Lost

I am one of those who take it hard when I lose something. Well, is there ever a human being on this planet who never felt pain or sadness from losing something, no matter how trivial it may seem?

I’ve taken to writing down a few words, in the hope of easing my pain.

You see, today I stupidly lost my Ipod. My cherished companion, come to think of it, since I got it last December. Many late nights have we shared a cup of hot choco, deep  in conspiratorial angsty thoughts. It was ever reliable, keeping me connected (well, when there was wifi) with friends from all over the globe, soothing me with classical music when  I sleep, providing me entertainment through electronic books during lull moments, capturing precious moments that pass me by. I’ve stored so much memories in it in the short span of time that I’ve had it: music, fotos, notes, poems, videos, heaven help the person who found it/took it!

This incident took me back to the time when I was a kid and my father gave me this pink, cutesy mechanical pen. He bought in another city, and gave it to me as a homecoming present. I was overjoyed with it as I’ve been wanting to have a mechanical pen to use in school. The next day I used in the class but by the end of the day, I realised that it went missing. I dug into my pocket and found a gap in the stitching! Frantic, I scoured the classroom and the halls and schoolgrounds, but I could not find my precious pink mechanical pen. For days on end I mourned my loss.

Fast forward to present time, I think I still carry that loss. Because I have this insatiable need to collect mechanical pens. At work I had 5. I’d give them to officemates and then get me some new ones again. Today I got myself another, it was so cute, the body in hexagonal shape. I was excited over it! and then I went home to find out my Ipod was no longer inside my bag. This is the first time that I have been victimized this way. I hope this is the last.

I’ve been going around the events of the afternoon and I cannot pinpoint the exact last time that I saw my Ipod. I browsed quite a number of shops at the mall and I….oh what’s the use?

I cannot retrieve it even if I cry…

So now I mourn the loss of my “friend”.

Sorry for my carelessness.

Sorry that I can’t get you back.

Sorry that I took it for granted you were safe inside my bag.

Sorry for my stupidity.

I will never forget you.

Please forgive me.

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the Summer of You

the Summer of You

I lie here
On my bed of summer grass
I soak up the warmth of the sun rays
And think of you.

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April 16, 2012 · 3:52 am

I came, I saw, I heard, I was re-Conquered

no fuss stage design. some simple backdrop. lights. and THE BAND :)

I strongly believe that one is never too old for first times.

So. I went to the Cranberries Live in Manila concert last night! Yep, my very first international concert!

Ahhhh the Cranberries, my sworn besties for life. My go-to-guys when teen angst went into overdrive back in the day. Who din’t know them and their sound from among us who “we-were-raised-to-see-life-as-fun-and-take-it-if-we-can” members of the kohl-lined eyes and doc martens era?

Too excited and scared to lose a good spot at the concert venue, I was queuing at 630pm for a supposedly 8pm concert. I waited anxiously for Ann, my partner in Cranberries fandom with whom I declared “ I don’t care if there’s only the two of us going, we are going to the Cranberries concert!!!”. She had our tickets, and our self-initiated concert tshirts. How very 80’s of us eh? (a lady who was inside the restroom with us later saw our tshirts and told her friend they should find where they could get one for themselves).  After maneuvering the crowded streets of Aurora Blvd, Ann  finally arrived right when it was practically my turn to show my ticket to the guard at the entrance.

thank you "batchmates" for being a warm and super responsive audience!

I quickly donned my Cranberries concert tshirt, retouched my black-rimmed eyes, slapped on some powder and red lipstick, and voilà, we were ready to sing our hearts out! Finding our spot on our designated area, we surveyed the scene. Fans trickled and we worried the more expensive seats near the stage won’t get filled. Where are you “batchmates”? I heard my next seat neighbor sharing the same concern. It got me thinking, are we “batchmates”? Hahaha! We surely din’t want the band to think we failed them!! After an hour late of starting the show, the first strains of Dreams kicked the crowd, that had thickened in time, into the Cranberries concert mood. Yeah! This is it! We all went wild! We were on our feet! We raised our arms! We sang along to the song! We shouted our hearts out! We were ALIVE! I was teary-eyed! It felt so surreal to me. I silently thanked the Big Guy for such a treat ;) Just when I’m nearing four decades, I get to see the band that I have loved so much in my youth. Don’t you dare laugh at me!

