Monday, December 22, 2014

Goodbye, Dad

My father died two days ago. He had been sick and had been in the hospital for over forty days. On Friday, he was brought home, and on Saturday he passed away peacefully. When one sees a loved one suffer, sometimes the best thing one can do is to pray for death. Not that I don't believe in God's capacity to heal, but at some point one realizes that the only way a suffering person can rest is when he or she rests in the arms of our Creator.

My father suffered for forty-plus days, the kind of suffering one would never wish on one's worst enemy. He was admitted to the hospital because of a persistent cough. Next thing we knew, he was having a pulmonary embolism. He was intubated because he could not breathe on his own. They stuck an NGT down his throat and prepped him for ICU. This was a man, who, only a month before had played 18 holes of golf. He was dying and we had had no clue he was even sick.

It was November 15. I was at home taking my sweet time. I was at the kitchen table having breakfast. It was the last day of Poetics class and the last day of graduate school for me. I was excited to see my classmates and my professor and celebrate with them the end of what had been a fruitful semester. I had just defended my thesis the day before and was still floating on cloud nine. The head of UST Publishing had expressed interest in publishing my thesis, a memoir about my life with my ex-husband.

Suddenly, I got a text message from my mom saying I better hurry to the hospital. My dad was dying. That was one of the saddest days of my life. My mom and my sister started discussing practical matters. "Where will the wake be?" asked my sister. It was decided that it would be at St. Peter's on Quezon Avenue. He would be cremated right away. There would be no need for a coffin. My dad was a practical man.

But he didn't die that day. It goes to show how God is a god of surprises. He still spent a month with us. He still gave us a lot of material for future anecdotes that we will surely be telling people - both friends and acquaintances. In sickness and in health, my dad made us laugh. He gave me the gift of sarcasm. He made me realize that one needs a certain level of untouchability to be able to speak one's mind. He said things we would be too shy to even think. Tact was not my father's strongest suit. And this is how I wish to remember him.

He wasn't perfect but no one needs to be. We loved him in our own imperfect way and we made sure that he knew that before he died.

We love you to the moon and back. Rest easy now that you're united with our Heavenly Father. Swing away. Sing away. Sing karaoke with Sinatra. Yes, you did it your way.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

My Osaka Article in Business + Class Magazine

For those in Manila, please get a copy of the latest issue of Business + Class Magazine and read my article about my trip to Osaka. :-)

Friday, September 19, 2014

A Party in Sweden

Of all the pictures I took during my short stay in Sweden, this has always been one of my favorites.  I met this woman at a crawfish party 7 years ago. It is strange how a picture evokes the feelings we had back when it was taken. Although this picture belongs to a period in my life which I no longer wish to relive, I still feel happy just by looking at it. It was a beautiful day, and I was in the company of good people. The mood was very festive, celebratory, and as optimistic as the promise of a new day. 

Friday, July 11, 2014

The enchanting beauty of Notre Dame

When I first visited Paris in 1999, the facade of the Cathedral of Notre Dame was covered with huge tarpaulins. Apparently the whole of Europe was preparing for the Jubilee, so restorations were being conducted in many of the most important churches. On my second trip to Paris in the mid-2000's, my then husband and I went to the Cathedral but failed to capture its true beauty since it was winter. It was a cloudy day, and all the pictures I took were blurry. At the time I still didn't have a digital camera. Yeah, call me old school. In 2012, my friend Emilie and I went to Paris, as part of our 28-day European tour. I took this picture one sunny day in June 2012. I guess it's true what they say: third time's definitely a charm.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

A Statue at the Vatican Museum

A statue known as Barberini Juno or Barberini Hera
I took this picture while on a guided tour of the Vatican Museum with my friend Emilie. I love the way the light hits the statue in this picture, illuminating just the right parts. The statue is a Roman copy of the Greek original. Here Juno holds a scepter and a patera (shallow bowl for pouring libations).

For Rome travel tips, please my post titled Rome 101: Travel Guide to the Eternal City.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Gigantic Sequoia Tree at Yosemite

This picture was taken in September 2007 at Yosemite National Park. Mom and Dad sure look tiny compared to the tree.

Posted via Blogaway

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Sankt Goar Germany

 My good friend Treena brought me to Sankt Goar when I visited her in May 2012. 
Sankt Goar is a beautiful town that lies on the west bank of the Middle Rhine in the Rhein-Hunsrück-Kreis (district) in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. Looking through the windows of the quaint souvenir shops and strolling along the narrow streets of this picturesque town, I felt like I was transported to a different time. From here we took the tourist train to see the Rheinfels ruins.

