Thursday, December 02, 2004

God’s Grace

In many trying times I have found constant solace and comfort in the Lord. He has given me peace and understanding beyond human comprehension. He has also blessed me with a good family and many friends that bear witness to His compassion and symbolize the tangible form of His love. He sometimes uses strangers as vehicles of His message.

Tonight, I watched the Barbara Best Singers at the St. Pie X church as they rendered gospel and spiritual songs. I was waiting for the regular “Amazing Grace” but it never came. When the show was about to end, I was tempted to go up the stage and ask the singers to sing it. Nothing should have prevented me because two members of the audience actually went up the stage to ask for autographs. But I was still my shy self. My mom said, it takes time…even she, with the greatest courage and almost non-existent shyness, didn’t come up the stage to ask the singers. I just felt a bit frustrated since I should have been more courageous…“It takes time,” my mom repeated. And with that, I put my soul to rest. After all, I didn’t ask Mariah Carey to sing a particular song when I watched her in concert. :)

Despite the disappointment, I heard some songs that I needed to hear. As the songs were performed, one song particularly struck me. The lyrics went, “Lord, thank you for opening a door that I didn’t even see.” There’s a saying, “When one door closes, a window is opened.” Helen Keller, a blind, deaf and once mute lady added, “But we often stare at the closed door that we don’t see the opened window.”

The Lord is kind and gracious. He is understanding and a kind father. He teaches with great reproach but loves with great compassion.

I am guilty of sometimes blaming Him for why things happen the way they do…and when burdens come my way…I ask Him “Why me?” But I quickly leave my blaming and ask Him to help me carry my burden. A passage in the Bible says, “Cast your burdens upon me, those who are heavily laden. Come to me and I will give you rest.” A friend offered me this passage at one of the lowest points in my life…It brought me to my senses, made me trust in His will and prayed for His grace to get me through my hardest times. Everything happens for a reason and sometimes, it is only Him who knows why. It is up to us to pray for discernment.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004


We must know mind-numbing, even heart-numbing pain, so we can know pleasure. This I have learned in the last few days. Life is full of dialectics – sorrow and joy, love and hate (some say, indifference), and many more…

We can only truly appreciate one knowing the existence and the true understanding of the other. And we can only know the joy of the other by experiencing the opposite.

But we must not wish to experience less or more of the other to fully appreciate it. One must experience the opposites, only to learn…

I watched “13 going on 30” the other day and the main character asked her mother, “If you could go back and change the biggest mistake of your life, what would you change?” The mother said, “Nothing…I know I have made a lot of mistakes in my life, but I don’t regret any of them…because if I haven’t made them, then I wouldn’t have learned how to make things right.”

Everything is part of learning and those who learn are better for it. This is especially true when you hurt people you love…intentionally and unintentionally. It is only when you realize that what you have done is wrong and you are truly sorry for it that you know the person’s worth in your life. And that you will do everything in your power never to commit the same act again, because you love that person so much and will never think of wishing or committing harm to him/her.

A friend said, "make the best of what you've got..." I add, "never take one for granted and take care of the one you love."

Some things happen for a reason…but sometimes we are too blind to see it. We beat ourselves up over our faults, but we never see the silver lining – WE HAVE NOW LEARNED AND HAS BEEN GIVEN ANOTHER CHANCE TO NEVER COMMIT THE SAME MISTAKE AGAIN. We can never bring back a word we say or an act we did. But we can only learn from these mistakes.

May we all learn despite the pain!

Wednesday, November 10, 2004 beloved

PA: hey Nicky, thanx for sharing the video clip with me. It was very nice. I really love the Phils. It sent chills up my spine just listening to it. It reminded me of my journey journey of becoming a Filipino.

I was talking about the new tourism video clip promoting the Philippines.

I’d recommend it to all Filipinos out there. Be PROUD!!!


Sunday, October 31, 2004

Tortured minds

Why do we put ourselves through hell thinking the unthinkables, complicating simple thoughts of “can’t do anything about its”?

Is it the repressions of past frustrations not vented? Why the oversensitive interpretation of a simple act? And no question asked…easier if asked!

Why do we keep these silent thoughts mute in the midst of communication? Do we like the torture our minds bear in twisting and turning misconceptions?

Do we put shackles in our minds and whip ourselves silly with torrid thoughts…we batter our brains with senseless recourse?

Is it a masochist longing for the pain of thoughts? Can we not think happy thoughts?

Sleepless nights bear witness to these violent abuses…daylight met with utter torments! Can we escape this maniacal mental maze?

Is torture our mind’s medium when sulking in misery's muse?

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

“I have a virgin heart.”

This was what my mom said one lunch time… It was quite an original piece of thought. I never imagined virginity applying to the heart. I always thought it was a physical thing. But I got what she meant. Her heart has never really been in love.

Is my heart a virgin one too? I got to thinking…or more aptly…are most people’s heart’s virgins? Do we actually learn to love? And when we love, is it penetrating that it pierces our souls?

I thought maybe I had been in love more than four times in my life. But some were fleeting and the others were just imagined. Some were also true. So, how can we tell if we've earned the moniker "non-virgin heart"? When is love so true that you end up breaking the proverbial "hymen"? Or is it when it actually is broken that we know we've been in love? Do we need to have a broken heart to know that we have loved?

It would be presumptuous to say and not accurate if I say that maybe we should feel that it should be broken first before we know if it’s true. Can love be reduced to such dialectic? Does the logic follow – a heart is in love if it can only be broken? Or perhaps, the heart must be amenable to levels of “breakage” to be considered “non-virgin”?

There is also the argument…virginity is a state of mind, whether physical or emotional. Can we revert to a second virginity when the “first” experience passes but does not meet our expectations? How many virginities can there be?

Whatever the number, whatever the physical or emotional state…a first…is a first but love can only be dictated by the heart. When the heart feels it has loved, it ceases to be a virgin. And when it is broken, it is just a testimony that it is no longer “untouched.”

Monday, October 04, 2004


4 October 2004

This came to my mind after a friend said she was looking for a certain type of magazine during her travel. I wasn’t really sure whether she wanted to buy it for informational/educational purposes or if she just wanted simple entertainment.

But it got me thinking…How much of our life is spent reading “How To” books? And do they really help? This is also applicable in the endless textbooks that elaborate on models and theories and then come up with their conclusion: these are not based on empirical data at the time of formulation but should be replicated in light of future developments. WHAT?! Plain English Please! D%*N! They don’t work period!

So, how can we possibly gain more knowledge from “How To” books that don’t derive from experience or empirical data? I’d start launching my attack on inspirational books any minute now but some people who were actually “inspired” might send me threatening comments.

Are we really swayed to do things in a certain fashion just because books told us to? I wonder…

Saturday, October 02, 2004


1 October 2004
3:56 pm

I live near the train station here in Geneva. I see endless trains coming in and out of the city. Some are en route to France, others to Italy and many more to nearby states.

I feel like those trains – just passing through life and I’m just here for the ride. But do I really have a destination? I know trains have very limited movements often just going where the tracks lead and ending where they stop. What about me though? Do I move with the same precision and the same goal?

I find myself traveling and often having revelations in each country I stay in, but what purpose do they serve? Do they really make an impact on my life or do I just move on to the next destination, dropping everything as I go. After all, a train leaves even if a certain passenger gets on or not. The world doesn’t stop for one person.

Why am I always traveling and I can’t seem to grow roots? Why am I comfortable living out of a suitcase as if I’m ready to run away? Do I want to run away? Run away from what? Are life’s complexities too hard to deal with that a getaway train is the solution?

Let’s just say I’m having an existential crisis. It’s not the first and certainly, it’s not the last!

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Special Day, Special People

I haven’t written in quite a while but I thought I should. Today is a special occasion. My friend is arriving from the Philippines and my mom is arriving from Jordan. But I would also like to acknowledge a very welcomed call from a dear friend. I talked for almost an hour on the phone last night with another wanderer friend. It felt good to talk and to be happy.

I had been racked with worries as of late but they all seem to fade away now. God gives me daily sources of strengths that aid my weak heart to get through the day’s hardships. And I would just like to thank Him for it.

I’d also like to thank all my friends who are such blessings in my life - Ria, in particular. Some things are never shared with a friend but we always know. It is in the unspoken words that we scream the loudest. And I scream to you now – THANK YOU!