Oh boy! They sounded great, they sound the same! They sang all their hits with all of us singing along like it was some great videoke moment for all of us there last night. I wondered if they felt our love! Hahaha! I was proud my “batchmates” could still spout the lyrics to most of the band’s songs!

so happy to see you, live, kahit malayo, so happyyyyyyyyyyyy!

Dolores, the band’s lead vocalist, sported  a more rounded frame this time. She filled the stage running around and dancing her  uniquely dance moves (I think she’s the only artist who dances like that and can get away with it, even earning more screams from the crowd when she swings her hips in her awkward way). She exuded so much energy singing the band’s songs that I felt in awe. It was like she was a fan herself, singing her favorite band’s songs onstage, in pure ecstasy. She moved to the songs as if she and the melody and lyrics became one. I can’t explain it. It was just too wonderful to watch live. It sure helps that she doesn’t autotune. Her voice din’t change much and she could still belt Zombie with as much angst as before.

The band also introduced the Filipinos to the songs in their latest released album “Roses” launched in February 2012. Ann bought this album and the Stars as well. It’s now in my IPOD, on repeat mode. I superlove this new album, the songs have a softer nuance but the trademark drums and guitars and Dolores’ one of a kind voice are all there, enough to bring you back to happy, happy, angst-y times.

 

...Salvation is Free.

After giving the crowd three more songs, the lights finally went up, signaling the end of an hour and a half trip down to memory lane for many of us there at the concert. It felt “bitin”, because we all wanted more from the Cranberries. Ahhh such is life. All the good things come to an end.

Or maybe not.

We will see ;)

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Off to the Land of Milktea and Chicken pops!

It has been quite a while since I last posted.  I am so excited to have some stuff to say now. Ha! Ha! Ha!

Travelling is what I live for.  To others, it may be having children, or discovering the latest scientific breakthrough. For me, it is travelling and taking photos of all the things I see in a new place, enveloped in a culture different from my own. This may sound quite protracted, or shallow, but I am what I am. And I am a composite of all the places I have been to, and all the other places I will be in :)

Off I went to the land of milktea and chicken pops, with my husband and travel friends. We have been to Singapore the year before, and that will be for another post. This was our second out-of-the-country travel experience. I was beset with visa challenges. But on the appointed date, life found me at the airport, eagerly waiting for my red-eye flight to Taipei.

Aahhh Taiwan, you were all that I wanted, and so much more. True I din’t get to see all the recommended tourist stops, but the sights, sounds, smell and taste that I had the great chance to immerse myself in, were enough to deepen my passion for getting out of my life once in a while :)

On our way home, Mang Felix our hired tourist-guide/driver, asked all of us which experience did we find best during our stay. My friends enumerated all the things that we liked. We liked everything! (Well except for the stinky tofu). I sat there on the backseat, quietly reflecting on Mang Felix’s question. Well, which is it Apol? It dawned on me that the best experience was being able to go to Taiwan itself. Ha! Ha! Ha! Life’s simple pleasures. I had a dream and my dream was to see this country. I experienced its clean streets, the general zen air hovering even in the night market, the well-balanced parks with its abundant greens, the superdelicious food, the nourishing and refreshing milk and fruit teas, the out-of-this-world-you-take-me-back-to-my-childhood-plum popsicles, interacting on the side with their citizens, the heights and night city view (breathtaking)… I found that I could not pinpoint one single best experience. Mang Felix also asked us which experience did we like least. In unison, we answered: being pushed rudely. Ha! Ha! Ha!

Some photos to share. I hope they convey my thoughts and emotions while on the trip.

