A Change of Plans [The Lord of the Geeks (Part IV)]


(You must read Parts 1 to 3, if you still haven’t. You’ll find the link to the first three chapters  on one of the tabs above. Thanks! – Ella)

A phone was ringing in Stella’s dream. She pressed Snooze, only to realize that she had reached for her iPhone, which was actually ringing, and that the Snooze button only worked for the alarm, which in her dazed state last night, she forgot to set.

She was dreaming of a tall, handsome, green-eyed elf who was kissing her hair and swearing love in the liquid elven tongue, and she most definitely did not welcome this rude awakening at all. The caller would receive the full wrath in her voice.

“Go away, Richard!” She said, and it was all that she could muster.  Her vocal chords were still at rest. How could some people be so dense and self-absorbed? She thought. And why did she answer the phone when she could have pressed the red button and denied the call? She berated herself. There were ten reasons to hate Richard at that precise moment and Stella added them to her growing list of resentment.

“Good morning, my princess. I have good news for you. I am picking you up from the Kingsford international airport! I wouldn’t want you to worry about carrying your heavy luggage full of toiletries on the train, like you so heroically planned to do. Tell me, are you on your way already?”   Richard was being unusually cheerful, blissfully unaware that Stella was really and truly in the process of leaving him. Wait, Stella’s groggy inner voice told her, he must be realizing that his powers on her are weakening, hence this stubborn refusal to let go.

“Since when did I become your princess? You would do well to remember that I already told you that I’m staying longer in Auckland!” This city was beginning to feel like sanctuary, she thought. She didn’t realize how tired she was, how absolutely tired, of Richard’s neediness.

“You mean, you are doing this to me? Just when I need you to edit the words to a song inspired by your absence?” Stella could hear the pout in Richard’s voice. It made her feel sick.

She sat up despite her body’s refusal to leave the warm bed. She felt her blood rising, which was a strange feeling. She used to have infinite patience for Richard, even when they were constantly bickering like an old married couple. It was too early in the day for that image, and she felt the irony in it. For they would never be married. For the first time, Stella felt she could stop repeating the same mistakes she had been making for two decades. She could stop hoping Richard would choose to be with her. For he couldn’t, and he wouldn’t.

“No I am not doing this to you. I am doing this for me. Please, Rich. Maybe this is good for us? For me, I mean.” Stella needed to be stronger and more consistent if she was going to be serious about moving on. Then she remembered Eddie.

Stey-a!” Richard screamed his pet name for her, which he only used whenever he wanted her to do something against her will, which usually involved asking her to stay. Stella interrupted him before he could further hurt her ear drums.

“I have to go now, Rich. And stop calling me. I cannot afford the mobile roaming charges! I am here and I will make the most out of my trip. I can deal with my classes online. I’ll see you in a week.”

She could hear him building his protests, but she pressed the End Call button. She put the phone on silent mode and resolved to ignore Richard for the rest of the day. Make that for the rest of the week, which she planned to spend happily with Eddie.

Speaking of Eddie, she jumped out of bed and started preparing to meet him. Richard was right about the toiletries, for she loved special shampoo-bath gel-conditioner combinations that only came in huge bottles, and she always brought at least two each of lotions, creams, perfumes, colognes, and soaps. She liked to have her options, and for her scents to match her different moods. Thus, she was definitely not a light traveller.

She dressed up deliberately, thankful that she packed the old rose-colored lace dress she bought on sale from Witchery, which went well with her black tights and ankle boots. A black Banana Republic jacket, a purchase from Manila that she had always treasured, and a floral scarf from Richard (whose taste was exquisitely perfect) completed the outfit. She did not bring enough clothes for a week, but maybe this was an excuse to splurge and do some of her own shopping. She wondered if there were outlet stores in Auckland.

Stella had great skin and needed little makeup, but she still made the effort to put on cream blush, sheer lip gloss, and lash-lengthening mascara on top of her powder foundation.

