Monday, February 20, 2012

me time

I've had the Blogger app for several months now, but haven't actually tried posting using it. So now, with some free time and no internet for my laptop, I thought I'd give it a try.

Since 2012 rolled in, it's been quite busy for me. With the lease expiring at the city apartment, I decided to get my own place in the suburbs. My first foray in real estate hunting was quite an adventure. I relied heavily on internet ads in real estate websites and in gumtree. Inspection appointments were made with agents and owners via email and phone calls. I barely knew the areas, so I was mighty glad for the navigation tool in my iPhone (thank God for gps!).

It took me 2 weeks to find my new home. The moment I walked into the place, I knew I found the one. It was still occupied and a bit messy, but I had good vibes from it. It was what I was looking for, what I had in my mind. I left praying the owner will choose me.

And...he did. So here I am, about a month later. Enjoying my space. Getting to know my new flat and neighborhood. It even feels like a home now. My fourth home in less than a year. This is my first time to really be on my own. I'm liking my independence, but it comes with a price. It can get lonely sometimes. But I'm loving my me time for the moment. When it starts getting unbearable, hopefully by then I'll have come up with a contingency plan.

For now, I'm really quite contented with just me in my flat.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

it was a very good year

It took awhile (an awfully long while), but finally, I have made the big move. I have officially uprooted myself from my homeland, left first my childhood nest and then my first Aussie nest. I write this post from my third home this year, in the heart of Brisbane City, Queensland, Australia.

I admit I started this year praying desperately for this change. I didn't have a clue, not even the vaguest hint, at the start of this year that big changes are coming my way. All I felt as 2011 began was a great deal of apprehension for what seemed to be a pretty uncertain future for me, both professionally and personally. Now, almost 12 months later, I look back at the year 2011 and see it as one of my great adventures.

In a way it seemed fairy tale-like. I applied for the job without much hope; they weren't even looking for anything for my position. It was just gut feel: something in me drove me to ask if maybe they have something for someone like me. I wasn't very hopeful; after all this is just my first shot, and I've heard sometimes it takes several applications to finally bag a job.

Lo and behold, I got a call right away. I almost didn't take the call, because I normally just ignore calls from numbers unknown to me. And I wasn't expecting a reply right away, but a reply I did get the very next day. Thank heavens I answered that call...and the ball started rolling.

There were several hurdles still to take care of, but the most important one was getting that break. It was unbelievable that a total stranger had been willing to take a chance on me, and I was bracing myself for the event that this was indeed what it seemed to me: something that was too good to be true. BUT IT WAS TRUE.

So off I went, packed my bags and flew several thousands of miles, not knowing how long I'll be away from home. I crossed each bridge as I came to it, and managed to cross each one successfully. Finally, at the end of October, I reached my goal. I am still a long way from home, and I still have no idea how long it is before I get to go home again, but I am quite happy where I am now. I'm in a good place, and I know as long as I answer His call, all will be well.

I feel like the past year is something that only happens in books and movies. But I am a testament that it could happen in the real world. It happened in my real world after all. I don't quite know what I did to deserve this, but I am thankful, really really thankful to the Divine Presence above for this.

But perhaps I do have an inkling of what I did to deserve it. I don't know how close on target I am, but it's the only thing I can think of. Sometime in the year that passed, I remember surrendering to God. I think it was during one of those utterly confusing times, when everything's so uncertain and I was truly clueless which way to go. I remember sending out a heartfelt plea to God, because I was really at a loss to what I am going to do next. It was at that point that I decided to just let everything go, and asked God to do as He pleased with me. I let go, and let God. 

And am I glad I did. I can't quite explain how I knew that what I was doing was God's will for me, but there was just something that pushed me to this direction. I guess this is what they say about answering a calling. I had been called to do this, and do it I did. I believe all my successes are due to my decision to answer the call. I didn't understand it at that time, but looking back, it makes a lot of sense now. It even seems simple.

My faith has led me to do what I had been called to do. I am just so thankful I was sensitive enough to follow the signs that led me to God's path for me. The path may seem too secular and pragmatic for most, but I don't care. If this is what my life's mission is, I'm not going to fight it. I am going to live it. And I want the world to know that I am successful because I surrendered and let God take the wheel.

Lord God, I am your instrument...thy will be done.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

return to upd

For the second time this month, I was transported back to the past. It's been 10 years since I graduated from college, and this spur of the moment trip to my alma mater, the University of the Philippines, sent me careening back to my years in the expansive Diliman campus.

