A Luang Prabang Wedding

Stumbled upon this Bob Nicolas video shot in Luang Prabang, Laos. Do watch because it captures what's enchanting about the place. (Really, Luang Prabang is a honeymooners' dream. Imagine getting married there.)

Shots of the Mekong, the prayer ceremony with the monks, the literal "tying-of-hands," the heartfelt speeches; everything looked like a dream. <3 


List: October's End-Start of November

Concerts (for feel good/honest/heartbreaking music to take me away)
1. Jason Mraz
2. The National

3. That "blog-guesting" thing (let's do that some justice)
4. A fictional/non-fictional piece which should bring in some clarity
5. More blog posts! Maybe upload some of the videos we took during B-2011

Wandering - first Singapore hello
6. Museums, museums! Asian Civilisation, Dali, Titanic (there's a Titanic exhibit, ohyes), Singapore National Museum, the NUS museum (good friend and astig art conservator Ricky F. is showing me around NUS. Excited about this!)
7. Chinatown
8. Kopi, Nasi Lemak, etc. - must ask Turtle for a food list
9.** Jurong Bird Park - the claim "the world's largest walk-in aviary"  is tempting. I hope I still have time + money to do this. Birds flying overhead would be a welcome sight.

Nine things to look forward to ought to keep a wayward girl happy. =D


Doodles for Comfort


Post-it silly doodling, mine

Doodle-postcard by Montalut

When it pays to have a graphic representation of your state (to remember) & a visual reminder of what you're trying to achieve (so you don't slip).

*Montalut is Johanna B. Pilar. Check out her works at montalut.com. 

Toss a coin, why don't you?

A Psychological Tip
Piet Hein

Whenever you’re called on to make up your mind,
and you’re hampered by not having any,
the best way to solve the dilemma, you’ll find,
is simply by spinning a penny.
No — not so that chance shall decide the affair
while you’re passively standing there moping;
but the moment the penny is up in the air,
you suddenly know what you’re hoping.

*I know what I'm hoping for. But for the moment, some clarity is in order. Thanks, Yes! Turtle, for this poem. :)  


A Plea (Get Out of My Head)

"About Today," The National

What could I say, I was far away. You just walked away, and I just watched you.



Finding your footing

I'd have liked to mask what this entry is going to be about, but I'll just go right ahead and say it- ending a relationship, specifically a long-term one, changes one's life in a really big way. In college, I had all these ideas about how life should look like when I'm in my late 20s: a wedding at 28, a kid at 29 or 30, and a teaching job at a university. A teaching job, of course, because I have to have time to take care of my husband, like cook him real meals for when he comes home after a stressful day at work, and I need mornings or afternoons free because I would like to be hands-on with our kid.

Ten years later, I have none of these- not a dog I need to buy doggie food for, no nightly Lifestyle Network-inspired dinners, no one's calling me “prof.” or "mom," and especially not a semblance of a relationship that's headed for the altar. You break up with someone that you shared a life with for a long time and you lose not just a person, but an entire orientation you have set for yourself.

Most days I'm fine with where I'm at, even grateful that I could claim, “I'm not unhappily married.” However, you still have those other days when the lack of the security you once had eats you up – they could just be 4 days in a month, but, like PMS, those days can be hell.

As a society, here in the Philippines, I think there's pressure to be married off by the time you're 30. And the pressure is not just external. Like Ala Paredes once tackled here, no matter how bohemian one's upbringing may be, how high her level of education, or how long and astig (kick-ass) list of accomplishments, a Filipina has most likely internalized this pressure of marrying in her 20s, so consciously or unconsciously, “to be married before 30” is right up there in her list of must-dos. And that moment when she realizes she'll most likely fail to live up to this deadline will be like swallowing a giant, ill-tasting pill. Some jump the gun & forget about their non-negotiables, bahala na si Lord kung sinong mapangasawa; some decide to stay put, keri lang sigurong mag-intay. For those in the latter category, there's that fear- paano kung ma-old maid?

Because fear has a tendency to overpower logic, a pact with yourself is essential. Recently, my friends and I have jokingly made a promise of keeping each other from settling before we're 35 and staging an intervention if we feel like the other person is jumping the gun at marriage out of cowardice. Though we do contend that at 35, it's probably fine to get a sperm donor.

