Merry Christmas!

Christmas tree 2012

It is that time of the year where family and friends gather together, strangers smile at each other and the Christmas air is filled with love and gratitude. It is truly the best time of the year. From my family to yours, Maligayang Pasko!

PS: Someone’s getting good at doing her domestic diva duties. Well, except for doing the photo collage and doing the flower arrangement, but I did bought and chose the flowers. haha! Merry Christmas!

2012 achievement

Christmas is indeed a gift of love and giving, a gift of joy and good life. May these priceless treasures stay in your hearts today and always. From the Philippines, Maligayang Pasko po! Merry Christmas everyone.

Happy Mother’s Day

No language can express the power, and beauty, and heroism, and majesty of a mother’s love.  It shrinks not where man cowers, and grows stronger where man faints, and over wastes of worldly fortunes sends the radiance of its quenchless fidelity like a star.  ~Edwin Hubbell Chapin

To all the Mommies out there, Happy Mother’s Day! Special shout out to our Moms, Momi Mai, Mommy Elvie and Mommy Maila. Happy Mother’s Day, we love you and we’re blessed to have you in our lives. Lots of Love, Joann and Gila  ♥

Picture taken by Ate Jenny 🙂

Cooking Attempts 1.0

For somebody who still wonder how she passed Home Ec class in high school, the attempt to cook something is a huge achievement. Yes, I am laughing out loud by the mere thought of me doing some cooking chores which transcends frying Spam or hot-dogs. I am not making a career change obviously, I have poor food styling technique and after several years, I still don’t have the flair of food decorating and I am simply content by eating and being a food tester. You can see some of my attempts last week to cook something from the cook book and I have proven several things namely:

1. I can get in touch with my domestic diva nature in the kitchen.

2. I am still overcoming the impulse to wash my fingers from the scent of garlic and onion while peeling them.

3. I have the semi to full obsessive compulsive nature of cutting the tomatoes, onion leeks, garlic and onions in almost the same size.

4. I don’t want to see a cluttered kitchen table, ergo, I am multi-tasking of cleaning the plates of the ingredients while waiting for the tomato sauce to simmer.

5. I can guarantee and clean kitchen.

6. More trial and error to come up with a picture perfect dish.

7. No matter how it taste, it’s either too much or none at all, the most important thing is I’ve tried and the family enjoyed it (or at least appeared to enjoy it. haha!)

Here are some of the attempts to cook, just smile, it looks fresh from a Home Ec class 🙂

It’s supposed to be grilled fish with stir fried bean curd. But it looks like a tofu (aka tokwa) festival with grilled fish. Haha!
 It’s supposed to be an Oriental Beef stir-fry and yes, it rained sesame seeds on this one and the cauliflowers were all upside down. Haha!
This is  supposed to be Beans Con Carne. I am not a fan of vegetables (Mums, your eyebrows please) and obviously, I only have three strings of beans to go with this and it looks like Giniling (ground pork) in tomato sauce with several beans. Haha! :p
Pork with (a few) bean sprouts. :p
This was our Sunday lunch (3-25-2012) it’s Tanigue Korean Barbecue and Ginisang Togue (sautéed bean sprouts with tomatoes)
And yes, it’s a big improvement from these set of menu. 😉
The corned beef combo (with plugging, haha!)
The Spam with Egg combo
And yes, I am sure, my Dad is having a laughing fits in the heavens above. And speaking of, I do miss his cooking like these:
The Adobo 🙂
Sweet and Sour Fish (Tilapia)
As they say, practice makes perfect and if all else fails, you can always dial your local fast food delivery store 🙂

Reposting my Old Blog Post

I am re-posting one of my older blog entry (from another site), since I have used some parts of it for my friend who is having a difficult time right now.  I suddenly remembered this post and decided to re-post it here. Looking back and looking at the things right now, I am indeed doing good despite of everything.

Here it goes:

Relieved and Moving On

I’ve been meaning to write something as I turned a year older a couple of weeks ago, but due to some unavoidable circumstances and my being usually glued to the bed or playing on line games, it has been put off and for all I know, November 2009 is half way through.

