Of Typhoon Glenda and Disaster Preparedness

The Philippines is no stranger to natural disasters. As a matter of fact, it has been one of the major sources of international attention to the country in the past few years, especially in the wake of typhoon Yolanda (known as Haiyan in international news platforms.) A few days ago, only 8 short months after Yolanda, typhoon Glenda (known as Rammasun internationally), was the latest in the never ending list of storms to tear through the country.

News reports say that Glenda was only technically in the greater Metro Manila area for a total of 3 hours, but it was enough to shut down the entire capital city. Trees, electric posts, even posh malls were seen ripped from the ground, toppled over, and torn apart because of the storm.

My area in the southern part of Metro Manila lost power at around 4:30 Wednesday morning, at what I believe was the height of the storm. It wasn’t until Friday afternoon that the power came back on in my area, but unfortunately the same still cannot be said for a large part of the Metro. Naturally, everyone has been recalling the storm Milenyo, which happened in 2006, and had the same effects that Glenda had, in it that the strong winds were what dealt the most damage, as opposed to the floods of Yolanda. Thankfully, it seems as if Meralco, various telco companies, and even malls and other food establishments seem to have been way more prepared for Glenda this time around, as the power was restored quicker, communication was difficult but not impossible (considering the major telco companies were also not as high tech back in 2006) and most major malls and supermarkets were operational and open as safe havens to those needing power, food, and shelter within 24 hours.

(And yes, I choose to look at the positives of how this storm was handled as opposed to complaining about the lack of power in my house. I am safe and dry, my loved ones are safe and dry, and there are people out there risking their lives for you so that you can charge your cellphone again and get on Facebook. Perspective is in order, people.)







It’s frightening to think that this is only the first storm of our infamous rainy season. This is why everyone needs to make sure that they are prepared for whatever else will come our way this year. The Red Cross has an incredibly helpful Disaster Safety Library that everyone needs to read. Here are the links for the flood safety checklist and the tsunami safety checklist. Remember, one of the reasons that Yolanda had such extensive damage was because so many areas and people simply were not ready for it. Also, here is a helpful list of recommended basic disaster supplies that everyone should have ready in their homes.

Growing up in a country like the Philippines, it is easy to be so desensitized to things like this. Seeing people swimming, living, and working in flood water is not a new thing, and it is easy to forget just how horrible a living condition that is. It is heartbreaking to watch your country be ravaged over, and over, and over again by something that is way beyond your control. But we will get through this, because we are Filipinos. And like that post that goes around the Internet every June 12 says, where I come from, everyone is a hero. You’re in my prayers, Pilipinas.

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On the S Word

I can’t seem to get myself to sleepyland, so I’ve decided to write, and seeing that it’s just become Valentine’s Day, I’ve decided to write about love. Probably not in the way that you’re thinking, mind you, seeing as I’m not exactly the market for the holiday.

You see, I’ve been single for a long time. Six years and seven months, to be exact. Don’t worry, I just counted now, it’s not something that I keep tabs on or have kept tabs on ever since I became single. I’ve only ever had one serious relationship in my life, and it was in a time when neither my then-boyfriend nor I even knew anything about what it meant to be in a relationship. We were in love, I don’t doubt that, but the stupidity of a teenage college student knows no bounds, and unfortunately our relationship’s demise was the casualty of that stupidity.

So yeah, I’ve been single a while. Kids born when my ex and I broke up are in the first grade now. Holy crap, seriously? Give me a moment to let that sink in.

Okay, moment over.

The thing that people don’t realize about being single is that you probably learn the most about love and relationships during this time of your life, more than you could if you had jumped from one relationship to another.

Which makes sense, if you think about it. For most of us, the saying “hindsight is 20/20” holds too true for comfort, and the only time that we realize and learn from all the stupid things we did/put up with/believed during that relationship is when we’ve cleared our heads from the gooey muck that comes with being in love and are able to have a clear look at what happened. The dust settles and you start to see things for what they were.

Don’t get me wrong; I know that there is as treasure-trove of things that you learn only when you’re in a relationship. But that doesn’t necessarily take away from its validity.

