Christmas Belen Twenty-Eleven

I was suppose to write a post about this earlier, but a lot of last-minute things cropped up.

So, welcome to a post about photos of my Christmas Belen 2011. In the Philippines, we usually prepare this thing called a belen, which is basically a presentation of the nativity scene. There is no specific design that everyone must follow, though belens have the usual Mary + baby Jesus in a manger + Joseph and under a structure with a roof, often times people add animals and sometimes even the Three Maji. Here in our house in Dumaguete, my family tries to spruce up the decoration with something more than just adding Christmas lights to the belen, or using really intricately designed figures as Mary, Jesus and Joseph representations.

Enjoy the next few pictures…

The main part of our belen, with a nipa hut like structure.

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Dumaguete: Home away from Home

Hello, from the wonderful city of Dumaguete, my home away from home. I don’t really have much to say as most of what I’m doing on a daily basis is working….so I don’t have a lot of time to take photos and travel around the city. I have a post on something for the (hopefully) near future. But for now, I’m just going to share a few photos from life here….just random stuff that I’d like to share. Hope you like ’em.

My work/leisure table. I have this urge to just fill that cabinet with stuff =))

Photos to remind me of Manila. I miss my family, friends, and my dog. Other things to note in this photo…a pack of Nestea iced tea and a bag of Kornets. Also have my Monopoly Deal deck with me (upper right) and a few boxes of film for my Instax Mini…just in case.

One of the things that remind me of our place, and how old-new it is, is the next picture. I was around 7 when my uncles and aunt showed me to this place where we were building our new house (our old one being this old Spanish styled house with its entrance on the 3rd floor, not good for old people) which is now around 15 years old. Back to the story, one summer a couple years ago…my grandaunt tried to teach me how to crochet. By that time, I was already knowledgeable with cross-stitching, so my grandaunt decided to take it up a notch. She taught me how to crochet, starting with the chain stitch and the other kinds later on. Little did I know that all those days and weeks of practicing on the basics would help me when I went back to school, because apparently for that year…we had to learn how to crochet. Haha.

Anyway, my grandaunt had this phase where she would spend all day doing her crochet work. Even until now, my grandaunt is fond of baking and painting, but those few years ago….she would order dolls from the US that were meant for crochet-ing. They would come with instructions on dresses for the dolls, dresses that would require crochet work and later on, some added lacework and such. On display, my grandaunt has about 8-10 dolls, I even have one at home which I made that summer I learned how to crochet. Mine aren’t as intricately designed as the ones you can see below, but they’re memorable reminders of my childhood that was..

The next photos are from my farm-like house. We’ve got a bunch of animals just walking everywhere at all times of the day. We have the normal cats and dogs, heck we’ve even got chickens and horses (sounds like Harvest Moon!)

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A Quickie

Don’t get any wrong ideas from the title. Haha, I’m just dropping by for a while to say hello to any friends and readers out there. I’m currently out of Manila, living in the province with my relatives. As today is Sunday, I can say that being here a week and a half hasn’t felt this long in a long time. I’ve been helping out at our family business here so work there pretty much takes up my time from Monday-Saturday, morning till around 7/8 in the evening. I did not expect work to be this time-consuming, but apparently it is. My free time in the evenings and on Sundays hasn’t left me with a lot of time to go out and go around, not that I need to since the city is pretty small and I’ve been coming here since I was a baby…so I’ve been to a lot of tourist-like attractions in the area.

Today was the Pacquiao-Marquez match, and a lot of my relatives came over to my grandparents place (where I’m living right now) to watch our pay-per-view match on television. Besides the few of us who aren’t that interested in the match, the rest of the family was gathered around the television room with eyes glued to the telly. I guess that’s one of the things that I missed as a child, as all my cousins here would gather together on Sundays for family time and such with my grandparents and uncles and aunts. Us in Manila on the other hand, well…we treat Sunday like any other day and generally spend it doing our own things. Even if Dumaguete is a whole lot different from Manila, as there is only 2 ‘malls’ here, there is no Starbucks, McDonald’s has only one branch and both that and KFC haven’t even been here for 5 years….well you get the picture, being with my family and relatives is a good change of pace. It’s not Manila, but hey….how often do I get to spend time here anyways.