2009… an exceptional year

If I will be named after a book for this year, I will name myself “Acts of Faith.”Faith has its way of challenging whatever it is that I believed for. The belief in God. The belief in the goodness of others. And more importantly to believe in myself once more. This year, faith asks me to believe some more and to hold on. Indeed, faith made my path a little clearer.

Playing with my strength

“When outward strength is broken, FAITH draws the sting out of trouble and takes out the bitterness from every affliction.”

It is a bitter-sweet year for me. For most part of the year, I have succumbed to all kinds of pain… both physical and psychological. At one point, I think I can no longer feel the pain, at times I think I am pain incarnate. Now, I recalled that quote from a Buddhist website which says “Pain is what the world does to you, suffering is what you do to yourself. Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.” With this, I have realized that I really cannot avoid pain, it is all over… the pain of failure, the pain of being disappointed by someone you hold dear, the pain of being over worked and being over looked, the pain of being neglected by some people you call your friends, the pain of being bullied by others to what they think is best for you, the pain of being used and abused for being nice and kind;  to dysmenorrhea, rhinitis, to back and stomach aches to having a big toe nail removed to root canal. Plain and simple pain, but to do something to aggravate it, it is indeed a formula for suffering. I have been pushed beyond my strength and endurance, physically and emotionally. It has been a struggle in finding the where and the how’s in my so-called life. Oftentimes I have been lost for words to describe how it feels.

I am surprised to find myself doing acts of courage and showing resilience in an otherwise very difficult time. It took me some time to really figure out on how to move on despite the fact that some are pulling me backwards. I have proven that when you set your heart and mind to it, nothing and no one can stop you from living the life you’ve always wanted to have. And yes, I have literally moved heaven and earth to be the person that I am right now.

Patience

I am a staunch advocate of patience is a virtue. Nevertheless, as quite frequently this year, doubt was cast upon this virtue, maybe because of out of sheer desperation and depression or the stubbornness that goes along with me. But at the end of the day, I have realized that patience is more than the ability to wait. It is the “ability to keep a positive attitude while waiting.” Yes, patience to wait that in due time, I will reap the fruits of my labor. But for the meantime, to do the things that needs to be done in order to get there.

Composure and compartmentalized

I am usually a very composed person. Sometimes too composed to a fault, a clear example of what Lady Gaga will sing to you… a “poker face.” If I am a witch in the world of Harry Potter, I can say that I am highly gifted with Occlumency and the ability to cast a strong patronus to cast off the dementors. I have been bullied and pushed around by some people from the office. And I think at this time, someone is still stalking me for the life of her. I have shown once more that amidst the difficult situation that I have been placed this year, I did not lose the sense of direction and the sense of purpose in facing whatever circumstances have come my way.

I was able to compartmentalized in my head that personal things are left to be personal and in no way should it interfere in the performance when it comes to work. Work will be work and personal difficulties should not interfere with and vice versa. Admittedly the personal side was affected by the work side. I am just sad in knowing that during the last few months in office, work does not really work for me anymore. I have reached the dead-end in my so-called work. I could not see any improvement from where I stood. I cannot see one good reason to stay, because I think unintentionally, I have been pushed against the wall and have been running around in circles. But despite all of these, I have risen once more to heed the call of duty, my work calls of me. I was able to deliver more than what anybody in that office could imagine. I have been doing the work of say four people all at once. Did they hear me complain? The answer is no. That is why they got the surprise of their lives when I finally decided to resign mid October of this year.

Yes, they cannot read what is in my mind, and the deepest thoughts and longing of my heart. I am good at it. Only a few selected people knew what has been going on in the otherwise darkest months of this year from April to September. I can hear you say it is very Scorpio, yes, it is Scorpio indeed.

On PLAK and the gains offered

My work speaks for itself. I was able to meet all the deadline, work with minimal to actually no supervision at all. My opinion matters (so do I think), I was able to trouble shoot loose ends, provided the necessary technical background to address one situation over the other. I have guided a few people on how to go about their work. I am not selfish; I think I really can be a good teacher.