Of course, there's also that void- the vanished person carries with him routines now erased, objects no longer to be seen, friends you'll have to spend time with less and less, etc. But the thing that's most torturous is having the plans you've built together disappear. One of the most wonderful things about coupledom, after all, is indulging in mutual dreaming. Which brings me to the following points:
  1. That lesson you learn in the Missing Piece Meets the Big O (Shel Silverstein) is true. Take heed. Your partner complements, not completes. So, if you find yourself rolling on your own again, know that you're already whole.

  2. Zero can be a great state. Zero is where possibilities lie.
There'd be slips, like drunk texting, pity shopping, trips on a whim, getting wasted, awakening zombie exes, wailing in public, etc., etc.-- but you've been through/ are going through a lot of madness, don't you think it's but fair to just laugh at  yourself and then forgive? And, really, just try to do these things:
  1. Surround yourself with real friends who will put up with sorry texts, retrogressive thoughts, and moments of unexplainable sadness.

  2. Take a break from feeling fine and dandy. If you're feeling weak, dammit, be weak. Everyone has those hours, those days.

  3. Reach out to books, songs, poetry, etc. Derive not just comfort, but also companionship from other worlds.

  4. Go someplace unfamiliar, not just to experience things on your own, but also to escape in a space where you are without history.

  5. Reclaim what were once shared spaces. If too difficult, do so with people you trust.

  6. Breathe through the fog, the smog, the dense air.

  7. Be really okay being alone (easier said than done, I realize).

  8. Believe (again, easier said than done).
When in a state of Ally McBeal-level neurosis, I remind myself, “the Universe can dream a bigger dream than I could ever dream for myself.” And I remember Ally and think about Larry Paul-- who knew he'll come by? Alternately, I also look at my unmarried aunts and see contentment and lives that are equally rich and fulfilled.


via thebeautyinlittlethings


Drop a coin into my cup

I don’t want to pass through life like a smooth plane ride. All you do is get to breathe and copulate and finally die. I don’t want to go with the smooth skin and the calm brow. I hope I end up a blithering idiot cursing the sun - hallucinating, screaming, giving obscene and inane lectures on street corners and public parks. People will walk by and say, “Look at that drooling idiot. What a basket case.” I will turn and say to them, “It is you who are the basket case. For every moment you hated your job, cursed your wife and sold yourself to a dream that you didn’t even conceive. For the times your soul screamed yes and you said no. For all of that. For your self-torture, I see the glowing eyes of the sun! The air talks to me! I am at all times!” And maybe, the passers by will drop a coin into my cup.
--Henry Rollins (via coffeetablebooks)


So Anyway (from Next to Normal)

"Rather than let chance take me, I'll take the chance." 

This song killed me. Two days later, several scenes from Next to Normal still makes me weep mentally. 


“If the moon smiled, she would resemble you.
You leave the same impression
Of something beautiful, but annihilating.”

-The Rival, Sylvia Plath
(via goodmorningandgoodnight)


The Rainbow Connection (Johnoy Danao cover)

"What's so amazing that keeps us stargazing?
And what do we think we might see?
Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection,
the lovers, the dreamers and me."

October - things I'm excited about

1. My mom's trip back to the country (we haven't seen each other for 2 years; this girl needs her momma.)
2. A customer service session with a group of public school teachers (it's the first time I'm doing non-corporate training. I really, really hope it goes well.)
3. Next to Normal with Turtle (I've been hearing lots of good things about the play and the performances.)

*A lot of awesome people (friends + family) are celebrating their birthdays this month, too. October's looking good so far. <3


Batad, Philippines

The loveliest walk I ever took (Batad, Philippines)

Come visit the Philippines! Go to the Cordilleras and stay for a few days in Batad - hike around for some amazing views of the rice terraces and interact with the wonderful locals.

Choosing Creativity

“There is no way anyone can find true healing if there is no reference to a higher power. That is the way I have dealt with anger, by reaching back to God and not letting the anger eat me up. I was at the point where it took over my life, and nothing positive came out of that. Everything was just upside down. When I decided to let go of my anger, I could think creatively. You can decide to let go, or you can decide to hold on. You can decide to be happy, or you can decide to be sad. It’s all about waking up in the morning and deciding: This is the trend I’m going to take.
 - Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee, 2011 Nobel Peace Prize awardee

*Read the full write-up here.