For more information about Sankt Goar, please click here.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Hans Christian Andersen

I still can't forget the first time I saw Danny Kaye's face light up as he was singing "I'm Hans Christian Andersen" in the musical named after the beloved and revered Danish weaver of children's tales. I am intrigued by the position of this statue. HCA holds a book in one hand and a cane in the other, his head turned to the left and slightly raised, seemingly interrupted by something or someone. Perhaps he was tapped on the shoulder by a friend or an acquaintance who wanted to say hello. Or maybe he was interrupted by an idea for his next story, a story that would capture the hearts and minds of the young and young at heart.  

Quick travel tip: When my friend and I went to Copenhagen, we stayed at Wakeup Copenhagen. It is very close to Tivoli Park (within walking distance) and the city center. It is also near a mall with cinemas.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Norway's Midnight Sun

This picture remains to be one of my favorites. I just  recently finished editing conference proceedings about social justice and the multicultural Asia-Pacific region. While doing so, I encountered this cliche which one of the participants kept saying, "The whole is greater than the sum of its parts." Of course I had heard it said many times before, but then I had never really thought about its true meaning. 

When I looked at this picture just a few minutes ago, the explanation suddenly dawned on me. Looking at it made me realize that I am not particularly fond of the person in this picture (who happens to be my ex-husband of almost seven years now). There is nothing exciting about the low mountains in the background, nor the shrubbery in the foreground. Yet it only took the light of the setting sun suffusing the clouds around it to make this picture greater than the sum of its parts.

In life, there should be no room for nitpicking. Ugly things can be beautiful if hit by the light of the sun in just the right spot. 

Quick Travel Tip: To see the spectacular midnight sun, visit Norway from mid-May till the end of July. 
For more information about the midnight sun, please click here.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Baler: Beyond Coppola's Apocalypse Now Part 2

By now we were starving. It had taken us a little over five hours to get from Manila to Baler, and we had already gone on a tour of the city. We needed some nourishment and libations to sustain us for the rest of the day. My mom suggested that we go eat at Jerry Shan, an all-you-can-eat restaurant not that far from Mrs. Quezon's childhood home.

When we got there, the place was packed with patrons who seemed even hungrier than we were. We saw the long queue, which was disheartening. But we were already there, and we were so hungry. One of the servers found an unoccupied table for us. My dad who never queued to get food in his life, asked me and my mom to get some food for him. It was a bit of a challenge, holding two plates, but Pete, my husband helped a lot.

After lunch, we went back to the hotel.My parents and I had coffee, while Pete had a beer at Beach House, Costa Pacifica's restaurant. At around 2 pm, someone from the front desk informed us that my parents' room was ready. We stayed there for over an hour until we got the call that our room was ready as well.

The room I shared with my hubby.

I spent the rest of the day taking pictures.

People enjoying the cool breeze.

The beach wouldn't be complete without a boy digging.

Our hotel

Surfboards and people chillin'

Fish and chips

Cheeseburger and fries.

Read Part 1 here.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Chiaroscuro at the Palazzo Vecchio

This picture was taken at the courtyard of the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence in May 2012. I just love the silhouette, and  how the light illuminates the background. If you ever find yourself in Florence, you just have to visit this wonderful place. For more information about the Palazzo Vecchio, click here.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Creative Thesis Blues

Disclaimer: This post has nothing to do with travel, whatsoever.

I know I haven't been able to write anything for over a week now. I have been busy with work, and like with most people, work comes first before leisure.

I was finally able to turn in part of the conference proceedings I was editing yesterday. After almost a month of working on it, I am finally free of it. Well, at least the first two parts. I'm still waiting for the last part to be emailed to me. I was also able to write a short article earlier today. Also for work. Now that I have some free time, I can now start rewriting my thesis. Yes, you heard me right. I'm going to rewrite my thesis.

I have written part of it, but as I was reading it, I felt that it wasn't representative of who I am now as a writer. It's a creative thesis, and I need to defend it by the end of the first semester of AY 2014-2015 (so wish me luck!) Since it's a creative thesis, I guess it's easier to rewrite than a standard academic research-based thesis. But, it's giving me headaches still. I wish I could just scrap the whole thing. Write another proposal, but honestly, I don't want to start all over again. I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that I can make it as decent and as publishable as possible. It may not win awards, (although, maybe that's what I should be aiming for hehe) but I hope, in the future, if ever it becomes a book, people will enjoy reading it.

I will try to work less in the coming days, so I can post something here. Thanks!

