Fatherless on Father's Day

Happy Father's Day!

What is there to be happy about when you can't celebrate it together? The excitement of going home and bringing something special for your Dad is non-existent. When supposedly today is 'Dad's Day' but you spend your day in a coffee shop alone listening to a live band play 'Dance With my Father' as it starts to hit you emotionally.

What is there to be happy about? What is left to celebrate?

It sounded all too selfish, right? All too about myself and how I miss my Dad? You would probably think ill of me for wanting to fast forward this day. I'm sorry, I know all of these are true. But please don't hate me. I just wanted to feel the excitement and the anticipation of going home, bringing something for my father. You wouldn't understand because you still have yours to celebrate it with. Enjoy it. I hope your Dad will have the best Father's Day today. I really hope so. As for me, don't mind me sulking in the corner.

I just miss my Daddy.

I miss you, Popsie. I love you.

Superman’s Last Day

He sits beside me on the couch, quiet. I am busy furiously punching numbers on my mobile phone, trying to balance my expenses for the month. He looks around the room, coughs roughly and spits unceremoniously in a “special sputter dish” that he keeps close all the time. I ask him how he is feeling; he gives me a deadpan look, quiet. He taps my shoulder, “Can you check on your mum outside? She went out to buy ingredients for lunch. Just make sure she’s okay.” I get up, look outside and see my mother happily chatting with our neighbour, holding her small grocery bag. “She’s okay Popsie. She’s on her way back here,” I tell him. He looks at me and nods.

It was my last conversation with my Dad. His last reminder was to take care of my mother.

That day is vividly etched in my mind; lingering at any sign of idleness. Every day when I wake up, during bus trips to the office (I pass by the funeral home that helped us with his remains), every rest days spent at home, whenever I talk to God in the Church, every night before I go to sleep. This ember, I think, will forever smoulder inside me; waiting for some few moments when it would flare to life.

Around lunch time the day of our last conversation, the Doctor showed me a little sheet of white paper. Printed on it was a thin black flat line in the middle – I didn’t understand. I refused to understand. She carefully guided me beside the emergency room’s bed and gently opened my Dad’s eyes and explained how the fixed and dilated pupils vindicated that he had left me. I pleaded for her to revive him, to do something to bring him back. She shook her head to tell me that she can’t. My rational mind had accepted he’s been gone while we were still in the vehicle going to the hospital but my heart stubbornly rejected the idea. I realized that moment; I am forever broken.

Being the youngest in the family, I was blessed to be his ‘baby’. I never worry on what food to eat as he was always there to prepare one for us. He didn’t want my hands dirty so he took care of the menial household chores. Yes, I was a spoiled daughter. I remembered the first week after his funeral; I was doing all the chores at home. I told my mother in my most childlike-innocent look, “Popsie was a superhero doing all this work at 77. I couldn’t even allow myself to understand that I may end up doing it all every day.” I was exhausted – and I was just doing it for a week; he was doing it forever. I cried that night. Not because I am weary but because I realized I never did appreciate all the things he did for us.

As what every good father does, he took good care of us all. When I was a wee kid, he would always carry me to my bed if I fell asleep on our sofa. When I started working, he would irk my mum to call me if I’m not home on time. He always made sure I have my packed lunch ready – during elementary, high school days even until I am already working.
As a husband, I never heard any complaint from my mother about him. He was a loving, caring and the sweetest partner. He spoiled my mum big time, too. He’d do everything at home. He’d never make her do any chores. He was always on the go: preparing lunch, fixing door knobs, taking care of the dogs.

Today, I sit alone on this same couch, his picture beside me. I am furiously typing the words to this entry, trying so hard to capture all the things I wanted to tell him. I look around the room imagining that he’s still here. I try to blink back the tears that are eagerly escaping my eyes. I blew my nose unceremoniously on my shirt. It’s quiet here… I look at his picture and I understand, he was ready to go as long as I look after my mother. He made sure it was his last conversation with me.

Thank you Popsie for being my superhero. I miss you so much. We will take care of her, I promise!

A Much-Needed Boracay Bessie Bonding

It’s official – it’s the start of the rainy season in the Philippines and guess what? We’re travelling to Boracay! The first thought that raced through my mind was “What a bummer!” then I started worrying about delayed flights, no summer pictures by the beach, no water sports activity. The list goes on… Nonetheless, no announcement could ever stop this R&R with my Bessie, Wilbeth.

We flew to Caticlan from Manila on the third week of June. We had our tour guide wait for us at the airport so he can take us to the island, hassle-free. This is why I like to plan everything ahead. I don’t want the hassle of looking for ways to go to our destination. If you want to travel and immerse with the people and learn to live like the locals, then don’t plan anything – do everything spontaneous. But if you want to unwind and just leave the stress in the city, hire a tour guide.We hired the service of Travel Online.

