Wednesday, July 9, 2014

A Glance

“A world could be made in five pages, and one that was more pleasing than a model farm. The childhood of a spoiled prince could be framed within half a page, a moonlit dash through sleepy villages was one rhythmically emphatic sentence, falling in love could be achieved in a single word — a glance. The pages of a recently finished story seemed to vibrate in her hand with all the life they contained.” –Ian McEwan, Atonement

I closed my copy of Ian McEwan’s Atonement to take a sip of chai tea latte. And there it was – a glance. Leaning back against his chair, he lifted his eyes from the tablet he was holding. The man sitting across me looked at my direction and smiled.  I was shocked. I stared at him for what seemed like several minutes before I thought of smiling back. Of course I returned the gesture, but it came too late. It was just a glance. He looked back down at his tablet, his baseball cap concealing half of his face.  I took a sip from my drink, and continued reading my book.

But unlike Briony Tallis, I was not writing a story; I was living my life. I have seen greens and blues and the silver disc that is the moon. I have been excited and elated, and have felt the rain touch my skin as I danced in the puddles outside our house. I have experienced anger and pain and heartbreak, and have caught my ex-lover sleeping with another woman in our apartment. I was in the real world, and falling in love could not be achieved by a gesture as simple as a glance.

I stared at my book and pretended to read, while I allow my deepest thoughts – those thoughts I force myself to overlook – rush into my mind. The breakup. Tipsy nights. Drunken fights and drunken mistakes. Friends fighting. Awkward kisses. Impulsive confessions. Bridges burning. There were even problems about college and family. After just a few seconds, it was already too much. All those thinking had made me feel queasy. I took another sip and thought of my friend who was seated across my seat. It would take more than a glance to fall in love, more than a few dates and gifts, and more than a few silly fights. It would take more and more. Him, finding himself. Him, proving himself. Him, getting over history.

It was a lie that changed Cecilia Tallis and Robbie Turner’s lives forever. A lie which separated the two until their deaths. I put back my cup on the table and took a glance at him. I felt nothing.  No butterflies that flutter by and perch on daffodils in the meadows. No birds chirping in a singsong melody. No fireworks in a dark, evening sky. Nothing. And there I said it – the lie that changed our lives forever.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

A Valentine Trip

In my previous post I said that I was on my way to Baguio. I traveled to Sagada with three of my friends. It was a 12-hour travel, 6 hours from Cubao to Baguio City, and another 6 from Baguio City to Sagada. We caught the first trip to Sagada which is at 6 AM. We made a new friend during the bus ride from Baguio to Sagada. She's from Canada and she's traveling alone, so we invited her to join us. And then our adventure began.

Day 1: Cave Connection

After our 12-hour bus ride, we immediately checked into our accommodation, grabbed lunch, and went straight to Lumiang Cave, a burial cave. We had to slither our way in and out of narrow passages and feel our way around the cave. We had only gas lamp, the one that the tour guides brought. We didn't have any flashlights so it was really hard to be the last person in the group. The second and the last cave was Sumaguing Cave. Its highlights were the beautiful stalactites and stalagmites. Most of the time we would have to walk across pools of water - it was freezing! So after sliding down rocks, crawling into deep passages, soaking our feet in freezing water, climbing up and down ropes, we finally got out. We finished the activity within 3 hours - we thought we would never get out before sunset! My knees got really wobbly during the second half of the tour so I had to crouch. We were almost convinced that we would leave the cave as quadrupeds.

Clockwise from top left: Quick lunch before our cave connection tour; Pau, Cyndi, and Ell at the mouth of Lumiang Cave; view from the viewing deck before the start of cave connection; stacks of coffins in Lumiang Cave.

Clockwise from top left: Mini Banaue Rice Terraces; King's Curtain at Sumaguing Cave; pool of freezing water; Pau, Moran, and Ell waiting to slide down; Pau and Ell celebrating our completion of the cave connection tour.

For dinner we stuffed ourselves with lemon pies and chicken adobo from the Sagada Lemon Pie House. I know adobo is made in different variations, but theirs was the most unusual I have ever tasted - it tastes like menudo. Their mountain tea was nice too. The rest of the night we spent drinking cherry wine by the fireplace, exchanging stories and learning about our new friend's culture.

Clockwise from top left: Sagada Lemon Pie House; dinner at the same restaurant; my chicken adobo; the fireplace in our common room; Ell, Moran, and Pau drinking wine by the fireplace.

Day 2: The Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Echo Valley, and Hanging Coffins

Getting up in the morning was a struggle mainly because it was very cold and our muscles were aching. We broke our fast at Sagada Brew - it was the best breakfast I have had since I can't remember. We walked around the neighborhood until we got to the Church of St. Mary the Virgin. It was a Sunday so a mass was being held. Further walking led us to the local cemetery where we met kids who volunteered to take us to the hanging coffins. We walked along Echo Valley where, you guessed it, everything you shout, the mountains would shout back to you. We still wanted to see the underground river, but we had to catch the last trip to Baguio City which is at 1 PM.

