We all leave our nests

Blue top from gift; Keys keys keys necklace from Accessorize;

Blue and brown quilted bowling bag from Mango; Black wedges from H&M

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So a couple of days ago, I had dinner with 2 of my friends from my Beijing days. One was my roommate during my one year stint there. The other was a friend I met during my second semester, who was on a semester-abroad program from his US university. And yes, we’re all Chinese-Filipinos. Putting that aside, we were there as a sort of reunion-slash-bonding because my friend (the one from the US) was on winter vacation and was back in the Philippines and was leaving a few days after. We all hadn’t seen much of each other in over half a year, so it was great just talking about the good old Beijing days, and the future as well.

One was working. One was going back to studying and was thinking of getting an internship. And then there was me, the one was going back to studying in China. Looking at the 3 of us was looking at my younger self watching The Joy Luck Club over and over again, wondering when I would reach that age where me and my friends would be discussing our lives and how we’d all be headed in different directions. It’s really funny how things pass by so quickly. Part of me believes that I’m still that 13 or 14 year old who was in a hurry to get to 15 and 16, and another part of me can’t believe I’m turning 24 this year. It’s really fascinating yet aggravating at the same time, to have time pass by so quickly.

This line of thought brings me back to a dinner I had with my ICA-AdMU girls a while back. It made me think, a couple of years from now, we would all be having dinner or lunch together just like that time, but with our husbands and kids.

This decision of mine to go back to China for another semester, coupled with seeing friends growing up and moving to other countries, as well as seeing friends get married or engaged, just further underlines the reality that we’re all moving away and leaving our nests. It’s a bit scary yet exciting at the same time, especially when we know that there are certain realities that we have to face alone. Just a few years ago, I was still nestled snuggly in my parents’ embrace, protected from the world around me. But seeing the me now, taking on the world one language at a time, deciding to go to China alone and continue with my studies and hopefully to eventually find work, it’s a thrilling and frightening experience.

Deep down, I still feel like a kid. I feel so naive and unsure of the world. But part of me knows that soon, whether I like it or not, reality will catch up and force me into the big bad world.

You know, sometimes I wish time would just stop, that I can enjoy whatever it is that I have and am experiencing right now. Sometimes I wish, things would just remain the way they are. Like how relationships with friends are, or how cute little cousins or nieces and nephews are better as babies and toddlers than when they are all grown up. I wish so many things will last forever, yet I wish that I can have many more of these same experiences for the future.

Oh reality. I feel like I’m me, but I’m looking at a me that I’m not familiar with.

Countdown to HongKong 2011

I’ve been to Hong Kong twice this year. To put it more truthfully, I’ve been to the Hong Kong International Airport twice this year. After one botched attempt to actually pass by Hong Kong on our way back from Beijing, I’ll finally be stepping on real Hong Kong soil once again. My last trip to this awesome city was back in 2007 when I along with some college-highschool friends decided to spend our semestral break enjoying our sort-of independence and freedom. Now, I’ll be back again, no longer as a college student but as a sort-of unemployed-slash-student young adult.

I’m excited. I can’t wait. I’ve been looking forward to this trip since April/May of this year when my friend decided to on-a-whim buy tickets from Cebu Pacific’s seat-sale. Though I told myself I’d be back to my pre-Beijing body by this time so I can go shopping, and well..I haven’t, I’m still looking forward to going shopping, seeing some friends who are in Hong Kong and of course to go to Hong Kong Disneyland. 😀 Some things just never get old.

Hong Kong this weekend, can’t wait!

An owl’s letter

Today, despite waking up at 5am (after sleeping at 10pm) and waking up to cough and a bit of colds, I found to my delight that I had FINALLY received my Pottermore email. After days and weeks of praying that I’d finally receive my email (especially after everyone said you had to get 3 emails, and I had gotten my first email about a month ago), I opened my email inbox and found the words Pottermore etched out unto the screen.

I remember I was in China when I first found out about Pottermore and how it’s suppose to be this interactive game of some kind. Being the gamer geek and Harry Potter fan that I was, me and my roommate were so excited while we watched the trailers and videos and sneak peeks. Due to unforseen circumstances last month in reference to the beta-testing, I wasn’t able to get a hold of an account. Luckily for me, my good friend Angela was able to spare me an account.

And now we get to today. And the mail that an imaginary owl has just delivered.

For now, I am beyond ecstatic to try out what Pottermore has in store. I’ll be sharing bits of information (in lieu of my account) that I’ve encountered so far. If you haven’t begun beta-testing yet, or if you have yet to receive your email, I suggest you turn back unless you want to spoil the fun of discovering the Pottermore world for yourself.

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I am a GEEK

Marvel comics top from Samuel and Kevin Beijing; Cargo pants from UNIQLO Beijing; Velcro flats from Bench Manila; Hoop earrings from Beijing;  Headband straps from H&M Beijing

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Last Monday, a friend of mine invited me over for after-dinner bonding at this really cute and cosy milk tea cafe in my area. I’d post pictures but I accidentally left my memory card in my laptop when I went out, so I’ll have to post pictures of the place for another time, since I plan to go back sometime soon.