Of course, the things that you learn about love and relatinships while you’re single will really depend on the kinds of relationships that you have around you. And I just happen to be blessed enough to be surrounded by relationships that I can both admire and aspire to. There’s the relationship of my parents, that teach me the realities of being married to someone, and actually spending majority of your time together with that person. I have my sister and her husband’s relationship, which is something that is closer to my current situation because they’re closer my age. Then there are the relationships of my best friends, none of whom are married yet but are all in varied states of commitment and life situations. These are the relationships that I can look at, observe, and learn from. And somehow it feels like a soldier training and preparing for battle, learning how to put on his armor and learning how to use his weapons and his shield.

(Believe me, the implications of the fact that I see relationships as like some sort of war are not lost of on me.)

Being single for this long is quite an experience, and its not one that a lot of people can say they have. Long-time abstinence from relationships is far less common than serial monogamy, and in my opinion, much healthier. When I was younger and was going on year 2 or 3, I started thinking that maybe I was the problem, as women tend to do when they realize that the men that they meet that are interested in them hold no spark for them whatsoever, but are of course attracted to the assholes. Then by around year 5, I found myself at peace with not having a partner in life. Around that time, I had found myself feeling something closely resembling love for a man that I knew would never love me in that way. He of course ended up marrying someone else and eventually faded out of my life, and it was then that I realized that he wasn’t the right guy for me anyway because marriage was in his mind and I was far from it. Eons. Light years.

I’m not saying it’s been easy. I’ve been angry. I’ve been bitter. I’ve been desperate. I’ve been stopped dead in my tracks as the thought “I’m in my mid-20s and I’ve never had a serious, committed relationship as an adult,” flashed through my brain. I’ve sworn off men, I’ve declared an undying love for my shoes that no man could ever coax out of me, hell, I’m determined to become a cat lady one day. I’ve felt something closely resembling love for boys who was all sorts of wrong for me, and though the last time that happened the dude was the first one to declare and use the word “love,” I still find myself, today on the day of love, without a relationship, without a partner. It hasn’t been easy, and God knows it can get unbearably lonely, but it has been the best experience of my life that I could have ever hoped for.

I see myself working and following my dreams all over the world. I see myself diving into oceans and climbing mountains, meeting new people and experiencing new things. I can go out and party with new friends, or I can laze around for an entire day without showering and just enjoy a good book. I can flirt with that cute guy or enjoy an awesome girl’s night without having to report in to anyone. And whatever happens, I will always be able get into my car, and get myself safely home. That is the kind of woman that I’ve become through the years of singledom. I can lug ten grocery bags up six flights of stairs. I can unclog a toilet. If there’s a rat in my apartment, I can get rid of it myself – albeit with a lot of screaming and throwing things around. I can do all that because I’ve had to do it all for myself all this time, and I’m a stronger person for it.

So here’s to you. If right now you’re reading this and you’re single, starting to feel the bitterness creeping in despite yourself, counting the hours until Valentine’s day is another 365 days away, remember this: being single isn’t a curse. If you play your cards right, it can be the best thing that’s ever happened to you. If you learn, if you grow as a person, if you open yourself up to happiness that is certainly attainable without being in a relationship with someone, you will find that being single will be the best thing that’s ever happened to you. And believe me, you are in for an amazing ride.

This is 25: After all the hullaballoo, it felt good to go home to my apartment and just get some sleep, glorious sleep.

So this is 25.

There are two kinds of ages. There’s one kind that just sort of passes, I call them the “awkward ages” (19, 22). Then there are those that feel like age milestones. We’re all familiar with the sweet sixteen, the becoming legal at 18, and the becoming “universally legal” at the age of 21. The first age milestone that I remember was when I turned 13. “I’m a teenager now” was the thrilling thought that would enter my head. After that was 16, when I felt like it was about time that I started doing some teenager-y things. Funnily enough my 18th birthday wasn’t really an age milestone for me, but actually it was the 19th. It was the end of my teenage years and I felt like I hadn’t really made the most of them (so I got busy making up for lost time. Phew that was a crazy year.) Then the next would be the age that I am now, 25. For the past six years I’ve felt like I was stuck feeling like I was still 19 years old, but now I finally feel like my own age.

