Sabado, Hunyo 23, 2012

Wanna Be Like Julie

As I write this post, I'm seated at the dining table in front of the tv, watching Julie & Julia. Just halfway through the movie, I had the urge to check out my blog again, which I have abandoned for over 2 months. Instantly, I felt bad.

 I was inspired by the story of Julie Powell (Amy Adams), who started out a blog to challenge herself to cook every recipe in Julia Child's cookbook and write about it every day for 365 days. That's 524 sumptuous French recipes in a year!

Oh yes, I wish I could cook like that, though I admit I have no passion for it. A sad thing, really, since I should've been learning how to cook for my daughter's birthday parties. Don't be too judgmental. Of course I know how to cook basic Filipino dishes like sinigang, nilaga, vegetables and fried whatever. But I still have to experience planning a party myself and be the cook. Oh well, that's another story.

What really inspired me was Julie's strong determination to overcome the challenges, failures and heartaches to finish what she started. After failing to find a publisher, she gave up her dream of becoming a writer and didn't even finish her novel. Then she realized that she never really pushed herself hard to accomplish anything that's important to her. She wanted to stop being a quitter.

In many ways, I believe I'm a quitter. That's probably why my previous relationships didn't last. Though I'd like to think that everything happens for a reason... that maybe it wasn't meant to be... that maybe it simply didn't make me happy. You see, both Julie and Julia felt there was something lacking in them. But when they finally found their passion, they stuck to it no matter what.

Right now, I trust and believe that everything is finally falling into its right place in terms of my career, my plans for my family, and my lovelife. Well, it's about time as I'm not getting any younger. It struck me that the first and most important thing that I have to do to make things work is to trust that everything will be okay at the end of the day. I just have to carry out my plans one day at a time and trust that my dreams will come true someday soon.

Be inspired! :) 

Biyernes, Abril 6, 2012

On Choosing Family


It's been a while since my last post here. There's been some family issues that I had to sort out. My decision: to leave my office job to be with my family. It's not that I'm gonna be a bum, no way! I'm now officially a WHAM (Work At Home Mom) and happy about it.

Since I became a mom, I've been facing all sorts of work-family dilemmas. It's not easy being a single mom, especially when you don't get much help from your family and relatives. Of course, I thank my partner and closest friends for giving me moral support every time I need one. I may have made some wrong moves in the past, but never did I allow myself to wallow in my problems and frustrations to the point that I neglect my family's needs. NEVER. There may be a few times when I felt too weak to go on, to beg someone to rescue me. But I always stop myself and wipe my tears and get up and get going.

I spent the last few days weighing what's really important in my life now.

          Is it having a regular job like everyone else? Well, yes. For a single mother like me, it's important to have a stable job in a stable company.

          Is it spending more time with my daughter? I think other single, working moms out there can relate to the guilt that I feel every time I go away to work. In my situation, I can only be with my daughter during weekends because my office is a long way from home and I still needed the extra hours for my online job.

I thought hard about it, the pros and cons.

And I found the answer, deep within me.

I want to be a better mom first. 

I'm thankful that there are a lot of high-paying home-based jobs available now for moms like me who've been looking for a true work-life balance in their life.

I'll update you on my life as a WHAM and hopefully, I get to inspire and help other moms out there.

I salute all single, working moms all over the world!


Miyerkules, Marso 14, 2012

Under My Umbrella

          As I write this post, my head is hurting in a bad way. Probably because it was drizzling on my way to work this morning, and I had nothing to cover my head. I didn't mind the tiny raindrops falling on my shower-fresh hair. As usual, I didn't bother to bring an umbrella even if it's been a 'wet morning' since Monday. Not that I'm complaining. Who doesn't love cool mornings? It's supposed to be summertime now in Manila. The summer heat is felt everywhere, making it hard for those working in the night shift to sleep during daytime. For most people without airconditioning in their room, summer is a curse when all you long for is a restful sleep after working long hours in the office.

          This big headache could have been prevented if I just brought an umbrella. I could just hear my mom telling me in a scolding voice to "always bring an umbrella, rain or shine!" Mother knows best. Ouch! I'm a mom, too. FYI, I'm not a bad parent. I always bring an umbrella, a hat, and a jacket for my daughter when we go out. It's only when I travel alone or with another adult do I allow myself, sometimes, to be without an umbrella. Most of the time, the reason I don't bring my umbrella is --- it can't fit inside my small sling bag. For today, my alibi is ---  I just threw away my broken, cheap umbrella and I still have to buy a new, more reliable replacement. There! I just added it to my to-do-list this weekend. 