Friday, April 11, 2014

What happened today

Today I found a newspaper article about my stepson being found dead in Oslo in February 2008. After all these years, I still feel so sad whenever I think about it. With him died his dreams of becoming a professional football player. He was a very fun young man to have around; he was playful, and he treated everyone equally. He was born of Filipino parents in 1986 and was adopted when he was six months old by my ex-husband and his first wife. I guess having been raised in Norway made him really see people as people, and not in terms of their social standing. Here's to you, Jon. Hope you're having the grandest time there in heaven!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Golden Sphere at the Vatican

This sculpture is aptly named Sphere Within a Sphere by Italian sculptor Arnaldo Pomodoro. It can be found in the Courtyard of the Pinecone at the Vatican. I took this picture when I traveled to Italy in June 2012 with my best friend Emilie. Thinking about having your own Roman holiday? Well click here to read my tips about traveling to the Eternal City.

Friday, April 4, 2014

An Angel in New Mexico

I took this picture in 2007 in Santa Fe, New Mexico. This sculpture of an angel can be found in front of the Saint Francis Cathedral. I hope I will get to visit this serene city once again.

Sights to See: The Loretto Chapel where you can find the "miraculous staircase" "sometimes called St. Joseph’s Staircase. The stairway confounds architects, engineers and master craftsmen. It makes over two complete 360-degree turns, stands 20’ tall and has no center support. It rests solely on its base and against the choir loft. The risers of the 33 steps are all of the same height. Made of an apparently extinct wood species, it was constructed with only square wooden pegs without glue or nails." (Click here for source)

Of course there is the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum which opened to the public in July 1997. It is located at 217 Johnson St, Santa Fe, NM. here visitors can find over 3,000 collections of art, 1,000 of which were by O'Keeffe herself.Subjects range from the artist’s iconic flowers and bleached desert skulls to nudes, landscapes, cityscapes, still lifes, and abstractions, dating from 1901 to 1984.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Costa Pacifica in Baler

I had a fun, relaxing stay at Costa Pacifica in Baler. One thing I love about what I do, is I can work as long as I have my laptop and an internet connection. Hehe. Paying just over $10 a month to have internet on my phone is soooo worth it. Can't wait to go to my next destination. Please watch out for my blog entry about my stay in Baler. I'm going to post some really cool pictures! Ciao!

Posted via Blogaway

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Sapi Island

This picture was taken on Sapi Island, Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia. It's a beautiful island with crystal clear water surrounding it. We saw millions of fish and that tells you a lot about how the people here care for the environment. I would definitely love to go back to Kota Kinabalu. The people were so friendly, and they were very much willing to show off their proficiency in Tagalog, my native language. The only thing I didn't like was that we waited for the boat that was supposed to pick us up for 45 minutes. But all in all, it was a very pleasant experience. Everything was cheap, so that was a good thing hehe. 

Friday, March 28, 2014

MyZeil in Frankfurt am Main

Holey moley! No it isn't the black hole, nor is it a portal to an alternate universe. Roman architect Massimiliano Fuksas saw it fit to include a massive hole in the design of this beautiful mall. I say, "Good call, Massimiliano!"  

MyZeil is  one of the biggest shopping and leisure parks in Germany.It is located in the heart of Frankfurt am Main.  Rainwater from the nearly 6000 square meters large roof areas is collected, cleaned and returned to the water cycle of the house.

One doesn't have to be a art freak to realize that this mall is one architectural wonder.The unconventional design elevates the shopping experience. 

When I was on the escalator, I felt like I was on my way on board the mother ship. Hehe. But, if you ever find yourself in Frankfurt, make sure you pay this beautiful mall a visit. 

MyZeil Info:
Address: Zeil 106, 60313 Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Phone:+49 69 29723970
Hours: 10:00 am – 9:00 pm

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Sultan Abdul Samad Building

Don't adjust your screen, you are not experiencing a psychedelic episode - the building's purple. This building is called the Sultan Abdul Samad Building and can be found in front of Independence Square in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It was designed by A.C. Norman and built in 1894-1897 to house several important government departments during the British administration. Today it houses the offices of the Ministry of Information, Communications and Culture of Malaysia. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Juan Muñoz at the Guggenheim

When my sister and I went to Bilbao, Spain, we made our way to the Guggenheim museum not really knowing what to expect. What we found were these fascinating bronze figures right outside the museum, some of which had missing body parts. These are the works of Spanish sculptor Juan Muñoz who was known for sculpting works in a "narrative manner which consisted of creating smaller than life-size figures in an atmosphere of mutual interaction." Muñoz was influenced by the drama of American minimalism and the poetry of Italian Arte Povera (poor art), a modern art movement popular in Italy in from the late '60s to the early '70s. He died at the age of 48 in his summer home in Ibiza on August 28, 2001.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Bencab's Ducks

These ducks are lucky enough to call Baguio their home. Baguio, what Filipinos fondly call the summer capital of the Philippines, is a city located in the mountains of Benguet Province. The mere mention of its name evokes feelings of nostalgia in a lot of Filipinos like me, who, as a kid would make yearly trips to the City of Pines with their families, be it during the Christmas or summer holidays. 

