04 June 2024

Round and round it goes

The month of May had not been a merry one for me. I contracted COVID so I had to isolate for a week. A couple of weeks later, I'm still feeling the effects: dizzy spells and drowsiness especially in the afternoons. I get disorientated with the most simple of tasks; I misplace my keys, wallet, ID. That's really annoying. More annoying than when I first had my first bout of COVID when I lost my sense of taste. At least that didn't affect my appetite. But this one hits different.

When I was in isolation I lost the energy to do anything. I totally missed blogging about the 4th of May (Star Wars Day) and Mother's Day. I even had an idea on what to write about for those days weeks before! But I couldn't muster the energy to think and write it down.

And a couple of weeks after that. I still feel lethargic.

So May came and went, and now we're in June. Winter has officially started. There's been a lot of sickness going around - flu and COVID mostly - and I'm sure it's due to the colder-than-usual winter.

On a positive note, we have a couple of birthdays coming up so that should brong some much needed cheer 😊

19 April 2024

Sometimes I get tired of this me-first attitude

This month is certainly flying by so fast.
My son had gone back home for term break and his three-week 'holiday' ends today. He will take an Uber with his mum to the airport early this morning, as I am not with them today. I'm in Auckland for a weekend conference, and my wife is flying this morning to join us.

The weeks past have been a whirlwind of activities. I can't recall most of them now, so I do feel a twinge of regret that I haven't had time to blog about it.

One highlight would be my daughter winning silver in kata and bronze in kumite! She's always striving to better herself and she is aiming for the gold on the next tournament. I'm do proud of her and I'm thankful she did not inherit my introvertness.

Yesterday was a milestone of sorts. It was my first time to go up Auckland by land. Thank goodness I'm not driving though as I don't think I'll survive such a long journey. Overall we travelled eleven hours. It normally would have been nine hours but we took meal breaks inbetween, which makes a lot of sense.
As a matter of fact, I do enjoy being a passenger more than being the driver. I get to observe the scenery and take it all in.

We left Wellington at 6.30am and the sun greeted us on the road. We were greeted by the Auckland traffic at around 5.30pm.

Along the way we swapped insightful stories with my good friend. We had a picnic-style lunch with other friends under a huge tree whose leaves have started changing to a reddish colour to welcome Autumn. They brought lots of food - chicken adobo, laing, fried chicken, noodles... I bought fried rice from a nearby Chinese takeaway because rice is life.

In that journey I felt so fortunate to be surrounded with such good people.

This morning I think about my son who's going back to Christchurch. While he was at home he was mostly back to his usual self. He slept til late, but instead of waking up by lunchtime or even mid-afternoon, he would be up by mid-morning. We still didn't see much of him, but not because he would lock up in his room but because he would be out and about. But the one thing that made us realise he was really home was when the cooked rice that normally lasted us for days was gone in 48 hours.

It was awesome.

These past few weeks have taught me to open my eyes and appreciate life as it unfolds. I've been wallowing in my own thoughts for too long that life is passing me by; attitude is not doing me any favours. I have so much to be thankful for.

31 March 2024

Here comes the sun and I say, it's alright

It's Easter Sunday. For Catholics, Lent is a very important time of reflection and prayer. I had been observing Lent as I always have - starting with Ash Wednesday, then visiting Churches and praying the Stations of the Cross on Good Friday, and celebrating on Easter. This year is a bit different; I've had the most revelational Holy Week. 

While we were doing a Church group activity in the local parish, a member of the Liturgy group who was assisting us with setting up asked if our group can assist with the Altar of the Repose on Maunday Thursday. This is something new to me, and I didn't know what it entails. He said it's scripture reading and singing meditational songs and silent prayers. It's for commemmorating Jesus' time in the Garden of Gethsemane. We were assigned the 10-11pm slot (the vigil starts after the 7pm mass).