Maokong Gondola 299m up in the sky, suspended by cables, carpetted by treetops, is not my favorite way to spend my hours away. But for the love of Nenny (husband) I wanted to share this experience with him. With cold clammy hands grasping the seat, intermittently screaming “I hate you all” to my travelmates”, screaming “sit down!” to Nen who was excitedly videotaping the ride…I was so tired when we got off the cable car. But hey, smile for the camera! :)

Nightview of Taipei from the 89f of the 101. A city of lights. I managed to appreciate the view even if I got scared by the ground swaying a little bit. My husband reassured me this was normal for megastructures. Okay, if you say so dear :)

@ Yehliu Geopark. Took a moment to rest. It was very cold that day to be looking at rock formations by the sea. But it was worth it.

By one of the entrances to the CKS Memorial Hall. Zen on the street.

Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall. This was our first stop. It has very extensive and beautiful grounds. There was a place for people to do their daily exercises or Tai Chi. When we passed them by, beautiful classical music was playing and they were moving to its slow tempo, their hands pressed together by their chests and them moving so slowly like fish underwater in slow, slow motion.

Taipei 101. One of the reasons for travelling is to witness megastructures that are man-made. This is one of them. Amazing view at the top. We were at the 89f in 37seconds flat. Thanks Mitsubishi elevator. The open deck at the 91f was closed due to bad weather.

Downtown Zhongli. Nenny eating spring onion pancake on a corner of a street in Zhongli, a city in the county of Taoyuan.

Inside the Grand Train Station, located in Taipei. It has shops, restaurants and of course, a place for buying train tickets. The train arrives right on the dot so be sure to check your time and platform to avoid missing your train. Trains are classified according to speed: Bullet, Kwai-kwai (medium fast), man-man (slow).

Leofoo Village and Wild Zoo Park. While kids, and adults (too), are off to experience the various attractions and adrenaline-pumping rides at the park, yellow benches dot the peaceful, flower-edged areas that are found inside the park. Fountains jet water up into the air for a few minutes for some intermittent entertainment while you rest on the bench to catch your breath after that Ring of Fire ride you just took.

Holiday Hotel at Zhongli. While there are many hotels to choose from in Taipei, we opted for the smaller and cheaper ones in Zhongli. If you're not that picky, and would be okay sleeping on what I hope was a clean bed, then you'll be fine here. Clean bathroom too. And very conveniently located near shops, streetfood vendors, and a stone's throw-away from the Zhongli Train Station and the bus stops at the corner. On Sundays, you will see many of our OFW kabayans passing by this street, on their way to the Catholic church nearby.

Superdelicious streetfood like no other! Chicken pops, sweet potato fries, something else that tastes like kikiam, only way better tasting, downed by the ubiquitous papaya milk we went gaga over. Ahhhh I dream of this meal day and night since returning home.

Time to bid Adieu. But also, arrivederci! I will return :)

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…then came the other pair

I am a shoe addict.   A certified one.

I can perfectly understand Imelda Marcos, who owns almost 3,000 pairs of shoes.. apologies to those who hated and still hate the Marcoses. You know when you see a pair of shoes displayed with such wonderful, enticing lighting in a particular shop and you can feel your heart beat, every single heart beat..and you try your very best not to clap, or skip or scream with gladness..Then, you approach the saleslady and kindly ask her for your size..then BAM!!! “Ma’am, sorry po wala kaming biggest size!”

Oh, it hurts…the sting of her words are so painful..

I was born in a country wherein shoe size like this: UK 7, euro 40, US 8/9 is a rare gem.  For almost 30 and some years, I did suffer. And I’m pretty sure my Mama felt the anxiety as well..the time wasted going through one shop after another and another and another looking for that “biggest size”. Even buying a pair of black school shoes was like a trip to the dentist.  I have reached sometimes the end of the line wherein the design of the shoes didn’t matter anymore as long as I have my size, the shoe that fits my oh-so-wide-oh-so-big feet! There were even times when I would just curl up my toes and pretended that okay I can fit into a size 6. Not to mention the agony afterwards..every day of being in purgatory..yes, a good mixture of frustration and fixation bottled over the passing of the years.