Everyone has their opinion about being in your 20s. The internet is filled with articles on what we in our 20s should and should not do, the kinds of career advice that people our age should be hearing, stuff like that (if thoughtcatalog went into your head then you need to leave. Like, right now.) It’s kind of tiring, really, wanting to listen to the wise words of people that you respect that have been where you are now but also making sure that you make it your own and never just live your life the way that you think the world expects you to. I love being in my 20s, but these days I just cannot wait to be 30. Thirty sounds good right about now.

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I would like to thank SnR for being the official sponsor for my 25th birthday chaos. Also, for just being awesome.

My birthday this year was really great, though. I haven’t really had a birthday party since my 20th because my birthday is in August and in the Philippines August usually means that the city is slowly getting drowned by twenty million typhoons and tropical depressions. So as much as I would like to make a fuss about my birthday every year, people have more important things to think about usually hahaha. This year my housemate and I decided to throw a joint party in the week in between our birthdays, mine being August 7 and hers being July 17. So imagine 10 different sets of friends. Chaos ensued. It was a good night.

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I would like to give a special shoutout to Aussy. Because you know why. :))

My birthday week was pretty insane. My birthday was on a Wednesday, and the Sunday before that I was working. Monday, I was working until 8am the next day, preparing for an important pitch. Tuesday morning I got home at 9:30am, showered, gussied up, and was picked up by the company driver. Five minutes after we left our place, my boss texts saying the pitch was moved to the next day due to the heavy rains. So yes, I woke up early and had a pitch on my birthday. C’est la vie. So I went home and was wide awake, God knows why, so I slept a bit and was talking to a friend on the phone and so I was up until I had to leave for my birthday salubong at 9pm, and of course I couldn’t sleep anymore, blah blah blah you get the picture.

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Apparently I kept telling everyone at my salubong that I hadn’t slept in 36 hours, and I didn’t even realize that I just kept saying that over and over again. I guess that was the only thing running through my head the whole time, hahaha. It was such a chill night, with good friends and good company and good conversation, and really it was all I would have wanted to greet in another year of my life.

So only four hours of sleep and then an early ass pitch the next day on my birthday itself wasn’t the most ideal way to spend my birthday but at least I was home by lunch time and my boss even bought me a gift! Ysabel took me out for early dinner/any excuse to have sushi at Roku in Katipunan and guyssss you have to eat there but that’s a blog entry for another day.

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Do yourself a favor and eat at Roku. No, seriously.

Birthday dinner with the family was at Sariwon Korean BBQ in the Fort, worth every penny because everything tasted authentic and delicious. I was sang happy birthday to in Korean, which was surreal but hilarious, and I think there’s a video of it somewhere out there in the world. It’s very awkward to get sung to in restaurants. The song goes on for quite a while and the initial shock of a bunch of people surprising you with a song and a cake wears of after five seconds. So them you’re left with just another minute of looking around and… not really knowing what to do.

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with Ysab, of course! Hahaha

We had coffee afterwards and we chilled and we talked any they gave me pressies! and it was just a good day and a good night overall. At that point the hours I’d been awake were like x6 of the hours I had spent sleeping, but I don’t get to celebrate my birthday as much as I’d like to so I didn’t really want to be miss any of it. Screw sleep! I’ll sleep when I’m dead!

This is 25: After all the hullaballoo, it felt good to go home to my apartment and just get some sleep, glorious sleep.

This is 25: After all the hullaballoo, it felt good to go home to my apartment and just get some sleep, glorious sleep.

Being 25 feels like a milestone age for me. Somehow, I finally feel 25. For six years I felt like I was some teenager who was being given more and more responsibilities and whom higher and higher expectations were being subjected to and I could never really catch up. It’s a recurring topic amongst me and my friends about the differences that we feel with our bodies now that we’re getting a little bit older. Twenty five is young compared to the bigger picture but man I sure do feel old whenever I think of the time when I was actually nineteen as opposed to just feeling like I’m nineteen.

