Sunday, December 25, 2011

Paskong Pinoy

                There’s truly no place like home and Christmas in the Philippines always leaves wonderful memories. Aside from the usual things that we know about the Christmas Pinoy like the “simbang gabi” with puto bumbong and bibingka, and carolling; what I like about Christmas in the Philippines are the Family Reunions especially nowadays that there are many OFWs and this is the season that not going home seems to be unforgiveable and sad for most of us.

                It’s a tradition for a family to all be together on the Noche Buena and Christmas day and I’m wondering if “videoke” is part of the tradition but it seems so familiar and homey seeing a karaoke machine in a family reunion, a Filipino thing. Haha.

I like what Coca-Cola “Happiness project” has done to the Filipino OFWs. After seeing the TV ad, I realized why Coke stays number 1 worldwide: knowing the right thing to do at the right place and time. Coke knows that Philippines is a country with a very close family ties, that Christmas is a very important time of the year and that there are many Filipinos working for their family abroad nowadays and this is the time to touch everyone’s hearts.

I also like how Filipinos encourage kids to look forward to the “birth of Jesus” and perform for everyone before giving the Christmas gifts. I remember the time that I was singing or reciting poems for my relatives while crying because of shyness and maybe, for not figuring out why I needed to do it. Haha. I miss Christmas carols though.

I spent Christmas with my family, helped out in preparing the food and wrapping gifts for all our grandchildren and some friends. As usual, it was tiring entertaining everybody that visits our home but I was very thankful with these little girls, my inaanak, Ashley and her niece, Isay, when they had a fashion show at home.

I enjoyed them so much; I hope they’ll grow as beautiful women. 

Wishing everybody happy holidays! Anyway, for a complete tutorial of Filipino Christmas, here’s Mikey Bustos in his Filipino Christmas Tutorial!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Bus to Quezon

When we were kids, whenever we go to Manila, we have to leave at midnight and wait for the bus since going to Manila is a 4 to 5 hour bus ride. I got used to it because my dad used to leave and arrive at midnight every weekend and when I was in college and needs to attend to my SK responsibilities, I used to go home at the same time every weekend.

Aside from the schedule, I developed a skill of feeling and knowing what kind of vehicle is coming since we used to play a “guessing-if-bus-is-coming” game; too many lights are usually trucks, one light is always a tricycle.

I missed playing it with my dad and sister.

I never like air-conditioned buses in the Philippines because they’re too cold (I don’t know if I can survive living in a cold country if I couldn’t stand cold buses).

Today, I went home with my sister riding a non-aircon bus. I like it even if my hair is as hard as stone after the ride. But today, I enjoyed the ride much better cause aside from my head resting in my sister’s shoulders, the conductor of the bus took care of us. There was a drunkard who sat beside me and didn’t stop talking to me and the bus conductor didn’t leave until the man got off. I am so happy experiencing that kind of service since it doesn’t happen that much nowadays because usually people don’t work professionally and we just settle for a bad service from waiters to public servants.

There are many buses going to different parts of Quezon.  JAM Liner, JAC Liner (the very efficient bus with wifi), Lucena Lines and A Liner that usually travel until Lucena. Superlines, Raymond, P & O or Barney and AB Liner are the usual buses I ride until my hometown and until Tagkawayan or Sta Elena, the tip of Camarines Sur which is next to the last town in the south of Quezon. When I was in college, I used to ride in Barney/ P&O a lot because I feel safe but after experiencing the good service of AB Liner, I think I’ll have it as an option always. It was bus no. 620, I just didn’t get kuya’s name but I definitely said thanks.

Aside from the fresh air, I enjoy riding a non-aircon bus going to my hometown because of a number of vendors who go up to the buses to sell my favourite food! I like the “Pinagong” in Sariaya that’s why I always make sure to have the energy to eat them when the bus passes by that town. I like quail eggs, pacencia and broas from Lucban Quezon but I like the most the “puto pao” in Lopez cause my mom makes it. Haha.