She was attempting to close her suitcase when the hotel phone rang. “Do you need help with your bags, ma’am?” came Eddie’s voice on the other line. Stella laughed, because she felt like it, and said “Why yes, but don’t expect any tip. I’m saying yes as a favour to you! What an excuse to enter my hotel room!”

In less than five minutes – what, did he fly? – Eddie was knocking on her door. She opened it and felt a little rush of excitement upon seeing him. He was dressed in a blue knit sweater that was definitely Ralph Lauren – this was Richard’s voice in her head and she needed to shush it -, jeans, and brown suede boots, with his leather jacket hanging from his pointer finger that was casually resting on his right shoulder. Without the unflattering North Shore cap on, his hair was revealed in all its glory, black curls cascading up to chin level. He did not shave that morning and that left a stubble that made him look even more ruggedly handsome.

“Hi,” he said, and flashed a smile that revealed pearly white teeth. Stella wondered how this could be the same guy she was annoyed at just yesterday morning. She was definitely a fan of having enough time to get ready in the morning, for it made a world of difference in them both.

“Good morning. You’re not the bellhop,” Stella returned the smile. She knew her effect on Aussie men, for she had been exposed to them on the beach near Richard’s apartment. They found her short frame and her olive skin and her dark eyes exotic. She, in turn, did not find the tattooed and muscled bodies that frequented the beach that exciting. That’s what set Eddie apart. He was an Aussie, handsome alright, but geeky in his brilliance, a welcome respite from the beer hounds that seemed to roam Richard’s neighbourhood. The last part started to sound sexy. After staying up to get to know him through his social media posts, Eddie felt like less of a stranger to her.

Eddie could not think of a word to say. His brain froze at the sight of Stella’s beauty, and he inhaled her perfume as if intoxicated. He merely followed her to where she pointed to her bags, like a puppy. He wanted to put his arms around her but something told him it was not appropriate.  It was amazing how his conscience was still speaking despite his lack of sleep and his mad dash that morning from Rotorua to Auckland, stopping briefly at his room at the Hilton, which thankfully he had reserved for two weeks as his home base. He also had the time, using superhuman speed, to book a car so he and Stella could have a leisurely holiday.

“Have you eaten?” he managed to ask her. Stella did not have time, she said. Neither did he.

“We could have brunch,” Stella suggested, before realizing that brunch sounded like a very Richard thing to do. Straight men like Eddie, they probably only took meals by their proper names.

Eddie looked at Stella’s suitcase and wondered out loud, “Were you planning on staying a week? This definitely is not an overnight bag,” he teased.

“Oh yes, I was planning a tryst with an old lover who is now married with four kids, but he stood me up, and so I settled for you,” Stella quipped. She was a writer and could whip up a storyline at the blink of an eye, except that she was surprised at her own wit that morning, considering the increasingly alarming lack of caffeine in her system.

“Please, can we grab a quick breakfast? I really, really need some good coffee,” she begged Eddie, while closing the hotel room door behind them.

“After having experienced your charm without your drug of choice, yes, I do believe we should find a café at the soonest possible time.”

“We can just have sandwiches, and maybe plan our day?” Stella was surprised how naturally that felt, how she did not feel awkward about making plans with a man she had just met. Of course, she had always been a planner, at least, as to the things she could control.

“As you wish,” Eddie responded. The reference to one of her favourite childhood books, “The Princess Bride,” made Stella smile. She could be Buttercup in her story, finally.

Stella checked out and signed the receipt at the hotel lobby while Eddie got the car. When she stepped out of the hotel double doors, she felt very much like putting on a bandana, wide white-rimmed wayfarers, and a string of pearls, before riding a light blue convertible, except that it was not summer in Auckland, and she immediately knew that she was not going to be warm enough in her well-planned outfit of the day.

Eddie was waiting in his rented Toyota Camry, wearing dark aviator glasses that made Stella doubt if he really was a software engineer. He looked like one of those Nespresso models. How could this guy be single? Oh wait, maybe he’s not. Did she care? She was honestly not in the mood to answer that question.