I have been promised position, financial gains and power. Some people thought that probably I am one of those PLAK as in “pera lang ang katapat.” Who wouldn’t be tempted with power and money? But then again I think “It is not enough to do things the right way. What is important is to things for the right reason.” We all need money to meet the basic necessity in life… food, clothing and shelter. However, happiness cannot be equated with it. I have proven to myself that although we need it for survival, it is not the end itself. I have realized that your money can buy you medicine, but it can never buy good health or it can buy you mansion and villas all over, but it cannot build a home. You can buy all the gourmet food in town, but you cannot buy a good and cheerful mealtime conversation with family and friends. I have affirmed that in life, there are things that money cannot really buy.

It also dawned to me that when I looked around me, with my family and friends beside me, I have fully comprehended that we’re all doing good, although we are not among the rich and the famous. I have realized that with my parents’ earnings, we have not just a house, but a home. A home full of love, warmth and security. A home where dreams are encouraged and which allows you to play and draw your strength and courage. A home where mealtimes are always happy events. I have also realized that although I and my friends hardly wore signature clothes, with our hard work we are able to get into the places where the so-called bourgeois hang out though not as frequently as they could. But as I have said, no amount of ambiance and fine dining can replace happy conversation with friends. I and my friends shared a common passion of being happy above anything else and that’s what matters the most, as we would quote a credit card company ad….”for everything else there’s a master card.”

I would rather be at home enjoying clover and coke with my brother or at my friend’s house watching a reality TV show over a few drinks, or malling around with a childhood friend looking for stuffs and pieces, rather than be in the company of grumpy people in a five-star hotel where all they do was to throw mud at each other’s back and judge you not by the goodness and sincerity of your heart, but by the clothes you wear right in front of your equally surprised face.

A good friend was playing devil’s advocate over lunch, she told me to go after the money and imagine all the places we can get into it. I said to her, we can go there by ourselves and that would be nicer. We’ve been to places without them; we’ve travelled and rewarded ourselves accordingly. Don’t worry, abundance will come our way too. And she smiled and I know I have made the right decision right there and then.

Add to these are some of the downers…one person literally discouraged me; it’s among the worst entry of this year. Imagine someone saying to you that you don’t need a title to be in the job. I answered to this effect… “I am taking my chances on my dream. I always wanted it no matter how hard the road may be. I have been given another chance, another lease to try and I am taking it, as much as you are taking your chances in your next path. I am thankful for your trust and confidence in me and in my abilities, but I am sticking with my goal. I cannot rest until I have done everything within my power and my grasp to reach it and eventually have it.” Yes, he said it twice in front of my face and me, your usual poker face, I have explained my side once and there is no need to repeat it to person who is already narrow-minded. There is also this other person, imagine hearing… “Your plans won’t work” of course, I invoke all the Zen thoughts not to hit him real hard on the face or I am speaking seriously when that as**e turned his back on me while I was speaking, he should be thankful to my mom for raising me with enough good manners not to strangle him right then and there. You could just imagine me turning red with rage, considering that this person is highly educated to act this way. (And yes, now I have affirmed that he is really pathetic and such a loser of a man that he is) I tell you, I want to duel him in the parking lot and really hit him hard with all the strength I could muster. He should be thankful I do not know any karate or else…or they should just be plain and simple be thankful for that I am simply nice. Thank the high heavens for St. Francis’ Prayer of Peace.

And I quote “None of us are defined by our circumstances. NOR ARE WE DEFINED BY HOW OTHER PERCEIVE US. It is up to each one of us to define ourselves and that is a life’s work.” How true indeed.

Envy is my favorite sin

Envy is indeed a capital sin. I don’t know if I should consider it as a compliment when some “halimaws” from work turned green with envy as I passed them. They tell stories behind my back which just show that gossiping are one of the highly enjoyable things to do with your clothes on. These “halimaws” waste people’s time and money ironing their hair (which I think that no amount of rebond can do wonders. Do I hear resbak time? Hahaha!) These pathetic little b*es with pea brains have nothing to do with their time than gossip and back fight each other. Indeed, an idle mind is a devil’s playground. They’re so plastic and back fighters. I know I have irked them some more by not descending to their level. Oh my, I wouldn’t of course, I am highly educated with good manners and right conduct not to stoop down to them, although admittedly, I wish them perpetual diarrhea.

Envious people are all around us. I understand that they are envious because, they could never be me, not even my big toe, not in this lifetime, not ever. And as the character of Claire Vigee in The Bronte Project says “I am a woman, I am brilliant and powerful and I don’t apologize for any. That frightens some men (and some women chismosas too)… but what can I do, if they’re pathetic.”

