Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Nakaka-stress din pala ang "laid back"

Argh! More than one week na pala ako dito sa amin and yet di pa ako totally naka-laid back mode. Kasi naman, habits die hard (tsk...). Ngayon ko lang na-realize na totoo pala na kakaiba ang bilis at takbo ng buhay sa Manila. Siguro sa sobrang tagal ko nang naka-base dun eh wired na ako na gumalaw as if everything's a race.

It can be a good thing, yung sobrang bilis ng kilos at siyempre yung expectation na lahat mabilis din. Na parang kailangang parating may hinahabol. Kaso, kumusta naman pag napunta sa lugar na gaya dito sa Davao kung saan lahat ng bagay ay tumatakbo sa kakaibang pace. Kung tutuusin, ito yung gusto ko, laid back pero may buhay.

Sabi nga ng kapatid ko, "Chill, 'te...chill".

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Distinctly Davao

I missed the blessing of that house in South Pacific last summer. Family, relatives, friends, and friends of friends were there. All I got were stories, which include three of the most common themes - 1) that South Pacific is far (as in very far) from downtown Davao, 2) the house is big and would easily fit all extended families and then some in the usual holiday get-togethers, 3) the nearest neighbor is like hundreds of meters away.

Knowing the relatives' penchant for pulling the younger ones' legs, I thought that those impressions were just exaggerations to elicit curiousity from us in the family who have not seen the place yet. I imagined the place to be far, yes. But I did not really think of it as far *far*. Davao is a vast place and it is one of the largest cities in the world so I would say a local would have a fair idea of what "far" would be. If it is still in Davao City, then it could not be that far, right?

Wrong. At least for me. I realized, come to think of it, I have not really explored the places beyond my old high school campus (which is like at least 12 kilometers away from our place). Beyond school are names of places which I have heard before but could not remember.

So it was like a perfect opportunity to finally see the house along with my sisters, cousins, and aunts. Tita Nora has been inviting us since Christmas to visit and stay over for a Karaoke session. My sister, Diane, who has been there quite a few times already was very eager to go. She packed the Magic Sing and a few other stuff and organized that the other cousins from the province would join us as well.

So it happened that Diane and I met sister number 2 (Angging), Ate (Tita actually) Elma, and the other cousins met in SM so we could all go together to Tito Bobot and Tita Nora's place. The trip took longer than I anticipated. I kept telling the others na "Wow! Ang layo nga." And I was amazed by the scenic route I was seeing. I could not believe just how much I am missing holed up in the middle of all that concrete jungle in Manila.

It was twilight by the time we entered the village gates and proceeded to find the house. By this time I was convinced that it is indeed far and that the vast place need more houses for it to resemble a village. And I was also thinking, I totally understand why they would choose to live in such a place.

The house sits alone at the center of a vast empty space that in the future would undoubtedly be sprouting more houses. In the twilight, the impressive Mt. Apo serves as a backdrop to a picturesque image. The wind is crisp and there is a peaceful silence broken by sounds of insects and birds.

By the time I got inside the house, I was fully convinced that the stories were not exaggerated. The house is a place of solitude and yet it does not shun the noise. It is a place where all of us can really enjoy the noisy get-togethers without worrying that we might be disturbing the neighbors.

At the patio, Tita Nora told us that she has not seen so many species of birds in one place. She says that owls, mayas, lovebirds, herons, crows, hawks, and more freely fly around and are often seen flocking in the streets and even on their fence. She said that mornings are amazing as well where fogs lift to provide a clear view of the gulf.

It was truly a nice place to be in. I hope the next time I visit, I would get to see the birds.

The day after

While Diane and the cousins were still having brunch at Tita Nora's place; Ate Elma, Angging, and I were enjoying fresh durian in Magsaysay Park. I was the only newbie in this experience and both of them were telling me that eating the fruit is much much better than those candies I keep buying for pasalubong. I did not even know that there were so many variety and that what we were eating, the Arancillo, is the type which has a lot of meat and has a distinct milky taste. I kept telling them that it was like eating candy, only much better.

