2010 in Pictures

JANUARY- The girls headed north for a memorable trip to Ilocos. Left Manila with mom a day after I arrived from Taiwan.
FEBRUARY: Auntie Emi went home for her yearly visit and took her to Cebu and Bohol. Went back to Taipei for another semester and bid goodbye to the bestfriends I had during my first six months. I took some of the good courses offered by other departments. Gender Politics rocked, and also Communication Psychology and Human Communication. Best semester ever.
MARCH: When you say goodbye to some friends, new ones will come. I signed up for a Chinese class and met three girls whom I shared the best friendship with, that is over Vietnamese noodles and Sichuan foods.

MAY: I went on a solo flight to Singapore for some RnR. I realized I like traveling alone.
JUNE: Finished all four term papers just in time for mom and Auntie Yollie's arrival. They visited me, showed my old and new place. Mom finally saw my life in Taiwan and I think she's happy that I'm living well. Got good grades too from this semester!
JULY: I brought my friends I met in Taiwan and toured them around my favorite places and restaurants. I hope they found the Philippines beautiful despite the disheartening economic situation.
AUGUST: This picture was taken a day before EJ was rushed to the hospital. Two days after, he left the world and became an angel, watching over us.
SEPTEMBER: Left again for my second to the last semester in graduate school. Moved in to my new place which I can now confidently call as "home," not dorm. I also started meeting and working with a wonderful thesis adviser who motivates me each time to do well.
OCTOBER: No crying unlike last year. Judy, my classmate, gave me a surprise in our Chinese class. Turning 22 wasn't a big thing but someone reminded me to not let age pass you by. There must be something memorable in every birthday and age you celebrate.
NOVEMBER: The start of the I-feel-like-dying-because-of-thesis moments. Thanks to my bestfriend Monica who came for a visit, I regained my sanity. She's one of the few close friends I have who truly believes in me. I don't believe in my capacity, my close friends do, and also my adviser. I need to be pushed, most of the time.

DECEMBER: I got the approval of my thesis adviser and successfully defended my proposal in front of the two demigods of qualitative research, one is the author of my thesis bible. Thankful of the grade they gave me, hence the after-defense celebration with friends, for lunch and noisy chit chats. Taiwan journey is about meeting people and saying goodbye after, so Judy and Shawn, my classmates from Chinese class organized a small get together for everyone before leaving Taiwan.
Even if I'm so preoccupied with a lot of life's issues, this note from my English tutoring group student melted my heart. It made me think of the possibility of me becoming a teacher someday. Should I consider? Hmmm... 

So that's my year in review. It was quite a ride, but I enjoyed it :)

Lessons on the Year that Was

From dryicons.com
I haven't written anything since forever. I just want to share some lessons I gathered from the experiences I have had this year 2010.

I cannot always pretend that everything is perfect or smooth sailing. I have problems that only a few close friends know about and they are amazed on how I'm holding it up together. It is just a blessing that I've been living a busy life the past months in Taipei that I couldn't bring myself to think of the problems I have to think. If I can only slice my brain into pieces, divide them into parts, and assign each part to problem A, B and C, that would make me happy.

I struggled the past couple of months. I managed to smile each day and think of better things. I busied myself with teaching people the right communication skills and writing my thesis proposal to finish graduate school. With God's grace, I was able to focus on my thesis and did quite well on the proposal and defense. I owe it all to the big Guy up there who's been giving me so much strength to handle these situations. I'm coping so well that I don't have hate in my heart anymore.

At the end of the day, everything boils down to our own choices and decisions. I choose to be happy and not let the problems affect me. I choose to smile not because I want to create a front, but because I desire positivity. Some people make bad choices, and even stupid decisions. But for some, fate interferes and brings them a little discovery that will change the way they perceive things. Such is life. You  make wrong turns, but you can always think of ways to go to a better route and maybe somehow redeem yourself to those you've wronged. But then again the choice is yours. It's always about options, and they all have their corresponding consequences.

So that basically sums up my entire year, a year full of learning, academically and life-wise, from all the highs and lows and heartaches. They make us stronger. I was swamped with books and readings and I was this close to losing everything and giving up, but I persevered. All the things I have now, or where the path had led me, is all because of sheer hard work and constant prayers. Even if I'm scared to death, I don't give up because I have faith. I'm way past the adjustment period in living my life alone. I don't know why or how it took me so long to learn it's okay to be alone in the other side of the world. With what I've been going through, I think I can now live and have my own peace somewhere along life's trajectories.