You have been there through my saddest and happiest moments and they were times that we weren’t near each other. You made such an effort and through the miles, I felt your care and love. Again, I say thank you.

To JAM, my wonderful bestfriend, who has always been so understanding. It was your wisdom and love that got me through the toughest times. It was the thought of you and your caring heart that served as a beacon in my darkest hours. We haven’t been together for so long either but even if oceans would divide us, we are still tied at the heart! Thank you to you.

I have many friends who have graced my life with their presence. Ivy and her uncanny honesty; Aster and her bewildered countenance (always served as diversion and a great comfort); Maan with her cool expressions; I know I’ll forget somebody so I’ll make my excuses now. You all mean so much to me! To Lemon (my kumadre) who not only walked the UP streets with me, but walked life with me (she also walked in on me in Maan’s room). To Flor, another wonderful soul that gave me a shoulder to cry on.

Hannah and Hazel and our intellectual talks (ITs)…Jack and his peach roses…Ton and Deej (intellectual sparring partners); Luige’s wits! Cheng at arms’ length, with big heart in tow! Sarah for showing me how a bestfriend should be, Yessie for paving the way.


Ate Chi, Ate Mini and Nathalie…for being great women…and sharing their lives with me.

Marivic for always having an open ear. Kuya Joseph and our turon staring contests. It was always a source of a smile. Peejay, the beautiful! You are!

For all the people who’ve made a difference in my life – your names are etched into my heart…and no space in a cyber log can ever replace that.

All my LOVE to you!

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Chillon's warmth

18 September 2004
Chateau de Chillon
Montreux, Switzerland

Sunlit day at Chillon’s castle
Fun and games come to proffer
Labyrinths explored
Of old 15th century world

Journey in time
I see in capsule
In walls preserved
An ancient tale

Happiness in walks
Amidst draw bridges
Company swell in leisure
Laughter enjoyed at cobblestone’s fall

Light-hearted day
In Switzerland’s glamour
Teased by the French Alps’ splendor

The lake shining
In mighty reflection
Of sun’s warmth
And earthly pleasure

No time, no worry
No train to run after
A day spent
In utter wonder

No place to go
No one to meet
No pressure
On sunlit day

In Chillon’s majesty
I came to ponder
How beautiful
Is nature’s bounty

A sight so picturesque
I hold in thought
One day I spent
In Chillon’s warmth

from the other side Posted by Hello

slivers of light Posted by Hello

labyrinths Posted by Hello

from the tower Posted by Hello

french alps Posted by Hello

chateau de chillon Posted by Hello

this way! Posted by Hello

For Joanne

It is her smile that makes the day bright
It is her warmth that makes the cold bearable
It is her big heart that makes the world lovable

She is the grace that makes tomorrow
An escape from sorrow
She is the happiness of the world encapsulated

Joanne is a kindred soul
Alive from love within her depths
Spirited and kind

A daughter
A sister
A friend

nikki, ivy, moi, joanne Posted by Hello

Saturday, September 18, 2004

jowan again Posted by Hello

kindred souls: me and joanne Posted by Hello

Friday, September 17, 2004

"The Road NOT Taken"

By Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.


This was a poem I recited in my senior year in high school. I chose it as an oratorical piece because it was so relevant in my life. I had always been someone who ran against the grain and in all conscious non-conformity, I always stood alone. I was a stickler for rules when obviously everyone wasn’t and I was lax when doctrines came a-knockin’.

There is a price to pay for being different but I always found someone who understood what it meant to be different.

I had matured beyond my years through the many trials and travels in my life. I had not been appreciated by my peers till I went to the university. I was always the “odd one out.” But I never regretted the decision of taking the “road not taken” because in choosing that path, I had become the person that I am.

It was the pain of loneliness, the pain of being different, and the pain of self-sacrifice that drove me past the un-trodden path. But as I travel on that “road less traveled” I find one or two taking up their burdens for what seems to be a reward awaiting the end of such a grueling journey.

I guess I am also searching for that reward of being different, of being less mediocre than the pack, and of knowing that being me is a good thing. But I am not banking on that. I wanted to be different because it’s what I thought would make me happy. And I am happy now.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Happiness for “now”

13 September 2004
8:00 p.m.

I jotted down my old text messages today. It felt like more than just taking note of what I’ve received; it seemed more like literal archiving.

When we start to put away old things in boxes and tie them up with little ribbons and put them in a closet or an attic, are we closing that chapter of our lives?

I have always been fond of collecting little things including little notes sent to me on paper or through text. I found it sentimental. But I’ve never really re-read my diaries or scrap books from cover to cover.

Is it a subconscious act to start sorting and organizing “old” things because they don’t belong in the present any more?

Do we actually live for the present? Do we ever really enjoy the moment? Or do we batter our brains thinking, “Where will this lead to? Where am I going? Is this going to last? Will this make me happier in the future?”

Happiness has become as trivialized as the archived notes. We keep it to remind us that we were once happy. But can we be happy for “now”?

I know a person who attends memorable events but doesn’t bring a camera. I always found it puzzling. In his old age, how will he remember the happier times?

Maybe, the happiness is etched in his heart and it will never leave his side. Maybe he brings a little bit of that happiness that makes a memorable event a memorable one and not simply a memory.

I guess I have to move up that ladder where I should be happy for the moment; happy for being; happy for knowing that happiness does exist and sometimes we don’t need to keep it hidden in an old box because it never left our hearts.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

After Birthday Wishes…

9 September 2004
3:36 a.m.

It’s nice to feel loved even when you’re miles away from your loved ones…

I just celebrated my birthday in the simplest gathering I have ever had in the last few years. I invited my closest friends in Geneva and had a sit-down dinner for eight people. I was a bit hesitant for the gathering because I had always met with these people on a one-to-one basis. The age differences were not gigantic but it was considerable. But I had worried for nothing. The night was perfect complete with meaningful gifts and overseas calls. A friend from Fujaira, UAE had called to say “happy birthday” and had offered to help pass out my CV to company. That is a good birthday gift.

The day has been one big birthday gift. I got up to go to mass with my mother at 7 a.m. It was the first French mass I ever attended in Geneva. At Notre Dame, we offered candles for our intentions. I offered three: for myself, my family, the world. My mom miraculously took a flight on my birthday instead of the day before so she could spend time with me. She is bound for the Middle East.

In a whirlwind of morning tasks, I finished at the office to rush off to lunch with my mother and to take her to the airport. Missing out on a posh restaurant to have dejeuner, my brothers, my mother, the driver and I sat in a cozy airport restaurant to bid our goodbyes and to share a meal as a family. Time was not on our side so we had a small and quick lunch. Shortly after, while still sitting at the restaurant, I received a call from Manila. About 10 friends had gathered to bid farewell to another friend bound for Japan. They called me up and greeted me one by one. I was very happy and I felt so loved.

I received many text messages greeting me. I wrote them down for the older I get, the more sentimental I become. I received an invitation for a one gigabyte email account from another friend in the Philippines. For a person like me, who’s not only sentimental but writes a lot, that was a great gift.

Before ending work, I received good news of a vacancy from a UN agency. I was advised to send an application by a contact. I hope that it will push through and that maybe, it will be God’s gift for my birthday.

A girl could not ask for more on her birthday…so many blessings.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Ode to me…

8 September 2004

I wasn’t keen on writing about myself but since I’m turning 24 in a little bit I thought I’d re-assess my life…But I won’t put you through that. Let me just recount my coming into the world.

It was Dec. 26, 1979; the town fiesta in Bicol, and the wedded couple, Amante and Grace decided to have some afternoon delight. Nine months later on 8 Sept. 1980, I became the second (of five) child and only daughter to this couple. Recounting from my mother’s stories…I was the healthiest – eight pounds of pure baby.

I wasn’t a difficult pregnancy (thank God) but I had a different entrance to this world. I decided to come out face first instead of the “normal” head first. Was that ominous of my intriguing nature? But two hours of “hilot” got me right out of my mother’s womb. And I came out on a pretense. My mom had been faking labor pains while sweeping the grounds in our apartment in Bicol (southern Philippine region) after watching a flick starring her favorite movie actress, Susan Roces.