This picture was taken by my husband with my Samsung Galaxy S4. It had been a foggy day, but my husband had insisted on taking pictures. This was one of them.

Must-visit places: Bencab Museum, Camp John Hay, Burnham Park, Mines View Park, Baguio Country Club (members only), Baguio Botanical Garden. Click here for more information about Baguio.

Must-eats: Ube jam (made of yam) from Good Shepherd Convent (15 Gibraltar Road). Garlic longganisa (local sausage) served at the Baguio Country Club Veranda, hot chocolate served at Cafe Sabel, Bencab Museum (Km. 6 Asin Road, Tadiangan, Tuba).

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Beautiful Camiguin

Camiguin is a province located in the Bohol Sea 10 kilometers off the northern coast of Mindanao. The island seen here is not part of the main island of Camiguin but is part of the province. It is a tiny island with no structures apart from a makeshift tarpaulin tent. I have visited this island twice, and I look forward to visiting it for a third time. If you ever find yourself in Camiguin, don't forget to ask about this little island. 

How to get there: Fly directly from Manila to Camiguin via Cebu Pacific. If you're coming from Cagayan, take a taxi to the bus terminal located at the Agora Market to get on a bus for Balingoan, a town 88 kilometers outside the city. At Balingoan, take a ferry bound for Camiguin Island. The ferry ride takes about an hour.

Where to stay: During my visits to the island I stayed at Paras Beach Resort and I must say that I was very much satisfied both times. The resort had a very relaxed ambiance, and the rooms were clean, and of a decent size.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Yosemite National Park

The Half Dome is a granite dome that can be found in Yosemite National Park in California. My family and I visited the park in 2007. It was our first trip there, and I must admit, it was wonderful to be one with nature, amidst the countless tourists that were there. The colossal granite crest rises more than 4,737 ft (1,444 m) above the valley floor.

Quick Travel Tip: If you or someone traveling with you needs special assistance or a car to explore the park, you could get a special permit or pass so you can bring your car to some parts of the park which are off limits to unauthorized vehicles. Ask about the pass at the entrance gate.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Bulls of Pamplona

This picture was taken during the festival of San Fermin in Pamplona, Spain in 2008. I love the creativity, the effort, and the humor that the Spanish put into celebrating the feast of a much beloved saint, Pamplona's first bishop. 

The festival of San Fermin, or what the locals call San Fermines, is an annual week-long festival held from July 6 to July 14. Although its religious aspect has taken a backseat to its more secular, festive one, Los San Fermines has remained one of the most beloved, honored, and celebrated festivals in the world today.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Haedong Yonggusa Temple

I took this picture when my parents, my friend Jee Young and I went to Busan in November 2009. This was taken at the Haedong Yonggusa Temple which is located on the coast of the north-eastern portion of Busan. For more details click here.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Osaka Update

A month ago, in my post titled How to Travel Cheap, I mentioned that my husband and I are scheduled to go on a trip to Osaka, Japan in May. Well a lot has happened since then. No, the trip hasn't been cancelled. But what was originally a post-anniversary getaway for just the two of us became a full-blown group tour which includes my parents, my brother, and two of my best friends, Emilie and Karen.

Things happened very quickly. Decisions had to be made on the spot if my friends were to get the promo fare that Cebu Pacific was offering. The last day of the sale was yesterday, and my friend Emilie gave me the go signal to book the tickets for them.

I'm just so happy that I will get to share Japan memories with my family, especially my mother who is part Japanese, my English husband, whom, I believe could have been a ninja in his past life, my brother who can't wait to eat authentic Japanese food, my dad who'll probably be mumbling to himself the whole time, and my two best friends who will grab every photo op there is.

I know May is two months away, but I just can't contain my excitement. Japan, here we come!

