a week, but since she's been frequenting Geneva for work, we've missed a lot of lunches. Since we left college, both our lives evolved from carefree college students to responsible working women. Although work and age are catching up on us, when we're together, we still act as if we are in college. Our conversations are still peppered with boys and former relationships, and we still giggle at the sight of good-looking boys. Sorry, but we both think that most males are "boys" and only a few deserve to be called "men." B and I also touched on the topic of being "single," and we both agree that for now - we're completely comfortable being fulfilled, successful, single women.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Barley Tea Adventure

I have ran out of barley tea, and Mom and I scoured all possible Asian stores in the area and have been unable to find one. I'm so disappointed, and I've been trying to brainstorm if there are other tea stores I haven't checked. I hope I'll have better luck today because I am down to my last barley tea bag. Of course I'm still a coffee person in the morning, but the rest of the day, I drink tea. I only stick to my three favorites though - green, barley, and a specific brand of black tea. Green tea is everywhere and so is black tea, but I don't know why barley is so tough to find. Is it because it's not in demand compared to its more popular counterparts? Anyway, my tea adventure lead me to new and familiar places.

My search for the barley tea took me back to Lake Whetstone. The surrounding trees have started to change colors, and I can't wait to come back here when fall foliage is at its peak. It was so cold yesterday, that I think the ducks were reluctant to swim to keep us company. Mom and I have taken a liking to the lake, as we both find the lake park peaceful and relaxing.

Well, I was mistaken. There were three brave feathered friends who curiously came to meet us. We were happy to see them.

If you saw the movie , Flash of Genius, this is the area where Robert Kearns lived.

Peaceful lake.

It seems that our temperature has taken a sudden nosedive. It isn't cold enough to turn the heater on, but chilly enough to make your knees and hands shiver specially in the mornings and evenings. I have aired out my winter blankets, dry cleaned my coats, and brought out my winter clothes. I think I am quite ready for winter 2008.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Travel: Studying in Rome

These are the places where my university lectures took place. My subjects were Ancient Roman History and Roman Art and Architecture. The best part of studying in Rome was traveling to all these spots with your professor and classmates, having special access to restricted sites, and having your mind travel through time as your professor talks about the significance of the ground you're standing on.

This is where I lived, Borgo Pio, which was a block away from the Vatican.

A rainy day at the Piazza del Popolo (People's Plaza)

The dome of St. Peter's Basilica

St. Peter's Basilica

The ruins at the Palatine Hill (Remember the story of Romulus and Remus? The Palatine Hill is the believed location of the Lupercal, a cave, where they were taken cared and nursed by a female wolf.)

My classmate entering the underground House of Griffin. (The griffin is an ancient creature believed to have the body of a lion and the head and wings of an eagle.) I was actually scared going into this house: 1.) it was dark; 2.) it was old/ancient; and 3.) I was superstitious that the ghosts of the ancient dwellers were still there.

Inside the Vatican

The art ceiling of the Vatican Museum

The Colosseum

Inside the Colosseum

Roman Forum

Castel Sant'Angelo overlooking the Tiber River (I pass through here everyday to get to school.)

The Arch of Constantine

This last photo should give you an idea what our next feature album will be. Care to guess?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Cookies and Sweets

I'm still soaking and enjoying my three day weekend. It's been rather relaxing, as Mom and I went out for walks, watched the migrating geese at Whetstone Lake, and to top it all, I've been enjoying these bunch of Ferrero collection. I've always been a fan of the Rocher (gold), but this month, Ferrero introduced the Garden Coco (silver) and the Rondnoir (dark brown). Seldom do I eat dark chocolate, so I immediately dismissed the Rondnoir, but the Garden Coco tasted heavenly and milky. I love it! Has anyone tried them yet?