I managed to get a couple of people sign up and we started planning by chat the night prior. I told them in all honesty that I did not know what it is about. With one of the volunteers, we identified three songs and the other suggested getting readings from a Lenten reflection booklet. Then we called it a night. The next morning. I checked our chat group and saw the other volunteer had come up with a very extensive document we can use that has scripture readings and various songs woven inbetween. It was eleven pages long, surely enough to last the hour. What a relief that was!

That night, my family attended the 7pm mass which highlighted the washing of the feet, then we went to a different place near the church for the Altar of the Repose. We left for dinner then came back a few minutes before 10.

I was expecting my family and only three people from our church group to be there. Instead there were around 14 of us! We read scriptures and sang and a couple of our group took turns playing the guitar.  What a moving experience.

Then on Friday we started our Visita Iglesia 11am. Again I thought we'll only be a handful but we had quite a turnout. We visited seven churches and on the last one, we heard the 3pm mass for the Seven last words. At the homily the priest emphasised John 3:16 replacing 'world' with a someone's name in the congregation to drive the point that Jesus died for each one of us.

We stayed at a friend's home for dinner while watching the first episode of a short series about Moses.

It had been a long Thursday and Friday day and I went home exhausted.

When I woke up the next day, I suddenly felt enlightened. Have you ever experienced mulling over a problem and then you sleep over it and you come up with a solution when you wake up the next day? That's how it felt for me.

When we were approached that Saturday to help out for Thursday, I spent those nights worrying as I did not know what I was doing, and only a couple raised their hands to help. But it all worked out in the end.

Then on Friday as they planned on the Visita Iglesia which required a lot of driving, I became anxious as I don't actually relish the thought of driving to seven different destinations. I had braced myself mentally for the day. Friends were going to come over and carpool with us. Then at the very last minute, our friend offered to use their car and he will drive.

That Saturday made me reflect on these things. I was willing to do things for Him but I was also very conflicted inside. And He knew.

My wife and I managed to watch the second episode of the Moses series before sleeping on Good Friday. I was somewhere between dozing off and focusing on the show but I somehow managed recall one message when I woke up the following morning. One of the narrators said God was fighting for the Israelites; He was doing the work for them. In some form I also experienced that this Lent. Surely it was not coincidence that help would come when I least expected it!

Faith is indeed a very mysterious thing. I know that in matters of faith I am still wanting and I doubt when in times of trial, and yet I would like to believe that God pulls through for me. He helps me fight my battles. This Lenten season is a lesson for me to not just hear, but to listen.

15 March 2024

Is this the place we used to love? Is this the place that I've been dreaming of?

 Today, the 15th of March, marks the 5th anniversary of the Christchurch terror attacks.

New Zealand is as isolated as you can get geographically. A group of small islands relatively inconspicuous that it's sometimes mistaken as part of Australia, or even accidentally omitted in world maps. Being physically far from everyone else, one would have thought that this country would be spared from any acts of terrorism. That changed on this day five years ago.

When we were alerted of an 'active shooter event' happening at Christchurch, it didn't sink in immediately. Then we turned on the TV and saw the tragedy unfold. It was, personally speaking, unbelievable.

We have always thought of New Zealand to be a safe place to live. A great environment to raise a family and get that sought-after work-life balance. This terror attack shattered that perception. One can never be truly safe anywhere. In the days following the attack, we heard of people planning to leave the country altogether. It reminded me of the time we had a catastropic earthquake in the 90s in my hometown. People fled the city and never returned, even when things settled down. I guess trauma can make you do that.

We decided to migrate to New Zealand because we heard that racism is not rife here. I've always been worried about my kids experiencing hate crimes, or bullying in schools. Much of my fears were quelled when I saw how culturally diverse the schools are, and (during those times) people actually leave their houses and cars unlocked!

Are we staying put? Yes. Do we still feel safe? Relatively yes. That is, compared to a past life where, at the back of your mind, you try to be aware of what's happening around you and always keep your backpack slung across your chest, we feel safer here.

But if there's one thing I learned from this, it's that evil can rear its ugly head no matter the circumstance. And we should not let evil reign. Don't let it control us. Otherwise their 'terror' agenda would prevail.

