Tuesday, December 7, 2010

HOPE: A Year After

It was first week of December last year when I finally agreed to attend this "gathering". It was over a year of encouragement and invitation when I said 'yes' to Joseph, former colleague. The first time I stepped on Cuppage Plaza was full of questions. Why are there many Filipinos here especially when I reached the fifth floor and near the entrance. Why all of them were so nice? Why all of them look so young? Why all of them seems to be so happy? I was introduced to others and all of them were very accomodating which also made me ask myself "close ba kame?" but eventually I realized that it was their natural way of welcoming a new member of the family. Then the program (I used to call it that way) started and I was very shocked of what they were doing. They were singing and dancing to those songs that I never heard before. yeah, I admit that I was about to laugh that time but thankfully I managed to control it. Then the Pastor Christie started to speak and immediately I was impressed the way she talked and explained some verses of the bible. Then it ended after more than two hours and I told to myself "it was the longest night of my life". I believe in God but I wasn't that very religious at all but I used to attend several young church related groups when I was in elementary but after that, I became busy with my studies.

So after several days, Joseph invited me again to their "caregroup" and I told myself (yeah, I really love talking to myself) "oh, for sure it's the group that cares (with a laugh)". It was actually their Christmas Party and I enjoyed it, they were funny, cheerful, the kindest group of people ever and they even provided a gift for me for the exchange gift and I really appreciated it. So I was encouraged to attend their weekly gathering, it wasn't a perfect attendance before (because I was on shifting job) but I enjoyed attending it so I ensured that if I'm in the morning shift, I will really attend the caregroup. On the second time I attended the Sunday service, I realized that I was tapping my feet and it seemed like dancing (uh oh), on my third service my lips were started to sing even if I don't know the song (aha!). I was able to meet new faces and friends but the most important things were: I was able to know Him better, understand His teachings, live a new and blessed life and to love Him more.

After few more months I became more active and became more interested in His words. My life during that time was smooth and no (major) problems were encountered. But I realized that there are always tests and obstacles that you need to face. I had big problems for the months of July and August, family related and career related. There were times that I wanted to give up and those times that I do not want to talk to anybody but I was able to tell to a friend that I was in pain (and yeah I was crying when I was talking to her on the phone). I did not attend caregroup and Sunday service for two weeks and I felt really bad for myself. But I told to myself (I told you I love talking to myself) that I shouldn't give up, I believe that there is a purpose for everything that was happening to me. I did not lose my trust in Him, I just needed a time for myself that time. During those times I became closer to Him and spent more time (yeah more time than going to gym) to read His words and to talk to Him. I returned to the caregroup and my CL was teasing me that "o bakit ka nag-hibernate?" but I returned a smile and shared to her what happened to me, on how I felt when I was really down and how I was able to stand and face the world again.

It was a good thing I have my Joseph family that time. Eventually I have survived and managed to rebuild myself and be active again. I was able to come up with creative ideas for our unit. I believe that I am a better person now and I believe that He will always be by my side and I am confident how much He truly loves me and He has plans for me. Now after a year with Hope Filipino Church, I am still with the Joseph unit and they assigned me to organize our upcoming Christmas party, just in time to celebrate my 1st year. Yes indeed, it was a "group that cares".

Thursday, October 21, 2010

I Survived

It's been four months since the last update on this blog. The past few months were the hardest days of my life here in Singapore. I had three major family related problems and one with regards to my career. I even had a major sickness and almost give up on medicines. I felt so weak and fragile and many things came to my mind. I thought of returning to Manila to rebuild myself and embrace what future holds me there. I even thought of travelling again and be gone for two months or never come back. But I stood up and continued my life. For everything that happened, I believed that there is a purpose behind it. A friend asked me if I had doubts about God after what happened to me. I just answered to her that He has a plan to me and in the right time, I know better days will come. And I was right, I knew I can do it, I have learned to always trust Him and put my faith only to Him. I can say that those hardships, obstacles and tests that He gave me, helped me to be a stronger and better person. After those storms, I really felt that I was renewed, refreshed and reborned.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Class Pix of '90 & '97

It was really nice being tagged on a picture on which you were younger and suddenly, all memories of both fun and sadness will flash in your face. I saw the top picture from a friend in Facebook and it was take 1990, it was 20 years ago! I got to see my younger face and was able to add friends and we communicated again. The picture was taken in the vicinity of Pasig Elementary School and thanks to Chantell she was able to scan it and post it. I bet you cannot point where I'm standing from that picture.