A lot has happened in the decade that has passed. I have since then earned one more degree, started working, lived away from home (and had gone back to the nest), changed the color of my eyes and I have now taken to wearing my hair long. My friends and I kidded about not having taken lots of pictures back then...but that was the age when cameras still needed films and the most popular cellphones were Nokia 5110 -- no camera phones yet. So we took to going to the most significant parts of the campus, and took long-overdue photo ops.

We had agreed to meet up at our erstwhile home -- at the heart of the Institute of Biology, known fondly to us as IB Lobby. But as these planned things go, we ended up meeting up instead at the Casaa food court, the oasis of food and drinks for us bio majors. Outside, Cassa looks virtually the same. Inside, it was a bit different. The only remaining familiar stalls are Gloria's, Sizzler and the soda fountain. The vinyl-topped tables and plastic seats are still very much the same, though, as well as the stiffling heat and viand-aroma that envelopes the eating area. We stayed long enough to get some refreshments, then with drinks in hand, we trooped to the IB lobby.

A wave of nostalgia again hit me when we entered the now empty lobby. The familiar long tables and benches are still there, and glass-covered display cases still line the walls. The previously un-labeled specimens inside the cases are now coupled with their family, genus and species names. The guard table had been relocated to the IB steps, no longer situated beneath the wall clock in the lobby. The "house" cats were noticeably absent...had they all grown old and died without leaving a progeny? Because summer class has ended, we had the place to ourselves. I felt like a residual haunting, a ghost re-living what once was the motions in the monotony of daily life.

Soon, IB will be here no more. A new building is being constructed in the new science complex, and everything in this old structure will be relocated there. The new building and complex look promising and modern, but I hope this old one will not be bulldozed down. We had lunch at the Chocolate Kiss, somewhere we really never went to dine during our undergraduate years. It was a sumptuous meal of comfort food: bagoong rice, dinuguan, longganisa and chicken kiev. Dessert was, of course, the famous Devil's Food Cake, sans rival and blueberry cheesecake. With bellies full, we trooped to the university shopping eat again. Fishballs and kwek-kwek this time.

From SC, we went to the new science complex and quickly drove around it. I couldn't help but feel envious of the students who will get to study there. It was spacious and very modern, and the different institutes of the college of science were all within walking distance of each other. It looked so modern and so foreign, but I knew it would foster a more invigorating ambience for learning.

With winds picking up and the sky turning gray, we headed to perhaps the most famous UP landmark: the Oblation. Good old Oble was still as naked as he was on the day he was born, arms stretched in unabashed freedom and chin thrust with the arrogance of a Maroon. With the clouds shielding us from the
harsh afternoon sun, we had our photos with the UP icon.

As the first drops of rain fell, we retreated to our sanctuary. Outside Pavilion 4, we bumped into old professors, personalities that will forever be pillars of the institute. I doubt if they remembered me, but it was heart-warming to see their eyes light up when they realized that we were their students a decade ago. There was an unspoken joy in their aura as we recounted old college tales, and a hint of pride as they found out how well we were now doing. It was very touching how they said with the utmost sincerity that we are all part of the IB family.

It felt good to be reminded of things like this. College was certainly not all smooth-sailing for me, but seeing everything again from eyes that have aged a decade, it is definitely one of the most wonderful chapters of my life. The familiarity of everything felt oddly comforting, making me wish that as much as I want UP to move on with the times, I also want everything to stay as it is.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

immortality and immeasurable wealth

I'm writing this on the eve of the Rapture, an apocalyptal prediction made by an American pastor that Christ will take His followers at twilight on the 21st of May, 2011. With a little less than 7 hours to this event, I stumbled upon Doc Ligaya's call for articles for her hosting stint on The Blog Rounds. At first I thought it was pretty straightforward, but once I started thinking about it, I realized it was like a jolt that sent my imagination into a frenzy.

If I had more of both time and gold...I'm stretching this a bit to accommodate the wildest (and more interesting) yearnings. If I'm lucky and I survive the impending apocalypse, maybe this will also serve as a sort of to-do list, just in case someday I am bestowed with immeasurable wealth or immortality, or if I'm really, really lucky, both.


1. TRAVEL. First thing I'd do if I had plenty of gold to spend is to pack my bags and go to as many places as I can. Of course if I had the gold for this, I'd also be buying my own private jet to shuttle me around. Maybe I won't even have to pack, since I can buy what I need and what I want wherever. I don't have a list of places I want to go to, but anything different from what I am used to is good enough for me.

2. BOOKS. I am a bibliophile, and it's a childhood dream to have my own library. I'd buy all the books I want, support the writers I adore and preserve the books I love. I love reading, not just books, but anything that catches my fancy, blogs included. Nothing makes me feel more satisfied than reading a good novel on a rainy day with my dogs at my feet and coffee on my table.