“I’m thinking of taking you to Parnell, which, according to its website, is ‘New Zealand’s oldest suburb, famed for its galleries, cafes, restaurants and charming boutique-style stores.’ Then we can do something that this cold weather would permit, something indoors, perhaps?” Eddie was on the phone with his travel agent early that morning, planning a changed itinerary that now involved going around Auckland with an amazing Filipina writer.  He had previously booked a Lonely Planet-inspired vacation out of the city, but he was only too happy to drop that for Stella, whose charming presence both intrigued and attracted him.

They found a cozy little Italian restaurant that had the best barrista on the Southern Hemisphere, in Eddie’s opinion. Stella was much more reserved in her praises, but definitely enjoyed her first shot of espresso for the day.

“Where do you want to go? We can walk around Parnell, or go to Queen St., which is Auckland’s most iconic and historic street.” Eddie was sounding very much like the tour guide that he was not. “I’m reserving the Viaduct Wharf for dinner as it’s very near our hotel.”

“I know where I want to go, now that my head has cleared after that magical cup of coffee,” Stella declared.

“Where do you want to go?” Eddie asked.

“I want to see the Auckland Art Gallery,” Stella replied. “And after that, let’s walk to the old buildings that house the University of Auckland. Please,” she added.

“The woman knows what she wants!” Eddie observed, amused. “As you wish!” he affirmed.

When they got out of the restaurant, it was raining. Eddie ran to the car to get his extra jacket, and put it around Stella. It was naturally much too big for her. He unzipped the hood and covered her head with it. Unfortunately, it also covered her eyes. They ended up laughing.

Stella did not remove the hood and walked with her arms in front of her, like a blind woman in need of constant guidance. She caught Eddie’s arm and let him lead the way.

After recovering from the spectacular vision that was Stella’s playful side, Eddie started walking back to the car, but moved Stella’s hand from his arm to his other hand, and firmly guided her to where they parked earlier.

Stella, who could not see a thing, felt Eddie’s warm hand on hers, and smiled underneath her large, black winter cloak.

She knew how the rest of that day would be like. She could already write it in her head. She just hoped that, unlike Richard, Eddie would play his part, and say his lines, well.

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TO BE CONTINUED.

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Travel Bugged


“Exploring the outside world is the key to understanding your inner self.” – From the Bangkok Airways ad on CNN.

I have been to a lot of places recently, but laziness has prevented me from blogging about them. That, and the cheap thrill of posting status updates, check-ins, and photos on Facebook.

Just before leaving the Philippines last March to start my year of travel, I explored my country with friends and family. I went to Baguio, Bacolod, Boracay, Corregidor Island, Tagaytay, and Cavite. I also visited museums, watched plays, attended ballets and recitals and operas, and don’t even get me started on the going-away parties.

There were also little trips around Asia – to Bangkok, Singapore, and Malaysia. It was a great way to prepare me for even more adventures ahead.

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The Mother Ship in Singapore. No, I do not own an LV. Yet. But I enjoyed browsing them bags and wallets.

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This was a Catholic church in Bangkok. Love the roof detail.

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Around time last year, I celebrated my birthday with best friends in Bangkok. We went to the hotel venue of The Hangover and had one of the loveliest dinners ever.

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I extremely enjoyed my trip  to Penang, Malaysia with my family. It is a beautiful city  full of old world charm.

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But the Southeast Asian tour last year turned out to be a mere appetizer. It set me up for a year of more traveling. When I whipped out my passport last March 2013 then, there was no turning back. I had embraced my travel bug. My own version of “Eat. Pray. Love” had started.  

Mostly I have been doing the Eat part.  The Pray part is very active too.  My other blog takes care of that. The Love part, well, friends and family as always have been providing that. God has been so good in sending me people who open their doors for me. Yes my life currently feels like a movie.