“I’m gonna give birth,” she said, sweeping away. My dad, skeptical, didn’t pay attention. Then, it hit! Labor pains. Water broke. Called midwife. And at our apartment in Bicol, I came at 2 a.m. to be named P.A. (you thought I’d divulge my name? think again). I had the same birthday as the midwife.

Then began my journey as a wanderer and traveler of sorts… I only stayed two years in Bicol till we transferred to Quezon City. I only had seven years there before I’d board my first airplane. And I’d traveled many more…

my flute with its case Posted by Hello


07 September 2004
4:55 p.m.

When you’re traveling alone in life, you look for companions that don’t leave your side. They don’t have to be human or people. They can be things and pets. Some choose dogs and cats, others musical instruments and pens and papers like my trusty notepad.

I have always preferred people to be my companions but in the absence of one or two, I resort to my writing. But if I’m really emotional, I take one of my musical instruments and play it. I am not very good at any one instrument but the satisfaction I get and the comfort I feel is like that of a friend who aids you in times of need.

Today, I played my ethnic flute. It is an instrument from the Philippine highlands whose sounds are as soothing as a lullaby. With every blow and with every adjustment to cover the three holes on its body, a different emotion is released. And if, as if, you are communing with the thoughts in the untouchable air.

The serene sound that echoes matches the stirring of my heart. With every slight beat, getting faster and faster, the soul of the flute matches with sincere empathy.

Some people find companionship in their CDman’s and stereos. I prefer the sounds of instruments that communicate my thoughts to ears beyond mine.

I have many instruments; I play one for each particular feeling – a violin for happy and saddest moments, a drum for joyous occasions, a bandurria for patriotic songs, a flute for soulful reflections.

I play my flute with eyes closed, my emotions dance atop the notes whispered gently to the air forming a carpet of feelings. They stay in communion until I stop blowing into my medium.

In the darkness, I see myself floating and flying sifting through the notes and like a canter pouring water, I empty myself in the consolation of sympathetic silence.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

three beautiful musical holes Posted by Hello

my lip valley flute Posted by Hello

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

adieu Posted by Hello

farewell Posted by Hello

subtle goodbye Posted by Hello

approaching sunset at Pont D'Arve Posted by Hello

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Conquering alone-ness

31 August 2004
8:15 p.m.

I set out today to conquer one of my greatest fears, to go shopping alone. After lunch, I only brought my wallet and bus pass to shop for a book at Manor, the nearest mall.

In trying to find the book I was looking for, I realized that 10,000 steps would not make appear what wasn’t there. I had to call for back-up. Consulting a trusted friend on which book to buy, which volume to choose and where to buy it was a relief. I had found myself at Payot Librairie on rue du Mont Blanc. (“Call a friend” on “Who wants to be a Millionaire?”)

When I got there, I was directed to go downstairs after asking in what broken French I knew how to say. When I got downstairs, I asked again and the lady politely in French, told me to go upstairs because the book was there. I tried to scan the volumes of books shelved on the walls to find what I was looking for. Finally, I found it. Then, hit another dilemma…It only came in French. I asked another attendant (again) where I could find an English version. I found myself redirected to the basement (again). This had become a shopping nightmare. I called a friend for a “lifeline please.” My friend couldn’t come for another 30 minutes. My apprehension became a reality. I was alone at Payot reading and couldn’t sit still as was not used to shopping alone.

Meanwhile, what I set out to do seemed to be backfiring. And while this was playing in the foreground, the backdrop was even more dramatic. Flash-backing to lunch, one of my brothers asked for my mom to leave the keys. My mom left her keys. My brother forgets to take the keys and leaves the house. I, not seeing it as a problem, left with my key.

One hour later, my brother calls me and asks for the key. I was at Payot then. He picks up my key and another hour later, he’s still not home and I was in the garden not answering nature’s call. The keys came via delivery (c/o driver) and I got into the house. I saw another set of keys (my other brothers who was with my other brother) but not the third one. So, I thought, they had another key. I not worrying again left the house with my key.

Then, an hour later, my mom calls me up asking for the key. I said my brother had it why doesn’t he come home to bring it. I was about 20 minutes away as opposed to his 10 minutes. Despite my anger, I had to go home since my brother said he didn’t have a key and I would be questioning his honesty. And we wouldn’t want that, do we?

A rage and a half later, I found myself on the street again, “key-less” and wandering around Pont D’Arve where the melancholic river grew a gray colored cover and where my friend and I were so close to the first time. She had to leave for another commitment and I walked the streets of Geneva.

Aching feet, hurt heart, and some 500 words later, I am here at Lake Geneva near Bel-Air, accompanied by swans at the lake shore.
I am still fuming with texts stained with profanities from my brother because he bore the wrath of my mother’s punishment of banned PC usage. The anger was waning but the hurt wasn’t.

And what I set out to do this afternoon – to shop along became a night of alone time.

It was more than conquering my fear of shopping. It is being independent of leaning on someone even during the greatest time of need.

That’s the lesson of conquering your fears…you come out stronger than you thought you could.

(This is a very sedate story. It has been edited for content.)

"The Truth is Out There"

30 August 2004
6:00 p.m.

Watching an episode of Smallville, Clark asks Lana, “Don’t you find (Byron) different?” Lana had taken fancy on the latest Luthor Corp. mishap that turned Jekyll-and-Hyde when exposed to the sun. Lana says, “If you really like someone, you have to accept every part of that person.” Clark retorts, “Maybe Byron keeps that part hidden so people will not be scared away (off).” Lana explains, “But that’s a risk you have to take. You’ll never know unless you show it. And you might have missed out on something amazing if you never try.”

We’ve heard or read these words in so many forms and phrases basically telling us, “Take the risk. See what life has to offer. Don’t be afraid. Tell the truth.”

Borrowing the X-Files “The Truth is Out There,” we have always over-rated what honesty and truth really mean.

We hide behind facades and look “happy” to be in the norm and to maintain the status quo.

But how long can one keep up this charade without taking a toll on one’s psyche? These repressions have only given more money to psychiatrists and psychologists.

What are we afraid of? A German book called “Mary” by Ella Kensington simplifies, “The root of man’s problem is the desire to be accepted and to not be alone.”

Are we so ashamed of ourselves that sometimes we put on a show so that people can like us and that we may “belong”?

In transition to finding real people who can accept us, we hang out with a mediocre crowd. A group of people we have nothing in common with but we bear because the thought of eating lunch alone is just too SAD.

We prize companionship but do we really know what it entails? Why do marriages only last 52 hours? Because the couple wanted to compromise their happiness at the thought of being happy in each other’s arms. This is not meant to generalize but to look at why people are so unhappy amidst the bustling crowd of “friends” and why the sarcastic grin is not so much as a mannerism as a silent scream of “What the hell am I doing here?”

We get ourselves into these situations because we want to be loved, accepted, wanted. But at what cost? (I am not questioning true happiness, I advocate it.)

To what extent can we compromise to be worthy of society’s approval? Aren’t there people who don’t judge? What are we ashamed of? Aren’t we part of society too? Can we look through a prism of non-judgment?

Isn’t it that each one carries a secret in their heart that they’d rather die than tell “friends.” So, what is a friend if truth cannot be spoken? I used to be scoffed at because of my brutal frankness and my hurtful bluntness. But I’ve also received many praises that if not for my fiery tongue they’d have gone astray. I still prize the truth. As much as it hurts…it will set you free. (Cliché? Try it!)

Monday, August 30, 2004

Cyber Celibacy

30 August 2004
9:32 a.m.

With increasing dependence and access to the Internet, we have found a certain comfort zone in the chat-rooms or instant messaging with friends around the world. For some, chatting is as natural as talking to someone tete-à-tete (face-to-face). But how important is it really?

For those that are miles and miles away, it is perhaps the cheapest and most effective way to communicate in real time. And with the advent of web cameras (webcams), the experience can be as “real” as possible.

But for those that are living in the same city, won’t talking face-to-face be a better solution? I am a self-confessed computer addict, much less a cyber-addict. I have to have my piece of internet time everyday. I spend my time chatting away from 11 p.m. to the wee hours of the morning and my chat-mate lives in the same city.

It has become such a habit to come home to the PC, to see my chat-mate logged on and to be ready for another night of chatting away. Some topics are more interesting to talk about than others which make the conversation virtually timeless.

