A Birthday Wish and A Birthday Gift

Before we left for Canada, my mother brought me and my sisters to a Joey Ayala concert. His melodies were a part of my childhood music education along with The Phantom of the Opera, the Bukidnon lullabye and assorted children’s songs but I have never been in one of his performances until then. I was excited!
I learned during this event that aside from being an exceptional artist, Joey Ayala is also a super effective facilitator*. Instead of a traditional music session, I found myself participating in a workshop! We were seated around tables, provided papers and coloured pencils. Imagine the audience being asked, What do you love doing? by a man walking around with a guitar and singing Ang Lahat ng Bagay ay Magkaugnay. He continued with more ideas and questions: What are you good at? What are your strengths? What do you want to do? Who do you want to be? 
In the course of a few hours, each us had come up with a draft of our Salundiwa or what I can only loosely translate as personal vision. My family still has each of our Salundiwa posted in our rooms. 
At this point, I am going to have to admit that I have just turned a year older this month. While my twenty something years seem to be fraught with uncertainty, disappointment and failure I am grateful for the constant source of inspiration from other people I admire and surprisingly even from myself.
On my birthday, instead of defaulting into my list-making habit, I did not to make one. I always had a list. I make lists and revise them regularly that making one for this year would be redundant. Instead, with the spirit of the Salundiwa workshop, I decided to focus more on discerning, seeking wisdom in my decisions so that I can align my lists with my Salundiwa or personal vision. Besides, doesn’t diwa mean the sense, the meaning, or the soul?
just having fun – yay!
There are many things I want to happen in my life. I want to travel. I want to be independent and not rely on a job. I still think of myself crazy how I can want so much but then again, do I really want to toil away and not get anywhere? Or get somewhere but not where I imagined and would love myself to be? 
In the midst of my country mourning the loss of Sec. Jesse Robredo, seeing how he lived his life has instilled in my mind and heart that nothing is impossible. When he entered public office, he was determined to do what was right and not to be swallowed up by the system. In Philippine politics riddled with corruption, that is an “impossible” feat but he did it and had he lived longer he would continue to do it.
I see how taking the steps to achieve one’s dreams incurs a lot of discomfort. Sec. Robredo has been criticized, sued many times over, challenged by overwhelming pressure but the changes he has put in place, the good that came out of his vision was surely worth the temporary discomfort. 
My mentor says, you have to be comfortable with being uncomfortable to be comfortable. It’s a mouthful but it makes so much sense. Until recently, I used to be so worried about my achievements as they compare to my peers’. I’ve always felt I wasn’t good enough. The fact that I am a self confessed glossy mag reader doesn’t help because those things always seem to require me to be so and so. 
One time at the airport I came up with an imaginary identity just for fun in case someone who had no better things to do would chat me up. Lara Abelardo – well travelled author, non-profit organization program manager, dances and scuba dives in her spare time
Of course my name is not Lara Abelardo. I can’t write a cohesive post. This girl works in customer service, can’t swim and has two left feet. But my birthday wish isn’t to be her or a version of this imaginary woman. My birthday wish is to someday live the life I want to live and be an example so other people know that it’s possible. In the end, my greatest gift this year is that I am happy that I no longer care of what the world expects me to be at the age of 2_ and in knowing that I now have the inner resolve to be who I , and only I, want myself to be.
*This is funny but I just googled him again a few minutes ago and found my realizations backed up by his twitter description: singer, songwriter, facilitator.

Canada Day and Steveston Salmon Festival

The Steveston Salmon Festival fell on the same Sunday as Canada Day so my family and I went to Steveston, Richmond to take part of the festivities. And what’s my default post like when I get lazy? They say a picture paints a thousand words. Teehee!

*Edit: All the pictures were taken by Astrid of Superboink. She always brings her cam despite how heavy it is. Check out her photo blog pixelsandcelluloid.tumblr.com for more beautiful photos!

I just had to say that the ice cream guy looked at me for a good two seconds
after I told him what flavours  I wanted. “Wasabi and Butterscotch, what a combination.” He said.
 That was the first time I tried wasabi ice cream and it wasn’t bad at all!

Continue reading “Canada Day and Steveston Salmon Festival”

On Language

I grew up speaking Cebuano (or commonly known as Bisaya). Everytime people, mostly Tagalog-speaking, comment on  someone’s “off” accent in English  as “Bisaya kasi”, it really turns me off. Most of the time, I don’t say anything because I find it exhausting to argue. Sometimes I want to retaliate by saying, “I’ve heard a lot of Non-Cebuano people say em arrr teee with a rolled R when they say MRT. Or they say wan tertiii, again rolling the R, when they want to say one thirty. Also they say sirkel when they want to say circle.” I could get as stereotypical as they are and inform them that the best English speakers I have met in the Philippines are Cebuanos and Ifugaos. But I keep my mouth shut because again I am not as aggressive as I really want or ought to be. Plus, how better off am I if I judge people by the way they pronounce things?
However, I do wish that teachers would especially make the effort to be critical about what they say in class because they have the power to influence children. If anything, they should encourage children to be more articulate in ANY language they are comfortable with. And how I wish we were all comfortable in our language no matter what it is. During one of our field work in college, one of our Matigsalug interviewee shared that some Matigsalug children sometimes did not want to speak their language in school because the Visayan children would make fun of them. This time, it’s the Bisaya who think they are better off in a so-called hierarchy of languages/ethnicity. To even think that there should be a hierarchy of ethnicity is limited, too linear and actually HORRIBLE but this is what society perpetuates. I write more comfortably in English than Bisaya but I speak more comfortably in Bisaya than in any other language. It’s never black and white. It’s complicated but it’s also exciting. That’s the beauty of diversity.
Note: This post was brought on by a news clip from Al Jazeera about languages that are used less and less.