This next picture was taken during my sophomore years in Rizal High School, twas 1997. The picture was posted in Facebook by Pherlou and thanks to him, a reunion is in work in progress. From 1990 to 1997, hmmmm no big changes occurred, hehehe... Same to the other picture, I was able to find some old friends and we reconnected and saying hi and hello even in the internet is really fun!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Malacca Quicky

This blog post is a contribution from Ann.

Malacca - Overnight trip with Irene and Carlo across the Malaysian border to the historical city of Melaka. Its listed as a Unesco World Heritage site and me with my fascination with old towns and ruins was in camera clicking mode so I dragged these 2 over there. Going, we went via JB, which meant another bus ride to malacca and boy was that a mistake. Our estimated arrival time from sg was 2pm at the latest, we got there past 5, just enough to check in to our very affordable hostel with the friendliest staff ever and get going to catch some light.

The location of this hostel is perfect, all the sights we went to were in near walking distance but far enough so there's still have some peace and quiet. We walked everywhere and it was kind of refreshing not having to worry about what bus to take or haggling with taxis. We didnt want to repeat our mistake yesterday and spend the whole day travelling so we tried to book a direct bus to SG but amazingly of 5 liners each with schedules at every hour and a half, all the afternoon times were full. But our resourceful hostel manager Mr.Teng was able to get us tickets for 2pm the next day. Which meant we'd have to get up really early and finish touring by lunch.

That decided, our first plan, have dinner! "Gems" (is it really James? We'll never know..) from the hostel recommended this place with good Nonya cuisine, it was on Jonker street where the night market is, so that was convinient. Although it was so far inside and we were starving, we almost gave up looking for it. Good thing we did not! That was some yummy food! I would definitely go back just for that chili chicken dish! No diet on trips is the rule, so dont judge! After, we walked back the way we came but by this time the night market had come alive and it was so crowded, you just had to spend a little time to check things out since you werent going anywhere soon anyways.
We spotted a foot reflexology place along the street and Irene and I went in for an hour of blissful pampering. Carlo went wandering off on his own, I dont know where he ended up to but I gave him my camera and he came back without a single picture!oh come on!! :p while making our way out of jonker street, we food triped again with the local street food - some dimsum, radish cake and grass jelly drink to wash it down.bought some malacca tshirts, our customary souvenir item from all the places we go to.
Got back to the hostel pretty dead beat, quick showers and off to sleep. room was clean and comfortable and very cold, although walls were thin you could hear people from next door (talking, mind you) and walking through the hallways.good thing they quieted down early as well. We had the ceiling fan on when we slept, but it was off when we woke up. The question of who turned it off is still a mystery (ohhhhh...) because both Irene and Carlo said they got up in the night to switch it off but none said they switched it on..how can you switch something off twice??! anyways.. we got up early and off exploring again. we were waiting for breakfast at the hostel but they only started serving at 8:30 and we were early by 15 mins. Having nothing to do, we strolled around a bit, and man, was the town asleep! Everything was still closed.
We wandered around the streets a little, took in some portugese architecture then walked back to the hostel by the river with the sun just starting to rise higher on the town and i do so prefer sunrises rather than sunsets so I enjoyed that. Irene said she saw a "buhaya" (did I spell it right?) which is either a crocodile or an alligator (my tagalog isnt perfect sorry!!) Breakfast,to our dismay turned out to be coffee and toast (we were expecting some nasi lemak!) but i guess for 10SGD a night each, that was more than generous.Plus coffee was really good. :D
We finally found the A famosa and all the other sights we were looking for when we headed out again and that where we spent the rest of the morning. They're all pretty much next to each other so its enough to keep you preoccupied for a couple of hours. My slr ran out of battery right after breakfast so all the pix after that were taken from my digi cam.Good thing the battery on that held off. The hostel sent us off to the bus terminal after lunch but the manager asked me when the continuation of our trip would be so that left me thinking there still so many things we missed although I do think we got to all the major sites We didnt have an itinenary (no aybee), and no research or maps so I could be wrong. Anyways, for a grand total of 80sgd, that was well worth it.