          Words of wisdom borrowed from my mom ---  

Always bring an umbrella with you, rain or shine

          For people who are always on the go, buy a folding umbrella that can fit inside your favorite bag. Never leave home without it. Stylish 3-fold umbrellas are available anywhere, even in bookstores. You never know when an umbrella can come in handy against the searing sun or sudden rainshowers.  If you think you're too cool to bring one, would you still feel that way when you're soaking wet in the rain, or sweating and smelling sour all over?

Who says you can't look sexy under an umbrella?

*Image is from Google

Martes, Marso 13, 2012

Film Sharing Series: 1: The Lovely Bones

          I won't be doing any film reviews on my blog. Though it's a longtime dream of mine to be a film critic, I couldn't possibly pretend to be knowledgeable about the aspects of filmmaking, screenwriting, and acting. True to the purposes of this blog, I just wish to share my thoughts on some movies that struck a chord in me, whether as a friend, as a daughter, as a mother, as a lover, or simply as a woman. With this in mind, it would be easier for me to choose which kind of movies to watch and share with those who, like me, are looking for some inspiration and enlightenment.

         Since I'm a busy woman, I have an excuse for not being up-to-date with the latest films and for not having the luxury of watching blockbuster movies in a moviehouse whenever I want to. But this doesn't bother me at all. Most of the time, I ask my friends or check the Internet for good movies to watch. Most of what I consider good are indie films. Except for some days when I just wanna relax and see a romantic comedy or an animated film or something that would lift my spirits up. Well, honestly, most days are like that.

         I've seen many good films, but the one that inspired me to start this "film sharing series" on my blog is "The Lovely Bones". I heard somewhere that this a great movie to watch. I highly recommend this to mothers like me.

     "The Lovely Bones" is an adaptation of the award-winning novel of the same title by Alice Sebold. This supernatural drama was directed by Peter Jackson. The story of "The Lovely Bones" revolves around a 14-year-old girl named Susie Salmon (Saoirse Ronan), who was raped and murdered by their middle-aged neighbor, George Harvey (Stanley Tucci). She remained in her personal heaven to watch over her family and friends and to seek justice for her death. As her family struggled to look for her murderer and to go on living without her, she gradually learned to accept her own death and to let go of the life that was taken away from her so abruptly.

         In the movie, one of the killer's victims is a 6-year-old girl. This has greatly affected me because my daughter is of the same age and I just shiver with fear at the thought of losing her to such brutality. As I was watching this film, I had this strong urge to call my mom and tell her not to let my daughter play outside. It's just NOT SAFE. Then I reassured myself that my mom would never let her granddaughter out of her sight. As much as I want to protect her from all things bad, she deserves to enjoy her childhood and live a normal life without fear. We can only do so much to protect our loved ones.

          The film showed us the painful reality of how a death could shatter a family. But it also taught us how love, forgiveness, and acceptance could help a family heal and live a normal life again, together.

         Towards the end of the movie, Susie finally realized that she was ready to leave her life behind and enter heaven with Harvey's other victims. But then, she went back to do one last thing. I was expecting her to do something to stop Harvey from escaping the authorities and from burying her remains in the sinkhole. But until the end, she's still that sweet girl who longed to be kissed by her crush. She did just that. And then she left... for good.

         Let me quote the touching last lines spoken by Susie about 'the lovely bones' - referring to her family and friends who found strength in each other after her death:

          "These were the lovely bones that had grown around my absence: the connections—sometimes tenuous, sometimes made at great cost, but often magnificent—that happened after I was gone. And I began to see things in a way that let me hold the world without me in it. The events my death brought were merely the bones of a body that would become whole at some unpredictable time in the future. The price of what I came to see as this miraculous lifeless body had been my life. My name is Salmon, like the fish; first name Susie. I was 14 years old when I was murdered on December 6, 1973. I was here for a moment and then I was gone. I wish you all a long and happy life."