3. DOGS. Much like having my own mega-library, another childhood dream is to own acres of land for the sole purpose of giving dogs a home where they can freely be themselves. I want to rescue dogs and puppies who are living in deplorable conditions, and have them live somewhere where they are free and well-taken cared of. I would employ a vet to make sure these dogs' stay healthy. It puzzles me that I have this much passion for dogs, and not for humans (I would only rescue dogs and not humans, not even children). Maybe I was a dog in one of my past lives.

4. GADGETS. I'm a techie, and I love having gadgets. The development of these electronics are super fast nowadays, and no way I can keep up with my lust for these "toys" unless I have immeasurable wealth. Even if my present gadget still serves its purpose, often I get the impulse to buy something newer. Kinda like having a new laptop and still wanting to get a netbook.

5. PADDOCK CLUB. A fairly recent yearning, I learned of the Paddock Club in 2010, when I watched the Formula 1 Malaysian Grand Prix. The Paddock Club is a club of F1 enthusiasts who are given exclusive passes to all the F1 races. This pass enables them to mingle with the teams on the pitlane and to get the best seats in every race track. Membership is easy: you just have to pay the membership fee each year, which amounts to just several millions of dollars. Once a member, I'd travel with the F1 circus and get to see every race LIVE.

6. DOWNLOADS. I'm a sucker for downloading music, movies and games on the internet. If I had the dough, I'd download (legally) to my heart's content. For now, I have to resort to free downloads.

7. FAMILY PAYBACK. I've been blessed to have parents and relatives who were selfless and who worked hard to help me attain my more practical dreams. One of my fervent prayers is to be able to have the wealth that will cater their every whim.

8. WORK WITHOUT PAY. I love my work, but I also have to support myself with what I earn. If and when I have my own family, I'd have to support them also with what I earn. But if I were a filthy rich doctor, I'd work pro bono, because my bank account would free me of the my need to earn for a living.

9. CHARITY. It doesn't feel right to keep all my riches to myself. I'd love to be able to give to my favorite charities, as well as to offer scholarships and grants to those who are deserving.

10. HOME. I may be away most of the time, but I want my own private nook in this world. A place where I feel totally safe, and where I can go to when the world is becoming a bit too much for me. Of course, it wouldn't hurt if this place has its own beach, pool and McMansion.


1. READ. I never seem to have enough time for reading. I always have a book or two (or more) waiting to be read. There are blogs I wish I could follow religiously, but just never had the time to do so.

2. WRITE. When I was younger, I thought I'd be a novelist. I had written short stories, but even these took huge chunks of time to complete. In writing, I have the tendency to be a perfectionist, especially in spelling and grammar, and it would just take me years to complete a novel. Sometimes I just want to go away and do nothing but work on a story. If I didn't have an expiry date, I'd be able to do this whenever I feel that itch.

3. COMPUTER GAMES. Be it on Facebook or an actual video game, I'd love to be able to waste time just playing these games. I can get hook on a game and waste precious hours just focused on it.

4. LIVE ABROAD. I envied Liz in Eat, Pray, Love. She was able to live in different countries for several months at a time and actually got to immerse herself in the culture of those places. I'd like to experience this myself, live somewhere long enough to experience how it is in their part of the world.

5. COUCH POTATO. As much as I love reading and playing computer games, I also love watching TV. I'm a TV-series junkie, and I love watching both old and new TV series.

6. HIGHER LEARNING. I have a degree in Biology, something I wish I had the time to follow up on. I'd love to earn a Master's or PhD in biology, do field work and studies, and even teach in a university. Maybe if medicine doesn't work out for me in a decade or so, I'd go back to this field.

7. ROOTS RESEARCH. Not the plant root, but my ancestral roots. I had always been curious about my ancestry. This type of research could take a lifetime, and because my roots are not confined to the Philippines, it would also entail some, if not a lot, of traveling.

8. TOUR. I'd need not just money for this, but time as well. To quench my wanderlust, I'd travel near and far, and I want to spend enough time in each destination to be able to appreciate what that place has to offer.

9. BE LAZY. In my head, I hear Bruno Mars' Lazy Song. It would be a treat to have a lazy day or two (or more!) once in a while. Nothing is more rejuvinating than wasting time doing nothing.

10. BLOG. Oooh, if I were immortal, I promise I'd post more often. No more excuses.

Okay, now with apocalypse dawning, I think I'd better publish this. It's T minus 3 hours and 30 minutes, and if the world does end, let this be my final blog entry.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

mr. big live in manila

At first, I wasn't really psyched about Mr. Big's concert in Manila. While I was a fan of the rock band way back in the early 90's, my initial reaction to finding out of their Manila outing was less than thrilling: they had to wait until they're over the hill to have a concert in the Philippines. Nevertheless, I still wanted to go.