Clockwise from top left: Moran's gift to us; Purdy's chocolates from Moran; my breakfast - tuna omelet, toast with butter and strawberries, salad, and a nice cup of hot mint chocolate with marshmallows; Ell and Pau enjoying their breakfast at Sagada Brew.

Basically our walk around the neighborhood. Clockwise from top left: Cyndi in one of the souvenir shops; a view of the houses in Sagada; your usual Sunday morning in Sagada - baseball; blueberries.

Clockwise from top left: Ancient bell at the Church of St. Mary the Virgin; Sunday morning mass - also the first time I entered the church this year; a view of the altar; Ell successfully climbed a tree at the back of the church.

Clockwise from top left: Pau walking around the local cemetery; hanging coffins; UP Diliman alumnae we met at the cemetery; Cyndi on her way down Echo Valley.

A closer view of the hanging coffins and the chairs in which they were fixed into fetal position - they believe in rebirth in the afterlife. Other natives today no longer rest in that position; thus, the longer coffins.

We reached the bus terminal just in time - we got the last nice seats left. It was still a quarter to 1, so we begged the driver to wait for us while we buy pasalubong. I bought coffee for my dad, and blueberry jam and blueberry wine for that guy I left on Valentine's Day. I also bought him a postcard as a Valentine card because I'm a hipster because I wasn't able to buy him a Valentine card.

Day 2: Pizza Volante

After enjoying the breathtaking views of mountains from the bus, we finally arrived in Baguio City. We had not eaten lunch yet, so we had a very delightful dinner instead at Pizza Volante. Hours flew by fast and we finally found ourselves sitting in a bus back to Cubao. I looked out the window and watched as we drove past houses and other vehicles as I always do when I ride buses, thinking how the weekend passed that fast and that I would be going back to work the next morning. Getting off at Cubao was like waking up from a wonderful dream you never wanted to be over, not just yet. I'm certainly doing this again - traveling with friends. But in the meantime, I would have to finish my master's degree first.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

A Very Different Valentine's Day

This is late, but here goes.

February 14, 2014 was the best Valentine's Day I have had in years. Yes, in years. It was also the most unusual Valentine's Day I have had in years because (1) I did not spend it with a guy - the same guy, and (2) I spent it with my friends.

On the eve of Valentine's Day I was at the UP Fair with my friends. Honestly, it was also the best UP Fair experience I ever had because (1) I was not with that same guy and his brods, and (2) I was not bothered thinking, "Why do you intentionally hurt me by doing things I don't like?" It was a perfect night even after I saw him there. Wearing that frat shirt. With that same girl he left me for. With that same girl who disrespected me. I have to admit I was deeply affected by that because he was with that same girl. I could have let it pass if he were with someone else. And then I realized that maybe it was the way of the universe to tell me, "I know you're already prepared to see this. He might not take it well if you switched situations. The next time you see them, I'm sure you'll do better." Anyway, thank god for my orgmates and my graduate friends for offering me hugs and listening to my rants. And for this guy who listened and tried to understand me.

The morning of Valentine's Day I spent working on this abstract my boss wants us to submit for a conference. Right after I finished writing it, I received a phone call. And this.

I had not bought him a gift yet and I felt so guilty so I left early for lunch and ate out with him.

The day ended with me sitting in a bus to Baguio. I may not have spent the night with him dining in some fancy restaurant, watching a movie, or drinking the night away, but I'm sure that we're both happy. And that this man makes me ridiculously happy and I want him to stay in my life.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Goodbye 2013

Goodbye 2013 and all your drama.

Goodbye 2013 and the whole month I delayed work on my manuscript. But I shall never forget so I may never, or at least avoid doing it again.

Goodbye 2013 and that stupid Valentine's Day I spent the whole night crying because of my manuscript and my then-boyfriend who couldn't be there when I needed him to. But I shall never forget my friends who stayed with me and made the night a little easier to let pass.

Goodbye 2013 and that med school-vs-master's drama. But I shall never forget the first time I made a big decision for myself, regardless of what other people will think of me.

Goodbye 2013 and my undergraduate years. But I shall never forget all the fun, crazy, blurry, drunken nights, the all-nighters, the mini heart attack before checking my grades, the hangovers on morning classes, and the friends who made those four years even better.

Goodbye 2013 and the baby steps to adulthood. But I shall never forget so I may take charge of this new stage better.

Goodbye 2013 and that limbo. But I shall never forget so I may continue making firm decisions and taking opportunities.

Goodbye 2013 and that stupid mistake. But I shall never forget so I may not make it again.

Goodbye 2013 and that heartbreak. But I shall never forget the first time I had my heart broken so I may remember that I am strong. I shall never forget the warm company I received from my family and my friends which was so helpful in getting me back to my feet, which made me realize that I wasn't broken at all.

Goodbye 2013 and those stressful days and drunken nights. But I shall never forget so I may remember to keep stress and alcohol low.