Book List: Pre-teen and High School Years

I have been wanting to write about the books that were part of my growing up. Finally, I mustered up the will to do so thanks to Honey who just informed me that she found one of the books we read more than 10 years ago! So here’s a not-so-complete list of books that were part of my tween and early teen years:
The Love Hunt
This is the book that Honey and I went gaga over back in 6th grade. When she told me she found it, I was reminded of our twelve year old selves gushing over nerdy but handsome Andy Chevalier. It’s my first chick lit and it was ridden with stereotypes such as the popular jock, the nerdy biology genius and the popularity conscious but sweet high school girl. We followed the protagonist Erika’s love life and it introduced us to the world of teenage love and flirting. Honey says, it made us swoon over nerds! Which reminds me, we’ve been friends for so long!

The Chronicles of Narnia
This book set came with soap scented towels, bottles of Herbal Essence shampoo and a stash of assorted chocolate bars. In other words, it came in a balikbayan box. My aunt always sent books with clothes and toiletries from the US. The set itself is old and housed in a wonderfully illustrated box exactly like the one pictured here. Reading the entire series would span years. I began with The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe in 4th grade, and finished the series in college. I also didn’t read it in order which didn’t matter because once I was in their world, I was lost, happy and ready for any adventure.



To Kill A Mockingbird                
This has got to be the most nostalgic and loveliest coming-of-age book. But then again, how many have I read anyway? It’s a classic and a required reading for most American schools. It’s told from the eyes of a child, Scout, growing up in the South. It shows the lightness and happiness of childhood and the seriousness of oppression and racial injustice. 


The Harry Potter Series

I don’t think there is a need for explanation regarding this series. Let’s just say that books that have magic, friendship and love will always make for a great reading experience.

Sweet’s Folly
Sweet’s Folly is about this young lady who marries her best friend’s brother for convenience. She realizes though that she is actually in love with him. So while she pines for her husband, she also feels guilty for “imprisoning” him in their marriage. Again, it’s a template romance novel but I love the characters and you can really feel the tension between them. This book has kilig written all over it! The lesson is nothing new. Be honest with your feelings. Swallow your pride and just profess that love. The worse thing that can happen is the person won’t love you back while there’s always the possibility that he actually does! I’m currently reading a mystery by the same author under a different penname, Ellen Pall.



Legend was the first sexy romance novel I read. While the boys in junior high school were busy discovering and sharing their porn cd’s, the girls were being introduced to Jude Deveraux novels. We  would suppress giggles while passing these paperbacks in class, safely hidden behind our academic books. Everyone knew which pages had the steamy scenes. So here we see where the misunderstanding begins. Women expect to be wooed, kissed, seduced and treated the way leading men treat the heroines of these stories. Men on the other hand sometimes get confused when to be sweet, gentle, sensitive and when to apply what they learned from raunchy flicks.

The Matisse Stories

My very close friend, Janelle and I once bought books by the kilo from the local university’s library warehouse. I think that was what I thought it was. One of those books was AS Byatt’s The Matisse Stories which I plunked into our pile because of its cover. I had not heard of her then but became engrossed with the collection. Later on, I would prefer to read short stories over novels. I found that they made good introductions to authors I wanted to read but was too hesitant or lazy to commit time to a full novel. For instance, while reading 100 Years of Solitude may be threateningly cumbersome, Marquez’s Strange Pilgrims might easily give one a sense of his writings in the instant gratification of short stories.

The Little Prince

You can read The Little Prince at ten or eighty and still find something meaningful. There are just too many quotable quotes from this book. Apart from the delightful illustrations, this is on my list because I enjoyed our class discussions about what we learned from the wise little prince and I also missed a bus stop when I reread it some months ago.

There’s not a single book by a Filipino author here but that deserves another entry. I only began to discover local literature in college which, for me, could be a bad sign. Are Filipino high school kids missing out on the wealth of Philippine Literature? I hope not!

Still, library access is probably one of the best things a kid (or any person) could have!

Getting Organized

My mom gets upset when she sees us not wearing house slippers. Maybe she vicariously feels the cold floor or it doesn’t sit well with her generation’s sensibilities. This brings me to think of how I should put things in place— categorize and classify them as they should be, at least according to my own sensibilities. At one time, I can leave a room looking topsy turvy-clothes strewn all over the floor. On another, I could be obsessively wiping a tiny stain off a kitchen appliance. Anyhow, I’d rather be organized. As a bored girl on her day off, here’s a rundown of things I want to get done:


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Currently Reading | Building Social Business: The New Kind of Capitalism That Serves Humanity’s Most Pressing Needs

My search for finding a fulfilling and interesting career has led me into all sorts of directions– from art and design to culinary arts to development work and finance. I am uncertain how near or far I am from a career but I’ve come across very interesting ideas and people. One of those people I found out about was Muhammad Yunus. He is a Bangladeshi Nobel Peace Prize awardee, praised for founding Grameen Bank, an institution that loaned to the poor (who otherwise would be turned away by most banks) to build or augment their own small businesses.

In this book, he outlines his vision of a new kind of capitalism. He defines the concept of social business where the objective is to solve a social problem. It’s a different creature from a traditional business and also unlike a charity or non-profit. It’s also not quite a social enterprise. It’s a very interesting concept where one is in a business not for profit but to alleviate poverty and better serve humanity.  There’s no need to be an economist, a businessman or a development worker to appreciate his ideas. This book is inspiring and delightfully easy to understand. I haven’t finished it but it’s proving to be a very good read.