06 March 2024

We'll always be together, together in electric dreams

We did something awesome over the weekend. We watched a concert! It's something I haven't done in years. I think the last time was in the 90s. During that period I sat in a stadium for a Corrs concert, I stood amidst a rather hyper crowd of Incubus fans (to be honest, I thought I was the oldest in that crowd), and jammed with Parokya ni Edgar in a more intimate outdoor venue in Cebu. So it has indeed been a long while and frankly I'm not really a concert-goer and I thought those days are far behind me. And yet there were were in a huge outdoor venue listening to 80s and 90s bands. Nik Kershaw performed but I'm not familiar with his songs. Go West was also there and I managed to sing to some of their tunes (especially King of Wishful Thinking!). But the highlight of the event was The Human League!

It was synthesizers galore. I loved the upbeat music and the crowd loved it too!

If I felt I was the oldest in the Incubus concert, this time I felt I was the youngest :-). We queued to buy some cider and beer and the people in front of us admired our matching shirts and 80s getup. Then they said we did a good job, considering we were born in the 80s. Ha! Thank you, Asian genes!

It's awesome the band sang their more popular hits, but the less known songs were also cool and upbeat. The crowd sang with most of the songs - I wish I did my homework prior to the concert.

Ah, to feel young again. To dance and sing to the 80s beat of the drum. There's nothing like the 80s, I tell you.

Now, if OMD or Information Society would schedule a concert in town, I just might consider going out again...

25 February 2024

Doors, why do there have to be doors

Last 12th Feb I recommended The Good Place to a friend. It's one of my favourite shows on Netflix and I'm sure he would like it too. But like most movies or series that I watch only once, I would have forgotten what happened between the start and the end. And so I decided to have another go at all 4 seasons.

I just completed the series Last Friday (23 Feb) while on my way back home from work.

The first time I completed this series, I felt a sense of wonderment. This time it hit different. I felt a deep sadness. 

Like the characters who were trying to figure things out, I was also in the middle of wading through new territory as I went to the South Island with my son to help him set up for Uni. It was difficult to find calm during those times, but during the times I waited for him to return from school, or when sleep evades me, The Good Place kept me company.

Perhaps the situation I'm in at the moment of parting ways resonated with the theme of the series. It's just too much of a coincidence. I would like to think that someone, somewhere out there is trying to send me a message that things will be alright.

One day at a time...

(For some reason, this series reminded me of the song Doors)

21 February 2024

'cause life's a constant change, and nothing stays the same

It's 2.30pm. I'm in my son's room, counting the minutes til he comes back from Uni, counting the hours til I fly back to Wellington. I can't help but think how time has flown. I can still remember cradling him in my arms while I read the latest Harry Potter book. I loved giving him rides on my shoulder whenever we were out and about.

And now here he is, moved away from us to pursue his university studies.

As parents, we could only wish that our kids have been listening to our words of advice, and that he will be ok now that he will be far from us. We pray that our kids will be safe, and that we don't want to nag them about going home once in a while but that's what we always want to say but we keep quiet and hope they do.

We hope. And we pray. And we will always be there, no matter what happens.

16 February 2024

If I could save time in a bottle, the first thing that I'd like to do

This week was quite a roller coaster.

Last Tuesday, my daughter went off to her Year 8 camp. Then yesterday I accompanied my son here at the South Island where he will be flatting as he starts his first year of University, and his first time to be away from us.

I didn't know if I should feel happy, or sad, or angry. At one point I felt anger was the best way to cope.

But as I sit here in my son's room (he's gone off to have dinner with friends), and I saw my daughter on a video call home safely, I feel more at ease. The tension I felt at the start of the week has started to ebb and I feel relieved.

If I were to grade this week on a stress meter, it would have been an 8 (with 10 being the highest). Last monday as I brushed my teeth and saw my face on the mirror, I muttered to myself: 'Parenting sucks. Why should our kids have to go away?'

We actually had a fun weekend prior to this. We went on a tramp, we got two beautiful cockatiels, and we had meetups. 