But then I have always believed in prayers. I am here in UK! I suddenly found myself standing in between rows and rows of shoes begging me to buy them, whispering to me like a chant: seven, seven, seven…! And the amazing thing is even though there isn’t a saleslady in sight, not even her shadow, there is no moment of panic. Because right there in front of me: my size!! and the slight dilemma now is just finding the perfect design and before I forget, the money to buy those shoes.

Have you ever heard of this dialogue from your husband, boyfriend, partner…”Bumili ka na naman ng sapatos?” or “Sapatos na naman!”. I have heard that a number of times. I guess I must be thankful because I am married to a guy who understands (or tries very hard to comprehend) this never ending fascination with shoes. I have also started a collection of miniature shoes. Any Freudian non-expert can explain that :)

I haven’t got an exciting collection of shoes. My shoes are not even designer ones. The only pleasure I get from designer shoes, the cost of which is equivalent to my one month salary,  is trying them on. All these men are so elusive..Salvatore, Manolo, Victor, Pietro,, Alberto, Louis…….!!  Some of my shoes were not even chosen and bought because of the quality and comfort. Just because this pair is cute! Just a whim sometimes. Only sometimes? Hah! Before I try my hardest to match my shoes with what I wear but now, I tend to experiment and just be crazy..like wearing mismatched shoes. The kind where the moment you get out of your door, your nosy neighbor will look at you like you’re such in a hurry to get out of your house you didn’t even bother to check what you’re wearing.

I do get excited everytime I meet people who share the same passion over shoes. It’s like being in AA group sessions where you introduce yourself, “I am May. And I am a shoe addict..it is so bad because I always want to buy a pair of nice shoes in all available colors!”

I know that each of my shoes have got stories to tell. Places, people, events…Remember your first school shoes, shoes you wore on your first date, your PE shoes, that pair when you vowed I do, first job interview, shoes you wore on your first day of work, your pair of old,  tattered trainers, first high heels, shoes you wore on your prom or graduation..

I can vividly recall when I got my first  paycheck in pounds and I went to buy myself a new pair of  shoes..I tried it on my right foot and it was the perfect fit, no embarrassing moments, no awkwardness…..then I asked and then came the other pair!

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iTravel

I have been to Albert Dock a number of times. Yet it never ceases to amaze me what this place has to offer.

It offers a variety of entertainment. I love being there as the Dock  is the home of Tate Liverpool–I may not be expert in art but it gives me a wonderful feeling just by looking at modern and contemporary art. Plus the bonus is–admission is free!!

If you like the Fab Four, there’s the the award-winning Beatles Story. You’ll get the chance to see how these four young lads from Liverpool were swept away to the dizzying height of fame in the world of music. It is  definitely a treat if you’re a great fan of Hey Jude, Hard Day’s Night, Let it Be……….

I haven’t been inside these two museums but I will surely go back and be awed: Merseyside Maritime Museum and the International Slavery Museum. I’m pretty sure it will be a learning experience especially for my son to know the stuff these two museums have to offer. The International Slavery Museum explores the many aspects of slavery, featuring what happened in Africa at the time of the trade and celebrating the Black achievement against racism and discrimination. Wow..I didn’t realize I’ve got this serious side in me!

The fun part!!  Albert Dock has this new 60 metre high Echo Wheel, which towers over the adjacent piazza, outside the Echo Arena and Convention Centre (a big one…Beyonce did a gig recently, i think!). Knowing me and my ever so adventurous family, we went for a ride..and I can say it is not for the faint hearted! I would like to go back in summertime so I will be able to witness a glorious sunset. I didn’t take many photos whilst we were up in the air as the weather was..so very English-damp and grey. Nevertheless, tomorrow is another day.

Nothing comes close to this nautical adventure: the Yellow Duckmarine! Haven’t tried but it does look like great fun! This yellow (my current fave color!) amphibious 24-30 seat sightseeing vehicle will give you a tour round the city and the highlight is the famous “splashdown”  driving dramatically straight from the road, down the slipway and splashing into Salthouse Dock. Matthieu will surely love this!!