Linggo, Marso 4, 2012

Conquering Mt. Maculot Hand in Hand

Holding hands in the Rockies
     On February 26, 2012, Carlo and I conquered Mt. Maculot in Batangas. Our outdoor feat was not just a simple post-Valentine celebration (if climbing a mountain can be considered 'simple' at all), but more of a positive turning point in our friendship and partnership of almost two years. For some people, this may seem too much for a one-year-old relationship. As corny as it may sound, I think it's important to keep on looking for creative and adventurous ways to take our relationship to a higher level, to strengthen it and have fun at the same time. Well, we literally took it to a very high level by reaching the summit of Mt. Maculot on that bright sunny day. It's not the first time we climbed a mountain together. But on this particular adventure, it's just the two of us. This bout measured not only our physical strength and endurance, but how much we care about each other as well.


      The first time Carlo reached the summit of Mt. Maculot was during his college days at UST. For me, it's a new challenge. Of course, I got first-hand information from Carlo himself. But it still wasn't enough for me. So, as usual, I resorted to my most reliable friend: Google. I still wanted to be sure that I am equipped with all the details, particularly the level of difficulty and other special concerns about that mountain. Everything I needed to know about Mt. Maculot I got from Pinoy Mountaineer's very informative website. To check the details about climbing Mt. Maculot, please click here.

      Our original plan was to go on a dayhike on February 24, Friday, and then spend the night in a nearby resort (we tried to make a reservation at Mt. Maculot View Resort, but got no reply from them). We also considered spending Saturday until Sunday in Puerto Galera. It was a very exciting idea, but we also had qualms about it due to financial reasons and the lack of preparation time.

      In the end, we had to move our climb to Sunday, February 26, because we just couldn't pass up the sky lantern event at UP Diliman and our friend's birthday celebration at Fred's in Cubao Expo. (For our sky lantern event experience, pls check out my previous post by clicking here).

The Day We Got HIGH

     The day finally arrived! We packed our bags the night before. Since it's only a dayhike, we brought a few important things only:

  • Canned goods - two cans of tuna and a can of vienna sausage
  • Can opener
  • Rice - we bought take-out rice at KFC Buendia
  • 2 liters of water
  • Swiss knife
  • Flashlight - in case it gets dark before we finish our descent
  • Trail food - DingDong, marshmallows, and fish crackers (which we bought on the bus)
  • One set of clothes - undies, shirt, shorts
  • Rubber slippers - for tired feet after the climb
  • Light jacket - this is useful during the bus ride
  • Hat - our native hats from Kultura have a dual purpose: as a sombrero (hat) to protect our head and face from the glaring sun and as an abaniko (hand-held fan) to cool us down 
  • Basic - alcohol, Biogesic, wet wipes, tissue, mirror, comb, shampoo, light towel, soap, moisturizer (for kikay me), extra plastic bags
     I chose to wear my long-sleeved, breezy shirt and running shorts to keep me cool during the trek. With my Conquer backpack, North Face shoes, and charcoal socks, I was set to go. We left Carlo's house a bit late, past 5am, so we decided to take the LRT to Buendia. Because we didn't want to embark on our adventure with an empty stomach, we took a quick breakfast at KFC. Afterwards, we went to JAM terminal and boarded a bus going to Lemery. The bus left at about 7:30am. At around 10am, we were already at Cuenca proper, where the grandeur of Mt. Maculot can be viewed from below. We checked in at the registration booth (it was just on the side of the street), made a quick stop at a sari-sari store, and started our ascent.

The Climb

View of Mt Maculot from below

     Luckily, the sun hid in the clouds most of the time, though it's still hot. As I was going up the mountain, I painfully realized the importance of making sure one is physically prepared for the challenge. Jogging and warming-up before the climb would have given me the endurance that I needed. It also made me realize that I need to cut down on my consumption of pork, chicken and pork skin, grilled meat, coffee, and softdrinks. On my mind, I vowed to go jogging regularly, do sit-ups, eat more fish, vegetables and fruits, and drink lots of water.

     The trail we took was the one headed straight to the Rockies. We're not familiar with the trail going to the Grotto, so we didn't pursue it. The dry, loose soil made me slip a few times, that's why Maculot does not mean 'easy climb' in my dictionary.

Heading up to the Rockies

     The trail stops where cold buko juice can be bought for only 7-10 pesos... those I loved so much! It was nice to take a rest and greet the other mountaineers. Most of them were already descending Maculot after camping near the summit the night before.