It’s so nice to be home. Merry Christmas everyone!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Bali, for the first time.

It's Christmas and after a couple of weeks, a new year will begin. I grew up always making sure that I'm with the whole family on the first day of the year because that will be the reflection of the whole year- if I'm not with them, I'll not be with them the whole year, that's what they say. But this coming new year, for the first time, I'll not be with my family, moreover, I'll be in Bali.

I went to Bali last month to attend the Southeast Asian Bloggers Conference and had a glimpse of how rich the culture is and how beautiful the people are.

For me, Bali in Indonesia is as beautiful as Boracay in the Philippines. The difference is just, Boracay is more commercial, Bali is more cultural and maybe, the "sand" and the "bikes."
Beer, book and beach always go together.
Below is one of the most photographed places in Bali, I guess. But before you get to see this very beautiful place, you have to make friends with the monkeys all over the temple of Uluwatu which comes from different sizes and age so you have to be mindful about your little things like bags, sunglasses and even necklace! (I kept my necklace since I was scared to lose it again and I don't like Taku to look for a new one over again.) 

Uluwatu is such a serene and beautiful place, a very good place for reflection but just like any sacred place, please try to be mindful of what you're wearing. Well, just in case you're in a "beach" mode and wearing shorts, linens are available in the entrance for you to cover your legs!
I like this part of GWK Cultural Park- Lotus Pond. It's so vast and green, I can look at it for the whole day!

GWK (Garuda Wisnu Kencana) Cultural Park is a good stop when you visit Bali. There, you'll see the Garuda Wisnu Kencana statue that will be standing 150 meters tall with wings span 64 meters across.

According to GWK, the statue is picturing Lord Wisnu, as the source of wisdom, riding on the back of the mythical bird Garuda as the manifestation of conscience toward Amerta, the perennial goodness and it is made from more than 4000 tons of copper and brass. The statue and its pedestal will be surrounded by more than 240 hectares cultural park which was once an abandoned and unproductive limestone quarry. GWK Cultural Park is intended to educate, especially the young generations about the importance of preserving and cultivating world’s cultural heritage.

 As of the moment, the statue of Wisnu, the statue of Garuda, and the hands of Wisnu have been placed temporarily in three different plazas within the park. 

You may refer to the photo below to let your imagination fly on how big the statue is going to be once it has been put altogether.

Left to right: Statue of Lord Wisnu, Garuda, miniature of how it'll look like after completion.

One of my favorites in Bali is the Balinese dancer. 

How they move their hips, hands and even their eyes are fabulous plus their colorful costume! The music is also very wonderful and reminds me of the "Singkil" dance in the Mindanao, southern part of the Philippines which I think both dances influenced each other because of their location. Remember, Indonesia have lots of Durian just like our beloved Mindanao. I would be grateful to learn a few steps of their dances, especially the "eye" movements. Awesome!

Balinese dancer at GWK

Of course, I love eating, no one can change it. But of course, Indonesian dishes are so spicy! You have to be ready to have water beside you. Haha. But I think I can eat Nasi Goreng the whole week!

A few reminders to have a wonderful uninterrupted exploration and vacation, please listen to me cause I didn't learn the last time I visited Indonesia and forgot about adapter. 

Philippines uses the flat one but Indonesia uses the rounded one.

Watch your step! Most of the people in Bali are Hindus which makes the place more interesting aside from the beautiful places to go and see. 

Always be careful when walking cause you might step on one of their offerings- a basket or container filled with flowers or rice which is called "canang sari." It is basically a ritual of giving back what the gods has given and in Balinese perspective, giving back or offering is the best way to maintain the relationships between the people and the spirits and it is believed that it will appease the spirit and will bring prosperity and good health to the people.
Offerings in shops
I almost stepped on this offering in Kuta Beach.
Offerings in sidewalks.
One of my memorable experience in Bali is the "blessing" or the prayer. I was astonished with the amount of water thrown to us and the grains of rice that was put in my forehead. Surprisingly, I felt renewed.  
the start of the prayer.
Cheers for good life!
I have attempted to drink Bintang twice during the trip but I guess, it's reserved for the next visit! Most of them agreed that Laos beer is the best (I'll try it soon!) but I hope that this one can beat the best Philippine beer: San Miguel (which I doubt! Haha)

Taku sent me a chat message when I was there saying that "Bali sunset is dangerous" only to keep me away from seeing it because we'll be back soon. Sunset is always one of the best moments in trips and I'll definitely catch more of the Bali sunsets soon, now with him.