May 10, 2011, Tuesday. My sister and I went to Araneta Coliseum, had an early dinner (a huge Taco Bell dinner, courtesy of BPI) and trooped to the gate. There was a crowd, but nothing too huge. We stayed on the sidelines, sitting on the barriers as we waited for the gates to open. It was sort of an eye opener for me: the crowd was older, no teeny bopper in sight (well, it was the same night as Justin Bieber's concert), and the people there were all old enough to be parents of the Justin Bieber fans. I realized that this was how MY generation looks like nowadays.

When we finally got in, we realized we needn't have worried about seats. The area where we are was not at all full; in fact, we could sit wherever we wanted (despite having reserved seats). Which is good, because I had been praying that I won't be seated next to a smelly man, or to a boisterous group. We chose seats that gave us a good view of the stage, and we were quite contented with our pick. A vendor came bearing blue glow-sticks, and though we knew these were way overpriced, we bought one each, to maximize the concert spirit.

The front acts came and we spent about half an hour wishing their acts were over and done with. They're not really very good, but both played rock so it was not excruciating to sit through their music.

And then came Mr. Big. The stars of the night. It was probably sometime during the opening chords of the first song, one from their Lean into it album, when I felt the Mr. Big bug bite me. I was transported back to the days when I listened to my cassette tape of their album over and over until I learned the words of their songs by heart. I remembered the first time I heard their music: To Be with You, played on the radio during a PE class in grade school, and everyone in my class had stopped to sing the song. I was reminded of how much their music was a part of my life back then, and it dawned on me that I still really do honestly love their music.

Soon we were dancing and waving our glow-sticks (thank God we bought them!) and singing our hearts out. After close to two decades, the words still came naturally to me. I really did knew them by heart! When they played my personal favorite, Green-tinted Sixties Mind, I was really high. I didn't care if I sang out of tune, or if I was making funny movements as I moved with the music, I just let it all out.

I was wrong to think that the band had lost their mojos. I was pleasantly amazed at how magical the night turned out to me. Eric Martin's voice sounded heart-breakingly familiar, and the songs were welcomed hauntings from the past, like a long-lost friend paying a long overdue surprise visit. Every word and every chord brought to the surface what I thought was long forgotten.

But because everything must end, the concert eventually did. Like lovers not wanting to leave each other, band and audience could not just separate. The band gave not one, but two encores, the first in response to the crowd and the second, only they know why. That night, everyone in the coliseum was taken back to the 90's, to the time when the king was Mr. Big, a time that never again will be. But for a few hours that night, we were magically all back to that time.

Thank you, Mr. Big, for making me realize that what the heart knows, it never forgets.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

blogging for my ego

The statements on the right column of this blog, under my dog's pic, say it all. Some people blog to gain fame, some to start a movement, some to express themselves. Some to interact with a specific audience, some to unite people under a common theme, and some to earn money. Not me.

I blog for my ego. Honestly, this is what got me started. I dream of having a life that is so interesting people would want to read about it. I dream of being posthumously famous, and my blog or journal will be sought after by my future fandom. I love to believe that what I think about things matter, and verbalizing these opinions in a post fuels this belief. I matter, my thoughts matter, my life matters...which is why I have to capture it in words, my own way of immortalizing it. This is what my ego tells me every time I stoke it with a new post in this blog.

Frankly, I don't care if I have a loyal following on this blog. I'm not doing this for any audience. I do it to scratch my writer's itch. I love the feeling of satisfaction of publishing a new post, one that I usually spend a lot of time editing until it meets my "standards." I love bumping into bloggable topics, often during mundane activities, and actually finding the time to make a post about it. I love sharing my two-cents on hot issues, and knowing that once published, anyone online can stumble upon my thoughts. I love to challenge myself to write about interesting stuff, and to write about them in such a way that my words can capture the reader.

I blog to chronicle my life. I love re-living moments in my past as I read old posts. I love trying to feel back the emotions I felt then as the words I had written bring me back to that time. Like going through an old journal, I often marvel at how eloquently (at least to my standards) I managed to write about something. It's like giving my ego a pat on the back.

I blog to immortalize me. I used to think that this blog will be in the internet longer than I'll be on this earth, but recent Blogger problems made me see that this blog is only as immortal as Blogger is. If this hosting site shuts down, it takes with it my chronicles. So, I'm keeping my fingers crossed that Blogger will never, ever shut down.