We have both found comfort in coming home and seeing each other online. It was a way to recount the day’s events, the day’s thoughts, and to discuss what will come for tomorrow’s day. But I go back to my question: Is chatting online still the best option for two people who live in the same city? There is still merit in the spoken word.

I had proposed to my chat-mate that we take a one-week sabbatical from chatting and resort to more conventional means of communications, i.e. speaking. I received a hesitant "but i'll miss the cyber U. just U!" This sabbatical is a form of cyber celibacy that can only heighten the excitement of really meeting people. It was also a way in what my chat-mate describes as “killing the cyber persona” that was created online.

The experiment is now on its third day and we have managed to see each other twice for that “celibate” period. There has been a conscious effort to stay in touch without the ethernet in between. I find it more refreshing to share a drink or to talk in the park or wherever. Of course, the silence is more pronounced during those meetings instead of the pauses in chatting; but they are part of reality. But just as it is a part of life, silence is part of a conversation.

For all those people out there, who have access to internet and have a chance to meet people, try the latter. It will be a welcomed changed. Being celibate in the cyber sense can bring out the “life” that was created online.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Painting the Town Red!  Posted by Hello

Me, Nikki, Katie in Red, Patricia in White, Ashley at the back Posted by Hello

Christine, Nikki, and me at Arthur's Posted by Hello

Painting the town red....

Six women dressed to the nines, strut across the lakeside avenue to paint the town of Geneva red.

In the most serendipitous of occasions, Katie, Christine, Ashley, Nikki and I met this Friday for after-dinner cocktails. IT was as random as any meeting could be…but… Christine and I met one Sunday after church and we hit it off as friends. That meeting was followed by a lunch at L’Evidence, one of the poshiest restaurants in Geneva near Gare de Cornavin. And that was followed by last night’s semi-drinking spree.

After meeting Christine that Sunday, I met another friend on the bus, ever so coincidentally…Or not! Nikki was silently listening to her music and sitting on the Bus 5. As I got on with my mother, she was there and the traditional “beso-beso” commenced. We talked and to my surprise, she knew Christine. Now, how small could the world get? Apparently…smaller!

Recounting that and planning to tell Christine at our lunch of Nikki’s acquaintance with her, I forgot. Maybe it was meant to be like that so yesterday night’s meeting would have more impact when I saw in disbelief, Nikki my friend seated with Christine and Katie.

Katie, a native Kentucky girl, is Nikki's friend from Church and Christine’s friend from somewhere. Christine is also the friend of Nikki’s sister, Aisa. (Surprised?) Then, there’s Patricia, from Canada, who happens to be an au pair (the first one I’d ever met) who met Katie just two weeks ago (she’s only been that long in Geneva). Ashley, the amiable Kansas girl, is a missionary at the age of 21. She met Katie just last Monday, when she arrived.

The cocktails were a send off cum acquaintance for Christine and Katie heading back home to the States and acquaintance for those who already didn’t know each other.

We started drinking at Arthur’s, a beautiful café located at the banks of Lake Geneva, where you can get your drinks at half-price before 9 p.m. This was Katie’s idea. And it sure was a good one. We spent about two hours there listening to music and enjoying the ambience while the light automatically dimmed at precise moments for the ever-romantic couple. We got to know each other and we found out that we were six women of strength, power, and with a mission in life. There were funny moments of "Lost in Translation" calibre. Ashley managed to point to something on the menu that was what she thought was a good drink. Indeed it was. It was "Lait, chaud ou froid." Translated: MILK, HOT OR COLD. It was so amusing that when her drink came no one realized that she had pointed to Milk on the menu. She was too shy to ask for help and in the end she got a good drink! We all shared a martini in a pass the glass fashion.

The even number made it possible for people to talk with each other at any given time-a sort of rotation, if you can call it that.

Then, Katie, who’s always at the top of things, decided to take an inventory of how all of us were going to get home. This moved us out of Arthur’s into the Geneva streets en route to Gare de Cornavin. We took a little detour and took the Jet d’Eau’s majesty and captured it in our little digicams. There were amazing shots taken by Nikki, the photographer in the group. One of Katie standing with her mouth open and her head tilted just enough so that the Jet d’Eau seemed like it was spouting from her mouth.

After all that fun, we had to know what time and where Ashley will take a ride to go home to Versoix. That’s when I knew, these girls were kind. We all walked to Gare, some with higher heels than others. We found out the time and we were relieved that the Noctambus (KnightBus equivalent?) was there and that Ashley was not going to get stranded in the city center.

It was at Mr. Pickwick’s English Pub at Rue de Lausanne that we saw a Harry Potter look-alike singing in a live band. Bohemian Rhapsody pls…Hotel California before. It was enjoyed after a viewing of the Olympics in a huge TV screen, where it so happens, Katie has a friend on the Lithuanian Basketball Team! Now, how lucky is that? Small world? Getting smaller…

Christine and I had our cider beer and we talked in the open air. She doesn’t like constricted stuffy places. After an hour of that, we were off to send people home. It was almost midnight. Nope, no one turned into a Pumpkin but Ashley, Nikki, and Patricia had buses to ride. We said our goodbyes and the “nice meeting yous” at Gare. Christine, Katie, and I then went off to Cactus (a subterranean club under the restaurant of the same name) for some, well what we thought would be a night of dancing to Mexican music. Boy, were we wrong. It was a night of R&B and Hip-Hop tunes, including Usher’s “Yeah” and a disoriented DJ. Katie managed to get an admirer but the “power of three” was too powerful and perhaps too enclosed that no one could penetrate our dancing area. Three powerful girls indeed. The night was slowly moving into the next day and it was time for us too to go off in our separate ways.

Going out on the town in Geneva has answered a few of the questions I had in my mind. Where did the Genevoise go on a Friday night? Where was the Exodus headed? I got to see a part of that. And maybe, just maybe, the cold Swiss outlook I had on the town is slowly melting. Of course, I saw younger people but don’t they grow old too? I hope that someday that “underground” culture of fun, spontaneity and sheer happiness will infect the “aboveground” of Geneva.

Friday, August 27, 2004

“Murder, made in Switzerland”

26 August 2004
8:05 p.m.

“Murder, made in Switzerland”

This was a line I used to answer a friend in the Philippines who wanted a Swiss knife as a gift and I jokingly retorted, “You want to kill someone?” It was the one of the rarest times that Hazel and I actually chatted online. I thought I’d be funny to insert that little bit of humor into the conversation. We had been so incommunicado due to the distances of our houses. But what was text for? Right? I have no excuses for that.

Well, moving on…(lest we get derailed on our discovery of the Swiss knife.)

It is so funny how the Swiss people themselves don’t own Swiss knives themselves and maybe half the world own one.

I guess “Made in Switzerland” is such a catchy tag that it even elicits a silent “Wow” from the buyers of Swiss products. Little did they know that Switzerland, like Singapore, has no real natural resources to speak of. Everything is imported. But “Made in Switzerland” still stands for “efficiency, durability and quality” for some people. I’d like to agree with that since I am a proud owner of a Swiss knife (I think it’s made here).

One of the most common things I do when I travel is to shop. It’s natural for most of us to just go to the mall or a store and get something unique to that place, a souvenir perhaps. But what we are most fond of when traveling abroad is the inexpensive clothes found at the duty free shops or the nearest mall.

The most shocking purchase I ever made was in the U.S. I was buying a nice green sleeveless blouse. I thought it looked marvelous. It was actually. Then…I looked at the “made in” tag and the last word was “Philippines.” I was only 13 then and didn’t really grasp the concept of imports and exports. I was shocked that the Philippines could make such good products and it was being exported, and I was buying it. Let me borrow Alanis’ “Isn’t it ironic?” It was indeed. Raw materials cost much less in the Philippines. Labor is also cheap, which makes it one of the biggest targets of outsourced labor in the world. But the irony comes in the export and that Filipinos have to buy them at a higher price than their production cost. Hmm…Anti-capitalist sentiment? Perhaps.

One thing I also learned is that the Philippines makes really good products, from food to clothes, to handicrafts, you name it! And you can always buy the latest in trend fashion at Barclays (read Baclaran) and House of Debby’s (read Divisoria). Interesting fact: we invented the Nata de Coco product that Japan has a patent for. Japan doesn’t even have coconuts.