The power of prayers

Mother Theresa of Calcutta once said “prayer is joy, prayer is love, and prayer is peace. You must experience prayer. It is not impossible. God gives it for the asking.”

I cannot really say that I am a devout Catholic. But I do pray. I do give thanks for all the blessings I have received, prayed for guidance everyday and prayed fervently that things will come to order. This year more than ever, I have realized the power of prayers. I will always be thankful to all the kind-hearted souls around me who always send their love and their words of encouragement, and most importantly, those who prayed with me, it means so much to me. It has sustained me in this otherwise very difficult moment in my life.

All throughout this year, I have been struggling to understand some more the raison d’être behind the words “When God takes something from your grasp, He’s not punishing you, but merely opening your hands to receive something better. The will of God will never take you where the grace of God will not protect you.” Acts of Faith told me to simply trust God’s plan, His wisdom and timing. Above all, to trust God for everything. I have read a number of self-help books all of them pointed to HAVING FAITH. Faith that everything will turn out well, that God blesses and guides when we think of quitting. Start with a loving compassion to oneself as the Dalai Lama always says.

Yes, sometimes we have to be broken to be whole again. Because in the process, God wants us to pick up something better and hope for the best today and always. Prayers sustained me as I pick up the pieces which have been broken and it has been my passport to start a new. God indeed in his infinite wisdom gave me the strength to persevere and not to surrender. For it is indeed true that“No one has travelled the road of success without crossing the streets of failure. God never promised us an easy journey in life… only safe arrival.” Looking back, I wonder how I made it through, and I have realized that it is not because I have been strong, but because God is mighty and has been faithful to me. He does answer my prayers in the way that is best for me. As in the book Eat, Pray, Love…like the author, Elizabeth Gilbert I am indeed allowed to petition the universe with prayers, I am part of this universe and I am entitled to participate in the actions of the universe and to let my feelings be known. Yeah, it will at least be taken into consideration. After all, Seek and you shall find.

Leaving my comfort zone

One of my self-help book says “Pursuing your dreams requires you to leave your established comfort zone and to push into areas where at first you may feel that you have less control. That means pushing beyond what is known to you, taking risks and learning to view failure as merely a step rather than a defeat.” It may sound crazy or unfathomable to some, but I think resigning from the office is but a prelude to a closure to the pain and sadness of this year. I do not know what lies ahead, I need to make both ends meet and I have some loose ends to tie also. As I have said before, nothing starts easy, especially if you’re starting from scratch with broken pieces with you. Acts of faith tells me that it is essential to find faith in all of these. Faith that everything will be alright soon. At the rate things are going right now, I am doing well for someone who has been down and out. I just have to work hard some more to finally reach it.

I have travelled this long and there is no turning back. Dharma master Cheng Yen says “Continue even when it is hard to go on. Release even when it is hard to let go. Endure when it is hard to bear. This is how we build character.” With all the love around me, I know I will always be alright. And as what my soul sister, US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton once said…“When you stumble, keep faith. And when you’re knocked down, get right back up and never listen to anyone who says you can’t or shouldn’t go on.” Acts of faith in deed.

Moving On

A new acquaintance once texted “Life has many great options, but you don’t have to pick always what seems to be the best. Just pick whatever makes you really happy and it will be the best and perfect choice.” After all the storms in my life and the country has to endure this year (remember Ondoy and Pepeng and Santi), a day is dawning. The sun is now smiling and encouraging all of us to rebuild our lives and not to lose hope. As I have said in my other notes… I have chosen my happiness. The road ahead is clear, it indeed took me quite some time to clear my vision on the road I am travelling, but nonetheless I am here, though battle weary for most part of the year, I could not express how grateful I am to the high heavens for sustaining me through all of these and most importantly, for still having my heart in the right place. I am ever thankful that no matter how deep the pain is, I have not lost my sight with what is important and for those that really matters. I am thankful that I have grown stronger and wiser and my heart is not hardened by the circumstances which I have been through this year.

More than anything else, I am relieved beyond all compared. I sleep well and smile more frequently now. I know, everything will be alright.