But it’s all good. I’m enjoying getting older. I’m enjoying knowing better and being able to look at myself six years ago and be happy with where I am now. Not yet satisfied, sure,I mean who is, really? But happy. I feel older and I’m okay with that. Not to mention that feeling like you’re getting out of your quarterlife crisis just as you turn 25 is also considered a good thing. Man, just thinking about two years ago is making me shudder.

But with all that being said, let us never forget that we all need, from time to time, to have experiences that will still make us feel like this:

As a matter of fact, let me get right on that right now.

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On Friendships

People always tell you that the older you get, the fewer friends you will have. I always believed this because I always wondered why older people seemed to not have as much friends as those in their teens or 20s do, so I figured natural selection also played a role in the friends that end up staying in your life, but rather than being survival of the fittest, it became survival of the ones that deserved to be there.

I grew up being told that I didn’t have to be around people that didn’t deserve to be in my life. Friendship is earned, not expected. If someone’s so-called friendship isn’t worth it anymore, then walk away. If they aren’t enriching your life in any way, walk away. You can always make new friends. While this may not have been the healthiest outlook when trying to build strong friendships in my teens and early twenties, it’s definitely become more and more applicable the older I’ve become. I’ve found the people that I want in my life and I want around my future children’s lives, so I’m finding that I’m slowly weeding out the ones that don’t really deserve to be in my life. I’m not talking about cutting ties or severing friendships, but I am talking about putting importance on the opinions and actions of the right people. These days, I just can’t find it in me to give a shit about what a majority of the people in my life think and feel about what I say and do. Other than my family and the select group of friends that have proven themselves to be the real deal, frankly, I don’t really give a damn what you have to say about anything.

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Never Had

Sometimes I wonder if I really want some of the things that I never had or if I just want them all the more just because they were denied of me. Typical human nature, to want what we can’t have, what was denied of us despite our asking for it. It’s stuff like this that make humans so shitty yet at the same time its flaws like these that make us who we are as a species. That can either be good or bad depending on where you’re coming from.

We hold on to moments and use them to justify bigger things, but in the end moments aren’t enough, and sooner or later you’re gonna have to realize that those moments that you’re holding on to are long gone. And you’re still here, holding on to something that you should have let go of a long, long time ago.

I had myself convinced for the longest time that I want something sane, something simple. But I’m not sane and I’m not simple, so why the hell was I looking for that?

Maybe, hopefully, next time that I fall in love, it will be grand.

“Wherever I go, whatever I do, I wonder where I am in my relationship to you. Wherever you go, wherever you are, I watch your life play out in pictures from afar.”

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Phillip + Maja

I don’t do weddings very often but when I do, it always fascinates me how very different each and every couple is. The dynamics, the temperaments, even the kind of love that they have between each other is always different. I’m always left with so many thoughts afterwards. (Well, as I am with everything.)

Phillip and Maja’s story is a special one, having been childhood sweethearts that met on accident more than a decade later. When Phillip saw Maja walking towards the FX that he was riding, he made it a point to not miss that chance, now here they are six years later, married and still laughing. Isn’t that a lovely story?

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On Looking Back

I’ve been staring at this blank screen for about an hour now. I think I’ve typed out and erased what I’ve written around 10 times. I used to love to write. I still love to write. Why is it so hard now? Why do things that always used to be easy end up being hard after some time? Who knows.

Because of certain events that have happened in my life recently, I found myself digging up my old journals. I have a whole box of them, sitting under my bed in my parents’ house. I don’t even have all of them, maybe about half. I distinctly remember having a journal in the first grade, but with all the moving that my family has done in my life, it’s probably somewhere in a pile of trash by now. Although I’d like to think it ended up in someone’s pile of old stuff in their garage. Maybe someone will find them one day and laugh about the little girl writing about how she wanted to punch her classmates in the face because they wouldn’t pick up the trash.

It was a painful thing, reading my ramblings from ten, eleven years ago. I was such a whiny little fourteen year-old. But then, I tend to think all teenage girls are whiny and annoying. And to think I wasn’t even one of the girly ones.