I am so looking forward to a good 2011. Lord, whatever's in store for me in the year to come, be my guide and light my way. Keep my family safe, especially mom, because she's my strength.

HAPPY 2011!!!


What lies beneath is a heart that bleeds,
And these eyes, they tell you plain truthful lies.

Image grabbed here.

Where am I?

F in Taiwan!
F and f, another f missing.

Took her to night market every night.

Failed attempt to enter the Flora Expo.
I'm still alive. Buried in books and journal articles but I had a 4 days off when my bestfriend Monica came for a visit. We both had the best time ever. But now, back to reality. Ouch.

Connect the Dots

There has to be gray areas in a black & white life.
I have no feelings anymore. My heart's numb, it cannot even feel the hurt nor the pain. I feel nothing. When I think about it, all I can do is let out a long, weary sigh. But I have learned a lot from all of these, and I know have a lot to be thankful for. Life will never be perfect, but we can try to make it better by being a better person. 

If I have to name one thing I love to collect now (it was Lisa Frank stickers when I was nine), it has to be my thousand and one fears. I have a lot of things that I'm afraid of. The least I can do to reassure myself that everything's going to be okay is to tell my head that I have good people to lean on and a God to pray to. 

This should just be a phase but at this point in your life, I don't know anymore. You made me the strong person that I am but my heart is not a rock just like yours. My heart still knows how to cry. My heart longs for that something we really never had, we really never shared. 

It pains me that everything has to be in this way right now. I have always wished and prayed that you find your own solace and think of the people you have wronged, and be at peace with yourself. 

I know there have been decisions done wrong, plans gone wrong. I know you cannot redo them but if you give yourself a chance to evaluate them, you can put everything back to life, back to where it used to be, or maybe even better.

Last Birthday in Taiwan

This mini card was placed at the breakfast table.
My wonderful housemates.
I love them all! :)
The super yummy cherry brownie cheesecake!

Hoping that things would turn out the way they should, meaning I'd get my masters degree June next year, this twenty second birthday of mine is the last I'd celebrate here in Taiwan. I've been away for one and a half years now and celebrating birthdays overseas couldn't have been more lonesome. However, because of the gift of friends God has showered me with, the two birthdays I have had here in Taipei had been truly memorable. 

If last year I celebrated in Ikea, this year I had a simple dinner at home with my housemates, and one friend I haven't seen for ages. The world is getting smaller day by day as you meet people you don't have the slightest idea you'd be meeting in another place. I'm talking about Pat Cruz, a friend and a classmate in few courses back in college. Who would have thought I'd meet her here in Taipei after maybe three years of not seeing her. She was late for dinner but she made up with all her stories of surviving here. 

My housemates prepared burgers and salad, and a really yummy cherry brownie cheesecake they assembled together. I have no plans of celebrating my birthday because, well, the September and October stipend has not arrived yet, and I have nothing in mind, except maybe for a little shopping. I'm so grateful my housemates planned something for me. They prepared a game just to test how well I know them, with questions ranging from who went to this college, whose hobby is horseback riding etc. I had a good time laughing and answering (ermm guessing).

I was also so happy reading all messages posted on my FB wall, twitter, emails and sms. I have to thank God for this life because without Him, I wouldn't be here living this beautiful life. 

Of course a birthday wouldn't be complete without wishes. One of them is for me to finish my thesis on time. I need a really strong motivation to write and finish it as soon as possible if I want to go home and find a good job. Today I went home with nine books in my bag (four of them I just carried in my arms). I don't know how I stuffed them together with my laptop, but I swear they were so heavy. 

Time to get started. Hoping that I will feel motivated each step of the way. God is always helping me out, I know He'll not let me down on this one. :)

Going Double Two

Beautiful sunset at the river near school.
School has officially started. I'm taking my last elective class in graduate school, a course in International Marketing taught by a Fulbright professor from Philadelphia. I've also registered for thesis and fortunately with prayers, the thesis advisor I've been eyeing has finally said yes and has accepted me as her advisee. To make myself a bit busy, I again enrolled in a special Chinese class catering to exchange students and those taking their masters. I will try my best to make the most out of this semester to graduate asap.

In seven days I'd be turning double two. I don't really feel quite excited about celebrating my birthday this time, unlike when I was back home when we plan where to celebrate it and what to do. Last year, believe it or not, I celebrated it in Ikea, of all places. I was with Bea and Diet, two of my closest scholar friends. We ate Swedish meatballs with gravy and unlimited refills of softdrink. I had one tiny strawberry shortcake which we shared. It was a nice celebration and when I got back to the dorm, I Skyped with my friends and little did I know that they prepared an online surprise. I was even crying when I Skyped with mom because I really felt so distant at that point.