It’s been almost three years since I wrote this blog post. Yes, I’ve been to hell and back again to down and out only to rise one more time.  The best way to sum up this roller coaster ride is through this quote (which I forgot where I got from): “Be soft. do not let the world make you hard. Do not let pain make you hate. Do not let bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that though the rest of the world disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful world.”

 

March: Women’s Month

The month of March is designated as the International Women’s Month in the Philippines (and the rest of the world). In this special month, women all over the world are honored for their contribution to society, business, politics and culture. March 8 is the annual celebration of Women’s Day. It is a month long celebration of achievement and the advocacy for equality and emancipation.

And as the IWD website says: “So make a difference, think globally and act locally! Make everyday International Women’s Day. Do your bit to ensure that the future for girls is bright, equal, safe and rewarding” and I have to say cheers to that. Make it women’s day every day. To all my ladies out there, stand tall and know you’re always special.

Here’s a text message I got from a friend and I would like to share it with you:

“Man is the most elevated of all creatures, woman is the most sublime of all ideals. Man is the brain, woman is the heart. The brain enlightens, the heart loves. Man is genius; a woman an angel. Genius is immeasurable, an angel is undefinable. Man is the code, woman is the gospel. The Code corrects, the Gospel perfects. Man is the eagle that flies; woman is the lark that sings. To fly is dominate space; to sing is to conquer the soul. Man is placed where the earth ends. Woman is placed where the heaven begins.”

 Here’s a prayer I have received from a friend and has been sharing it with my other girlfriends and to you:

“Dear Lord, the woman reading this is kind and I am proud of her. Please help her to live life to the fullest and bless her in her chosen field. Help her shine in the darkest places and let love flow in her path. Please protect her all times and lift her up when she needs you most. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Let’s pass the love and the inspiration today and always. Cheers to the ladies!

A Year after the 3-11 Earthquake and Tsunami

March 11, 2012 marks the first year anniversary of one of the worst natural disaster of our time. The magnitude 9.0 earthquake was followed by a tsunami and the subsequent nuclear meltdown of the three reactors of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. The catastrophe is perhaps one of the worst in living memory. It claimed no less than 15, 000 lives, more than 3,000 people were unaccounted, caused the major evacuation of more than 300,000 people and triggered a nuclear meltdown affecting more residents. Up to this date, I cannot believe that such disastrous events can occur as it is, without the technological effects of computer like those in the movies. I can still remember being rooted on the ground when I saw this image, which looks like logs but actually, it is the tsunami making its way to push cars, ship, airplane and what ever goes along the way to eternity. Not to mention the ruined buildings and other infrastructure. The loss of lives and the grief it evokes is far beyond these graphic images.

From Wikimedia-Commons

Fast forward, a year later.

I saw the documentary made by Kara David in I-witness, aired last February 27, 2012. It was entitled “Ang Pagbangon ng Japan” (The Rise of Japan). I am deeply moved by the stories of the survivors and the resiliency of the residents of the area, particularly those from Sendai among others. It is truly inspirational to see that the Japanese people, together with other kababayans in the area are showing a courageous heart and positive attitude despite what happened. We, in the Philippines should take a leaf out of their books with regards to discipline, good governance, resiliency, hard work and faith. Yes, faith to transcend whatever hardships we have to face as we journey through life. It is truly admirable to see the Japanese’s discipline, governmental support, people’s cooperation in order to rebuild their city and to rebuild their lives.

From Reuters

From Reuters

I am deeply moved by stories of the survivors and their enormous courage to go on with their lives. If this is called faith, yes, I have it, we all have it.

Here are some quotes showing faith, hope, gratitude and courage from the memorial services for the 3-11 earthquake:

From Reuters

“Our predecessors who brought prosperity to Japan have repeatedly risen up from crises, every time becoming stronger. We will stand by the people from the disaster-hit areas and join hands to achieve the historic task of rebuilding.” ~Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda

“Quitters never win, winners never quit.” ~Ambassador Toshinao Urabe

And as Kara David aptly puts it “Gaano man katagal ang gabi, may umagang sisilip.”

From Reuters

Our thoughts and prayers are always with you Japan.

 

*Photos from (top to bottom) BBC, Wikimedia-Commons, National Geographic and the last 4 were from Reuters.