Last night, I also tried my hand on baking. I've been looking for cookie recipes, and since the holidays are eagerly approaching, I want to try some recipes before I'd volunteer bringing them to parties. I found a really simple recipe for sugar cookies. I made these cookies from scratch and I'm very proud of the outcome. The cookies were crisp, sweet, buttery, and perfect for afternoon tea or coffee. Mom has taken a liking to them. As a treat, feel free to grab a cookie or two. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Blast From The Past

Today, I ran into my former landlord, Tim, as I exited the Metro station. I was surprised he recognized me first; I must have been a very good tenant. Tim and his family live in a single-family house in a very wealthy neighborhood in the area. During the school-year, he rents out his basement, which was converted into a one-bedroom apartment, to students who doesn't like living in dorms. My privacy is so important to me, so I opted to find my own housing. Their basement became my home while in college and indeed my first residence in the State of Maryland. I remember being so ecstatic about having my own place. I remember jumping on the bed several times.

The Tims were warm and caring people, and I am so glad I met them. While tackling the demands of college life and work, I came down with a bad strain of flu, which reminds me that I should get my flu shot this year. I missed a whole week of schoolwork, and my condition was made worse by the cold and snowy weather. Maryland's winter can go from mild to icy. The sidewalks can become instant skating rinks, and you'd find yourself nervously slipping and sliding without purpose. Anyway, being sick and on your own isn't easy, but the Tims were constantly checking on me, bringing me hot soup and tea, and even picking up my groceries. In an instant, I had a family. I was deeply touched by their kindness, and I was reminded that even in the gloomiest places, human kindness is a beacon of light.

It's been a few years since I saw Tim, and seeing him just reminded me that no matter where we are, good people live amongst us, especially that he works in the building opposite to mine.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Travel: Siena Album

I left Pisa at about 4 PM, as I wanted to get to Siena before dark. I was spending the night at a medieval plantation house. From the Siena train station, I took a taxi to my hotel and passed through quaint, sleepy towns.

This is the town entrance where my hotel is located.

In the evening, I walked around the town and was impressed at how the brick houses were old but still functioning. It's interesting to know that when I spoke to the hotel manager, he said the houses were passed down from generation to generation, so the same family names have resided there for ages. The town's main source of livelihood is winemaking.

One of the vineyard plantations in the area. This is a common sight in Tuscany.

The next day, I took a bus back to Siena. Once I entered Siena, I was greeted by these dark and ancient buildings. I was amazed that people truly live in them. It felt like I walked into a different world, so far and removed from the modernity and world I knew.

Siena is a walking and friendly city. Here's how the streets look like, and I did took a couple of wrong turns. Getting lost in the town's maze like streets is a great part of the adventure because you get to know the city's secret nooks.
This is the Palazzo Pubblico (Town Hall). They said this is the best place to watch the Palio. (Palio is a horse race held twice each year, in which ten horses and riders, dressed in the appropriate colours, represent ten of the seventeen city wards [Contrade].) I heard that this competition can get very intense. I still have to watch my first Palio.

The Piazza del Campo, Siena's central square. It felt like a beach without the sea. I mean, people were sunbathing there. This is a famous place to meet, hang-out, and eat. I mingled with folks there with a plate of Spaghetti Carbonara and a 2 euro soda. The center was declared as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
In Italy, a town or city's life revolves around its Duomo (cathedral). This is the Cathedral of Siena. I have no idea about architecture, but my guide book says this is an example of Italian romanesque architecture. The design is truly impressive.
This is a photo I took as I was approaching the Basilica of San Domenico. This church is quite simple and plain compared to the churches I've visited in Italy. What spooked me though, is that inside the cathedral, there's a chapel named after St. Catherine; and in the center, there's an altar housing the saint's head.
While in Siena, I met a number of Filipinos and it was a delight chatting with them. As we went our separate ways, we exchanged numbers and addresses. One of them, hoping that I'd marry his son in the Philippines. I just laughed and jokingly told her, "I'm not so sure about that." My visit to Siena was made memorable by the rich history of the city and wonderful people I met.

Our next trip will be Rome, The Eternal City.