Other than that, I’ve learned a lot since coming here and working at our family store. It’s been a real experience. I don’t have any interesting pictures so far, but I’ll try to share some pictures in the near future. 🙂

Take care, and till next time!

Remembering Taka

Pets are like family. For the most part, we watch them grow up. We feed them, care for them, and love them. And in return, we are loved by them as well, and they give us comfort and protection. A pet, no matter how big or how small, becomes an important member of the family. Gaining them is like gaining a family member, or a best friend. Also, losing them is like losing a family member, and a best friend.

At times like this, I remember clearly the saying that a dog is man’s best friend. For me, my 8 year old baby Labrador Retriever Taka was my best friend. He passed away last week, July 14, amidst the storm that hit the country.

Taka came to us when he was only around 2 months old. His mother was my uncle’s pet, and my dad finally allowed us to have a big furry dog at home. It was special for me as all my other siblings were still in the province on vacation, so I got to pick a dog from the litter of puppies of Maxine (my uncle’s dog). They were all cute and furry and really excitable. How I picked one from among all of them, I cannot remember. But there was so much excitement in bringing home a dog that was mine. His first night at home was not a very good night. As I was getting ready to go back to bed, I could hear a soft crying sound, it was my new puppy. He was lonely and wanted someone with him. So I stayed until he had fallen asleep and went back to bed. Minutes later, the crying ensued again. It was like that for most of the night till I finally decided to sleep by him on the couch.

Naming him was difficult. As I was a very avid Japan fan at that time, I decided to name him after my favorite character from the anime Fushigi Yuugi, Tamahome. But the vet had told me that it was too long a name for a dog to remember, so I shortened it to Taka, Tamahome’s re-incarnation in the anime. Another thing that I recall about Taka’s childhood was this lump on his forehead which he had since we had gotten him. It had to be surgically removed by the vet.

One thing notable about Taka even until recently, is how much of a strong dog he is. He’s gotten into so many scrapes and messes over the years, that it makes him hard to forget how old he really has become. Once when he was younger, as one of our cars was going out of the driveway, he ran out unto the road and got hit by an incoming car. Luckily, only his leg was hit, but he had to go to the vet for stitches. Another time, I remember coming home from High School and greeting him like I always do. After going up to my room to do normal teenage stuff like surfing the net and whatnot, I remember one of our maids screaming that Taka had been covered in blood. As it turns out, he had a huge gash on his side. We discovered that the license plate on one of our cars had folded outward a little, and the space between that car and our patio was usually the space he would go through when getting to us. He tried to squeeze himself in and accidentally got cut. That I remember, was one hell of a night. I was crying in the car, all the way to the vet as the vet had to drug him and told us to leave him with them for the night.

Taka was also one heck of a runner. When he was much younger, he would run around the yard, in-between cars and across the driveway. We would often play games to see who was fastest when running from the gate to the patio. Sometimes I would get there first, sometimes he would. It makes me wonder if he had slowed down for my sake.  Taka, was also a very smart dog. He was a quick learner and understood people. When he became much bigger and much older, we would have to lock him up in the garage whenever friends and family would come over. It came to a point that even when people weren’t inside our yard yet, as long as you motioned for him to go into the garage, he would automatically bark. Of course, he was also a very jealous dog. One time when we had gotten new dachshunds, he became possessive and without-my-knowledge (as I was standing next to him), he peed on me.

Despite that, his good traits and his flaws, Taka was kind and obedient. He was sweet and caring. He was, really, man’s best friend. Oftentimes when I was in High School, I would come home from school and just sit beside him in the garden. I’d talk to him, pat him, sometimes even use his stomach as a pillow. He always knew where to sit, which was either beside me or by my legs, even without being told to do so.