First stop for 2013 is beloved Sydney, Australia.  I have been to some new places and some old places here.

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I have made new furry friends, too.

Sydney is a picturesque city.  It is alive even at night. Below, see Vivid Sydney.

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Some more feathered friends.

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High Mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral – a highlight. Must attend that again.

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At the Sydney Opera House

With my good friend Mitch before watching Idina Menzel’s concert at the Sydney Opera House.

The Sydney Symphony Orchestra

We were so close, I could read the titles off the Sydney Symphony Orchestra’s music sheets.

The Good Food and Wine Show

The wine glass I used for the Good Food and Wine Show.

The Tempus Two Vineyard

The beautiful vineyard at Tempus Two is pictured above. Because I love wine, chocolate, and cheese so much, the long weekend spent at Hunter Valley was also very memorable.

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I saw some kangaroos roaming the Bimbadgen Estate freely.

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I was also lucky enough to spend four days at Port Stephens last autumn. It was a relaxing holiday and the last bit of sun I felt before winter set in. The beach was beautiful.Image

I shopped for boats, too at the marina.

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Obviously, I have been enjoying myself immensely.  I will write separately about my trip to Canberra. Truly the pages of my journal should contain more words, but for now I will let these pictures speak.

If the airline ad quote above is to be believed,  I should be learning a lot about my inner self  too, after all this exploring that I have been doing. 🙂  Will see if that is the case. For now, I am content just to explore.

My Auckland Adventure


Tāmaki Makaurau is the Maori word for Auckland. It means ‘Isthmus of one thousand lovers’, also translated as ‘Tamaki-the bride sought by a hundred suitors’, a reference to the fertile volcanic soil of Auckland and the positioning between two resource-rich coasts. There are around 49 volcanoes in Auckland alone. It used to be New Zealand’s capital.

Polynesians are thought to have discovered and settled in New Zealand, which they named Aotearoa (“the land of the long white cloud”), as early as 950AD. It was not until after the Treaty of Waitangi was signed with Maori in 1840 that significant numbers of Europeans arrived in what is now modern day Auckland.

Auckland has the highest number of boats per capita than anywhere else in the world, that is why it is also known as the City of Sails. It is New Zealand’s largest city with 1.4 million people.

Take a short city tour with me. Most photos were taken while inside a moving coach, so please pardon the perspective. I had little time to compose. 🙂

City of Sails

Auckland Architecture

Maori Architecture

The first day was spent traveling and then dining by my pretty self at the hotel café where I splurged on my first glass of Camshort Classic Riesling and the chef’s special for the night.  I always eat properly when I am alone.

The second day was spent on a half-day city tour, mostly inside the coach, as the driver-slash-tour guide gave us a bit of an overview of Auckland, pointing out spots we might want to spend more time on, like the Viaduct or the ferry ride or the Sky Tower. I liked the old shops and the beachfront properties more than the new buildings and outdoor adventures. In my small tour group of five people, I met a couple from Brasil and we became friends easily. They looked about my age and I offered to take their pictures with their camera. They returned the favor by taking my photos. So it was a good exchange deal that worked for us at the wharf, the Auckland Maritime Museum, the Joseph Savage memorial that gave us a glimpse how isolated NZ was from the rest of the world. I asked them where to get good rates for foreign exchange. We were almost sad to part ways.

Then I spent three hours getting lost along Queen St, refusing to consult my map properly for fear of being branded a tourist. I took loads of photos of more buildings. I bought snacks from a convenience store and chatted-slash-flirted with the cute guy manning the counter. I had no trouble asking for tips about the weather, etc.   Then I went back to my hotel exhausted and ordered seafood chowder and a glass of Chardonnay through room service. I watched the rain from my tiny window. I read a book.  I listened to Chopin. I was very happy. I felt like I was in heaven.