But even if we can boast of these goods, how come the “made in the Philippines” is not of the same world-renown as the “made in Switzerland”? Is it packaging? Or is it the discriminatory view that maybe more developed countries can produce better stuff? Perhaps…But isn’t it all “made in China”?

Most denizens of the developing countries have colonial mentalities ingrained in the fiber of their being. I read an article in Time (I think) on how a Japanese journalist got so fed up with the “foreigner’s take” on Japan that he wrote a thought-piece on why Japan should talk about itself by itself and not be so dependent on the Western perception of their island-country. He asked very relevant questions as to why their culture prizes the thought of Westerners when they themselves are a developed country and they were once an imperial power too.

So many years of imperialism, colonization, and other forms of domination has eschewed our views on what is “good, quality and efficient.” If it weren’t for the likes of Malaysia’s Mahathir Mohammad, Malaysia would be another Philippines.

And perhaps, if we can’t break the cycle of colonialism, let’s order a quality murder, a murder made in Switzerland.

Monday, August 23, 2004

lake geneva by night, jet d'eau in the background Posted by Hello

Sunday, August 22, 2004

my partner in crime Posted by Hello

Friday, August 20, 2004

making peace with my enemy, math at its crudest

In an instance where I’m inclined to shut the door, my foot was invariably holding the door open. I’m talking about the language of math actually making it into my ears and reaching my brain. I had hated the thought of taking any more math courses after my dismal performance in high school math where I had to deal with tangents and cosines of a circle (trigonometry). It’s a whole different language and like the nature of any language you must have sufficient pre-disposition to learn it and to speak it.

I went to the WTO today to learn some database applications from a statistician. My foot was trying its hardest to hold the door open to let in the information she was giving me. I had to contend with both technical trade terms and of course my “favorite” – numbers.

She pointed to certain information which I would be dealing with in my line of work at the mission and what is required of me from the office. Usually, when I hear numbers a switch in my head turns off all possible comprehension but today, surprisingly, I was more receptive than I thought I’d be. Firstly, I was a bit familiar with MS Excel and MS Access language so it wasn’t a “re-invent the wheel” type of learning. There was a compounding of knowledge but it just took ever so slowly for the numbers to build up to a tower.

I usually shy away from numbers but seeing that this training is important in my line of work, I have to make friends with an enemy that has been so kind to me but I just don’t have the patience to forgive. Numbers and numbers…it would be easier to look at them and by some magic transformation I could understand them. Unfortunately, I am too old a dog to re-learn and love math. I have to just be content with what I know, and hopefully, it will grow on me like an unsightly wart. No harm, but ever so ugly masquerading as a beautiful ornament I’d wear.

privileges of life i lead; an old friend found

Living the life I lead has many privileges. Being the daughter of a diplomat, I have many privileges an average child may not have. I have the privilege to travel to all the posts my mom is assigned to. I have diplomatic immunity. I meet dignitaries and members of the foreign press corps. I have the best the world has to offer.

But the best part of being a diplomat’s daughter is the unlimited access to social functions with no less than U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan as guest of honor.

Today is the first year anniversary of the Canal Hotel bombing in Iraq. Some 22 people died in that blast including Sergio de Mello, UN Representative in Iraq. A peace concert was held at the Victoria Hall in Geneva to commemorate the many lives lost in the senseless bombing. Gilberto Gil, a Brasilian singer-composer, and Capuera dancers performed for peace and to honor the memories of the “heroes” of Canal who worked for peace.

Canal Hotel housed the defunct UN Office of the Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq (UNOHCI) that oversaw the Oil-for-Food Programme to alleviate the suffering that the UN-imposed sanctions had wrought in Iraq. The Canal Hotel later became the UN headquarters after the US-led war in Iraq.

UNOHCI has a place in my heart as I was once part of it. I was an intern Information Officer with a Jordanian Information Officer, Adnan Jarrar. From him, I learned the craft of information dissemination. Right out of the university, I was welcomed into the UNOHCI information team. As part of my responsibilities, I prepared daily press clippings distributed to all diplomatic missions in Baghdad as well as international agencies present in Iraq. It was a good training indeed and something I will carry in my heart forever.

But perhaps with the perks of such an exposure and at the UN no less is meeting people – real people who make a difference in your life.

Today, not only did I see my former boss, Kofi Annan, but I saw a real friend, Saad Al-Asali (translated from Arabic – Happy, the Honey) who was one of the many survivors of the Canal Hotel bombing.

He came, with his pillars of support – his wife and three boys, to Geneva as part of the commemoration of the bombing. He is currently in London for medical treatment. In a month’s time, he’ll go back to Amman, Jordan to resume his duties as part of the UN there.

He was (and still is) a friend in UNOHCI and an important chain the Communications Division. I saw him everyday after office hours when we’d play ping pong at the mess. There, we exchanged philosophical discussions, linguistic theories in computers, and anything and everything about life – both in Iraq and abroad. We talked about our families and he thought me some Iraqi.

Of all the people I expected to see today, he was the least I thought I’d meet. I was content with the thought that Annan would be at the peace concert. In my excitement, I forgot to take a picture of him and his family. Usually, my eyes are the extensions of my camera lenses.

I wrote earlier in my entries that I always left friends behind because of my travel-ridden life. But there is nothing sweeter than to see an old friend and to be reminded how good life really is – to be among friends and loved ones.

Each person counts and each person makes a mark in your heart.

To Saad and the many friends I’ve left behind, thank you and I hope that someday our paths will cross again and we may reminisce in sweet nostalgia of days of yore.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

my day out with nikki

lake shore pensive Posted by Hello

lake geneva and me (taken by nikki) Posted by Hello

thief of thoughts

(written in anger while my thoughts are stolen)

Anger eats me up
As someone steals my idea
Cloaked behind an understanding ear,
Is a thief

Dissent was her armor
But it was a dreamweaver
Not bad dreams did it catch
But good thoughts to amass

Who is this thief
That robs in plain sight?
Is she not content
With her own thoughts?

Is she lacking originality
Or is lacking the limelight
That she claim my words
For her own?

What is behind this deception?
What do you get from glory that is not your own?
Do you laugh to yourself and pat yourself on the back
For a job you didn’t do?
(because no one else does?)

What good comes out of an idea
Peddled but not the right brand?

Some cheap imitation one holds on to
But see, look closely, it’s missing an “I”

Thief of thoughts
What do you do?
To stolen gifts
Not meant for you?

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

seasons a' change

(this is my second attempt at this as my previous masterpiece was swallowed up by the world wide web and all i have to show for it is a lousy “protocol error, please contact the blah and blah to see what might have caused this error.”)

when visiting many countries you have many experiences with the weather, no, not the occasional rainy or sunny forecast the weather lady speaks of in the morning news but the downpour of rain and its contrasting sunny days in tropical countries; the freezing sleet and the blizzard snow (the stuff mr. frosty is made of), the tempting spring breeze, the half-baked summers, and the beautiful autumns in temperate countries; or the searing heat that gives meaning to the phrase, “it’s like an oven in here” while in the middle east.

the seasons are changing in geneva now. the weather is taking the summer as greedily as it has given it. it was one month of continuous sunshine spotted with occasional rain. but now the rains slam against the window panes. i find myself wearing a cardigan to meet the nippier air and the window is slightly ajar and not widely open. autumn is on its way. catch: it’s only august and not even the end of the month yet. soon, september will pave the way for the snows of winter’s temper.

pockets full of rain

life is like the seasons (not an original of mine, wink*). when we come to a country we are like the weather stirring up the atmosphere. we are either cold or warm fronts depending on the people we meet or the circumstances we’re in. but what do we often choose?

we often choose to be a cold front because it’s safer and we have nothing to lose. we only run the risk of thawing but we can freeze right up again when the temperature is right. being a warm front (especially if you’re not naturally warm) takes a lot of work. you have to maintain a warm and comfortable situation or as the case may be, keep the people happy. by being warm you risk the exposure of nakedness, if not completely, we can’t hide the exposed skins of warmth. we are comfortable and vulnerable at the same time; unlike being a cold front where a sweater will do the job at covering your unsightly spots. When you’re warm, you cannot hide behind a glacier.

warm fronts are readily welcomed by other warm fronts or a cold front can give way to it. but meeting a cold front can only result in thunder and lightning. when the storm has passed only one will remain – cold or warm. but people being as predictable as the weather, the storms never come to pass. it is a continuous cycle of storms spotted with the occasional calms often carrying pockets full of rain. thus, the seasons of life.