Throughout my High School and College years, Taka was always beside me. He grew up with me and endured with me, he loved me and cared for me. He was there during the tumultuous times of my teenage life. He was indeed a pet like no other. So last Wednesday, as I had just gotten back to bed after waking up early in the morning just to have breakfast, my maid told me that Taka had passed away. I rushed to the patio and found him there, as if sleeping. I poked him like I always do to check, but he didn’t react. Even when I patted him on the head and rubbed his nose, he lay three lifeless. It’s not something I hadn’t been expecting, but it was still a sad surprise. Taka had not been feeling well for the last few months, and constant visits to the vet still produced the same results, he was still barfing up most of his food and getting thinner. I was actually very worried that I would leave for Beijing and would just find out abroad that Taka had already passed away without me being by his side. Still, seeing him sleeping as I said my last goodbyes was one of the hardest things. The coming of the typhoon could have weakened Taka’s body and he had just died in his sleep. I don’t know. I can only hope that his last few moments  were without pain or suffering. Like the death that I someday wish for myself, I hope that I can just go to bed and have God take my soul away. To die in one’s sleep, I think is one of  the greatest last wishes anyone can hope to receive.

As I end this entry, I want to remember the happy times I spent with Taka. While the pain is still fresh, remembering only brings tears, but it will someday allow me to remember the dog that brought me so much happiness. I will add here to the ending the post I made on my facebook, “I believe dogs go to heaven. To my baby, I miss you and hope you’re in a better place. Thank you for the 8 wonderful years.”

Someday, I’ll see him again. Thank you, and goodbye, Taka. I will love you always.

R.I.P. Taka

March 22, 2002 – July 14, 2010

Dumaguete 2010

I just arrived home from my summer trip to Dumaguete, yesterday. It was a fun 12 days with my family, and a lot less stressful than it was last year. I got to spend my vacation not only in Dumaguete, but my family planned a spur of the moment trip to Siquijor, where we spent the weekend.

Dumaguete, about an hour and fifteen minutes by plane from Manila, is the capital of Negros Oriental. You may view where it is in the Philippines, here. It’s basically located in the Central Visayas Region, beside Cebu, and is most known for Silliman University, the first American and Protestant Private School founded in the Philippines. It’s also known for the Dumaguete National Writers Workshop. I’ve been going to Dumaguete ever since I was little, since my dad was born and raised here, and most of my dad’s relatives live either here in Dumaguete or in the neighboring areas like Cebu. Every summer, I remember spending most of my time here with my grandparents. Then, it was a small city, unlike Cebu. It was a provincial city, very different from the Manila where I grew up.

Coming back to the present, Dumaguete has undergone a lot of changes. It was only a few years ago that Mcdonalds first opened a branch there. How I remember the many times when I was little that I complained that there weren’t any Mcdonalds since I was kind of fed up with Jollibee. Now, even Jollibee which used to only have one branch near the popular Lee Plaza, now has around four branches, one of which belongs to the somewhat newly opened Robinsons Dumaguete. There’s also the ever popular Scooby’s, which is a diner that sells hotdogs and burgers, somewhat like Jollibee and Mcdonalds, but different. In more recent years, there’s also the popular Sans Rival, a patisserie and eatery. They have delicious cakes and other sweets which my family always buys, but they also offer other popular meals like aroskaldo, lasagna, spaghetti and spareribs (info care of my cousin). There’s also How Yang, a restaurant owned by my aunt, which serves Chinese cuisine as well as some other variety of food that has been incorporated from my aunt’s old eatery – Taster’s Delight (across from Holy Cross High School) which offers burgers and hotdogs. A lot of my childhood days in Dumaguete was spent here after my swimming lessons or when I tried working to help my aunts. (Currently, How Yang is located along Perdices Street, near Union Drug and Dunkin Donuts, and MartOne.)

Another one of the noticeable changes in Dumaguete is the presence of a big bookstore like National Bookstore. It was only a few years ago that they decided to open up a branch here. When I was little, there was only Cang’s Inc, a slightly domineering building located along Perdices Street, that handled most of the school supplies that residents needed.

Also in more recent years, I’ve noticed the growing presence of foreigners in the city. Maybe it was because I didn’t notice most of them before, but upon my arrival a week and a half ago, I noticed that there are indeed much more foreigners about than when I went to Dumaguete last year. Okay, it’s well known that Koreans are coming by the multitudes to the Philippines to learn English. It’s not only in Manila that they’re gathering. A lot of Caucasians are also visiting and living in Dumaguete. On my trip to and from Dumaguete, there were a lot of foreigners on the plane, and while I was there, I noticed that lots of foreigners came to buy supplies from our family store. Last year, my uncle introduced me to some French customers who were friends of his. This year, I met a Mainland Chinese whom I think is already living in Dumaguete. I also spotted a couple of Mainland Chinese in some stores when I was going around, which shows that not only Koreans are coming here to learn, but a lot of other people are also coming to visit and look around the tourist areas.