I slept early Tuesday night because my pickup time for the Hobbiton tour was 6:35 a.m.  Not being a morning person, I had to psyche myself well for it.  Good thing I had always been a Tolkien fan, and I was really excited about the trip.  My sister and I planned it for months.

There was a long road trip – about 3.5 hours – from my hotel to the sheep farm where the movie set was located. I had to share the journey with about 10 people, 5 of them  Americans, 2 from Helsinki, and 2 from Brasil. Yes, my friends were also on the same tour! I was happy to see  them and we hugged and kissed like old friends, even in my sleepy, caffein-starved state.

Then, we arrived at Hobbiton. The rain, which had been upon us for three days, suddenly stopped.  As a result, the grass was very green, but also very wet. We had to be careful in walking up and down the hill. I lagged behind the group, happy to take my pictures, imagining the scenes where the characters roamed those specific hobbit-holes. The Brasilians thankfully were there to exchange pictures with.  We had to queue behind other people – we had merged with other tour groups – for some of the hobbit-doors.

I was sad when we reached the end of the tour, which was the Green Dragon inn. We were each given a drink, and I chose amber ale. Then we were all herded back to the tour bus that would take us to lunch. The Brasilians had to take a different coach as they had booked another tour in a different place. We sadly said goodbye, and they asked for my email address.

My fourth day in Auckland was fun. It was raining so I took a leisurely hotel breakfast, and then had lunch with a friend’s mum. Then I explored the art gallery and was again in ruptures absorbing the creative spirit of the people who had left their mark in the world. For dinner, I was invited by a Filipino couple (in-laws of a friend) and they were very gracious and generous. Then, it was time to go back to my hotel and pack. Already I was wishing I could go back.

Middle Earth

“In a hole in the ground there lived a Hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a Hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.” – J.R.R. Tolkien’s famous opening lines from “The Hobbit”

These photos were taken from Hobbiton where some of Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies were filmed. I had a drink at The Green Dragon (memorable) and lunch at The Shire Cafe (forgettable). The doors and the grass were worth the trip, though. Some people in my tour group were complaining that there weren’t many souvenir items/goods to choose from. I preferred it that way. Friends, please visit now before it becomes too crowded and commercialized. 🙂

This was proof (again) that dreams do come true. I have loved the Lord of the Rings since I was in high school. I have, since then, measured every epic fantasy ever written against Tolkien’s genius. Everything else is a copycat. Gandalf, Mordor, Sauron, Saruman, Bilbo, Frodo, Sam, Aragorn, Legolas, Arwen, Galadriel, Faramir, Boromir, all of the characters, all of the languages, the plot and storyline, the setting and conclusion, the values, the humour, all these and more make The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings my most favourite work of fantasy fiction of all time.

Hobbiton Tour

Hobbit Holes!

A Starry, Starry Night


Last week I met a man who described European streets so clearly I felt I was there with him, knew and loved his wine, spoke French and English fluently, and owned a collection of books that would probably cause world envy. He also hated sports. Another man after my own heart. He is also 73 years old.

Ah, they do not make men like that anymore. He lived in a faraway country and invited me to see a certain beautiful city rich in culture with him sometime. He said we would plan it on email. He was described to me as a serious, polished man, and he was that, but I found him to be funny and very easy to talk to. Perhaps because he is a Catholic priest with the heart of a missionary.

I remember a math professor, probably around the same age, who invited me and my brother to his vacation house that was straight out of a magazine. I was then reviewing for the bar and the royal treatment suited me. He checked his students’ papers while listening to Carmina Burana on the terrace while my brother taught me how to kayak. I went up to the terrace, curious about the music he was listening to, and he told me the version of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra was the best. I finished a book about French cuisine I found inside the guest room, and left a Thank You note inside for him and his family.  The week after, my brother handed me a cassette tape of Carmina Burana by the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra from the wonderful professor.

It is the week of Steve Jobs’ death, a week of releasing my inner geek and my creative genius. I also remember the wonderful men who, like my father, stood out from the rest of the pack because they used their brains and appreciated the arts.