After promising the vendor that I would remember his stall if I want to bring some back to Manila, my sister and I went to SM to meet Diane and all the other cousins. It has become a tradition of sorts that we always watch the latest Shake, Rattle, and Roll and scare (if we are lucky) ourselves.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Urbi et Orbi

I am not a Catholic but I had enough Catholic education to respect religious traditions that is very strong in that faith. I think behind every great religion is a simple but powerful foundation, one that is built in faith, love, hope, and selflessness. This is why the papal's Christmas message this year touched me and made me think of my journey, which is often hindered by my own selfishness and greed.

“Wherever the selfishness of individuals and groups prevails over the common good … may the light of Christmas shine forth and encourage all people to do their part in a spirit of authentic solidarity. If people look only to their own interests, our world will certainly fall apart." ~ Pope Benedict XVII
I share the hope of everyone to see a better world and I nurture a desire to become a better person than I presently am. I nurture a wish to balance my desire for goodness for myself and the selflessness to be a catalyst of change, no matter how small or insignificant. It is not an easy path to take, but I wish for the courage to go that way anyway.

(Photo from:

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Uwi na

The trip from the office to the airport took almost as long as my flight going home. There was a long queue at the taxi bay earlier and the taxis were so few and far between. Of course, it didn't help that it's also the season when some taxi drivers are very picky with passengers.

It took me 30 minutes to get a taxi (at buti na lang mabait si manong at di na nagreklamo nung sinabi ko na sa airport punta ko). Tapos, it took us more than an hour to get to the airport. I was trying not to panic and think about that time in the past when I arrived late for my flight and ended up spending Christmas alone in Manila.

Buti na lang I had enough lead time so I just arrived in time for another long queue for check-in and a very short wait at the gate before we started boarding.

It wasn't a very fun flight because there was so much turbulence but the anticipation didn't waver. I just couldn't wait to get home. So it was really a pleasant surprise that it seems it has really become a "tradition" that the first meal I have at home is a plateful of my favorite ---> shrimps! It's soooooooo good to be home.

Things Get Done, Personal Feelings Aside

After all the UB experience and a general feeling of goodwill, optimism, and higher level of trust all around; I would say that it really came as a surprise to realize that someone I know seems to believe that personal feelings stood (and still stands) in the way of getting things done. This made me think just how much effort all of us spend on believing what others who are different from us can actually do, regardless of how personal biases color our judgments.

No matter how we might sometimes wish it to be otherwise, it is a sweet fact of life that we were not made out of the same mould. To imagine others to be less than who we are, just because we see ourselves as strong, unemotional, and right...well, it is tragic. This is the kind of thinking that erodes foundations, that weakens bridges, that creates a feeling of inferiority to others. This is the kind of belief system that is probably one of the saddest realities in life.

Perhaps it would help if we look around, see the world, see people, see beyond the facades, see the soul...and maybe - just maybe - there might be a wealth of opportunities there to learn and grow.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

2008 Highlights: Number 11 Loves Her Life!

As 2008 is winding to a close, I'm in the mood to review some of the highlights of this year. I really felt like I haven't done much before I started doing this post. But as soon as I began looking back, I realized I have much to be thankful for. It's truly been a fun year, complete with the highest highs and lowest lows. And that pretty much sums up life as I know it.

New Year at home. ~ It's tradition. I spend Christmas break at home and make it a point to welcome the New Year there too. Last New Year's eve wasn't complete without my mom there since she didn't come home from abroad. But we did manage to squeeze out as much fun as we can from the simple, and sometimes silly, family traditions we have. Spending time with my dad, sisters, cousins, aunts, and other relatives was really fun.