To see the complete photo album and view more pictures, visit Ann's multiply site by clicking here.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Shenzhen Trip

We had a one day tour in Shenzhen last 5th of April, it is a city of sub provincial administrative status in southern China's Guangdong province, situated immediately north of Hong Kong. We went there via MTR from Hong Kong and the last station seemed to the border. The immigration line was crazy but the process for us went smoothly. We only had one goal that time, that is to visit Window of the World and it was 11 train stations away from the border.

Window of the World is a theme park located in the western part of the city of Shenzhen. Inside of it were miniatures of some of the world's most famous tourist attractions. At first, I wasn't that excited as I was able to see some of the sites on their real forms. But eventually, I was able to appreciate the park and enjoyed the mini displays of some of the world's treasures. Very dominant was the Eiffel Tower and the Pyramids of Egypts. Also, the landscape of Holland with windmills and tulips are very refreshing to the eyes because of it's colorful presentation. The Colosseum from Italy was quite nice.
The theme park also boasts Asia's pride such as Borobudur from Indonesia, Taj Mahal of India, Mount Fuji from Japan and Cambodia's Angkor Wat. In total, there are about 130 reproductions of beautiful sites that are squeezed into 48 hectares. We got very tired so we decided to eat noodles inside the vicinity before leaving.
We went into this place (sorry I forgot the name) and based from it's environment, it was the shopping place of Shenzhen. Multiple buildings and mini malls were dominating the place and the prices were quite cheap. But after almost 2 hours of touring the place, I only managed to buy a neck massager pillow. The girls were able to purchase stuff toy and foods. The place was so crowded and twas so hot. But still, it was another experience from a foreign land which I think is the primary reason of travelling.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Hong Kong Trip Again

It was my third time in Hong Kong last April 3 and 4, we hopped on a ferry from Macau and it was an hour of journey. We came directly to hostel by taxi and prepared immediately. Our first destination was in Ocean Park, it was my first time so I was kinda excited. We arrived there around 9 in the morning and immediately enjoyed some rides. It was a fun place and we even watched a dolphin and sealion show. I don't know why I was teary eyed watching the dolphin show, I think it was because of the documentary film The cove that I saw the other month and I was really hurt by the scenes of dolphin killings. We also checked the panda habitat, took the cable car and we had our lunch there which was a birthday treat from Razel.

Later that night we decided to visit Victoria Peak and the people were jampacked. When we arrived there, we were all disappointed as the place was full of fog and we can't even view the buildings downside. Twas a good thing that we purchased tickets for Madame Tussaud's wax museum. At least we had a purpose reaching the place. After visiting celebrities and other popular personalities in their wax form, we looked for a Starbucks to have a sip of hot coffee as it was very cold that time.

The next day, we woke up so early to accomplish our schedule. As early as 7AM, we were already prepared and arrived on Ngong Ping cable car at almost 9 in the morning but the station was not yet opened. So we decided to ride a bus that took us to the Big Buddha. Ngong Ping is a highland in the western part of Launtau Island. The big buddha is also known as Tian Tian Buddha which was situated amidst the hills which is about 34m tall. The view of this buddha was magnificent and reaching the top was a very fulfilling. From the top we saw many hills nearby on which we got a closer view when we took the cable car going back to Tung Chung MTR.
After that trip in Lantau Island, the girls went to Disneyland while I took the way going to Sai Kung where I met my friend's mother. Wendel's mother is a resident in Hong Kong and put up a Filipino restaurant. Sai Kung was a very nice place and the second largest district in Hong Kong. There were many boats that you can rent that will bring you to several islands around the area. When I roamed the area further, I saw a lot of dogs! Nice and cute dogs that were being toured within the vicinity. I looked for the restaurant Fiesta Fiesta and had my early dinner and it was a treat from Wendel's mom. The foods were really great and the atmosphere was very calm. I even noticed a special touch and design with the food preparation. Twas two thumbs up!

Sing & Run

Shut up! That was my initial reaction when I was requested to sing in an acoustic night. It was a special event within the subdistrict of Hope Church. I thought they were making fun of me but hey, it was for real! Eventually I agreed to join since I will be performing only one song and it was a duet. The song title was "Kahit Kailan" by the Southborder and I did the part of Jay Durias. Suddenly, my college moments flashed back to me. Twas the time when my college friends used to tease me that I have a resemblance of Jay Durias. What the heck?! Anyway, the rehearsal went on but a week before the performance night, I got sick. I was having a hard cough with matching sorethroat. I wasn't able to attend the last 2 practices. So the 15th of May came and it was an instant nervous feeling. But with God's help, I was able to perform and I was confident singing my piece with Angel who did the part of Brix. I just finished all the performances of our band, Band Aid and i left immediately the place to meet a friend.

