Monday, March 29, 2010

I'm leaving on a jet plane...

I know I have not updated my post... I still haven't uploaded those pics I took during my home coming. But these are very crazy days. I have a million and one things to do plus an incident that left me thanking the Lord that I am still alive and safe.

I am leaving tomorrow, so maybe my next post will have to be written in my brother's living room in LA. I hope you will all be here when I return to blogland.

Till then...

Monday, March 22, 2010

Another home coming.

Gah, I am so dumb with gadgets. I was tinkering with my camera trying to upload photos I had taken during my trip to the province but I don’t know how. So I have to wait for my son Benjie to do it for me. I will share them with you on my next post, ok?

The last time I went home was to attend the burial of my Auntie Sophie last year. This time around we will celebrate her first year death anniversary but sans the tears as we intend to celebrate her life. Also my coming home falls right smack into our town fiesta celebration. And as expected the photo above showed a very common scene during any town fiestas anywhere all over the Philippines where the humble Lechon (roasted pig on bamboo poles) is always the star in every gatherings. Why? Because it’s simply yummy..!!!

You see, fiesta celebration in this part of the country is truly a display of hospitality to the highest level! My ancestral home was spruced up weeks before the affair to make it more homey for us balikbayans or people abroad coming home. It is during this time that clans came together in a family reunion, and where we have the chance to meet old friends and new acquaintances.

Going around the town, I see makeshift stores covering a long stretch of street which was close to traffic so I presumed that probably two or more weeks before the fiesta, these makeshift stores and night-life establishments had started moving in from other towns and provinces. In my four days stay there its worth mentioning that I had the most fun meeting up with friends and enjoying the sumptuous food served in every corner of the town. But it was the reunion with kins that mattered the most. Exchanged of stories doesn’t seem to end and the ancestral home is filled with laughter and so much glee.

I left the party at around 2pm as the gastronomic festivities started to simmer and the games are just about to begin. But I have a plane to catch so I bade everyone goodbye with my heart filled with gladness that I was able to create such wonderful moments with them.

Next stop – America. And I am filled with excitement...!

Monday, March 15, 2010

I love you.

When was the last time someone told you “I love you.”?

Oh, I can easily recalled when, and it was just yesterday afternoon and it was just what I needed to hear.

No, it did not come from Mr. J, and I don’t expect to hear such words from him. Neither could I utter the same words to him.

Ok, brace yourself Randy because this is another of those "negative" post, hahaha.

You see, when I got married, I was "in love", so to speak. But that only gets me so far in real life. Having married relatively soon after I began dating Mr J, I had not had a chance to developed that enduring, active love that gets me through the hard times. And boy, how they came, as they always do! And I was totally unprepared to meet them and overcome them together. Instead, we withdrew from each other during the most difficult times.

With three kids and a jobless husband, life has become very challenging for me. I focused my energy and attention in keeping the family afloat while he hit the bottle. I certainly had no idea what to do with him. When we needed each other the most, we each found ourselves alone.

We went on that way for quite some time, living completely separate lives under the same roof. We barely spoke and when we did, it couldn't have been more surface and bland. The "I love yous" turned into obligatory words, said as infrequently as possible. Eventually, it was like pulling teeth to get one out of me. We became more like strangers to one another than husband and wife. In fact, we really didn't even much like each other, let alone have any of the "in love" feelings or the love we had then never developed at all.

It came at a point where I couldn't keep running away. I have two options. I could give up on him and end the marriage or put in time and hard work to rebuild the relationship. I chose the former. And I couldn’t feel more relieved.

Today, there are multiple people in my life that I love in similar and different ways - as friends, family, lover and I try to tell each of them how I feel. The L word has become less frightening as I find it easy to say maybe because I’ve become more appreciative of my own ability to love. I’ve also come to recognize that feeling love for someone is a wonderful thing and that the people I love are very precious.

How about you, when was the last time you say I love you to someone or heard someone say the L words to you?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Things I sometimes take for granted.

By now you all know that I am going home next week, specifically on the 18th. I have not visited Sagay for two years now and I am excited to see my dad again and the rest of the kins.