One of my former spiritual directors, who is about Steve Jobs’ age, is an iconoclast and gifted me with his beautiful work before leaving the country.

I was surfing tonight and stumbled upon a page dedicated to different artists’ reinterpretations of Van Gogh’s Starry Night. I was soothed. I also saw a video on YouTube featuring the song Vincent played to his art. It was sad, and yet very beautiful.

Why is that, why is something so sad also so beautiful?

I will leave you with this video, as I contemplate how I can, as Steve Jobs encouraged the 2005 Stanford graduates to do,  “Stay Hungry” and “Foolish” and contribute something beautiful to the world.

The Passport Analogy


You will forgive me for being influenced in my writing by The Big Bang Theory, my current favorite show, in this and several posts around this time. In case you haven’t figured it out yet, I have an obsessive personality when it comes to TV shows (okay some friends would say, in everything). I can only absorb one show at a time, but how! I used to like Nodame, then I moved to The West Wing. Current obsession is TBBT (Congratulations, Jim Parsons, on your much-deserved Emmy!). TBBT! That sounds like I stuck out my tongue at all of ya.

Oh but enough babbling. The real point of my blog tonight is my recent discovery, hence the TBBT-inspired title of this post.

A couple of weeks ago, I could not locate my passport (again?! said my dear, dear friends). I refuse to say I “lost” it because I knew where I used it and put it last. It just was not in the Designated Drawer when I went looking for it. Mama wanted me to join her and Papa in their US visa application renewal, so I had to dig through my desk to find it.

On the second day of the Missing Passport, I started to panic. Maybe I left it in the airport during our last trip to Singapore. Maybe it fell off my hands while I was maneuvering my cellphone, carry-on, and trolley at the airport lobby. Maybe our cleaning lady hid it somewhere, not knowing how important it was. She had a tendency to do that. Once, I found my external hard drive’s case inside an old pencil case. Another time, she placed my Dolce and Gabanna Light Blue perfume bottle inside my Elizabeth Arden Green Tea’s box. Anything was possible to one who was panicking.

Mama pitched in. She helped me look behind my books, under my bed, and inside my drawers. I took out my broom and actually swept my bedroom floor, to Mama’s delight. The elusive passport was nowhere in sight.

I racked my brain, trying to remember exactly when I saw it last and where I could possibly have placed it. I wondered if the guys who installed  my new hand-me-down bed frame accidentally chose my most important ID to balance a wobbling stand somewhere.

Through it all, Mama kept on insisting that I look underneath the sliding stool that had a built-in nook into my study table. I told her I doubted it would be there. The truth was that I just found it too difficult to slide the stool after my new second-hand bed frame turned out to be considerably bigger, thus blocking the stool’s passageway. In order to check the area in question, I would have had to move the contents of my entire room. Hence, my refusal to believe that my passport would go there.

I told Mama I could not make it to the deadline for the Visa Reissuance Program, and proceeded to help her and Papa submit their online application. I was frustrated, certainly, but did not want to hold them back. I also took it as a “sign” that I was not meant to renew my US visa.

This all happened while we had some medical situations in the family that were causing me to lose my hair and my sleep. I was resigned to the fact that my one-year old passport was gone, and I could not travel until I got a new one. That made me want to cry. My friends were booking trips left and right. My family was coming up with travel plans for next year. And I was stuck, which was good for my bank account, but sad for my bucket list.

Finally, after my parents’ photos had been approved by the US website and we had finalized their visa applications, I went to my room and decided to check that place where I knew my passport should not be. I used a flashlight and beamed it under the stubborn chair.

It was there.

I saw the shiny gold letters on the cover of my electronic passport. I could not believe it. It was exactly where I doubted it would be!

I went to get a broom or a mop handle, and to tell Mama the news. She could have said “I told you so,” but she simply smiled and expressed her relief that her remaining single daughter could once again roam the world freely.