This year I think I'm much stronger. With the new sense of maturity this independence had given me, I think I am more than ready to face the world. Setbacks come and go, but with faith and hope, I know I'm bound to overcome them, just like how I have survived in more than one year of living alone. It makes you realize that the most important things in life need not be bought.

Happiness springs from within, cherishing the most important people in your life and caring for them. What would definitely make me happy on my birthday is knowing that people love and care for me and being able to give back the love they deserve.

Second Pair

Black Manejo Loafers Php 999.00
Classy and comfy.
This is my second pair from Suelas, black Manejo loafers. I got them before I left home and I wore it to the airport. I love how comfortable the soles are and how they can easily fit in my bag. I stayed in my friend's place for two nights and when it was time for me to move in to my own place, I packed all my stuff including this pair in my suitcase. I folded and rolled it in the Suelas bag they gave me. So pretty and can match with all casual outfits. 

Sleep Well, EJ

It took me so long to write an entry about our closest cousin. Up until now I kind of refuse to imagine how's Christmas or New Year gonna be like. I grew up being in the same table with him every noche buena, but this year it will be entirely different.

No one will wolf down on my spaghetti, or finish a plateful of mom's chicken macaroni, or have two servings of the graham cracker cake, or even the fruit cocktail jelly. It's so hard to write this because I am imagining him at the dining table, so happy, always so full of life.

When we were young, while I busy myself with my barbie dolls, my brothers and my cousin would be playing the family computer, then later on Sega. We had our own classic gameboys, we swap Super Mario tapes or whatever he has that we do not have. He's the youngest and the only son, so he was always taken cared of, until his last day on earth.

There's this sense of protection you feel when you're with him. He's too huge he can easily crush someone with his fist. Yet even at his wake, even if he's lying there peacefully, I can still feel that sense of protection from him, because I know he will always be present wherever we are now. He will take care of his mom, our beloved auntie, his sisters, his nephews and niece, our relatives, our family.

Earnest, I know you can hear me. Wherever you are now, I know you are happy and free from all your medications. I always ask Mama Mary to be with you there in heaven.

This noche buena, there will be a plate for you at the table. Help yourself with all your favorite foods. I miss you, pinsan. I will miss you, forever. Please say hi to Lola.

Sleep well.

My New Home

My room.
The lovely view at night.
The living room where we can receive guests.
The hallway to my room and the small receiving area.
The meal schedule where we can sign up for brekkie, lunch and dinner.
After one year here in Taiwan (September 7, 2009), I can finally say I am home. My new place feels very much like home, well, without my mom, pop, my brothers and cousins. It's just too homey and cozy, sometimes I don't even want to go out anymore.

I think I'm meant to be here. The moment I stepped in this place, I knew this was going to be it. Thank You big Boss for making my life steady at the moment. 

I'm finally "at home" in Taipei.

My Weekend

Last Friday, I got to attend the Digital Ripple- 4th Internet and Mobile Marketing Summit at the SMX Convention Center. I was able to sit down and listen to only one speaker but it was worth the while. The summit was a convention of all social media marketing geeks who use only Mac and Keynote for their presentations, Blackberrys and Iphones, and who keep their fingers busy by tweeting almost every three minutes. I also saw my college friend Ruth at the convention so we had some time to catch up and took some snaps.

Spent the entire Saturday in Makati with Bea, her adorable nephew Ivan, Ate Lannie and my college blockies for a supposed-to-be reunion. The weather was good for a couple of hours at the Salcedo Market until it started pouring and so we transferred to Greenbelt. It was again an inspiring day for both Bea and I, listening to all the talks and advices of Ate Lanie. It's so good to have a friend who is way older than you and gives excellent advice in career, money, and life in general. For dinner, I met with my blockmates for a reunion. I didn't really expect a good turnout so it was no biggie when only six showed up, the seventh through a Skype date (Hi Lau!), but nonetheless, I still enjoyed the night and went home with a smile. It pays off not have any expectations sometimes! (Hmmm I feel the need to write a separate entry for this with some pictures and screen caps I took.)

I went to church pretty early today because my aunt cooked us delish lunch at her place so we have to leave by 10AM. The presider gave a very insightful reflection on the gospel by criticizing the lifestyle brought by modernity. Our lives now revolve around credit cards, loans and everything postpaid- you enjoy now and pay later. But on the contrary, he argues that life is not something you get to enjoy now and pay later, life, according to him, is prepaid. You need to earn it, then enjoy the fruits of your labor after. Surprisingly, after the roller coaster of events that I've been through before, I agree with the presider. I have always been a firm believer of delayed gratification. Work hard and enjoy later. It pays to discipline yourself well until you muster enough courage to get out of your bubble and 'build' yourself.