It struck me how alike and different I was to my sixteen year-old self. 2005 was a weird year.

It also struck me how I wrote in such detail. Is this a teenage thing? These days it’s so easy to document one’s life through tweets and facebook statuses and Instagram pictures. It’s a whole other thing to take the time to sit down with my journal and write down all these minute details of my day. Sometimes those were the ones that were most priceless.

I also didn’t realize how freakin’ boy crazy I was. It was one boy to the next then back again. It was hilarious/painful. I was so eager to fall in love.

It was unnerving to read one particular journal. I could see the tone in my writing change. It changed from this hilariously naive and bitchy little teenage girl who called every single boy “not good enough” to this… I don’t know. Quieter? Yeah. I think that’s the right word. To this quieter girl. I fell in love for the first time, and I got quieter. I was waiting so long, sometimes impatiently, to fall in love and have these emotions sweep me off my feet, and as it turns out, I wasn’t quite sure what to do with the feelings when they came. I was sixteen. What did I know.

Look at that. I was almost completely honest. How utterly terrifying.

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Cheers To Mr. And Mrs. Krause

These days it’s not that far off to always assume that when people get married at a pretty young age (and to me, 24 is young) there has to be some kind of reason other than love. Not these two. Anyone who attended that wedding stood witness to something so rare and precious.

I’ve known Jena since we were both little kids running around with snot dripping out of our noses. We’ve seen each other grow in maturity, discovered boys together, and have formed a friendship that I know will overcome time and distance. So despite her settling down in London with her new husband (!!!), I know that her friendship is something that I will always have.

To the lovely couple, I’m still reeling from your big day! Here’s to many happy years (and babies!) together.

The wedding was held at the always gorgeous Club Balai Isabel in Tagaytay. :)

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Hong Kong / Macau 2012

A few weeks back, my family and I took a trip to Macau and Hong Kong. I haven’t been to HK since I was 15 so I was really excited. We were only there for a day and a half, but seeing all my shopping bags strewn out on my bed when we got home, I think we were definitely able to make the most of it. I really wish Sasa was available in the Philippines. I would live in there.

We start off with a couple photos of the sky, because of course I can’t get on a plane and not take a whole bunch of photos.

When we got to HK, we took the S1 train out to Citygate where we did a whole lot of shopping. The discounts there are insaaaaane.

I’ve  never had Xiao Long Bao so when I saw it in the menu at the place we ate in in Citygate, I couldn’t resist! Too bad it wasn’t very good. :( I guess I still have yet to fulfill my Xiao Long Bao mission.

We stayed in this little hotel along Nathan Road. We got there early in the afternoon and we kind of passed out for a few hours because we all lacked sleep and had already spent a few hours shopping in Citygate. Stepping out of the hotel was such a sight, kind of like how people describe Times Square except with Chinese writing.

This place that my sister pointed us to had the best fried dumplings I’ve ever tried!

We got back to the room after an entire day of walking, shopping, and hardly any sleep. I think our state of mind clearly shows in the photo above.

The next day, we took the Jetstar out to Macau! It was a very pretty and comfortable boat, even though it was one of the older ones.

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When we got to Macau, it was a smooth ride to the Venetian, our hotel for the next two nights and three days.

Macau’s architecture is so original and beautiful! The casinos are a big thing in their tourism industry, what with their being the number one reason that people visit Macau in the first place. In the shuttle on the way to the hotel, you’re taken on this great little tour of the hotels along the Cotai strip.

When we got to the Venetian, I couldn’t help but keep looking up! The details of that place is insaaaane. Every single nook and cranny was well thought out, and it gives it all a very authentic feel. I mean, as authentic as a hotel in Macau meant to look like a hotel in Venice can be.

Even my mom couldn’t help but look up!

At the very front of the Venetian’s main lobby. They have three lobbies! Or is it five?

We love jumping pictures :D

This was so intense, kind of like our MRT during rush hour!

Random fliers for call girls just strewn about in the street. Hahaha!

Our peg for the family photo is Classic Telenovella.