In the afternoon, we were already safely walking along the shimmering white sands. The beach looks marvelous with its shore stretching as far as my feasting eyes can wander. Unfortunately, the clouds were thick and it covers the famous Boracay sunset. It’s okay though as we still have 3 more days to catch that sunset. Strolling along the beach, we were pleased with the stunning view, the stillness of the water and the smiling faces greeting us.

Of course a trip to one of my favorite coffee house is a must. Starbucks is neatly located at Station 1 and staying at the shop’s 3rd floor gave us a good view of the beach and the peacefulness needed while planning the next few days in heaven. Yes, I am a sucker for planning so I guess I bugged Bessie with my ideal vacation. By night time, we already planned that our second day should include island hopping and helmet diving; third day will include ParaSailing. I don’t want any other water activity being the boring person as I am.

Dinner was at a local restaurant in Station 1, I forgot the name – darn, I should’ve written this entry right after the vacation. We were right on the budget on our first night. Meal was sumptuous but very cheap. On the way back to the hotel, we bought water and chips that we can store in our room. Oh, I also found the bistro that airs World Cup games live. I need to watch Spain vs. Chile.

I found the bar that airs live World Cup games. A date with Casillas then!

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We Came. We Made Our Havaianas.

It's an event every flip flop loving Filipinos anticipate every summer - Make Your Own Havaianas or better yet let's use its official hastag #MYOH2014.

I am not very fond of these events, heck I only got one pair of Havaianas slippers. Surprisingly, this chintzy lady bought one when she was with peers who are not afraid to spend. Talk about peer pressure.

Though, that one pair is tough. I never felt the need to buy another one since it was, yeah I know, still okay. It was worth the money as it is indeed comfortable (as what they've advertised) and durable. Some say the straps of a Havaianas don't last long; they are probably talking about the pair that they use every day. Ha! Yeah, everyday! Good thing I work and I don't wear slippers day in and day out.

So what is it in MYOH that makes Filipinos go ga-ga over a pair of slippers?

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My Own Private Heaven

Remember that one place where you find peace back when you were a teenager/child? You'd stay there for hours recuperating. It's your heaven after that difficult conversation with Mom, Dad or even your "evil" siblings; your safe haven away from the bullies at school. Ah yes, now you remember. Good! Now that's me inside a coffee shop sipping that latte.

Oftentimes I get asked, "what's in a cup?" They can't seem to discern the addiction. The answer to that question is more of to balance the psychological mayhem between me and my inner critic. Say what?! Forcibly put - to make me sane. One has to find that place where he can find that emotional and mental solace and I found mine while sipping my coffee. Whenever the world becomes too loud, too overwhelmingly difficult, too ruthless, too obdurate: I have to flee and find that peace.

Peace? But I said and I quote "mayhem between me and my inner critic" which basically is just -- me. Yes, my inner critic is my over-zealous friend who filters all the ideas and emotions, though when faced with too much negativity and felt emotionally spent breaks down. That's when I need my coffee.

There was an article I read not too long ago that preaches: "If you feel paralyzed by freedom, introduce more structure and order into your day. If you feel constrained by routine, find room for improvisation." And I couldn't agree more. That idea has always been inside my brain every time I feel my over-zealous friend is about to breakdown either from procrastination, monotony or exhaustion. Find that balance - get me that latte.

Not all might understand the addiction but it's always safe to assume that most do reckon that 'safe haven.' Our minds might not be parallel on how a coffee shop brings solace to my kind of psychological mayhem but I'm sure you know a place where you can just shrug off everything and just recuperate.

Yes, just remember it and I'm sure you can finally understand.

Chill out Party in Baguio City

No, it’s not your normal ‘drinking’ and ‘teen-getting-wasted partying” nor a “sessionista” and “live music festival” type of “chill out party.” It’s just plain relaxing in Baguio City.
We were in the Summer Capital of the Philippines to attend our friend’s wedding. It was set on Saturday, April 5, 2014 but we arrived in Baguio a day earlier. Michelle (or Mik, as we fondly call her) and I set forth from Victory Liner’s terminal in Cubao at exactly 2pm. After successfully meeting the couturier for one of the entourage’s gown; we travelled to Baguio and arrived at around 10pm. The ride was okay as we were, most of the time, half asleep.

We met up with the bride Liezle, her groom Chris and our other friends; grabbed a late night dinner at Kalapaw Restaurant. Kalapaw is situated in the heart of Baguio City, near Victory Terminal. Try their Boodle Fight Dining; but do not miss on ordering a sinigang (whether it is the sinigang na baboy or shrimp or miso) for its soup. You’d likely get extra pounds for eating too much rice with that soup.

Boodle Fight Dining - yum!
Kalapaw Restaurant || #117 Martinez St. Engineer’s Hill Baguio City

The night ended with a sounding sleep at a nearby transient house in Engineer’s Hill. We paid 200 pesos a night since the bride’s mother knew the owner of the transient house. We would decide to transfer to a different transient house later as there were cockroaches everywhere and if you knew me personally, you would know how I detest these crawling insects.