I'll be back for more, Bali! See you in a few days!

(From the Philippines, I comfortably flew to Kuala Lumpur via Cebu Pacific Air and flew to Bali via Air Asia)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

25 and looking forward!

Note to everyone: this is a bit mushy and very personal blog entry, please bare with me, I know this is too girly. Haha.

“Every scar, pimple and wrinkle in your body is a sign of a life well-lived,” uttered by my ever cheerful mom who always tries to be positive despite the difficulties. For the past 25 years, I lived by that principle and will continue living with it for the years to come.

As 2011 ends and as I come to the realization that I am finally 25, the moment of self-evaluation comes with a celebration. I think I was blessed with a very supportive family and friends and lucky to have met wonderful people along the way (and hoping to meet more for the next years!) who taught me how to do things right and not to stop dreaming and believing. Just like what Elle Woods says, “Believing in yourself never goes out of style.” I listed the 25 things that I dreamed and gambled to achieve in 25 years:
  1. Hiked and Climbed mountains (dreamed and experienced before I turned 18).
  2.  Surfed (finally!).
  3.  Delivered speeches in public.
  4. Produced and directed a documentary about New People’s Army (NPA)- Basically, this was the reason why I took up Journalism, when I experienced being in the middle of the NPA and RP Military encounter when I was in high school then wondered why they were doing such things.
  5.  Camped (with and without electricity)- I grew up with this!
  6.  Won a provincial quiz bee.- Subject: Filipino.
  7.   Had different sort of relationships (long, short, quick, emotional, and easy. Haha)
  8. Published in newspapers (hope there are some in blogs too in the near future. *fingers crossed* Hope I’ll be able to do something interesting and beneficial to others.
  9. Graduated with honors. – those days. Haha.
  10. Worked in TV Production and News & Current Affairs department in one of the biggest TV networks in the Philippines.
  11.  Backpacked in and out of the Philippines.
  12. Slept in the airport and train/bus terminal.
  13. Couchsurfed and explore cultures.
  14. Played basketball and got a medal. (haha. Only award in college)
  15. Got drunk and threw up.
  16. Composed a song.- I used to write poems a lot so it was easier to put a melody.
  17. Appeared on national TV. Haha.
  18. Had a broken heart (twice!).
  19.  Became a manager.
  20. Partied til I dropped.- I can’t do this anymore! It comes with the age. Haha.
  21. Got a degree! – I think this is always in the list of achievements of Filipinos in my generation. I got a few staff interviews and when I asked them about their achievements, it's the "degree!"
  22. Brought a gift for my dad. I was too glad to finally buy something expensive for my dad last Christmas, watch. I hope this Christmas too!
  23. Got good friends.
  24. Now learned and having the best. *kilig*
  25.  Travel abroad. – I promised myself that I must be able to reach this goal before I turn 25. I thought about it all the time, wrote it over and over and travelled 3 times before 25.
A friend once said that when you’re 25, it’s too early to give up on your dreams and settle for less but too late to not know what you want in life. I suddenly felt that I’m in a very critical age. Haha. I need to start the 5 to 10 years plan again cause I just finished the first 5-year plan that I did when I was 20 and included in my list are the following:

