Surigao, My Philippines

I don’t get that much opportunity to travel. A few weeks ago however, finding ourselves with a long holiday weekend, my colleagues and I, decided to go out of town–way, way out of town–to de-stress. So we packed up our bags and rode off into the east, to Surigao del Sur.   It took eight long hours to get there but the fun and often hilarious company and the awesome destination were worth it.

Our first stop was Enchanted River at Hinatuan [I have no idea if this was a municipality or a village]. The river was not easily accessible, though. From the highway, you had to ride through partially rough, dusty road of about 11 km. Now, why was this river named “Enchanted”? Well, aside from the fact that it was indeed, enchanting, it was mysterious. The water was deep blue, an unusual color for rivers. The river itself was bottomless and the water was salty. It is because the source is the Pacific Ocean. Then at 12 o’clock noon, the caretakers fed the fishes. Out of nowhere, they appeared on the surface and fed on a frenzy, to the sound of 1950’s music. To onlookers, they seemed to be dancing.



After a hearty lunch of seafood, we hopped on the van and proceeded to Tinuy-an Falls, deep in the heart of Bislig. This was even farther. From the highway, it was about 19 kms. We passed a big, open lake and went over three wooden bridges. Some parts of the road were so steep the vehicle faltered at one time. The waterfalls, when we finally beheld it, was breathtaking. To get close, we rode on a bamboo raft and took a refreshing shower under it. The water was warm and invigorating.  And we couldn’t take enough photos of it.



AT sunset, we climbed a hundred steps to the Doll House. It’s a small museum full of local and imported dolls collected by this couple, who also own the hilltop restaurant a few paces away. Actually, I found the place a little creepy. I was never really fond of dolls as a child. But the guide narrated very interesting stories about them and we were all amazed to know that those Babushka dolls from Russia were made of gold.


Next day, we went island hopping to a place called Britania. Yes, island hopping. Literally. We boarded a motorized boat and went around several tiny islands, went swimming in two. The water was so so blue, so clean and clear you could see fishes swimming along with you. There were huge boulders and small caves too. And the view all around was simply stunning.  Before we set off for home, we had a bountiful lunch at the beach, under the coconut trees; we were served  assorted fish, crabs, shrimps and giant squid, and strange-looking but tasty shells, straight out of the ocean, and water from freshly picked buko (young coconut), then sweetened buko meat for dessert.  The seaweeds were so fat, juicy and fresh we just had to dip them in coconut vinegar before gulping them, cool and slimy, down our throats.





We were so tired on the way home. But we had loads of fun. We even agreed on a motto for this adventure: The most difficult roads lead to the most beautiful places. And I realized a lot of things,too, like, how beautiful my country is, how blessed I am to have found wonderful friends in my workplace, and to find happiness in nature.


Wishes for Daughter, On her 16th Birthday


May you always find joy in little things,
Wonder in simple joys, 
Humor in absurdities. 

I pray you remain faithful in adversity, 
Gracious in defeat, 
Proud of your victories. 

I wish to always hear your laughter, 
See your serene smiles, 
Feel your sweet kisses upon my busy brows. 

I hold you dearest, to my bosom, 
To protect you from harm, 
And, in times I couldn't, 
I will still hold you near 
To assure you I'm always here.


1. TEACHING IS A NOBLE PROFESSION.  I wish people would stop labeling teaching as such. It gives everyone the license to patronize us, take advantage of our kindness, exploit our abilities, and worse, justify our pitiful paychecks.

2.  RESILIENCE.  During that big storm last year, a lot of people around the world admired us for our resilience. Unintentionally, their appreciation helped nail us to our coffins. Maybe we shouldn’t have shown such a brave and smiling face amid that tragedy [and all others that went before it], because maybe, just maybe, our government would have been the pillar of strength in our helplessness, instead of the cripple it actually was/is.

