Is It Time To Join a Tour?

I love to travel on our own time, with our own itinerary. That was no problem when it was just the two of us. And then the little ones started coming. That was still ok when we were still quite energetic. And now they are teeners. And that just means O and I are getting middle-aged.
I love to walk around when we are in a new place. Or ride the public transport. But walking is much much easier since there is no route to familiarize with. You just decide on a direction and off you go.
But this recent trip is different. O’s knees are starting to act up and though he still can walk a lot, he is about dead tired after dinner. And either he walks so fast or I am slowing down but I am always a block away behind them. Especially as the boys as they are collectively known, tend to stay together since all they get from mommy is a blank look once they start talking about Minecraft (?) And the likes.
I think they just don’t know how to meander, smell the roses and enjoy the little stuff along the way. O said he doesn’t do meander or amble.
Anyway, this recent trip had me the most unprepared since we started travelling on our own. We arrive at a place and I have no idea what to do, except for where to eat. That one, I have a list. Food is still important enough for us. As for the sights to see, I simply didn’t have time to do research. Or maybe I was just too lazy. I think its the latter. There simply is none of the desire to see landmarks. As I get older, being in a different place, breathing their air, immersing in their language and culture are enough for me. I don’t know what it does for the kids. They’re probably thinking mommy is so boring.
So I was thinking, maybe its time to join a tour group in our next trip? Certainly worth a thought now.
As for now, I am here blogging while the boys are taking their time waking up.

I Will Always Have Time

Pin called me up the other day.  Did I have time to chat, she asks.  I was in the midst of finishing paperwork and preparing documents for the time I will be away on vacation.  I was rushed but for my friends, I will make time.  Yes, i told her, I had time.  And we had a very interesting and fun chat.

For my family and friends I will always have time.  I will make time for them.  No matter how busy I am.  Even if I were in the midst of a meeting, I will have time for them.  Except I guess if I’m hanging off a cliff – maybe I won’t be answering the phone.  But yeah, i am at that age where no work is that important at the expense of my family and close friends.  At the end of the day, relationships are more important than work.

Same thing with the mobile.  If I take the call then I have time to talk.  Because obviously, I do not take calls while I’m driving or if I’m indisposed or I’m in the shower.  

Anyway, it is good manners to ask and I appreciate that people are concerned about my time.

Civet Coffee

Civet Coffee

Husband bought a bottle at the Crocodile Farm in Davao City, Philippines at PHP1000/100g. I’m no coffee drinker so I have no idea if this is expensive or not.

He says it is similar to the lavazza in taste. There is no bitter aftertaste and it makes him want to drink more.  He says it is smooth and sophisticated.

The aroma is not very strong. It smells suave. <- That’s me talking.

You Don’t Need Protecting

I don’t know why those words hurt me so.  Those are words I do not want to hear from the man I love.

People say I am a strong person.  I think I am.  And yet when O said those words to me, I was very very hurt.  I did not understand myself.  I did not understand my tears.  Irrational reaction.

O was simply saying the truth.

Several years have passed and I think I know why I am so affected by these words.  I tried explaining it to O but he doesn’t get this woman’s psyche.

While it’s true that I am independent and strong and might not need protecting, there is a little something deep down in my subconscious that wants to be protected and cherished and cared for.  Maybe it is a result of the culture I grew up in where men are supposed to be the protectors and women are supposed to be subordinate to men.  This is warped thinking but that is how it is in the Asian culture I grew up in.  Women were not supposed to make the first move.  Women were not supposed to be better than men.  Women were supposed to be helpless.  And if woman was better than man, woman was supposed to be silent about it and let the man think that man is better.  That’s what I was exposed to when I grew up.

Maybe it’s something that O finds difficult to understand because he is an enlightened man.  We are partners in our marriage.  He listens to me; to my opinions and to my suggestions.  He respects me and doesn’t think I should be barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen.  I can not find a better man than O.  I am lucky to have a partner who loves to cook and who shares in all the chores.  No chore is too girly for him.

And in spite of the equality in our partnership, he does protect me.  When we cross the street and he walks in front of the incoming traffic.  When it rains and he gives me more of the umbrella.  When he gives me my favourite part of the chicken.  When he makes nice to my family, even to those he doesn’t like much.  I feel his protection.