Armed with a long mop handle, I attempted to move the wheel of the stool that was blocking the passport. I started to sweat because the passport again disappeared. I must have pushed it farther instead of moving it closer. I had to drag my dresser table, bed, desk, and stool, but not completely, as it required more strength on my part to do that. Enough space was freed so I could poke around with my mop stick and retrieve my now crumpled passport. I kissed it, dirt and all.

Yes, it was there all along.

Yes, my mother was right.

Yes, I was blinded by the perceived blocks created by the new room setup I was faced with.

Yes, I could have spared myself two weeks of frantic searching if only I had looked at the little notebook’s hiding place immediately.

I should have, really. For it was directly underneath the Designated Drawer, which almost always got stuck with too much stuff that papers, envelopes, and other things had previously slid from the top of the drawer to that dark, dusty, place. So in a way, there was much circumstantial evidence to make that place suspect.

Perhaps in looking for something, I should not let obstacles hinder me from finding it.

Perhaps I should listen more to my mother.

Perhaps more things are waiting to be found that way.

Amazing Anvaya


Things are not as bad as they were when I wrote my previous post. I have had good days, and not-so-good days. But the good ones more than make up for the rest.

I went to Anvaya with my best friends from high school. It has become our annual event, starting with Starbucks at NLEX, the long beautiful drive via SCTEX, the laughter on the road, some sleep for the tired ones, and then, the most beautiful resort we have been to in Luzon. 🙂

Here are some pics to show off Anvaya.

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I have to rush now so I will let the photos speak for themselves.

Coming up next, my week in Baguio!

The Wedding Weekend


I had the time of my life going to Tess and Rey’s destination wedding.  Most guests flew in a couple of days before the wedding so we had a good three (some four) nights to party. I knew a lot of people from our law school days, and some from our singles Catholic community. We started the party with a despedida de soltera, where the bride is given away in an intimate gathering of friends and family. What I liked most were the giant margaritas.

The wedding was held in Bacolod City (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bacolod), which has a rich history as it is home to the sugar barons of the country. The theme is Filipiniana so everything – from the gown, to the church, to the reception, to the giveaways – reminded us of the grand past of the sugar plantations. We felt transported back in time.

That was, hands down, the most beautiful bridal gown I had ever seen. It was made of pineapple!

Pictured below is the bride as she was rehearsing her surprise song for Rey, which she sang right after their kiss at church, with the right effect on the crowd and the groom! 🙂 A seamstress was putting finishing touches on her gown while she was rehearsing. She removed this top with the help of seamstresses for the reception. 🙂

I was one of the Cord sponsors. Here in the Philippines, we have Candle, Cord, and Veil sponsors. They are symbolic of the lifetogether of the couple. Left to right, Tina the Candle sponsor, me, Tita Mila (mother of the bride), and Gay the Veil sponsor.

This is what we looked like when we put the Cord over the Veil.

The reception rocked. I was one of the emcees so I wasn’t able to eat or drink much, but the guests had a blast. Lamb, lechon (roast pig), roast beef, etc. flowed. There was also a well-stocked open bar. Live music played and the program was interesting and exciting. I was exhausted by the time the program ended and drank two vodka sprites consecutively.

The next day I went with some friends to Silay, a nearby city which featured ancestral homes, the most famous of which was Balay Negrense (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balay_Negrense).

I played around with my Lumix LX5 and loved it. Photos are on my Facebook, Picasa, and Flickr pages.

Next we went to The Ruins (http://www.experiencenegros.com/the-ruins-talisay-city-a-gem-from-the-rubble), in Talisay, where the reception was supposed to be held. It was moved to a golf club due to the rains. The Ruins took our breath away. There was an uber-friendly tour guide who took great photos, like this one:

After five days I had to go back to work and leave behind the romance, history, and glamor of that wedding weekend. I want to go back to Bacolod where the chicken is good, the beer is cold, the dessert is sweet, and the people are friendly!

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