The world needs more people like you, Steve Jobs.

From the speech that he delivered at Stanford, reminders for us who plod on:

1. "Don't lose faith" / "find what you love"
It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it.* Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle. 
*On failing big and very publicly: could Steve be the inspiration behind Drew Baylor (Elizabethtown)?

2. "Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition." (& this is the part where I tear up a bit)
Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.
3. "Stay hungry. Stay foolish."
On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.” It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.

Thanks for being an inspiration, Mr. Jobs (and, of course, for creating products that inspire).


Traveling with friends? Tips before you book.

It's true what they say: the true test of friendship is remaining friends long after your trip has ended.

When you plan a trip, everyone starts out excited. You all can't wait to book the tickets, find the best deals, search the most value-for-money hotel/hostel there is, and plan your itinerary. If life were only that simple and people got along fantastically all the time, there will be no bitter stories about friendships ending after taking a trip together. Because traveling involves a lot of arrangements, what was a simple “let's waste our VLs together!” becomes something more complex- it removes you from your usual non-committal chikahan-only mode and puts all of you in a “Domestic Partnership” status. Come your actual travel days and that domestic partnership can descend into an “It's Complicated” relationship. Some friendships survive, others don't.

Last May, my friends, Lira, Anjie, Jasmine, and I embarked on an adventure we called “Biyahe 2011” (B-2011). We're celebrating 10 years of friendship this year (we're corny like that) and we thought, what better way to celebrate than to finally embark on a backpacking trip we've been talking about since our UP tambay days? We pegged our territory on the map: Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur and Penang), Cambodia (Siem Reap), Thailand (Bangkok and Chiang Mai), Vietnam (HaNoi) and Laos (Vientiane and Luang Prabang). That's three weeks, 8 cities, 3 overland border crossings, multiple plane rides and several airports, vans, overnight buses, countless strangers and stories – whew! On the days leading to the travel, we started to get anxious about whether our friendship is strong enough to withstand each other's quirks and living habits.

Three months later, we still love each other to bits. In fact, we're a lot closer now and have plans to travel more. Here are the 11 basic rules we observed. Eleven for B-2011!

  1. You can call out an “alone time” if needed- if you feel the onset of a topak, feel lonely and want to be alone, don't feel like joining something. No offense will be taken.
  2. You are free to suggest a travel itinerary you wish to be included (Lira wanted to watch plays, I wanted to check out museums).
  3. You decide as a group on the maximum amount you're willing to shell out on tours, mode of transport, shows, food.
  4. If someone is hungry, we all eat.
  5. You are free to order whatever you like from the menu.
  6. You're not squeamish about sharing food or the water bottle (some days, you're forced to scrimp).
  7. Be mindful of your friends' allergies (no shrimp, no problem) and addictions (coffee before 12, please).
  8. Don't deny a companion her right to urinate (find a toilet if we have to or go on the road together, dammit!).
  9. Someone will be in charge of directions, preferably someone amazing with maps, and you'll control the urge to argue about which way to take. Lucky for us, Anjie is a walking GPRS (a talent we never knew she had) and we never got lost or ripped off.
  10. Don't take offense on splitting any common expense to the last centavo.
  11. Lastly, we were always on the look out for each other- each other's stuff, level of comfort/ discomfort, moods, baggage (physical & emotional, beybeh), etc.

My take is: only travel with people you genuinely care for, those friends of yours who you know you'll have a good time with, regardless of the weather. Trust me, a stormy night, a 2-day typhoon, basically, bad trip weather, can and will happen on your trip, especially if it's gonna last for weeks. You wouldn't want to destroy your chances of making the most of your leaves by getting stuck with someone who, pre-trip, you already found mildly obnoxious or couldn't stand. That “mild obnoxiousness” stops being cute when you're stuck with it for days and on foreign territory, at that. And of course, be ready to go a little out of the way for your companions, i.e. nursing them to health when they foolishly catch LBM, and, when it's your turn, be willing to accept their help and concern. Once you travel together, especially if it's long-term travel, you cross over from being friends to being each other's family.