Fun Runs. ~ I mustered the will to join fun runs again. I didn't do many this year and I sucked in most of them. But all in all, I thoroughly enjoyed myself. UP GIG run was my first this year. It was quite an experience. Apart from it being the first this year, a lot of my friends joined as well. Then there's the fact that it was done in UP. I do love that place. I guess I've never really outgrown the campus, not after all these years. I loved the excitement and all that energy buzzing in the crisp early morning air. I loved the feel of being surrounded by trees again. I loved running under the canopy of leaves and feeling my heart and lungs work hard to finish the race. This was followed by Pinay in Action run at the Fort. This is where I felt I did okay. It was still a far cry from my personal best but it was great for me because I felt good the entire time, I also succeeded in my goal of shaving off 10 minutes from my time in the UP run. Then last but not the least, but definitely the worst, was the Adidas King of the Road run. That was the run that gave me so much grief. I was in so much pain and discomfort almost from the start until the finish. I was close to calling it quits halfway because my left shin and knee were throbbing painfully. But I guess it was a personal victory for me when I made myself run the entire course and finish it. This fun run list is pitifully short but they did make for some of the happiest times of my life this year.

Something New. ~ I promised myself to do something new this year. And without conscious thought and effort on my part, I found myself trying two new different sports. In early February, I got invited to try Futsal. Now, let me just say that I'm a big fan of Football but I've never imagined myself actually playing it (or at least a sport that is closely related to it). The thing is, I've long had this strange notion that I'm a wuss in sports that need balls (no pun intended) to be played. Turned out I had a knack for defense (by sheer luck, I think) and discovered I love playing the game. So I guess that's something new this year that really stuck. Another fascination was somewhat closer to my interest, which is martial arts. I got hooked to Capoeira because of Brod Nathan who convinced me to try it. Interestingly, he was also the one who introduced me to Arnis and Dragon Boat so I'd say he does like the idea of getting me into things that would make me suffer through hell and back. :-) But seriously, I tend to trust Nathan's judgment on these things so I tried. Sadly though, I wasn't able to sustain it as much as I wanted to.

Sporting Events. ~ I finally got a reason to go to SM MOA this year. The National Wushu Championships was held there. Since I was in the Organizing Committee, I got myself a reason to spend two days there (not counting the visit we've made to check out the venue). It was a very tiring yet fulfilling event for me. There were so many things to do and so little time to sleep. But it was all worth the effort to see so many athletes from so many places compete. Then just recently, I co-organized the FISA/OS Technical Course for Rowing Coaches. I was initially not sure if I made the right choice to back out from the Asian Junior Rowing Championship in Hong Kong just so I'd have the time to help organize and attend the seminar. I had to choose which to prioritize because I can't afford to take a leave from work two weeks in a month. So it was either go to HK or stay and organize the seminar. I chose the latter. And it was a good decision all in all.

FISA Umpiring Duties. ~ I got selected to be one of the Jury members for the Asian Olympic Qualifying in Shanghai this year. It was a nice surprise to me and at the same time, scary too. I had months to stew on the fact that I was the only newbie on the list and that other than Singaporeans Nicolas Ee and Tat Yeo, I don't know the other umpires that I'd be working with in the qualifying. But I worried for nothing because even if I was indeed the youngest, in both age and umpiring experience, I was treated quite well. The experience further cemented my respect for FISA umpires. It's uplifting to see how people of different races can be so different and still be the same.

Training. ~ I had training opportunities at work this year. I was one of the last minute inclusions to the Compass Training, which was one of the workshops for the PM Pool program. I'm not sure why some of us who weren't part of the PM Pool were added but I'm definitely grateful for the chance. Someone who loves training and learning like I do wouldn't question the reasons for blessings that come. The best thing to do when blessings rain like that is to step out of the room and catch as many raindrops as I can. Then there was TLC which was a regular offering for everyone at work. Other trainings such as Empowered Communication, ICEP, and Tapping the Creative Universe by Jim Paredes followed.

Simple Pleasures. ~ Meeting new people and helping others. Leading When Great Minds Dream. Seeing dreams slowly coming true for Team Lakay. Just some of the simple pleasures in life I wish I could do or see more often.

Bondings. ~ This year's outing and eCamp had its share of fun and surprising quirks that usually come out when the team drinks. There's never a dull moment with all that eccentricity, funny quips, smart-ass comments, and what-have-yous from a bunch of truly interesting people.