Goodbye 2013 and all those nightmares that happened each time I was awake.  But I shall never forget my housemates who woke me from these nightmares and helped me see how much better I can be. I shall never forget so I may have something to tell my children hahaha

Goodbye 2013 and those wrong moves and words. But I shall never forget so I may be more cautious on my actions and never lead on someone again. I shall never forget the first time I sang with only two of us as soprano. I shall never forget the first time I confessed my feelings for someone - not expecting any reply, but got it anyway. I shall never forget how I sort of believed in Santa Claus again for giving me what I wanted this Christmas. I shall never forget the first time I ran in the beach, felt free, and "saved" jellyfishes. And finally, I shall never forget the first time I felt afraid to fall in love.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve Post

Remember that post where I said I'll write you a story when my heart gets broken? Forget that. He doesn't deserve a story. Remember the post where I said I'll write about the man in white? He wasn't a knight or an angel, after all. He was just a wanderer wearing a white cloak, asking for directions. I hope he reaches his destination soon. He still writes me letters sometimes; he keeps forgetting my advice. I reached the place ahead of him; I hope he arrives soon. This is such a beautiful place.

I would love to tell you how my 2013 went, but I'll save it for the year-end post instead.

It's not the first time our family's incomplete on Christmas Eve, but it's the first time two of my sisters are away. One's in Germany, getting a master's degree. But we're going to call her later and meet her "special friend". I don't know if they're already dating exclusively; I'll ask her later *wink wink* I promised myself I'll only get a boyfriend after she gets one. My other sister "work." But you know what? She's not really at work. I don't understand why she would ditch our noche buena for something else. She doesn't even live here anymore. Doesn't she feel like she should at least grant us her presence?

But anyway, I'm still so, so happy. Even after long stressful hours in the office and so much academic work to do this break, I'm just happy that Santa gave me what I want this Christmas. I'm surprised I'm in his "nice" list, though. Santa's gift is another story. I'll tell you on the next post. For now, have a merry Christmas!


For a Christmas-y feel, here's a picture of our tree with all the gifts I wrapped.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Mid-term Updates

I know I promised telling you about my "new life" once I'm stable, so here goes.

I'm now working as a a full-time research associate in our Institute, yay! I'm a part-time graduate student. Anyway, the research is about Salmonella but we're not starting it yet for some reasons so I'm working on some protozoa for the meantime. Also, I have to think of a thesis topic related to the project so I can work on it while doing the project. I'll think about it on the weekend.

I also moved into a new house, with some old friends. Moving in was, um, okay. Staying is a little difficult, for some reasons I do not wish to disclose here.

I also started reading "A Song of Ice and Fire"! I found a nice quote right here from "A Storm of Swords":

“Sometimes,” Catelyn said slowly, “the best thing you can do is nothing. When I first came to Winterfell, I was hurt whenever Ned went to the godswood to sit beneath his heart tree. Part of his soul was in that tree, I knew, a part I would never share. Yet without that part, I soon realized, he would not have been Ned. Jeyne, child, you have wed the north, as I did … and in the north, the winters will come.” She tried to smile. “Be patient. Be understanding. He loves you and he needs you, and he will come back to you soon enough. This very night, perhaps. Be there when he does. That is all I can tell you.”

The thing is, he isn't Ned. And I'm not Catelyn. We're not married. And we are not in the beautiful world of Westeros. There are a lot of things going on in my mind about this - moving forward, dragging back, selfishness, selflessness, understanding, patience, hope, future. But I try to keep my mind occupied with more important things like graduate school, work, family and business, and travel. I don't want to waste my time thinking about stupid feelings that only I can feel, or thoughts that only I think of. The best part is I'm starting to care less - which is what I've been trying to do for so long to keep peace.

This post is unworthy, I know and I apologize. I'll try to write you a story some other time, if I get my heart broken again. This heart just won't break lately so nothing's become an inspiration. Oh wait, I have this story...about a man in white. I can't remember whether he was a knight, or just a warrior, or an angel or something. But I will write about him. Soon.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Here Comes Adulthood

Let me give you a recap of my life since my last blog post.

I told my dad I didn't want to go to med school, and that I want to go to grad school instead. He gave his permission.

I graduated last April and had dinner with my family and my boyfriend.

I got accepted into the MS Microbiology program of the Institute of Biology, University of the Philippines, Diliman. Now I'm on my first year.

I didn't get the scholarship program I applied for because I had 9 units of (read: too much) undergraduate courses to take.

I'm applying for this position in the University which I will talk more about if I get accepted.

In this new phase of my life, my energy is being drained by adult requirements instead of school. I applied twice for an NBI clearance for different purposes. I applied for the Civil Service Exam. I got a cedula. I got a barangay clearance and a barangay ID, my first government-issued ID. Not a registered voter yet, nor a licensed driver. I still have to work on those two. My next project is my TIN. I still have a long list of adult requirements to get, but I think I'll take a break after the TIN.

Adulthood isn't too welcoming, but I'm easily coping. I've queued longer and went back and forth to buildings in UP more, so  getting government ID's and other requirements did not surprise me.

I'd love to talk more about grad school, but maybe I'll wait a little bit longer until I'm stable. Meanwhile, please wish me luck on my job application.


See my new tags grad school and adulthood? And read my About Me section, I tweaked it a little. Teehee.