Have a great week ahead!

Wednesday Blues

Today is totally chaotic but still bearable. I can still breathe despite having gone through the heavy downpour when I left the house this morning, add to that the crazy traffic along Buendia, the phone call I received from a company I've been eyeing for internship and future employment, and my stubborn dad not wanting to seek medical help even if he's been having the hiccups for half a day already. Tough day, huh? But I guess it's not so bad. After all, I got myself a new pair of Suelas flats and a diamond peel session. 

This pair made me smile and melted the bad vibes away.
These are the comfiest flats I've ever had. You can even flatten, fold, and roll these shoes so you wont have a hard time packing them in your luggage (I have this problem all the time!) and you can also put them in your carry-all bag if your feet need some rest from your heels. I had a pair of ballet flats before from CMG that you can roll and fold, but my feet would hurt after an hour of walking because of the lining. But this pair looks and feels durable. I will road test this pair when I get back to Taipei, hike all the way from the lower to upper campus. Click the link to know more about Suelas. The shoe bags are made by Gawad Kalinga so each time you buy a pair, you're helping the Gawad Kalinga community.

My skin looks dull recently so I made an appointment with Dr. Six Foronda for a diamond peel. Ate Six is my good friend Kaymee's cousin. Since I'm in Makati Area five times a week, I figured I can pay her a visit in Makati Medical Plaza. Thank you, Ate Six! My face felt immaculately clean after the session.  Visit Dr. Foronda (6F Aesthetic and Anti-Ageing Center) in Unit 1411 Medical Plaza Makati and treat yourself to a much-deserved skin pampering. You can call 752-2087 for questions or log on to their website.

For pediatric dermatology concerns, acne flare ups and serious skin problems (allergies, skin asthma etc), you may call 254-7352 for an appointment with Dr. Judy Cuaso. She holds her clinic hours in Metropolitan Hospital or Cardinal Santos Hospital. Dr. Cuaso's my dermatologist for over ten years now (since high school days pa) and she has treated me for major sunburn, allergies and acne. See my previous posts about Tetralysal, she's the one who prescribed this wonder drug.

I'll be passing out in a few minutes. Tata! Thursday, please be kind.

Lola's First Year in Heaven

Dear Lola,

Today marks your first year in heaven. I cant believe how time passes by so fast yet we all have to be grateful that you have been watching over us for one year already. You are the reason why everyone in the family is safe, because we now have an angel from up above. Everytime I walk alone in the crowded streets of Manila, everytime I ride the LRT that takes away my patience, and all those times that I've been alone living in such a faraway place, I feel at peace that someone from heaven is watching and guiding my way.

And because you're there, I think you know how I feel about life now. I'm sorry if I'm disappointing you with all my thoughts. Maybe you've been pinching me hard on the cheek everytime I complain about how hard life is, how I want something to fall into right place instantly. Someone seems to be whispering to me saying I need to be patient, and I know it's you Lola.

Please always remind me that life is not all rainbows and butterflies. Please always be there each time I encounter a storm. Teach me to value the things I have right now and be thankful for them. Help me count my blessings everyday and stop thinking about what life should be. I promise that I will do my best to keep myself grounded and to be reminded of His presence in my life.

You are my angel forever, Lola. It's just your first year in heaven but we'll miss you forever. I cannot imagine not seeing you on your birthday. Thank you for watching over us, especially last year when Auntie suffered seizures. We all knew you were by her side.

I love you and celebrate in heaven as we're celebrating your life here on earth.

Three Weddings and the Homebody

It's just the start of August and already it has been a record breaking week for the twenty-one year old me. I'm happy that I became a part of three beautiful wedding celebrations, a witness of three couples' promise to love each other beyond forever. Congratulations and best wishes to the couples!

I've been struggling with having to wake up early these past week because of my internship schedule. I swear I could have taken another elective but because we weren't informed that we could do so, I ended up registering for it. What I love about the eight to five schedule is that I can go home early, keep myself updated with the news, phone friends, chat and watch some clips. I'm really at my happiest when I'm just at home, bumming around. It's the only two months that I haven't been counting down, so I'll keep it as it is.

Although I'm not feeling well today, maybe because of the everyday traffic and rush hour I have to face, I'd give myself a good sleep, hoping to be okay by tomorrow. It's my lola's special day in heaven tomorrow, she deserves another blog entry.