As I was packing things, ( I’am packing more things than usual because of my trip to the US which will be on the 31st), I realized that there are many things in my life which I take for granted but I know I would find it impossible to live without them. I am not talking about food and clean water, but some things which, although I could technically live without, would hardly make my life worth living in its current comfort.

The first is my family. My sons had given me love and comfort and a joy I could never imagine and never want to imagine being without. Whether it's being at home with them all day or coming back to them after a day out at work. They are the most special to me.

Then there's my other family which includes my dad and mom, my sister and brother, aunties and uncles and cousins. Of course they don’t live with me but they are always on the end of the phone, or at the background trying to make my life secure and happy. So, in different ways I'd find life without the love of my family really difficult and lonely but I suppose it's because we're so close and comfortable with each other that I take them for granted. I just wish I was more thoughtful around them.

Then there’s the internet. After being on broadband for so long, it will be so difficult and quite annoying not to have one. You see, the internet is such an addictive thing and without it, there's no email and a complete lack of communication. Okay, it's not quite that bad but sometimes it's as though the internet is the beginning and end of life for me whether it's me writing my blog, playing games, chatting to friends, watching videos... it’s just unthinkable what life would be without it!

Another thing is the mobile phone. I keep it close by 24/7 - even when I go to bed! Although I rarely use my cellphone, the calls and text messages sent to me are important and I want to be able to respond to them immediately.

And as I look around the house I see ordinary things like a cooker, kettle, fridge and iron making my life so much easier. And as for microwaves, they hardly need mentioning. Now, I feel so guilty about taking everything for granted I'm overcome with emotion!

How about you? What are those things you take for granted but cannot live without?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

It's a risky business.

Yes, all of us have a comfort zone where we feel safe and secure … and it's nice. I have that niche too. But if I don't venture out of this cozy little box of mine, I think I will definitely have some regrets later in life.

I know I can not go back and relive my teen years, my 20s, 30s etc. They're over, and there's no going back, no rewind button!

But you see, I have things I want to do that for a while I am scared of doing - things that to some (this include Sid, and Ray) seem impossible, silly or just impractical. Their minds can think of a million logical reasons why what I want do is just not a good idea. And I understand their apprehensions. However, these "logical" thinking can also hold me back from trying new things, of stepping out and taking risks.

I am aware that risk taking is scary. It brings with it an element of the unknown. Especially in my case as I don't know what is going to happen, or how things are going to work out, or whether it will fail or succeed.

But that's part of the fun guys, if you really think about it. If I already know what the outcome was going to be, there will be no challenge as there is nothing to push me towards it.

I know that not all risks will turn out the way I want them to. You see, I have taken many risks that have completely bombed. But the good thing about that is that I know I tried. I can look back and say that wasn't for me, or I won't do that again, but I will have no regrets. One of the scariest thoughts for me is to think that when I'm older I will look back and have a bunch of regrets. I don't want to feel that I missed out on chances or opportunities all because I was too afraid to try something.

Whether I fail or succeed I will have peace of mind knowing I have tried. I won't be left wondering what if...

So sit back, fasten your seat belt, and take the journey with me!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Star struck.

Of course, everyone should be allowed to remove themselves from the real world every now and again for the sake of enjoyment, right?

Therefore, I listen to music, read books, play online games, and watch movies because it adds atmosphere to the repetitiveness of every day life. But hey, nothing beats watching the Oscar’s or the Academy award!

I gape in awe at the array of beautiful people parading down the red carpet leading into large auditoriums. I still get star struck as the Hollywood's elite posture themselves from the start of the show till the end. For where on earth can I see more glitz, glamor, and money in three hours top?

Sure, it's all rather dazzling, really, not to mention the best distraction for a mundane evening. All the awards, acceptance speeches, tears, deity thanking - darn, I am just happy to switch my brains off and simply go for the ride!

And who wouldn't get excited for an opportunity to see our favorite movie star, not in character, but, as a person? Who wouldn't enjoy watching the appearance of perfection?

I know, I know, it is escapism, pure and simple. But it's not necessarily a bad thing, no?