After two months of preparation, the 10K Marathon came last 22nd of May. I was with good friends and churchmates who came all prepared and excited. They wore the uber pangit sando, sorry but I really hated the racing shirt provided by the organizing committee. The race went smooth for the first 7.5k, I ran non stop and the phasing was perfect. Then an uneasiness came as the road narrows. I had difficulty to run as some of the racers were walking and blocking the runway. But in the end I finished the race and it was a good feeling moment. Super dinner came as we headed to this buffet steamboat but before arriving to the place, we walked almost 3k. But it was worth it as the foods were really great!

Macau Trip - Day 1

I was supposed to visit Macau last year of December but it wasnt' pushed through because of some important decisions that changed my life this year. Enough of the drama and let's go straight to the wonderful trip I had in Macau. Actually, it was an "anniversary" trip for the four of us, I was with Ate Vinz, Gilyn and Razel. Same companion I had last year with my Cambodia trip. This will be a tradition and we will also have our trip by next year in holy week. It was April 2nd and as we arrived in Macau, it was cold. We went directly to the hotel and left our baggage for a while then we roamed the streets of Asia's largest destination for gambling.

We were first got lost but eventually we found our paths. The structures were a mixture of old and new architectures that are superb in style. On our way, we passed by several churches. St. Lawrence's Church which is an imposing structure, standing in a garden filled with palm trees and can be approached from the rear or by way of grand staircase and ornamental gate, to lend a dignified appearance. Next was the St. Augustine's, a simple, neoclassical church of 16th century. We also saw St. Dominic's church which has an imposing facade of cream-coloured stone with stucco mouldings and green shuttered windows. Of course, the very famous Ruins of St. Paul's which is only a magnificent stone facade and grand staircase remain of the iconic Church of St. Paul.

Also notable place was the Senado Square, it is a destination for the locals and tourists and can be tagged as meeting place. The famous fountain was renovated several times and currently, a celestial globe as used by pioneering Portuguese seamen can be seen in the middle of the fountain, captivating sight under lighting at night. The square is also popular place for holding all sorts of cultural events.

On the same day, we visited the Museum of Macau which is on the hill of the Fortaleza do Monte, a 16th century fort in Macau. The museum presents the history of the city and territory of the former Portuguese colony of Macau, now a SAR of PRC. The museum building is located within the interior of the fortress. The displays were mostly the historic event of Macau and the process of progression. The displays were quite nice, we were also surprised that most of the guards there were Filipinos. There was a kinda scary room in the museum but something really cool about the place was the headset on some of the displays with English, Cantonese and Portuguese translations.

We had our lunch then went back to hotel to change clothes and made some preparations. The last destination that day was the popular The Venetian Macau. Good thing there was a free shuttle near our hotel. The major aim why we visited this place is because of it's grand architectural design inside and out of the resort. We tried the funny ride of Gondola and the singer assigned to us was a Filipina with a golden voice. We passed by the casino area and the smell was ultra high in cigarettes. The place was really magical in design and very big. We almost got lost in looking for a Starbucks outlet. It was a very tiring day but it was worth it!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Bowling Madness

Alright, we had this bowling game last April 17 and I was such a loser. The last time I played this sport was almost four years ago. Still, I know how to handle and throw the ball but the results were always "canal" and I was devastated. But it was just for fun and no competition at all. I thought there will be a winner or something that will recognize the best gamers. Anyway, it was held in Safra Yishun and twas four blocks away from my previous home. The atmosphere was fun and the foods were extravagant (should I really say that?). Can you believe that the foods I brought here in Singapore from Macau were part of the "buffet"?

Seriously, it was fun seeing these people performing and exhibiting their other sides whether competitively or comically. I was kinda surprised as I saw new faces but it wasn't that hard to contemplate and have small talks with them. But hey, I only scored 60! Grrr... kidding...