 I was on a high, but that crashed on the Tuesday.

Looking back, it doesn't seem so bad now. I am hoping for the best, hoping that my son listened to my words of advice, and that he will be safe. I am looking forward to going back home and see my daughter and wife again.

05 February 2024

Where seldom is heard a discouraging word, and the skies are not cloudy all day

I'm starting at a perfectly blue sky today and this song just snuck its way into my head. 'Home, home on the range' must be as old as time itself; I learned this song when I was in grade school and was taught to me by a friend. And it' such a simple and fun song to sing to!

Miranda had reminded me of how awesome pets can be, especially to those who feel down in the dumps. For some reason pets (cat and dogs most especially, I think) have a knack for empathy.

I haven't gone close to a cat or a dog recently. It's mostly due to hayfever which I developed here in New Zealand. I haven't had this before; I might as well blame it on age. But when I was a kid, we had loads of pets at home. At one time we had some fish, a dog, a couple of cats, a pair of ducks, and some chickens (the chicken's don't count as pets I guess). Then I had took care of white mice too! So I'm no stranger to having pets around.

One time at a friend's house, I suddenly had a longing to rub the ears of their pet dog. He took to it, and then this progressed into a belly rub. I did take my nasal spray that day so I had a bit of protection, and wanted to just have this few moments with the dog. But the dog get coming back for more ear rubs and I gladly obliged. Suffice to say it made me happy that afternoon to be with a dog so gentle and kind. 

26 January 2024

These are a few of my favourite things

The 'task' I chose from Miranda's book today is to list down five things I'm grateful for today.

As I stare out the window of the bus on my morning commute, I actually started getting anxious about completing the list. I mean, five things? That's a lot isn't it?

But just then a family with kids scrambled onto the back seats and the mum exclaimed 'we're going to have a fun day today!' Then she started reciting their itinerary. Not that I wanted to eavesdrop but she was talkjg loud enough for the entire bus to hear! She must really be excited herself for this trip. They're going to the museum where there's a dinosaur exhibit. Then off to the playground and have some gelato.... to which the kids enthusiastically agreed. I decided to whip out my phone and write this little memoir for my blog later in the day.

So the first thing I'm grateful today is for that family who reminded me that we choose how our day goes!

To be able to walk in the CBD on a fine, sunny day.

Come to think of it, I'm happy to be working. Sure, there are stressful times, but what job doesn't have that?

In the bus, going home. I'm grateful to DJ Vista who spun amazing 80s mixes on YouTube. I like listening to his music, reminds me of the good old days. I discovered his work mid last 2023. His mixes were amazing and quickly became my go-to background music. So imagine my shock when I learned that he took his life early this year due to depression :-(. It's such a cruel disease. Outward appearances can be deceiving. He appeared to enjoy what he's doing but it's really hard when this awful feeling overtakes you. I felt greatly saddened by his loss, but I will keep playing his music.

I just came from music practice. Yes, I'm a frustrated singer :-). I'm grateful for this opportunity to be in a group who accepts you even when you're out of tune.

And I'm grateful to be able to return to a home and have a good night's rest.

19 January 2024

I see trees of green, red roses too.

One of Miranda's daily tasks was to watch It's a Wonderful Life (or re-watch if you've seen it already). In other parts of the world, you can call this a quintessential film for the Christmas holidays. Not so much in the Philippines and here in New Zealand, though. My go-to film would have to be Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer from Rankin-Bass.

But I've seen this movie 'advertised' in so many ways in social media and news so I knew I just had to watch it. But where? It's not available in streaming sites.

I was pondering on purchasing a DVD copy online when I decided to search further. Luckily I found Beamafilm, a streaming site free of charge if you use your library card! And fortunately I have one!