Though I’m not really a local, and considering that I’ve only really learned the language (Bisaya) in the last 10 years, some of the places in and around Dumaguete that I can advise people to go (which are places I’ve been to and have liked) are:

1. Rizal Boulevard – located by the sea, it has a great view of the sunset and the ships that come in to port. Sometimes, if there are celebrations, like during New Years, this is a great place to stroll by. The sea looks amazing from here.

2. Forest Camp – located somewhere in Valencia, about an hour away from the main city. It’s located in the mountains, and has really cold swimming pools and access to a small waterfall. You can spend the afternoon there, but you can also avail of the few cottages available to spend the night. My family and me used to come here often when I was little.

3. Bais City: Dolphin Watching – Bais City is located north of Dumaguete. It’s a few hours ride (I’m estimating about two hours) from Dumaguete City. There should be something like a travel agency along Sta. Catalina Street (a street away from the Boulevard) but near Quezon Park, that schedules you for trips to Bais for dolphin watching. Me and my family went there a few years ago to go dolphin watching. The dolphins really swim by the boat and they even jump out of the sea while your boat is swimming along. The boat we took before had something like nets on the site, like a fishing boat, so me and my cousins would stay on the nets and put our feet through so that while we’re gliding across the sea, our feet glides along in the sea.

4. Siquijor – it’s an island located diagonal from Dumaguete, about an hour to two hours away by boat. Will talk about this on another post since I went there for a vacation with my family just earlier this week. 🙂

5. Cathedral of St. Catherine of Alexandria (according to Wikipedia) – located across from Quezon Park. It’s a beautiful old styled cathedral that’s always filled with people. Beside the cathedral is a bell tower that’s pretty well known in Dumaguete. My uncles would tell me when I was little that when pirates came to snatch away the women on the island, people would ring the bell to warn the villagers. The tower has those candles (for intercessions) surrounding it at the base.

(June 6 edit)

6. Twin Lakes – In a post last year, I mentioned having visited Lake Balinsasayao. Going there by road takes about an hour and a half. You enter via this off road that leads you to this open area where there’s a small pond, from there, you know you’re near the lake. There’s a beautiful lodge there that my uncle helped build (if I remember correctly). Go a bit further and you’ll reach the lake, which is really huge. It stretches on, though the end can be seen from the small pier. If you’re renting a boat or bringing your own canoe (like we did) make sure to pack your things tightly in a water-proof bag, and make sure you have small provisions in case you get semi-stranded because of the rains, which is what happened to us last year. My uncle told me that water attracts rain clouds, so it rains often at the lake. You may swim in the water, like if you plan to just get off the boat and dive into the lake, but make sure to bring extra clothes.

7. Living Christmas House – I don’t know exactly what you call it though my cousin knows the name for it since he’s a local. Anyway, it’s this huge house that’s brightly decorated every Christmas time. Located about 10-15 minutes away from the entrance of Silliman University (near National Bookstore), it’s very popular among locals and tourists during the Christmas season. The owners of the house decorate their house and garden with an assortment of statues, toys, decor and whatnot. For a small fee (below P100), you will be allowed to go within the compound. You are even allowed access into the house itself, like the dining room, living room, and you get to see how the family has decided to decorate their home for the year. Of course, some areas have restricted access, but it’s enough to see the plentiful decorations that surround the outside of the house, and adorn the inside of it as well. Note, there are always lots of people who go every year.

I’ll have a few more Dumaguete-related posts coming up over the next few days.

Life of the almost jobless

I thought that being finished with classes meant I could blog more, but I guess not. In some way, it probably shows that I blog usually for the sake of stress release. Interesting, very interesting.

Either way, I’ve not been as “free” as most people since classes ended for seniors. Last week, my grandaunt passed away at the age of 99, so it was a week full of wakes for me. It was probably a good thing that I didn’t go out-of-town or out-of-the-country with friends because I wouldn’t have been able to fulfill my responsibility with my family members. Last week, though it was a sad event, was also bonding time with me and my cousins, so it turned out okay.