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Forgetting About Work

I had this bonding with my new officemates for the first time. Yes, it was almost three months since I started working to this new employer and alas, a wild experience (should I really say that?) with them happened. Only Ann and I were Filipinos and the remaining six were Indians. At first, I was very hesitant to attend this small party as I was new to the team. Actually twas a farewell party for Bhupesh as he will be transferring to New York office. Back to the event, it was in this Bayshore condominium located in Bedok. I bought some fruits and chips, we had chicken and fish barbecue.

We also had some drinks but of course, no alcohol for me and Ram. Ann brought some fishes that were very delicious and ultimate in taste. While Sandeep made these chicken with sauce (I don't know how to call it exactly) that superb in flavor. After few hours, whew! Bimlesh became kinda wild, hahaha... I think he put an extra joy to the event. He was very loud, making "kulit" to all of us and suddenly, he was very quiet and started puking! I think he just enjoyed the night. We transferred to ECP to stay for a while before going home.
It was a nice experience seeing the different sides of my new teammates. Can you also believe that they think me as a very nice and very quiet person (somebody to object?). We have differences in culture and race but the most important thing is that we know how to respect each other and entitle everyone to their own opinion.

My India Trip

Alright, I know this blog post is 6 months overdue. Been busy for the last few months and I promise that I will ensure to update my blog regularly. Anyway, this post is about my trip in India, the last stop of my 2009 backpack series. I arrived in Kolkata on the 1st of October 2009 at around 6pm via flight from Bangkok. After that, there was a connecting flight going to the capital New Delhi. From there, I was expecting for a long hours of train ride but everything changed and I'll put that into history. I'll discuss more on the wonderful spots I saw in this big country, specifically in Agra.

I first visited the famous Agra Fort which is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is the most important fort in India. This place contains almost 20 sites/mosques/structures and is awarded several architecture recognition. There was an entrance fee but can't remember how much it was. The place was really nice and very refreshing on the eyes even if it was really hot that day. You will experience the wonderful architecture of India and their artistry really showed on this tourist spot.

Next stop is this Itmad-Ud-Daulah’s Tomb which is often described as 'jewel box' that was built between 1622 and 1628. Seems like the main building is surrounded by numerous gardens and outbuildings. It is also regarded as draft version of Taj Mahal and known as 'baby taj'. The place was quite nice and very peaceful.

The main reason why I wanted to visit India is because of Taj Mahal. I really want to see this another UNESCO World Heritage site that is cited as the jewel of Muslim art in India. The central focus of the complex is the tomb and I got the chance to see it by myself. I was really amazed by the beauty of this site. The marbles were artistically crafted to build this very famous landmark. Taj Mahal is also included in the New Seven Wonders of the world list that was announced last 2007. I felt ultimate happiness as I reached this very far place.
On the other side, I was able to take a closer look on the streets of Agra, India. Twas very hot and you can see many people around the city. I also noticed that most of the cars don't have right side mirror and the drivers seem to be very aggressive in driving but still they are observing safety. I also tried authentic Indian foods and I can say that I really enjoyed it.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Last Few Days

It's been a while since I updated my blog and there were many reasons why I didn't put a time on this task. The last few days of 2009 were very hectic and needed an immediate attention and response. On the very first day of December, I filed my resignation and many plans became unattainable. I was supposed to be in Macau but I have to finish my notice period without taking any VLs as I want to leave my post with gratitude. Also on the last remaining days of December were the times of so much effort on looking for a new place. Thank God I found this very nice condominium in Kembangan. It is just few steps away from the MRT station, as you open the gate of the condo, alas, the station is there. I am now living with a young couple and they are very nice and very understanding. But the most explosive accomplishment that I did on the remaining days of 2009 was getting a job from Barclays as an Analyst. I've been in the banking domain for five years now and so far I am enjoying it. Another thing is that I started to attend a church service and I will make a full article on this one. These service activities made me closer to Him and made me realize that there are still lot of things that I need to learn and understand. Then on the last day of 2009, I had a flight to Manila and took a one week rest and of course to celebrate New Year with my loved ones. As I was on the plane that time, I was remembering all the pains and happiness that I experienced during the year 2009, they made me stronger and built my personality. Saying goodbye gave me a chance for a new beginning and another chance of enjoying the life to the fullest, of course with the help of God. I am very positive that year 2010 will be a tremendous year for me.

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