Monday, August 16, 2004

time after time...

tick, tock, tick, tock...

we watch and hear the clock...

sometimes, time doesn't come fast enough. sometimes, it isn't enough. sometimes, it's running away from us.

the days have gone so fast here in geneva that i have to catch my breath sometimes when a long day tries to fit in the 24 hours allotted it. but sometimes, it's as slow as a turtle and you just can't wait for the day to be over.

i've been here for four months but i've just been working for two months. the first two months here passed without any life-altering events and it felt like time was at a stand still. but even if it was, it felt like time was running away. the days passed and i would wake up and i realize another week had passed by.

at work, i feel like i've been here forever. that's not necessarily a bad thing because i do want to stay on for a while. it's more difficult than i imagined to find a job here. so, i stay on...

some days in the office are like whirlwinds. you arrive in the morning and you run around doing errands and accomplishing daily tasks and when you look up at the computer clock, it's time to leave. some days are plagued with nothingness and boredom, you have to put toothpicks in your eye to stay awake.

but time, is it really on our side? people say, "there are two constants in life - time and change." the two are complementary but time is more forceful and evident.

are we slaves of time? or are we simply lacking time management skills? is it possible to really do everything in a given time period?

time after time, we ask questions like these.

i'm turning 24 in a few weeks and i ask questions like these: what have i done with my life? is it befitting a 24 year old? have i accomplished enough in that short life? soon, i'll be a quarter of a century old. then, would i have become wiser? does time really guarantee wisdom? are we like wines that get better with age? or are we just fruits that wait to rot?

do we spend more time thinking rather than doing? how should it be divided?

these are questions no one can really answer but ourselves. and let's just pray that we have time on our hands to do and to think. (not necessarily in that order)

Saturday, August 14, 2004


ria_parsram: how can you relax kung di ka natutulog???
paescalante: havent had "me-Time"
paescalante: sleep has become such a luxury
paescalante: and a burden at the same time
paescalante: i decided to turn in my REMs for a dose of sex and the city

this was a conversation i had with my good friend ria after a night of olympic watching and sex and the city. i don’t know where my life had gone when I can’t even enjoy the luxury of sleep. it’s 4:30 am in Geneva and there’s nothing so compelling to bring me to the comfort of a bed.

some would say, “you may think too much or you don’t give sleep a chance to tame your body.” but i say, “sleep is only needed if you really are ready to sleep.”

what is it that is so scary to enter in the darkness of night that makes sleeping such an ordeal to get through? is it the thought of a tomorrow that doesn’t actually quite fit your perfect day? My answer to that, “i don’t know.”

so many things in life are thought over in the minutes or it may seem like hours before getting that “good night’s sleep.” perhaps, the thought of a happy tomorrow is too much to bear for a neurotic person like me.

is it that we get too attached to the “worries” in life that when true happiness comes along we slap it right across the face, shaking ourselves at the same time saying, “wake up! it’s all a dream.”

but isn’t it that we spend so much time dreaming that when we actually find what we want and true happiness is knocking at our door, we’re asleep to answer it?

Hmmmm…i wonder, “can a good night sleep actually be a cure-all for all ills?” well, my mother thinks so. “stress” “stress” and even more “stress” is the cause of most ills for her. or so she tells me when i get a headache. and the follow up question is, "have you slept?"

am i too serious and do I just prefer to languish away typing my thoughts into this box? again, the safe answer is “i don’t know.”

one thing i'm sure of though. i didn't get a good night's sleep. but hopefully, i'll get a good day one.

Monday, August 09, 2004

day seven of the fete de geneve, 4 aug 2004

GENEVA-The pouring rain did not dampen the spirits of the giddy audience awaiting the performance of Eight Killers, a European band inspired by the movie Blues Brother. With over two hundred people huddled around the Ella Fitzegerald Stage near Lake Geneva, the rain turned the performance to an instant hit and one with a consistent standing ovation.

R&B pieces such as "Everybody needs somebody" and Elvis' "Hound Dog" were played with much gusto to the delight of the audience who danced despite their soaked clothes and unrelenting downpour.

This is my first time to attend the Fete de Geneve and I recommend viewing all the free concerts. The stages are all located near the lake. The Fete started on 29 July and marked by the Swiss National Day fireworks display on 1 August. The major fireworks display will be on 7 August where tons of fireworks will be lighted up and synchronised to music.

For all those in Europe or in Geneva, I hope you enjoy this one.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

hesitant writer

didn't feel like writing down my thoughts today partly because it's 3 a.m. now and i'm the only one awake. but i had to write. didn't want to miss out on writing today's events plus the rain is so conducive for a budding writer's creativity.

after the rude awakening on thursday, i had written quite a lot in my blog. i tried to sleep early but i had to let out all the venom last night. i slaved away in front of the pc to relax until 2:30 a.m. there's something very comforting about a keyboard being hit. it has a calming effect.

so, i met friday with a bit of hesitation and fear from the tyrant official. he was already texting me while i was on my way to work. the bus i was riding was an old bus. i sat down next to a vietnamese lady who didn't want to sit beside the window. little did i know that she had a baby in a stroller. it would usually be parked on the middle of the bus where the disabled would have fold out chairs. so, i sat on the seat looking out the window thinking about the previous day's drama...UNTIL...the bus made a fast sharp turn which sent the stroller tumbling down with the baby still strapped in her seat. i didn't notice the sharp curve till i heard the mother scream, "porquoi" (why?) the baby had already made contact with the floor. the passengers at the back were alerted but only one lady helped pick up the stroller. i followed suit while the mother frantically tried to unhook the straps of the stroller which had kept her baby alive. the child did not even cry as her head swelled and a bruise on her left forehead was beginning to show. a thin but long scratch across her forehead was evident. the mother was muttering and held her baby close.

the driver stopped at the next stop and came up to the mother. he didn't even say sorry. he said something in french like he would call the authorities and help will come. i didn't really understand the exchange of words. the driver went back to his seat and called the authorities. the mother was going to talk to the driver but a lady prevented her and said, "just sit down." i think she was just worried about being late. that same lady instructed everyone to get off the bus since there would be a delay.

so, i walked a mere 7 minutes to the office. as this happened, i was more determined not to have an encore to thursday's drama. i thought life is too short. if the official would subject me to that kind of treatment again, i will respectfully tell him not to do it again as it is very impolite and unbecoming of him to act in that manner.

i spent the morning fixing his schedule. he kept texting and i kept texting him his schedule. he must have a faulty memory or a faulty phone since he asked for his schedule twice. on the third time, he asked his driver to call me to ask for the schedule again. there must be something wrong.

it was good he wasn't in the office. i had a sense of freedom. but the accident in the morning was playing on my psyche. it was really traumatic and i don't like seeing people cry, much less because a baby was hurt. it was very sad. it's good though that the baby was saved. hopefully, there is no permanent damage to the skull.

like most girls do, i found a friend in the toilet and cried silently in the bathroom.

the workday ended so quickly and much was done but fear of tomorrow comes. what on monday or tuesday will the office hold? will the official again try to trample on my dignity? shall i stand up to him? time will tell.

for now, i end with a semi-heavy heart.

a lonely heart pines for its sweet love.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

a world of insensitivity

some people in this world travel or pass through life with very little care for the other person. they look out for "number one." they are the ones that bump into you and don't say "sorry." for them, you were walking in their space. but there are more personal encounters with the "indifferent" and the "insensitive." some we meet in the office and some we meet in our school.

let me recount today's insensitive world. the highest official in my office met with me today to lay down some standard operating procedures (SOPs). i had already begun my filing system on the orders of my boss. this official was not my boss but he treats me like his subject. he called me into his office and made me sit down. i carefully took out my notebook and pen to take down notes. but more of that later. as soon as i sat down, he looked for his schedule. i had printed it out the day before. he screamed like an angry little child pining after his lollilop, "why is it not on my desk?!" as i handed him the schedule, he carefully looked at it and asked, "where is this and that?! why isn't this included?!" i also carefully explained that i didn't know which meetings he was attending because the schedules were not forwarded to me and i was not privy to any communication indicating he would attend such a meeting.