·         Have a few good businesses: Flower Farm & Shop with my Mom (oh! Please help me God!), (Recycled) Paper & Accessories Shop or Travel Essentials Shop because I get high with these stuffs, Coffee Shop and maybe a Marketing & Events Management Company (if I can survive the fast-changing creative industry and will be able to invent and reinvent all the time.  Just like what Jeff Benjamin said in Spikes Festival 2011, “Invent or Die.”)
·         Good savings for retirement! (me and my parents)
·         Europe & South America Trips (Italy hello!)
·    Have good blogs and eventually publish an e-book or books about Marketing & Advertising as a mirror of each nation/culture and a fiction or novel.
·         I secretly dreams of being a travel show host or a show about cultures and nations. Shhh…
·         If lucky enough and fate permits, I’d love to stay happy in love and finally have my little angels. *hmmm*

Just like when I first written my goals when I was 8, I didn’t know which will be achieved but I knew that it must be written to be remembered for me to be better every day. 
Let’s all make 2012 a better year for a better us!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Growing Older.

 “Please go to counter 10 for verification. Please ask counter 4 for the schedule. Counter 1 please…” Imagine you have to do this for more than 5 times, I tell you, it is patience-draining.

Forums about the current situation of the pre-need company, College Assurance Plan (CAP), are everywhere. This shows how many Filipinos was hoping to secure good education and retirement (for some) years ago and my dad was one of them.

Since college, though I lived with my aunt and cousin in Manila, I was doing and learning most of the things on my own (well, this is how my dad raised us). Since my dad worked in a Real-Estate company (before he moved to work independently) and mostly project-based, he hoped to secure my college education through CAP’s College Educational Plan which went down during the time that I was in college. It was so disappointing having that piece of paper on hand but couldn’t do anything to pay my school bills because the pre-need company don’t have funds plus the fact that they would never give back the promised ROI to its plan holders. It was a gamble and my parents need to start over.

I normally have no drive to try and visit the CAP office because I’ve experienced the rude and very slow process for reimbursement but when I was playing around with my phone and thought of calling them, for the first time someone answered their hotline and told me that I have check to collect. But that didn’t entice me that much because the last time I got a check, it was 599 pesos which was almost just what I spent for transportation and time to pick it up. As I go through the old papers, I’ve seen that my parents started thinking about securing my future at the age of 5 and I’ve realized how much money they invested on it especially now that I am working.

I went to their office to check the status of my reimbursement and as expected, there was a long line of people hoping to get money from their investment from different parts of the Philippines. It was so sad to see people, mostly old parents, from different regions/provinces endure 5 to 8 hours of bus ride to go back home with nothing. I tried to observe just to let the time pass by. I had long conversation with people, listened to their complains and watched them smile as they start a new friendship to the people they spent almost a day with waiting for the office to give them answers to their questions. But even if it turned to be an easy and happy experience, I still don’t want my parents to experience the long waiting and not-so-nice process. As I looked at the huge room packed of people waiting, I realized that the window serving the educational plan holders was busier than the window serving the pension plan holders. I was fixing my dad papers for his pension and was done in less than 30 minutes while the educational plan reimbursement inquiry was finished after 3 hours (including not having lunch). I’ve seen angry and disappointed faces in the packed window and grasped that Filipinos are not that educated or don’t put much priority on thinking about “retirement.” Filipino parents normally give everything to their children’s education which is very adulating but may or may not be the reason why some parents force their children to support them on their retirement as return. I am a daughter and I care about my parents so much but I’ve seen a lot of Filipino parents putting all the responsibilities to their children after graduation that force them to just think about earning and not do what they want in a long run. I’ve seen parents blame their child of not having a good life after spending so much for the child’s education. I’ve seen corrupted children that seems to stay in where they are for 5 years just because they needed to stay “just earning” monthly just because they are not thinking of the “long-term” and they chose to be blamed.

Every society has a good and bad side and I think this is a part that the Filipino society needs to improve: the education on retirement. I also think that Filipino youth should think more of their long-term plans and the cause and effect of their every action. This is what I like with the Japanese society, they always leave you with the question “How do you see yourself 5 or 10 years from now?” (But I hope there’s back up when the insurance company closed down. Haha.)


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