There is nothing like waking up in the morning with the sound of nature telling you, “Hey, the Higher Power loves you and is giving you a gift to live another day.” Thank you, Big U.

Today, I woke up with the sound of a tropical rainstorm. Huge drops of water may be heard on our tin roof. The sound of the drops is a simple pleasure that has enriched my creative life at any age, at any place I woke up to with a dream in my heart. I cannot compare it to any other sound. It is so special in its own.

I looked out beyond the fence that separates our home from the forest. I observed the two narra trees taking a beating from the downpours, and so does the African tulip tree that our friend and neighbor Helna Grant gave for Wiel’s 56th birthday.

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The Knight Owns a Turntable and a Hundred LPs

A conversation piece, indeed:

Dutchy and I chanced upon this shop again where they sell old-school turntables (fabricated to look like antique, with bluetooth). I gushed. This has been in my bubble thoughts for a long time!

Now- He and I have a verbal pact to unclutter our lives that began two years ago since we renovated house: “Unclutter, declutter, throw and/or give away things that contribute to clutter!”

In short, one should throw away something from the house that hasn’t been used for a year BEFORE bringing in a new one. (Who do you think has more kitsch between the two of us?)

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Conversations with My Mother’s Ashes

Conversations with My Mother’s Ashes

In my dream, I heard my mom’s familiar whistle, ‘weet-woot.’ It was a sketchy dream, however, that sound was unmistakably hers.

Yes, she whistled like a “sigang babae”- far better than any man’s so I couldn’t really say like a man’s. It was her exclamation point to things, occurrences, & persons that amazed her.

I woke up & checked the clock, it was 3 AM. Even at death she remained an importunate spirit. She (or her memories) always picked 3 AM to wake me. Could it be the exact time she died? My brother Noel found her lifeless body sometime after 4 AM on March 27, two years ago.

I went to the hallway to pat the urn where her ashes resides. It rests on the foyer table beside the Buddha bust, a proud temporary shiny squatter of space. (She died a Catholic, she must be giving me the dirty finger right now. I didn’t care, she can’t push me around anymore with religion.)

I said: “Happy(?) birthday, Mama. (How can one be happy when one is dead? How can one have emotions? We living people are funny about greeting our dead that way. So I told her ashes: “I am happy to commemorate your birthday, Mama.”

(I am happy today, indeed. Today, Wiel & I came home to a lovely sunrise, chirping of birds, a glimpse of the mighty flight of the Luzon Hornbill. Our longing for home was cured by the taste of Malunggay con fruits smoothie for breakfast.)

Concepcion would have been 71 years old today.

I told my father & brothers that I would drive ‘her’ myself to Olongapo Memorial Park but that was since a month ago. I am using the time with that cold marble urn in the house to finally let her go. It has been two years- and I still get a shot in the heart whenever I think of memories we spent as mother & daughter.

“You are terribly missed, old girl.” The ashes in the urn might be a testimony to nothingness, that life on earth just ends there; and yet, my mother speaks to me everyday: in the way I live, and love, and find splendor even in the smallest gesture of kindness and beautiful feelings. (30)

10 Must-Do Things for New Visitors of Jakarta’s Chinatown

10 Must-Do Things for New Visitors of Jakarta’s Chinatown

WHENEVER I visit a certain destination for at least a week, part of my itinerary is Chinatown. There’s something about it that I feel connected to.

Just like most Filipinos, I am a mix of all races that colonized and resided in our country. My paternal grandmother was Spanish and my paternal grandfather was half-Chinese. Because he was a cook, he dominated the kitchen where I was introduced to Chinese cuisine in early childhood. It has become a major part of my taste bud.

I love Chinese opera, even though I do not understand it (when there are no subtitiles). I love the actors’ graceful movements and the sing-song tones had so much soul in them! How about the cinema (esp. the critically-acclaimed ones that were filmed by Zhang Yimou, Chen Kaige, War-Kang-Wai, Ang Lee, etc.)- I follow the film critics’ review of the best Chinese films and make sure my husband (also a fan of Chinese films) & I watch them. The stories behind the books written by Amy Tan and Anchee Min resonate to me as if I was one of the characters in them.

The terrorist bombing in Jakarta’s city center the week before I arrived was an unfortunate incident. However, it didn’t discourage me from trying what locals in Jakarta do and Chinatown is top of my list. Because there’s only a small percentage of Jakartans who can speak English, I planned on getting a tour guide for my first solo sojourn of the city. I found Jakarta Good Guide that listed Chinatown (Glodok) as one of  the 6 routes in their “Pay-As-You-Wish Walking Tours.” It means, “you are free to tip the guide as much (or as little) as you wish, depending on your satisfaction towards his service.”

I liked it that they said that.

So on this sunny Tuesday (February 23, 2016), I met with 2 other tour group mates, Francois of France, Novie of Bogor, and our remarkable tour guide, Indra, who made it possible for us to enjoy our short tour. I am glad I didn’t listen to the bad reviews. I believe that the Law of Attraction may be at work here!  Read more

Songs from the Soul

(Acknowledgement: Thanks to b yark of youtube for publicly sharing his nice morning prayer video.  As a peaceful visitor of Jakara, I prefer not to download my own video so that my location remains undisclosed.)

Back in the days when I was living in East Kalayaan, Subic Bay, my Korean neighbor’s daily voice practice @ 6 am had been a welcome alarm clock. He was a tenor. Our common backyard park facing the foreste  was his stage.

So there I was every sunrise in my patio with a cup of coffee, listening to my neighbor’s life’s story as told by the tone of his voice. Although I didn’t understand a word (he was singing in his native language), I understand and experienced the meaning of quiet joy. Isn’t that a world we would all love to wake up to?

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My First Day in Jakarta

My First Day in Jakarta

I had so many apprehensions before I came here. The terrorist attack that rocked this nation just a few weeks ago has made me used up my year’s quota of prayers for the safety of my family. Thankfully, the Universe always replenishes my positive thoughts.

Dutchy seems unaffected by the bomb scare. Strong typhoons and high-intensity earthquakes back home didn’t seem to bother him. That’s who he is, our Mr. Positivity.Having taken the evening flight Saturday night from NAIA 2, I arrived at midnight yesterday to a quiet Soekarno-Hatta International Airport. It’s cleanliness and simple elegance seems to tell its visitors: “Hey, we mean tourism business.”

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