And yet hearing those words said out loud hurts me to the core.  

The rational me berates me.  Aren’t actions more important than words?  Hasn’t he shown that you are cherished?  But why do those words still hurt?

I can never fully explain it.  I finally told him never to say those words to me again.  Some words are not meant to be spoken.  Some truths need not be said.  That’s the only solution I have.

Summer is a Romance Buster

Kids.  It’s past midnight and one is still in our room.  Sigh.  By the time we get some privacy, its almost twelve and this “lola” is too tired to do some hanky panky.  This is not good.

I told O he should shoo away the boys earlier.  Ako na lang palagi – then I’ll be the killjoy mom.  

That’s the trade off when you have all the gadgets in your room.  Sure you get to control the kids’ tv and computer usages but the downside is you get less privacy.  And when there’s no class, it takes almost 2 hours from the time you tell them it’s late they should go to bed to the time they actually leave our room.  

But well, I should be happy they want to spend time with us, right?

Death and Letting Go


I smile as I look at this photo.  My mom is lovely.

It’s been 6 months since my mother passed on to the next life peacefully.  There is no grief, not even in the days immediately after death.  What there is is some sadness and wistfulness.  My mother had a good death.  She had time to prepare.  We had time to prepare.  In the end we did not fight the inevitable.

My father is also gone.  His was a sudden death.  And yet there too was no grief.  A deeper sadness than now but eventually, life did go on.

Last night, I was reading “Endless Knot” a book about Living, Dying and Learning – Insights by the Venerable Hsing Yun,  founder of the Fo Guang Shan Buddhist Order.  Image

I found this book among my mother’s books by her bedside.  6 months after her death, I read the book and I feel what she might have felt in her final weeks.  She knew she was dying.  We were not the sort to pussyfoot around her.  We did not try to deceive her that she was going to get well.  It’s a delicate balance between being pragmatic and still being hopeful that a miracle might happen.

I realized that death can be beautiful if one is prepared.  I think I am.  But one never knows until death comes.

I have always wanted to live simply but more so now that I am sorting out my mother’s possessions.  So many sentimental keepsakes and stuff that she kept thinking that it could be of use in the future.  I look at my own possessions and more needs to be jettisoned.  Old shoes, bags, clothes – all with sentimental value, I have given away more than half.  Slowly I will trim down all non-essentials.  I found my old keepsakes, some made me wonder why the heck I kept them.  Most reasons behind the stuff have been forgotten. And so off to the donation bin it went.

Dignity in death- that is a nice goal to have.  I realize whether sudden or slow, violent or peaceful, in the final moments if one is prepared and accepting then death can be serene.  One can die in dignity.  Let go.  Nothing in this world is worth holding on to.  Not even your family.  You enjoy each moment with them and when it is time, let go.  Life is about moving on.

Careful With the Wishes

It’s been a very long time since I’ve had wishes.  But once in a while I forget and unconsciously form a wish in my mind.  Not exactly an outright wish.  More like thinking that it would be nice to have so and so or maybe some slight worrying that X inventory is rather low.  Wouldn’t it be nice if we could top up inventory soon.

More often than not, things happen in a way that makes me feel the world enjoys a good joke and is laughing at me.  Because when it rains it pours.  And the wish is granted and then some.  More like; and then more.  And I find myself at the other end of the spectrum.

Not that I’m complaining but these unexpected opportunities necessitate certain adjustments in my life.  Some hassle but nothing that I can’t handle.  Only that – yes, there is the slight panic at the sudden upturn. or downturn as sometimes it does.  Not all wishes turn out good.  Sometimes when I yearn for a bit of excitement, some crisis is bound to happen.

That is why when I receive greetings from friends and associates; praying that all my wishes come true, it won’t be a prayer that I welcome.  

Sometimes you wish for something, thinking that having it fulfilled would make your life happier or better.  But then if it happens, most will realize that wishes aren’t all that they’re made out to be.  Much better I think to just enjoy life as it unfolds.  Welcome each and every challenge or misfortune or joy that comes.  Marvel at how our lives are so much the richer for the variety that comes. 