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Thrilling Solace in the Island of Calaguas

“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.”

I was hesitant to say “Yes” when a friend asked if I am in. What could possibly be the reason why I did not jump at the idea of going on a beach trip to the Island of Calaguas? For starters, it’s already summer; how else can one spend it but at the beach, getting that nice sun-kissed tan. It’s also a good breather – away from the monstrous buzz of “JD Power certification” a.k.a. work. Plus I miss Ronie, one my bestest friends, it’s a good excuse for a get together.

But why?

It’s Calaguas and I have a phobia (or so I thought) of the unpredictable huge ocean waves. The idea of crossing the Pacific Ocean in a motor boat scares the hell out of me. The last time I was in a small boat crossing the open sea was back in El Nido, Palawan. I thought the South China Sea was not fond of our presence as she kept sending scary waves in all directions. I must’ve mentally recited ‘Our Father’ a hundred times at that time. After that terrifying experience I thought I’d never again succumb to going on a boat trip that would cross the open seas.

Until the idea of a Calaguas getaway was presented…

I said YES, finally and braced myself for the worst.

It’s true the boat ride did feel like I was riding a rollercoaster (as the travel agent described before we set sail.) I was holding on the wooden boat for dear life. I prayed silently, too but it was way better than the El Nido experience. The Pacific Ocean was more welcoming.

Nevertheless when I had my first glimpse of the island I thought I had set the wrong expectation. I should’ve braced myself for the beauty I was about to experience.

Bicol’s gem, indeed. The stunning picturesque view; the endless white beach speckled with a rainbow of tents; the soft moist sand caressing our feet; the clear blue inviting water – it is summer’s heaven!


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Welcome 2014; Happy is the New Year

It's 2014! Hurray, let's welcome the new year. Though, what does really the New Year give us? What it is for us? Are we suppose to drop everything and start living anew just because it's ?Guess not. Funny how we felt oblige to prepare good meal for the family, buy fireworks, be lured to whatever "tradition" we had grown up with and wait until the clock strikes midnight so we can eat the meal, light up the fireworks and celebrate. After we did all that, did something change? Come Monday, we're all back to work; the food in our fridge will be gone in a day or two; your credit card balance is still there, probably limit's maxed out because of all the things you bought for the 'media noche' - in other words, everything is back to normal. Maybe it's human nature to hope for the best and we cling to any possible tradition there is to attract good fortune. The New Year sounds exactly the kind of tradition we are looking for. New Year. New Beginning. We can only wish that the new year will bring us only the good news - the rest of the doing should still come from us. Happy 2014!

Music Touches Souls

Music always has it's play on our emotions. It can make one reminisce good and/or bad memories. It can make us sad, cheerful and something it can make us feel like we're the stupidest person in the world.
I've been sitting in this coffee shop for almost an hour now just sipping my coffee and listening to my playlist. Every song played had different meaning. I felt a bit weird whenever a song made me smile; felt stupid when I remembered an old flame; sad almost shedding tears when I relate a song to one of the many misfortunes our country faced this year.
Some say music heals. I guess it has it's hold on our lives. It can either heal us or make us breakdown. It has a wicked sense of humor. Nonetheless, I am enjoying every minute of listening. Music is a part of my life and I totally succumb to any emotion it may bring.

Consumptive vs. Productive Spending

"To be or not to be, that is the question..." This starts Hamlet's soliloquy and it always comes to mind every shopping or spending time.

'To be or not to be' or simply put, 'to do or not to do' , 'to buy or not to buy' - it only means we have choices. We have a choice whether we will buy that pretty dress in the shop's window; we have a choice on whether to eat in Jollibee or go to Conti's for that famous Mango Bravo. Where we put our money is our own doing and we can only blame ourselves once we are forced to deal with the circumstances.

Don't we all love to count the days until the next 15th or the next 30th? - it's payday! These days are our saving graces. "Ah, I'll buy this, it's near payday anyway," so I used my credit card. Damn, two days after payday, I'm back to eating a Jollibee or perhaps just preheating some canned food or cooking noodles at home since that credit card purchase needs to be paid.

Reality bites and it bit me real hard today. While it was fun taking photos in Australia and immediately sharing it in my Instagram or Facebook accounts, it wasn't fun at all seeing my phone bill for the month of April. Twenty-one-thousand-and-seventy-five pesos!!! What was I thinking?! I thought I had it all mapped out. I subscribed to Globe's Unlidata Surf which isn't really unlimited because you are given 7mb maximum cellular network data. I thought it's all covered, it didn't. Php21,075?! For a month's bill?!

This made me go back to picking choices. Friends already warned me about the sky rocketing phone bills due roaming charges but I chose to rely on my not-so-accurate computation. It sucks big time as I needed to pay it, leaving my not-so-okay budgeting plan to the rubbish bin (pun intended).

Next time I thought about Shakepeare's Hamlet, I'd choose 'not to be.'