Quick Budget Travel Tip: If you find cheap airfare, as in dirt cheap airfare, to a destination you so badly want to go, I say go for it. Like your favorite budget airline on Facebook and subscribe to get emails from them. These are good ways of finding out ahead of everyone else if there's going to be a seat sale.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Reclining Buddha in Penang

This picture was taken at the Reclining Buddha Temple  (Wat Chayamangkalaram) in the beautiful state of Penang, Malaysia in 2009. The temple can be found on Burma Road in George Town, the state's capital. The 33-meter Buddha, is also fondly called the Sleeping Buddha by the locals. 

Quick Travel Tip: You can purchase round trip bus tickets from Kuala Lumpur to Penang online. My friend and I used Aeroline which, I later found out, was a bit more pricey than other bus lines. But the seats were very comfortable, and there was food service on board. 

If you're interested to ride Aeroline, just go to the Corus Hotel  (Jalan Ampang, 50450 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysiaand look for their desk. That is the pickup point in Kuala Lumpur. Click here to view map.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Eiffel Tower and the Trees


What kind of travel blogger would I be if I didn't have the picture of the iconic Eiffel Tower on my site? I took this picture in June 2012 when my friend and I visited Paris. It was my third visit. 

The Eiffel Tower was built in 1889 by Gustave Eiffel for the World Expo. To this day, it remains one of the most photographed monuments in the world, and evokes a plethora of emotions in anyone who beholds it. Perhaps the international symbol of romance, it draws lovers and hopeless romantics from all over the world, making it one of the most popular tourist spots in the world. 

Quick travel tip: When visiting Paris, it is better to buy a four-day museum pass if you intend to stay four days and up. It will grant you access to countless museums and gardens. It will also save you time because you won't have to queue up to buy tickets at each attraction. You can buy the museum pass at the airport.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Dinner in Denmark

Travel is not just about seeing new places and meeting wonderful people. More often than not, it is also about eating good food. In 2012, my friend Emilie and I traveled to Denmark. There we stayed with her husband's family who were the loveliest, most gracious hosts. The proof is in the picture: a sumptuous dinner served by two of our hosts at their beautiful home.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Wooden Masks from Palawan

I took a picture of these masks which were being sold at the LRC 908 Market Mall in Puerto Princesa, Palawan. My mother and I booked an overnight shopping trip there in August 2013. It is one of my most favorite cities in the world. It has so much to offer all kinds of travelers. The locals are very disciplined and trustworthy, and it is very easy to get around what with all the tricycles in the area. I have to admit I often check budget airline websites for promo fares to Puerto Princesa. 

If you are into pearls, Puerto Princesa is an ideal place to go. Countless shops offer high quality pearls (cultured, rice, South Sea) at reasonable prices. My friend had asked me to buy her a pair of pearl earrings and I found the perfect pair at 14 mm for only USD 101 (Php 4,500). Just thinking about it makes me want to book another trip to the Greenest City in the Philippines.

"Puerto Princesa is the seat of the provincial government of Palawan, although it is considered an independent city which means it is not controlled by the province in which it is geographically located, and is therefore an independent area located within Palawan." (Wikipedia)

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Senado Square, Macau

This picture was taken in the Senado Square in Macau in February 2008. That's my mom right there :-)

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Flamingos at SeaWorld

The beautiful flamingos at SeaWorld San Diego. I took this picture in 2007 when my family and some of my friends from the US went there. It was such a lovely day, as you can see. I simply adore these beautiful birds.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Sculpture outside the Hearst Castle

This Greco-Roman sculpture sits outside the Hearst Castle which is located in San Simeon, California. This National and California Historical Landmark was designed by Julia Morgan, and built between 1919 and 1945 for newspaper mogul William Randolph Hearst. It is very much representative of the opulence of Ancient Greece and Rome, whose influence is evident in all aspects of Morgan's design.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Bag on a Bench in Pamplona

My attempt at unleashing my creative side. NOT. I was just happy with my bag, I couldn't contain my happiness and took this picture. Now, I loathe this bag because, for its size, the supporting screws are way too small! C'mon Fendi people, make better bags! (End of rant.) 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Dali: Mind of a Genius Exhibit

In 2011, my husband and I were fortunate enough to catch the Dali exhibit at the ArtScience Museum at the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore. Like what I said in an earlier post, Dali has always fascinated me. He wasn't just a creative genius who made use of varied materials to express his creativity. But his personality was one big homage to art. I wish to learn how to love writing the way Dali loved art. I hope you enjoy the pictures.

Dali, larger than life.


 Sal and Mia

Anthropomorphic Chest of Drawers

Last but not the least, my husband picking Dali's nose.