As a child, wishes are important but in adulthood, wishes should not be at the forefront of our lives.  In adulthood, we should have the skills to direct how our lives turn out.  


Boats and Planes- Way down my List

I’ve never liked boats and planes.  On top of my list for modes of travel are:  Walking, by Rail, Motorcycles, Cars (including vans), buses, bikes and then it’s a toss up between planes and boats.

3 hour flights in economy are probably all I can take.  Plus I hate the travel time to airports which are usually a long way from the city center.  And not to mention the wait in the airports, the luggage checks, the taking off the shoes scan …  

Then there are the boats.  The slow boats aren’t too bad.  I love the wind on my face and I love standing on the open deck looking out to sea.  What I hate are the catamarans, monohulls – the boats that these inter-island ferries use.  I hate the swaying motion and the cooped up atmosphere.  Yesterday I was on a 75min boat ride and 30 minutes before arrival, my tummy started to get queasy, my hands were clammy, my head was starting to spin – it wasn’t good.  I counted out the minutes before we got to our destination.  I was useless by the time I got home.  

Actually, banca (outriggers) are fun and don’t bother me at all.  Nor the rafts or the kayaks.  In fact I rather enjoyed the water rafting adventure we had last week.  At first the thought of being thrown out of the raft was kind of scary but after I did fall out, it wasn’t so bad.  There was a slight panic, I forgot to face downstream, and I couldn’t keep my face out of the water for long before being caught in the slightly roiling rapids – but hey, it was fun.  😀  And afterwards, the fear was no longer the same.  Sure I tried to avoid being thrown off again but on the whole, the prospect wasn’t as scary.


Actually these were just baby rapids.  But rapids are rapids to this novice.  And here’s me falling off the raft.


So back to boats, ok planes are last on my list.  Boats aren’t so bad – only the enclosed boats; those I really dread.  Rafts – you’re not so bad.  🙂  But come to think of it, I wouldn’t want to arrive all wet at my destination.  Ok, boats, you’re back to last place with planes.



Some people are uncomfortable accepting help with no recompense. Maybe they do not want to be beholden to the “helper”?  

But some people just love to help, not expecting anything in return.  Like me.

When my mom succumbed to AML late last year, we her children agreed that her medicines would be given out to others who would need them – gratis, for free.  The medicines were nothing to sneeze at, running to 5 digits per pill.  As fate would have it, a friend’s relative was diagnosed with a similar illness and the medicine which was similar to my mom’s was no longer available in the country.  We offered the medicines to her for free.  

She insisted on paying for the meds.  We ignored her initial insistence in paying; telling her we were willing to give it to strangers for free, what more a relative of a friend.  But no, she was very persistent.  I tried telling her that her getting well would be payment enough.  It didn’t work.  Then we tried ignoring her inquiries regarding the cost.  Didn’t work too.  Finally after a month or so, I realized that some people are really not comfortable with a free ride.  So I told her the cost and told her she can pay half.  That made her very happy.  She was very profuse in her thanks with the discount.

Which is funny because we were going to give it to her for free.  But I guess, to make her happy we had to accept her payment.  Same thing with the blood.  Precisely because so many people helped us out in my mom’s time of need last year, we implemented a bi-annual blood letting in all our branches.  We’ve accumulated a surplus at the Red Cross for the purpose of helping out other people who would need blood in the future.  People like this friend.

We told her she needn’t pay for the blood since we were simply paying forward the help we received last year.  The first two times she thanked us but I guess, as I said, some people just need to be independent.  This third time she probably could not take it anymore, she insisted on leaving some money for snacks for our employees.  So I accepted the money, just to make her happy.

I adjust.  Whatever makes the other person happy.

Coconut Wine

ImageWe tried coconut wine the other day.  I was intrigued by the label.  Made from young coconut water in cooperation with a Champagne institute in Epernay.

It was a bit pricey at PHP750 since we bought it from a resort but the bottle it came in (a real coconut) was unique and well, it makes me feel good to support local products.

It was good.  I liked it.  It was semi-sweet, actually like a toned down sweet tasting sake.  Good.