3. SUCCESS.  Now there’s a term. A relative who is dear to me once scornfully pointed out how much of a failure I am because despite my intelligence and abilities, I haven’t gone anywhere near success. Before I could scream in righteous indignation [not to mention pain], I had to understand that success is fairly relative and I really shouldn’t take it against him if money, fame and power [all of which I do not have] are his idea of success.

4. TURNING THE OTHER CHEEK. There’s humility, and then there’s humility.  In my humble observation, people have a very strong tendency to take advantage.

Also, avoiding confrontations because of a noble intention to keep the peace or the relationship might just push one to lose his/her marbles and go on a shooting rampage.

5.THE SO-CALLED PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS.  Honestly? I do not have the stamina. I am sitting here in front of this computer doing something I love–writing.  At this very moment, I’m happy. Something will eventually make me sad later. Or angry, or disappointed, or depressed.  Might as well save myself from all that huffing and puffing and enjoy this periodic respite from all my troubles.


My Boulevard of Broken Dreams?

“The hardest thing about having a dream is living with whatever happens to you when it dies”- Matt Posky

Shit happens, they say.  And, for a long time now, I’ve been wading deep in some. So yes, I could honestly say most of my dreams have  died along the way, and it always feels like some part of me also dies whenever I give up one, and I’m always left alone to grieve and to pick up the pieces of my shattered life.    It can really be bewildering at times–being lost and unsure about what to do next, or where to go from the many slumps.  Indeed, living with broken dreams is the hardest thing.  And the hardest part is that there isn’t the comfort of blaming somebody else.

But I realize how minimal my choices were.  I had to give up those dreams and build new ones, hoping against doubts and uncertainties, that they will somehow pull through, and pull me through.  And when I consider the alternative, like, for instance, giving up, I couldn’t bear the thought of letting down people I love, or the fear of what will happen to them if I let go, or let go of them or of the dreams we share.  As Dorothy Parker says, “might as well live”.  A liberal construction of living would imply dying an existential death and still finding a way to live through the devastation.

So I wonder, do dreams really die? Or they just get replaced by something better or something less than they are?  Or they just get deferred?

Journal Entry of the Day: This Houseful of Daughters

It’s been more than thirteen years since I last gave birth [to my youngest daughter] and unblinkingly took on a habit of a lifetime: motherhood.  Of course, having three daughters one after the other wasn’t a walk in the park but I did take raising them in stride.

I am not a tiger mom [despite being Asian :D), though I do get results done, emotional blackmail as the last [and most powerful] resort when all else fail. It’s my birthday in a few weeks and, along with the realization that I’m hitting my middle forties [whatever that means], is that my girls aren’t babies anymore; well, yes I’ve known this for some time now.  However, adjusting to the fact is a different thing  for me.

So this morning I found myself picking up socks dumped on shoes, airing mattresses, and ironing school uniforms, but with my husband’s disapproving voice echoing in my mind.  Damp towels I hang to dry, strewn textbooks I sort by subject; lunch I had to cook, and the laundry I had to wash.  This is not to say I don’t get help. On the contrary, I’ve been accused of being a perfectionist, a slave driver, a broken record, and various other unpleasant metaphors.  On other occasions I get dagger looks, pouts, and cold-shoulders. All these I take poker-faced, hiding my laughter else I not be taken seriously.cartoon-baby-girl

Suffice it to say that I love being a mother, so much so that I had forgotten how it was not being one.   So now, I have reached some kind of crossroad. My husband insists on letting the girls do the bulk of the house chores as this is an important training for them; that I should refrain from pampering them so much.  He is right of course.  But it is a hard habit to break. And I have to admit that my resistance stems from sentimental reasons.  Although my life revolves around them, theirs don’t revolve around me anymore.  I am painfully aware that someday soon, I won’t need to be doing these things for them anymore, that the sense of independence my husband and I have instilled in them will encourage them to prove their capabilities. This is why I’m holding on to these habits , for tomorrow they will become just memories–like their first cries, first tooth, first time walking, first word, first day of school, or the first time they confided about their crushes or cried over one.

So I guess, I will have to live in this moment and make the most of it.