You see, I am perfectly happy to be able to share a night with the gods of Hollywood.

So, Cheers!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

No cussing allowed!

This is kind of baffling. Well, perhaps the people of California had been cursing their government that now their legislature is contemplating of passing a bill that prohibits swearing, by starting with a ceremonial N0-Cussing Day.

Let’s see…somewhere in their constitution, maybe in the first amendment, it says what a person can say and not say. I doubt very much if these people had taken a refresher course of their legislation. But what the heck, they say it’s just ceremonial and not enforceable, nonetheless, a good idea to stop disgusted people from cursing at them.

I hate to swear too. I am the type who don’t use cuss words to express disgust. But if I live there, I will be rolling on floor laughing over this proposition. As I understand it, civility is taught at home and in school and it has no business in governance. And this will be interesting in California with all the Holywood libs!

You see there is swear words in every language and there is no lack of vulgar expression in English language. But words are words. A swear word is composed of letters and syllables just like any other word. I think the problem is not with the language itself but at the intent the word is used and perceived. After all, words don't hurt people. People use words to hurt people. By themselves, the words are meaningless; it takes someone to use them that gave them their true character.

Back to California…the state practically invented poor speech, thanks to Hollywood, and now they are going extra mile to do the right thing? They say profanity is related to drugs and violence.

Lets wait and see if things there will improve...

Monday, March 1, 2010

Not an AI wannabe, but I'm going to Hollywood!

If it weren't for my net connection going bonkers these past week, I would have written about this earlier, anyway...

You see, visiting the US has never been my dream, maybe because there are many who wanted to go there so desperately, and I do not like to go with the mainstream. Also, because I have heard numerous stories from friends how difficult it is to secure an appointment for a US visa and the amount of documents one has to submit to the US embassy. Getting a US visa is pretty daunting according to those people who have applied for it. But my mother's birthday is coming up and it would be a pleasant surprise if I could be there to share the day with her. So I finally applied for a US visa!

Ok now, here's the scenario.The United States embassy here in Manila will only issue a non-immigrant visa after a successful face-to-face interview. We can schedule the interview on line or call the embassy for an appointment after one has paid the fee which is non-refundable $10.00. Actually, It used to be that visa appointment are scarce and are booked only as soon as they become available. Before, it may take between 5 to 10 weeks to get an appointment.

But in my case it was fast! When I logged online to see the schedule there is already the whole week between Feb 22 – 26 that is vacant. So I asked for Feb 25 at 1pm for my schedule. Of course I have to fill out the application form also known as DS -156, DS-157. In addition, I am required to submit a passport-sized photo, valid passport(I have to renew mine because it expired last 2007 yet), and an application fee which is again non-refundable amounting to $131.00. They say it’s important that I will be able to show proof of my ties to my country therefore I have to prepare documents that will show just that. Depending on how many papers one has to prepare, the process could be too time-consuming and sometimes confusing. Add to the raft of form-filling, dredging up details of husband, parents names, identities, nationalities, and downloading barcodes from US government websites. It is not a thing of joy.

Once I get to the embassy, I was restricted to carry any electrical equipment with me -not even a cellphone or bottled water. No bags, nothing that could be used to assault so fine a building as the US embassy. But when I finally arrived – as you are now allowed to – half an hour before my 1 pm appointment, my nightmare transformed into a dream world.

The interview was short- less than seven questions asked, that it took me longer to line up than being interview by the embassy personnel. I even offered some documents to prove my point but the person inside the cubicle told me it isn’t necessary as the document is irrelevant. I thought he will deny me entry to the US! But no, he seemed satisfied already with the data in my application form and my answers to his questions because he told me to proceed to pay for my passport delivery!

Getting a visa isn’t really difficult as long as you can prove to the interviewing officer the strong ties you have in your country which will compel you to come back, like your job, business and your family.

Now that I have gone through the process, I wish I had braved it earlier and probably had a nice winter vacation. Although I knew Sid will cringe at the idea of winter being nice, hahaha.

I will be in the US by the end of this month. Yipee!


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