So, to end this post, I repeat words easily readable if only you'd look on the right column. I believe these words succinctly tell why I blog, and I wouldn't be able to tell it any other way:

For as long as I can remember, I've dreamt and attempted to have a journal that eloquently accounts both the significant events of my life as well as my random thoughts. But life happens faster than I can chronicle it, and I usually don't have the time nor the patience to sit for hours in front of the computer to compose an entry that I deem acceptable to be published online. I've learned by maintaining this blog that I'm a sporadic blogger, and that each entry I put is an attempt to slow down life and to chronicle it the best I could.

Friday, March 04, 2011

the sabbatical

I know, I've been a sporadic blogger. I almost went too long again without posting (or maybe I did). Much has been happening, and I haven't been able to sit down and compose something I deem worthy of publishing. Much like the journals I tried to keep, this has had close encounters with death. Now, before it dies (again), I'm attempting to make up for the seven months I've been silent. Resuscitate before it totally codes again.

Glad to say though, that my silence is equated with many things happening in my life. I don't have as much free time to "waste" chronicling my thoughts because life is happening. Since I last posted in August, I've been in two cities abroad, have successfully conquered another major test, stepped out of my comfort zone by finally leaving a job that's made me stagnate, and now I may have found myself aboard the train towards my dreams. I hadn't planned for any of it, I sort of got sucked into the plan, which I like to think is God's plan for me.

So...let's start from where I left off. My last post was in August of 2010. A good seven months ago, more than half a year. In September, I left the motherland for the land down under. Together with my sister and other international medical graduates, I attended a bridging course in preparation for the first of 2 licensure exams. It turned out to be a 6-week boot camp, with us reporting in at 8 AM and getting dismissed at 8 or even 9 PM, seven days a week. And it was WINTER. My first experience of winter. It wasn't a harsh winter, no snow in fact, but having lived all my life in a place of perpetual summer, it was a big change for me. For the first time, I donned a winter coat and gloves, and I was wearing up to 4 layers of clothes inside. My sister and I became experts in public transportation, having no one but ourselves to rely on in getting to where we needed to go.

The course itself was a boot camp for my brain. I've always had the attention span of a goldfish, and it was hard for me to sit through lectures for more than 3 hours. But not in this course. We had to do this for 12 hours, with just a 15 to 30 minute lunch break, and an occasional 10-minute break in between tutors. I'll write more about this in a separate post.

After the course, it was back to more familiar grounds for us: Sydney. We've been to Sydney many years before, and still remember most of the trip. We flew from Melbourne to Sydney, where our aunt was waiting for us. We had about 1 month before we sit for the exams, so we had to review and study and prepare ourselves the best we can with this time. Again, I became my worst enemy. It really takes me awhile to get started and to stay focused. It didn't help that I knew the exam was still a month away, I felt I have plenty of time to accomplish everything on time. Fortunately, several factors forced me to sit down and study for several hours a day: limited internet access, uninteresting daytime tv shows, my sister not talking to me because she herself was studying, and eventually, just the thought that failure is not an option were suffice to get me to hit the books. The exam was probably 2 weeks away when I really realized I must pass this. Too much time, too much money and too much energy has been invested in this. It was pass or fail, and failure was simply not an option.

So, for much of my remaining time in Australia, I was studying during the weekdays and during weekends, we morphed back in tourist mode. The weekend trips around Sydney were welcome breaks, and we were able to revisit the places that have made quite an impression on me way back: the opera house, Queen Victoria Building, Darling Harbour, the Three Sisters, Manly and Bondi Beaches, Westfield Parramatta and the small park near Tita's flat. And all that fish and chips!

November 20 came all too soon. For the first time ever, I took an exam in front of a computer. The exam took all afternoon, and it was draining. I couldn't remember much of the questions after finishing it, because everything was swimming in my head. I wasn't very confident about my performance because nothing looked familiar. I just prayed that I tackled the questions the way we were coached to do so. I relied very much on my instincts, and I hoped it didn't fail me. My sister and I were quiet on the train ride home, I was feeling shell-shocked and I couldn't tell from her demeanor what she was feeling.

We had about a week left before we had to go home. At this point, I wasn't even missing home yet (well, except for the little dog, who's picture I kept on my bedside because I was missing her everyday). It seemed that the months just flew by. It was hard packing my things, because I wanted to bring a lot of stuff home, but we were only allowed 25kg each. I had decided long before I started packing that I would be leaving some clothes and all my notes behind, because deep down, I had a feeling I'll be back soon.

It's funny how things work. The way things are going now, it does seem that there was basis for that feeling after all. I just might be heading down under again. I hope it's sooner rather than later, and I pray that this time, it's for good.