I saw rows and rows of nice places to eat..I bet a treat to the palate. And I do enjoy tasting variety of dishes from all over the world. I may not like it but at least I’ve tasted it :) One thing I do like being in a place like this is being surrounded by people from different parts of the globe. I would usually stop in the middle of the crowd and just listen to the different languages they speak..very foreign indeed but an awe-inspiring experience for me.

And a glimpse of this bisekletta added spice to my visit…always!

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Festival ambivalence

4.12.2010Pasko sa Pinas by Apolonia 2010

For many of us Filipinos, Christmas may be the most anticipated holidays of the year. Lately though, the new year is no longer welcomed with just fireworks, missing fingers, overstuffed and distended tummies, roofs riddled with gunshot holes from some trigger happy neighbor, but also with frantic online booking for the cheapest fares ever (hello zero fare! hello piso fare!). This only means one thing: People can’t wait to go home again already!! (and yes to travel somewhere else).

It is a sad and painful thing that many of us currently live away from our own families, but as the French say, c’est la vie! We are resilient people, albeit tragically forgetful at times, historically speaking. Wherever we may be, we always find ourselves in the middle of intricately woven networks of Filipino friends, relatives, and then there are lucky ones who manage to strike up serendipitous friendships with non-Filipinos (hello my dearest Amel). One particular Christmas away from home, Amel invited me to have dinner with her and her husband at their lovely Mediterranean house on top of a hill, which of course was overlooking the sea.  She said, “We don’t celebrate Christmas, as we are Muslims, but this is a very special time for you and so we are inviting you for dinner at home.”  She cooked “pastil”, a local food found in my hometown, made of rice, soy sauce, garlic, fish or chicken and wrapped in banana leaves. I got the recipe from a classmate who was based in the US. One time I decided to take a respite from lunching on shawarma, and cooked some pastil sans the banana leaf and brought it to work. Amel, whom I had the good fortune of sharing office space with, couldn’t help liking it and asked for the recipe. For this particular Christmas dinner, there were no banana leaves, she instead used saffron. Heavenly! The lovely dinner went on for hours. When she said to come at 630 pm, I asked what time do I tell my Filipino friends to come and pick me up. She said, “Oh around 10-1030”. When she saw my eyes popped, she said that I will be dining Tunisian style (wink).

I’m sorry, writing this article brought back memories. We were talking about Filipino resiliency right? So the point is, wherever we are, we will always find ways to make our Christmas celebration worth the anticipation. However, for me, there is always this nagging ambivalence, of looking forward to going home, seeing my family, laughing with my sisters, eating at all my favorite local foodstops*,  and at the same time, not wanting to leave my husband behind (he has a crazy work schedule and I, I will go crazy if I can’t go home for Christmas), our cat, the lights display in Ayala, the quiet neighborhood on holidays… my husband, our cat, the lights display in Ayala …okay I think you get the pic ;)  I also vacillate between not wanting to give in to the massive commercialism all holidays are exploited with, but I can’t help buying gifts because it is so much fun to give! And yes, to buy “some” for myself as well.**

And so there may be some of you out there, who like me, live with this festival-wrought ambivalence. Such is our life. We strive to celebrate the moment eh? Be it buying or giving; missing your husband or being with your family; eating pastil with saffron or feasting on Noche Buena;  sunning yourself on the beach or snow-sledding…….

Because after all…

it is Christmas!  =)

*thank God Michael’s snackhaus, with their unforgettable fresh lumpia (the other items on their menu don’t disappoint as well) is still around! Been going there since I was in gradeschool!

**I’ve recently realized this one truth: the only easiest thing to do in this life is to spend money hahaha! Disclaimer: I said easy, not fulfilling!

*I’ve recently realized this one truth: the only easiest thing to do in this life is to spend money hahaha!  Disclaimer: I said easy, not fulfilling!

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