Finally: The Rockies

     After a few rests and lots of buko juice and water, and with Carlo carrying my backpack for me (thanks a lot, baby!), we reached the Rockies at noontime. And what a view! It was spectacular. We're both so happy we made it to the top together. We stayed there until the others have left. Carlo propped up the tripod and we took pictures of ourselves and of the beautiful surroundings. We took our time savoring everything: the Taal volcano, the green landscape, the clear skies, and the pristine waters below. We're proud of ourselves for reaching this far on our own. A proof that if we can conquer mountains, we can overcome anything - hand in hand.

Views from the top

The Descent

Gates of heaven

     As we were descending Mt. Maculot, we saw this spectacular view. It was like angels would come down and sing to us. It felt like we were blessed by the gods on that day.
     Tired feet and aching body didn't diminish the happiness and fulfillment we felt. After cleaning up, we walked and rode the bus home still holding hands.

Tired but still smiling at my love who took this pic

Biyernes, Marso 2, 2012

Plea of a Sentimental Girl Working on the Night Shift

I wish to see the moon and the stars tonight
And not be imprisoned in this fluorescent-lit room
These artificial beams only sting my eyes
They don't help me see the light at all.

This blue chair gives no warmth
My hands are getting stiff from the cold
Feeling alone and lonely
My only friend now is myself and this keyboard.

Please help me break free from this cell
Lead me out the doors and let me see the stars
The night sky brings comfort, gives hope to my weary heart
Please, I beg you... Get me out of here!

This is not a poem. I am not a poet. Tonight is just one of those Friday nights at the office. You probably know where I'm coming from. Don't worry... I'm gonna be okay after tomorrow's shift :)

*Image is from Google

Lunes, Pebrero 27, 2012

When My Green Lantern Lit Up the Night Sky

     On February 24, Carlo and I were set to climb Mt. Maculot in Cuenca, Batangas as our post-Valentine date. I'm not saying that we didn't celebrate Valentine's Day. He actually surprised me with a romantic lunch at 12am on February 14 (don't get confused - we were on the night shift). Our Mt. Maculot adventure would be our main Valentine celebration and the ultimate test of our relationship, so to speak. Anyway, that's another story coming up on this blog soon. We gladly, and without hesitation, agreed to postpone our climb until Sunday, February 26, to experience lighting a sky lantern on the campus of UP Diliman with his equally adventure-loving sister, Marga.

     The event was Light UP: lighting of sky lanterns, organized by the UP Circle of Entrepreneurs. It was the magnificent finale of the Grandevour Food Bazaar that ran from February 23-24 at the AS parking lot. The actual lighting of sky lanterns was set at 10pm on February 24.

     We planned to go to UP earlier, at around 6pm, to take pictures as we roam around the campus. It was a very lazy Friday (Carlo and I were on paid vacation leave that day), so we didn't get there until 8pm. Missing the glorious sunset at UP was a bitter consequence of our laziness.

     When we got there, the Run Burger Run Challenge was over. Contrary to what we're expecting, there were not too many people at the venue. Luckily, the food bazaar was still on-going. We headed straight to the food booths and checked what's available. Our choice: Shawarma rice. While we were happily eating away our dinner, we were entertained by participants in the Pik-a Pik-up Line Battle who threw cheesy pick-up lines at a pretty girl. Though we had a hard time hearing what they were saying, it was fun seeing them looking clueless and "torpe".

     After heartily consuming our Shawarma rice, we took pictures as we strolled towards the Sunken Garden where the sky lantern event took place. We happily spent our waiting time taking pictures of ourselves and of the passing vehicles. When we got tired of it, we just resorted to people-watching.

     Finally, the moment we've been waiting for came. One of the organizers instructed us to go to the Sunken Garden grandstand to claim our sky lanterns, which cost 70 pesos each. Of course, my choice was a green one. It was red for Carlo and yellow for Marga.

     What came next was magical. Amidst the darkness were burning candles planted on the ground facing the grandstand. The candles were to be used to light the lanterns. When everyone was ready, we  were summoned to the open ground. The three of us had to share a single candle. Marga was the first one to light her lantern. Probably because of too much excitement , she forgot to make a wish. So when it was my turn, both of us said our wishes by heart before letting go of my lantern. The moment we let go, the other participants also cheered and clapped their hands with us. Seeing my lantern fly towards the night sky to join the other lanterns was overwhelming. Lanterns of different colors lit up the night sky. Everybody was cheering and clapping and jumping for joy. It was a magical experience for all of us.  

     What did I wish for? I actually had two wishes. My lantern reached the heavens, so I'm positive that my dreams will come true someday.