so, began the one-hour ordeal of incoming communications, the fax log, the weekly schedules and the layout of my desk. he looked at incoming communications and ripped out pages which he thought didn't belong, often looking at my pile of notes and removing "unnecessary" paper, crumpling it and dumping it into an imaginary garbage can behind his chair. (i had to pick this up, of course.) i was nervous with panic and i didn't know how to react to such a childish attitude. this was the first time i had seen this type of person, inconsiderate of feelings of others and holding himself higher by his condescension. i had met egoists before but not to this extent and they were egoists with a modicum of sensitivity left in them. so, as he threw papers and grabbed at my pile, he also told me to stop taking notes because in his words, "you don't even need to take down notes! you just have to remember." as mindful as i am, i am not omniscient or claim to be, i can't possible remember and know everything when i am told. so i asked him, "will you give me the note that you're making then?" he says, "it's for me." of course, he has the right to take down notes and i should just "remember."

that meeting was filled with more question and answer portions that was incoherent and often redundant on his part. he would tug at the file again and ask, "what is this? it shouldn't even be here." he told me to put it away. then a few minutes later  he would ask, "bring the file to me." it was just five feet away.

during this time, i also had to fulfill my duties to the office as the secretary. i had to answer phone calls often running out of his room and taking down notes and transferring calls.

i would then come back to the hell-hole which i was only to emerge shocked and in utter disbelief that another human being could act in such a manner. where is the "love thy neighbor" that is taught to him when he goes to church? (i first conversed with him en route to bern to see the pope.) it falls on deaf ears with him.

after dictating his SOPs to my ears, which i can't claim to be as trustworthy as a pen and paper, it ended with him ravaging my bookshelf and telling me to fix it. it wasn't really my bookshelf and files had been put into it before i came to that office. i had gone to the bathroom to relieve myself not just from the liquid that was filling my bladder but from the venom that was slowly poisoning my veins. he was about to leave and called out to me, "please remove the directories from your desk." these were directories placed on my desk for easy access for all staff members.

i was in a limbo because i was being ordered by someone who was not my boss but is the highest official in the office. my boss had just come after the ill-fated meeting with this official and he tried to console me by saying to "let it in one ear and let it out the other."

i couldn't meet the demands of the official especially because the office was lacking in resources. resources that was not his to dispense with. as a backgrounder, he has his own budget for his expenses while the office has its own for its use too. the official belonged to a different agency from ours but was considered the overall "head" of the mission.

i would have to tender a resignation in order to stop this ill treatment, my boss said. we would "play" it out for the official since his attitude was not becoming. i don't know how this would "play out." i am thankful though that my boss was kind enough to say, "you should go home now" as i had over-worked my hours again following yesterday's "unpaid" overtime to meet with the office and the official. i took notes then on his orders too.

so, having been spoken down to and questioned for my organizational skills, i was nothing but a subject. a subject which can be ordered and "abused."

at that point in time, i didn't know how to react. i knew it was wrong but i was also fearful of the repercussions. i didn't want to lose my job. (it's hard when you're not in a position to bargain. unfortunate too that the philippines is in the same position in the WTO.) but after careful consideration, i thought to myself that i can't be insulted in this way. i also had my pride and dignity to maintain. i will hopefully draft a resignation letter which is readily at my disposal so that when this incident happens again, i am ready.

i have also practiced in my head a dialogue which sounds like this, "with all due respect, sir, please don't treat me like a child. i am a trained professional which should be treated with respect too. i resent your tone of condescension. if you want things to be done in this manner, please tell me so in a tactful manner."

it's a shame that some people walk around in this world not knowing or even worse, not caring, for the ripple effects of a certain action. so many claims of a global village is in the offing but what is it really? one village with one soul or one village with solitary interests aggregated. in a village, one affects the other. as a rule, even in the economy, placing one resource in another area will deprive another area. so, a global village with global repercussions.

i hesitate and reluctantly don't want to meet these people which only have themselves in mind and who don't care for others. they are bereft of love, not just for others but also for themselves. for what is love if you can't give it away. would loving yourself be considered love? what is love? webster's definition relates to a "strong attachment to someone or something" which connotes an object outside of the actor who "loves."

so, with an insensitive world today, who are we left to turn to. i have good people in mind. but i hope that the "insensitives" in this world will not wreak havoc by infecting others to be indifferent that they should only prize their happiness over others. i hope that people will become more "feeling" and sensitive of others so that wars, hatred and conflict will cease to exist.

i hope that with sensitivity, it will not create an environment of excessive obsessive compulsiveness leading to paranoia, but of true caring for one another.

i had a friend who fell in a puddle but she wasn't helped or asked how she was. she simply stood up, unnoticed by the world. what kind of world is that?

but there are also those who seem to care. i was helped in carrying the grocery cart up one flight of stairs. it is those rare moments that restores my faith in humanity that perhaps we are not really an "insensitive" world but a world full of love for one another.



Tuesday, July 20, 2004

HYPOCRISY (another angsty poem)

Hypocrisy shouted the church bells as it tolled for the mass
Gossipers and murderers come to meet in Sunday’s mass

I see the old woman with a cane
She hit her maid with it when she wouldn’t bend like a crane

I see the well-groomed man getting out of his vintage car
His servants starve while he holds a feast

He throws money to the beggars seeking approval from society
But his dark heart betrays the teachings of God

Enter the hypocrites into the house of God
The priest drinks wine and says it is Jesus’ blood

He abuses children and rapes women;
Behind the cloister, is his evildoing

He is housed in a temple of goodness corroded by man’s frailty
Is he an apostle of God or a political installation?

The poor appear poor and begs for food
But can they help themselves so God will too?

There is a spinster donning her veil but
Eyeing the married man

She whispers to her old maids
Judging young girls in sleeveless wear

Young boys go to church to see,
the new women they can victimize, perhaps with chocolate-covered words

Murderers and sinners convene
Raising alleluias to the heavens

Asking forgiveness from God
For the wrong they’ve done

They are asking favors
Bargaining with God

“If you give me this
I won’t do that.”

This is Sunday’s habit when the church bells toll
Come you hypocrites, worship at MY door

Let us pray for sinners
Now and until our pockets fill with treasures

Let us forget God nailed to the cross
He has died but is not dead really

He will forgive,
So is thought.

snake bite (a sample of an angsty poem)

Her venom was potent
The poison infected his veins like a bush fire
He was burning from its bite
He lay paralyzed intoxicated by the deadly liquid
Of a snake’s bite

From the meeting of their eyes
They were immobilized by awe in part
But more of wonder
He was to meet his death at her mouth

It was a dance of death they danced
He avoided her wriggling body
But she was quick to thrust forward
Her majestic head lunged at his neck

And so he meets eternal slumber
At her deadly bite
It was a short acquaintance
For two in wonder of one

(written 22 june 2004, one day after my first day of work)