I also had to take care of my second interview for a job that I was applying for (teaching position) so it was somewhat hectic. Earlier this week, I had just finished doing the teaching demo, which was nerve-wrecking. I hope I did well teaching the faculty-pretending-to-be-students students because I was really out of sorts at times when I was directing the lesson. It was also fun in some way though, so I didn’t mind. My “students” were very interesting and gave good points towards the lesson. It was a great experience.

My dreams/prospects of going to China have been a little “down” lately. There are plans and ideas going about, but they aren’t as I guess you could say ‘aggressive’ as I previously described them to be. Part of me says, if it happens, it happens. No need to rush things, though I’m a little iffy about not working for long periods of time. I bum a little at home nowadays, or well, when I don’t have anything to do at least. Planning things to do is something I’m gunning for because I don’t want to turn into someone who gets chubbier after college. OH NO. BIG N-O. Hahaha. I’ve got to do something to keep myself from just staying home, eating, then sleeping.

Next week will be a pretty busy week since there’ll be preparations for graduation then. Distribution of togas for the mass and ceremony itself, the invitations to parents, the yearbook distribution (which I’m happy is over since it was a grueling 2 semesters of work for around 2000 students), and the seniors party. To top it all off, the week next week ends with my graduation on Saturday. My brother is graduating on Thursday (from HS) so we have a double celebration ahead.

How time flies by~

ACET: Worries of an older sister over her younger brother’s results

Last week, I had my immersion (a blog post I’ll save for another day) and it struck me while on my trip there that the results for Ateneo were coming out then. Turns out later, the results weren’t due until this week.

I’m crossing my fingers for later. The online results are going to come out in about 12 hours, though a good number of my friends have already seen the results for their younger siblings who are in their 4th year of High School. I’m praying that my shoti (the older of my 2 younger brothers) gets into the Ateneo. We’re not technically a family of Ateneans since my parents didn’t go to the Ateneo, but we’ve got a lot of relatives that went to this school. On that list where you write down the number of relatives that you have that have gone to the Ateneo, we can probably name more than 20-30 people, so its pressuring to have to get in.

As an older sister, I’m of course worried for my younger brother. It doesn’t help that his 2 older sisters are Ateneans, because his being the eldest boy too probably also has him gunning to get in. I want him to get in, but if he doesn’t (though I doubt he won’t since he’s suppose to be smarter than me and my sister) since he had mentioned that he didn’t do too well with the Entrance Exam due to poor time management on his part, I’ll be sad but not too iffy about it. Haha, what am I saying, I have to think positively! Of course he’ll get in!

Here’s to me crossing my fingers. To those who are also gunning to get into the Ateneo, best of luck to you all as well.

Results will be out here.

New addition to the household

Being in asthmatic family sucks because ever since I was born, we all knew we couldn’t have furry dogs or pets that could cause an asthma attack. Ever since I was a baby, all of our dogs have usually been dachshunds because their short hairs make it possible for us to get used to them.

Had a beagle once named Blanca, but she got stolen from us around 10 years ago. Then around 8 years ago, my dad agreed to let us have a Labrador Retriever whom I fondly named Taka ( I originally wanted to name him Tamahome since I had – and still do – have a crush on this character from Fushigi Yuugi, but the doctor said Tamahome is too long a name).

A week ago, we welcomed a new dog to our house. A shitzu me and my sister have decided to call, Russell. Russ for short. The great thing about Russell is that though he looks like a furry dog, he’s a house dog and his hair doesn’t fall off like our other dogs, which makes it easier to keep him in the house. Unlike Taka who’s pretty big and has to stay outside, or our dachshunds whom we can only keep in certain areas of our house because of their falling hair, Russell has been brought upstairs a couple of times.

He’s soooooo adorable. We all absolutely adore him, though we can already see his being “spoiled”. Oh, and he is still teething so he likes to bite us whenever we hold him. Playfully of course.

Oh yes, FYI, our family just loves dogs. Currently, our house is home to 2 dachshunds, 1 lab retriever and 1 shitzu while we have 2 dachshunds watching over my dad’s shop. At one point, we had 7 dogs at home, 6 dachshunds and 1 lab retriever. When I was young, we once had 9 dogs at home, if I remember correctly.

The adorable baby!