Padespedida for Friends. ~ The YinYang project sure added a reason to party for people at work. I've had the chance to join padespedidas for Ord, Colleen, and Mayee who were the team's YinYang King and Queens for this year. Apart from the fun of surprising them and using the despedida as an excuse to drink (and get drunk), I personally loved the idea of them living abroad and exploring new places. I love traveling and I often have this weird idea that when my friends travel, it's like I'm traveling too. Because if I'm lucky, there'd be moments when they think of me while they're on the road - and it's like a small part of me (that thought of me) touched that place too.

Travel. ~ I didn't do much of it this year. But the few ones I made left great impressions and fulfillment. Shanghai was my only foreign trip this year. It was a great trip because it was my first time to umpire in an Olympic Qualifying and I got the chance to see one of it's ancient cities. This was also the year that I got to swim in a crater...Mt. Pinatubo's crater. It was a wonderful trek. The sights and experiences were worth all the effort and exhaustion from trekking under the searing heat of the sun. I also had the chance to visit the Callao Caves in Tuguegarao where the young Andoy moonlights as a tour guide.

Upward Bound. ~ A moving experience. So much that happened and so little that I can say about it. The spirit of upward bound is something that's hard to capture in words. It is best lived to the fullest.

Friday, December 12, 2008

(Not a) Virus Magnet

Just when I thought I've finally maximized my quota of flu and cold viruses for this year, I managed to get myself bogged down by the insufferable irritants again this week. It's exhausting, to say the least, to battle it out with these freaks of nature.

I hate being sick. I often manage to get by only because I tend to ignore the signs. Tough it out is what I do. Most times I manage but sometimes, there are moments when I wish I can just laze the day away and feel sick.

I also tend to be extra sad whenever I get sick. It's like a reminder, in huge neon signs, of how lazy I've become that I've disregarded my health to the point of losing my defenses against common colds. And feeling sick makes me want to curl up in bed and cry. But that's something I only allow myself to do if I'm home with my family there to take care of me or if I'm sick enough that no amount of mind power can get me off my bed.

So, looking back, I guess my virus guests weren't that strong enough to make me stay home and cry buckets of tears. But I sure did feel that they were persistent enough and effective enough to make me walk around in a daze trying to block all the aches and pains. I definitely didn't enjoy that part when I was torn between barfing what little food I've had and wondering if I'm suffering gas or LBM.

Thank God the worst seems to be over. The weekend beckons and getting rid of the virus magnet tops my list of things I need to think about and work on. Aja!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

This is a story of the heart that wouldn't quit

This is a story of the heart that wouldn't quit
Even in those darkest times of sorrow and grief
In moments where only a world of madness thrives
And hope is a quiet bystander lurking in shadows

This is about the heart that never gets tired
Of silent dreams and broken wings
A heart that beats like wild horses galloping
In never-ending dunes where fear brings courage and resolve

This is a story of a heart that wouldn't quit
A heart that hordes the simplest joys
And finds reasons to hope
To weather the storm that batters it.


Monday, December 8, 2008

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Immeasurable, deep, abiding friendship

Sabi nga Gilbert when he posted the link "How can u not be touched by this.." Just one of the many simple yet meaningful stories that make even the most jaded people feel...well...feel something.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

What Drives That?

There was quite a construction project last weekend where I'm renting. I saw the male owner, with some three other guys, building something that I initially thought was an extension or an improvement to a certain part of the house. They were seriously at it for two days, starting early morning and ending up after dark.

I was not really paying much attention to what they were building. If not for some minor inconveniences, I would not even have noticed what they were doing. I was either holed up in my room reading books or out watching a movie with my friend. It was just the sort of domestic activity that's so normal, so ordinary that wouldn't leave much of an impression to me.

Except that, by coincidence, I was there when they finished. I was there when they stood up in a half-circle looking at what they built. And I, the curious one, stood from a distance and looked as well.

So there we were, four men who looked tired but proud of what they've created, a woman who's curious and confused, and eight dogs barking in delight. It turned out the hard labor was all for a dog house.

I was deeply touched by that and couldn't help but think that what the owners have are some lucky dogs. And at the back of my mind, a quiet thought formed ~ if only more people could also be that lucky.