Monday, July 19, 2004

continuation on the sands of emirates

on the seven sands of the (united arab) emirates, there was the awakening of a friendship that would withstand the test of time. much time was spent drinking tea and exchanging thoughts on the politics of the day. there were lighter moments, perhaps a stroll on the beach (corniche) without sandals and followed by an all-you-can-eat buffet at the hilton.
there was a camping trip to oman where the word, "freezing weather" was redefined as the desert night sent chills up our spines. we could only giggle the night away as our companions lay sleeping that night. she sang "leaving on a jet plane" to lull me to sleep but to no avail. i had stayed awake the whole night and met the dawn as i met the sunset over a rock cliff...trying to touch the horizon of light. i climbed up the rock mountain and stood there for a photo op. it was during the ramadan of 1995 that this took place.
flashing back to the inevitable friendship. she was the school registrar at that time when i enrolled in 1995 on my third year of high school. i had asked wether the uniforms had a specified length. i had just come from the US where skirts were fashionably short, even in a catholic school. she said "no." i also asked if she could give me a new set of notebooks since the once she gave me where for kids and i couldn't possibly continue writing down notes while being distracted by a "teenage mutant ninja turtle." so, began a verbal tussle of what length i should wear my skirt and if she'd give me the notebooks i requested. i even insulted the design and fabric of the skirt which happened to be designed by her mother (faux pas). i vowed to hate her from that day on and my brother decided to exchange notebooks with me so i'd quiet down. in retaliation, i wore the shortest skirt (one inch above the knee, when all the students wore them three inches below the knee or longer) in the whole school. so, after that horrible verbal assault on each other, i was in a new school with some students that transferred from my old school. there were not many new faces but i had made friends in my class. it was bearable.
the days passed and i sweated the first bead which dropped from my forehead while sawing a piece of wood for workshop. it was october and school was just settling in and everything became a routine. a friend, bryan, invited me to join a rondalla. i had previous encounters with a bandurria (an instrument of spanish descent which was played in a group of other stringed instruments. it had 16 strings together and was strummed to play. it was common in colonial philippines.). i had learned from my brother when i was 8 or 9 years old. he too was in a rondalla. so, i tried my luck again.  
to my surprise, on the first day of my attendance, i saw her - the registrar whose life i had made miserable on account of a skirt and notebooks. i was silly then but i had principles. an ugly notebook was simply a hindrance to learning. so, began our teacher-student status. i was always respectful to a teacher so i didn't insult her in her house. i patiently learned the strings and the notes and listened by ear for the tempo and rhythm of the songs. i adjusted well and was at par with the best player, charie macapagal, in a couple of months' time. she was the best strummer and could memorize without difficulty the songs that were so dear to my heart. i had began a journey home to knowing the philippines again.
she was responsible for throwing fuel to my longing to be home. she spoke of her university with sprawling grounds. later, i would go to the same university and not less than in the same college would i also take my courses in the same field of work - media communications. she had specialized in broadcasting though. i became a journalist. evident huh?
going back, so the months passed and the occasional tea after rehearsals became more than occasional but rather a ceremony. the other students would go into jamie's (her sister and about my age) room and talk about other things. i stayed behind with my teacher trying to pick her mind. she would play jim chapell in the background and i was enthralled at his mastery of the piano.
this all happened before i was bound to go home again in 1996. but fortunately, she would go home before me. she wanted to study again in the philippines and pursue her dream for a radio post in dzfe (the master's touch), a fm christian station that played classical music spotted with God's word as intermission.
we spent the last eid (after ramadan) in an island with her family. i was so stressed out in leaving her that i had cramps the whole time while i was swimming on the beach. later did i know that she would go home to the philippines too. so, my heart could rest and i hadn't lost (again) a dear friend due to my incessant life of moving about.
her name was unique and long, devery jean katrina tronco tumilba, ate chi for short.


i'm a solitary traveler often seeing the world alone. i find recluse in my writing and i escape the world through books. it gets lonely sometimes but i have gotten used to it. i was never much a crowd pleaser nor was i the type to surround myself with people.
i was a loner by birth even if i had four brothers. i was a silent child my mother recounts to me. i would work in silence and to her surprise found my brother's bike unscrewed. i had unscrewed it with my bare hands.
as i grew up, i gazed at people often sporting a blank look. i was an observer. i liked being a watcher of people. there were so many different things you could see if you really looked. take the mother who would tend to her child in a stroller and whisper baby words and smile at her baby's life...the old man who walks each day with a cane seemingly engrossed in his own thoughts...the pensive readers who spots the gardens during lunch...the punk rocker kid who helps the old man...or how the passengers on the bus look weary after a hard day's work. what's going through their minds? what are they thinking about? these were my thoughts and observations. i always wanted to know how each affected one. and how one could affect others.
so, i lived my life surrounded by thoughts often sharing with a friend or two. i have a few trusted friends. friends i can trust my life with. i am blessed to have met them in this world of loneliness and selfishness. they suffer everytime i leave. i suffer too when i am plucked from the comfort of a wonderful friend at arm's length away or just a telephone call away. now, i just write to them through this ethernet and i await for their thoughts from miles away. but you can never really hug a computer screen, can you?
i lived constantly with this making friends and leaving them business. it was heart-breaking at first (until now) when i left my elementary best friend in the philippines. i had cried until my tear ducts had dried. i was young and it was the first encounter at a "friendship" worth keeping. i left for the states and lived a solitary life. i met some people who treated me like a friend but in the end, betrayal was waiting at the helm. it would shatter like the mirror reflecting something beautiful. too good to last. then i met sarah kay during the last year of my stay in chicago. i was 13 and she was 12. she had another best friend, katie mier who didn't like the idea of her friendship with me often stealing notes that were passed from sarah and me. i could understand. sarah wasn't your average 12 year old. she was deep often questioning life and being sweet like a child should be. our friendship developed over that last year of my stay in 1994 but soon i would leave for abu dhabi.
it was another heart-wrenching goodbye and exchanges of pendants descriptively shouting, "#1 friend" was given to her and i received a broken heart she gave me as a pendant. i never knew the whole engraving but i knew it sounded like "through distance we remain friends."
so, we did. i moved to abu dhabi, friendless again. i met a girl who i thought i could trust but she ran off with my love interest. yes, i was young with a love interest. i often thought of future partnerships. i was never the thought-less "for now only" type of person. but after this, it threw me into frenzy, questioning human nature, questioning friendship.
i lived my life to survive and i had my thoughts to keep me company. i tried to reach out to people my age at the age of 13 but it wouldn't work out. i turned 14 and i was still solitary and bore the stigma of speaking with an american accent in a school with predominant filipino students. it must have been painful for their ears to hear my accent. so, i stayed mum.
but the limelight wanted to follow me. it was the awakening that was waiting to be revealed. i would become an orator and a writer. i recently transfered schools in my second school year. i soon turned 15. i was a "star" thrown into the stage by teachers who thought i had potential. i never questioned my inner intelligence, but i always had a problem sharing it with people because they couldn't understand me. i had found a mentor who could understand. then, began a friendship with a teacher. she was 9 years older than me and she understood me. she would often compare my talking to an encounter with a mirror. it was like i could just talk and no one had to listen and i'd still talk. if one would interpret it negatively, it would be like she wasn't listening. but precisely, a mirror reflects the thoughts of the speaker, thus the listener would have the same idea as the speaker. right? and often as a mirror would help in self-realization, so did she.
so, began the first tale of friendship that braved distance and time. i will end here for my fingers ache at pounding away at the keyboard. i shall continue...for my readers, hold your breath.

Friday, July 16, 2004

day in geneva

i haven't had much chance to write here in geneva except for some angsty poems. i arrived here in april of this year.
of all the places i've been this is the loneliest by far. i find the people a bit colder and sometimes indifferent than most country but it's their culture, i guess. i have to get used to it. it's also the first country where i've encountered a language problem. francophones are prouder of their language than most native speakers. tough for me. wish they could adjust though. i mean, we don't expect them to speak tagalog/filipino when they're in the philippines.
aside from the culture-shock, language is the hurdle i have to get over. when i was in the states, english came easily for me since i was only nine years old then. when i went to abu dhabi, arabic was spoken side by side with english so i had no problem. now that i'm here, it made me mute. i couldn't speak out even if i was at the point of being "abused." it happened in a grocery store. my brother was ignored by the cashier and i wanted to ask the cashier why she did that but i couldn't phrase my sentence in french. so, i didn't speak. the incident ate at me all day long so i had to fight back. i had to learn french.
there are many impetuses to learning a language, i'm just disappointed that this was the reason i had to learn it. i generally love languages and i work well with people but since uprooting myself here to geneva, i was quite taken aback. europeans, and i don't mean to generalize, i perceive hold us in contempt at some point for invading their continent. i don't know if the feeling is continent-wide but i get the feeling they don't like us very much.
it's sad to note that.
i hope to write some brighter spots of my day...i'd like to recount the travels i've done.
i was just in egypt for the fourth time last june. it was such a refreshing break. people are generally warmer, the loud nature of the people was invigorating, i felt alive again. i was there to attend the wedding of my muslim cousin who married an egyptian too. it was fun to see and very indicative of the traditions of the muslim faith.
i am due back there in september but i'm afraid i might lose my job for excessive vacationing.
egypt is a place to visit...i recommend it to everyone. its history is rich and the sights are beautiful. one might say, "it's just stones" while looking at a statue of pharaohs and gods. but it's more than that. it's history and representation of the greatness of egypt then. one of the cradle of civilizations, its pyramid is the only ancient wonder left standing to date. that's called engineering.
but let me continue another time...i have to go.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

thinking day Posted by Hello