In the Venetian there’s a place called the Grand Canal Shoppes. It’s the area of the hotel that was made to look like Venice the most, such as the shops along a long river that people can ride gondolas in. It was actually quite beautiful, especially because twilight is my favorite time of day. And seeing as I hate the books and the movies of the same name, I recognize the irony.

St. Mark’s Square, the only area in the Grand Canal Shoppes where the sky changes light.

The next day, we decided to walk around the city and do some shopping and look for some egg tarts.

We walked around until we found the restaurant that my sister’s friend recommended to her. The drink the background is a mixture of tea and coffee, a signature drink of Macao. It was delicious! Although nothing will replace just good old coffee for me.

My dad and I say hello!

Opposite view from the top of the stairs at the ruins of St. Paul’s

The ruins of St. Paul’s cathedral. We were finally able to take a family photo thanks to a friendly fellow Filipino!

After the ruins we headed on over to the famous Macau tower. It’s the tallest height that anyone can bungee jump from in the world. I was looking forward to bungee jumping, something that I’ve always wanted to do ever since I saw someone do it in a TV show when I was around 7 or 8, but it was way too expensive. Also, my fear of heights resurfaced with a vengeance at the first sight of the see-through floors at the observation deck. Oh well, I will go back to Macau one day and I will conquer my stupid fear!

The twilight view from the observation deck of the Macau Tower

The Venetian had a special exhibit ongoing called the Fun Ice World.

And of course, we enjoyed the Venetian’s gondola rides before we left! Our gondolier’s (gondolieress’?) name was named Bambina, and she had the tiniest speaking voice but had the biggest operatic singing voice. She’s Chinese but she even knew the first half of Sharon Cuneta’s “Ikaw”!

The whole trip was amazing! It was also a great time for my whole family to bond, so that’s always worth every penny. :)

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Unang gabi, huling halik bago lumisan: Tanghalang Ateneo’s Sintang Dalisay

I watched one of the last few shows of this year’s run of Sintang Dalisay by Tanghalang Ateneo. Actually, I was able to watch the Gala Night performance, but I was a full hour late so I really wanted to watch another time. I was invited to take photos during the performance as well, so I had a prime seat front and center. I knew majority of the people on the cast, so it was fun to be so near them during the entire performance and try not to look at them directly in the eye so as to not elicit laughter.

It was beautiful. This is quoted from the Philippine Star’s article on them from last August 6, 2012:

“Sintang Dalisay is a dramatic piece forged from the awit,Ang Sintang Dalisay ni Julieta at Romeo, written in 1901 by G D. Roke and from Rolando Tinio’s translation of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.

The adaptation is localized and set in Sempurna, an imaginary Muslim community, with the Mustafas and the Kalimuddins as two prominent families mired in an age-old hatred for each other. Caught in this family strife are Rashiddin and Jamila, two lovers, secretly married, who are forced to separate from each other after Rashiddin kills a member of the Kalimuddin clan to avenge the death of his cousin. A demand for justice, Rashiddin’s exile to Dapitan, a clandestine tryst, a missing letter and a scheme that goes awry culminate in the death of the lovers and the reconciliation of the two families smothered in grief and regret.”

Read the rest of the article here.

If you didn’t get a chance to watch it, watch out for their run in CCP this coming November for their National Theater Festival. :)

 

 

Callum David

Mega Fierce

Last April I was able to once again work with Tim Yap along with SM’s Mega Atrium. This project involved photographing celebrities in front of a gorgeous “FIERCE” light sign in a way that they want, advertising Megamall’s mall-wide sale that happened last May 4-6, 2012. It was one of the more interesting shoots that I’ve ever had, and not to mention it was extra fun to photograph all the beautiful people! Read the article written by Tim Yap here.

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The point of the article was to get people to send in their own photos in front of the “FIERCE” sign for a chance to win gift certificates that they could use during the sale, so I had to edit the photos ala-Instagram.

Photos of Victor Basa and Divine Lee taken by Sarie Cruz. :)

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Elite Body Philippines

Held at the Liquid Lounge in Manila Ocean Park last October 2011.

HPBD!

It was my cousin Ace’s birthday last night, and we of course took the chance to celebrate and be merry!