The film was shot in 1946 and has, in some ways, a similarity with the story of A Christmas Carol in that the main character gets to live in a "what if" scenario, an alternative reality of sorts. The story is straightforward enough, but it's the latter half of the movie that struck a chord. I don't want to give away the plot; I'm sure there are other sites that discuss that. But personally I found the movie thought-provoking. It makes you think about decisions you make and how it affects those around you and the circumstances that would have been altered. It is more of a grown-up film though, I think. I would not have enjoyed it if I saw it when I was a kid. So I think that the timing of getting a hold of this film in my middle age is just right.

But there's a nostalgia feel for Christmas films which is established only if you actually watched it year after year. And Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer has that for me. When this film is played on the local TV channel it was a sign for me that Christmas season has arrived. And in the Philippines, that's as early as September! And while it's not as popularly screened here in New Zealand, I don't have to worry about that as I have it on DVD.

But will I watch this movie again next Christmas? Yes I will.

12 January 2024

All right stop, collaborate and listen

Yes I know, I know. I haven't posted what I have done from Miranda's book the past few days. I found a number of the tasks a huge challenge, actually. Like getting my fellow commuters to sing (I might do a solo in the car instead), or pay for someone else's meals (I'm not a talk-to-strangers person, to be honest).

So in a sense, I'm actually missing the point of the book, which is to try something new and have a fun experience in the process. Attempting to do everything is stressful, which is what we're trying to avoid in the first place!

So instead of trying to complete each task every single day, I will choose something I can do for the week and post that instead.

Speaking of which, I did manage to enjoy a quiet evening with a glass of wine and a TV show which just popped up when I flicked the channel.

Miranda's Christmas special! Such fun!

08 January 2024

7 & 8 Jan with Miranda

 Guess what. We found the perfect place to gallop. At the Castle Hill in Canterbury!

I asked some kids who were with us to join me in this frivolity and they heartily obliged, as you can see in the video! Some trampers were actually coming our way and were bemused by the gallopers approaching them. Such fun!

For the tasks listed for these two days, I chose the one that requires me to give a lollipop to a lollipop lady. I was actually confused by the term 'lollipop lady'; I had to search it up! It appears a Lollipop lady is a woman who helps children cross the road. They hold up a round 'stop' sign which resembles a lollipop, hence the namesake!

Sadly, there are no lollipop ladies in our part of the world but I know something else that can be just as fun - an ice cold bowl of vanilla ice cream which I shared with my daughter!

06 January 2024

5 & 6 Jan with Miranda

Do I see a trend here? I'm trying to catch up every couple of days with my reading. Miranda might not approve... or would she? Barely 20 minutes til the next day starts and here I am writing about my daily 'tasks'. Well... for the last two tasks I have at least completed one, so that's a 50% personal success rate!

Today's task is to listen to Shonda Rhimes' TED Talk of 'My year of saying yes to everything.' And Miranda's right. It's an awesome talk. And I think that based on the past few afternoons I spent with my daughter at the skate park I have done something good to start the year. And help my son out with looking for a place to stay when he starts uni.  I want to make a conscious effort to listen to my kids moving forward.

As for the other task, I have to find a place where I can freely gallop... tomorrow...

05 January 2024

3 & 4 Jan with Miranda

 Such fun! Actually we are still on holiday while a number of people have already started work. Miranda would be proud!

The third of January requires us to have a banquet. We don't really eat out much as a family so I hope this one will suffice. We had a late lunch in a nearby restaurant.

As for the 4th of January, I need to do something interesting while on a zebra crossing. Will skip and hop on the first one I see!

02 January 2024

1 & 2 Jan with Miranda

 Well, I've gotten off to a fine start with the book! New Years Day was interestingly busy, and when I realised I had to start with the book it was already 11.55pm and I was in the middle of posting a new year message on Instagram! Same with the day after New Year's; yesterday we were outdoors most of the day and returned home at nearly 10pm.

But better late than never! Although... I don't have a captive audience at the moment so I can't do the Day 1 activity. As for Day 2... I don't have popcorn at the moment and we're about to leave so I can't sit and watch a movie! So I'll have to do those another day!

On a positive note, we're doing such fun stuff, so I'm sure it will be fine to delay a few more days.

My view at the moment. So relaxing.... before we head off to another adventure.

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