For the first time since coming back to Manila, I was able to wear my Marvel comics t-shirt. I was so ecstatic, especially since I was with my group of geeky friends and they liked my t-shirt, though one of my friends wished I was wearing a DC shirt instead since she’s a big fan of Batman. Wearing the shirt, made me look back on when I had bought this back in Beijing. I think it was that time I was with my roommate and friend and we were just biding our time for either Thor or Pirates of the Caribbean over at Megabox in 中关村. That was a hectic day back then since we had missed the first showing because of the traffic in the area. As soon as we had gotten off the bus, we ran for the theatre building but still got there too late. Well, as you know, not all things turn out the way you want them to, but good things happen instead. Had I not been late, I would not have discovered this awesome shirt.

All these what-ifs, sometimes I do wonder what would have happened had I not become a geek. Ever since I was young, there were always a ton of books and comics in our house. Mom had a lot of old comics like Casper and Little Dot and she had them bound into a bunch of books so that they wouldn’t get lost. She had a lot of DC and Marvel comics too, but I was too young and naive to understand the context of those worlds back then.

And of course, there’s anime too. Been an anime fanatic since I was around 3, and I was first introduced to Sailor Moon. When me and my younger sister were little, mom had a bunch of those Sailor Moon hologram cards that you can collect, and for each 90 and above grade we got at the end of the quarter, she would let us pick one card each. I still have mine in my Sailor Moon card case, though I don’t know if my sister still has hers. Sometimes, I just laugh at all those memories and wonder what would have happened had I learned to let go of my love for anime and as other people say, “grown up”.

Probably, I wouldn’t understand hilarious shows like The Big Bang Theory, and I do so enjoy watching BBT and actually understanding some of the geek dialogues and topics going on in the story. If I had grown out of loving comics and anime and all those things, would I be fascinated with books like Game of Thrones or Harry Potter? I wonder. All the what-ifs.

But you know what, part of me just doesn’t really care. I love being a geek. I love all the things I like doing now. Staying up late to read books, or read manga, or watch anime, or play video games. I like collecting anime figures (that I can afford >,<) and anime-related paraphernalia. I like spending for unique items that most people don’t really understand. I like making fanfictions of all my favorite characters and imagining them in different settings, and imagining them in my own made up story world. I also love imagining what it would feel like if I was married to any fictional character, or if I lived in any fictional world.

There are a lot of what-ifs, but more often than not, I like the way I’ve turned out. Geek, with glasses, and all. It makes me feel like there’s more to me than meets the eye. And I can always bring up something unexpected.

Neutral on Mom’s Birthday

Insomnia. It’s what greets me as each day comes to pass and another comes to greet me. Yesterday was unbelievably bad, much worse than the usual. Instead of falling asleep somewhere at 6 in the morning, after a while of staring off into the ceiling despite being in bed, I decided to get up and do some exercise.

I guess you could say that today was (sort of) a day of firsts. I did my first day of (real) exercising at home, even if it was just around the driveway, jogging for about half an hour. Today I also helped my maid make breakfast by frying the bacon. I know it’s not that difficult a task, you just place it in a batch of frying oil and then wait for it to crisp, but at least I’m doing something to help around AND my maids are not telling me to not be in the kitchen. Instead of going to mass at noon and attending with my cousin who was staying over I fell asleep and woke up in time to prepare for mass at 6 in the evening.

Bronze dress is from Greenhills Tiangge; Cream and brown bag is from H&M Beijing; Studded sandals were purchased from Taobao.com; Cold-resistant leggings (super reliable) from Marks and Spencer Manila.

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So in other news, today was mom’s birthday. Chinese tradition states that I wear red to celebrate the birthday, but since I’m on the whole get-thinner-so-I-can-fit-back-into-my-clothes-before-I-left-for-Beijing phase, my choice of wardrobe is much more limited.

Me and my family attended mass together, which is something that we haven’t been doing for a long time, especially since I sometimes go to mass on my own and well…..being abroad for a year hasn’t left me with a lot of chances to go out with my family for special occasions – like Christmas, New Year, my sister’s graduation, brother’s birthdays, and the like. After the mass, we tried this new restaurant near our church called Maimee’s Garden Cafe. It’s been open for 2 weeks and the atmosphere is quiet, and the food is not that bad, and it’s a good place for family dinners an the like since it has big servings.


Back to topic of Mom’s birthday. It was weird how everything looked from my side, across from dad who was seated at the head of the table. Being a family again, but also us being just more grown up, it was such a different feeling in some way. The last time I had a real big dinner with my family, my sister was still in her 4th year of university, I was just passing the time before going back to Beijing, there were just a lot of things different than from how they are now. I find it amusing and also insightful, how things have passed.

I wonder, next year, or 5 years from now, or even more, how will things be then… I wonder.

Thought I knew what I wanted to be

You know how when you were a kid, and you thought you knew what you were going be when you grew up? That was me then. And then, there’s the me now. Unemployed and not exactly sure what she wants to do.

A long long time ago, I thought knew what I wanted to be. Autograph books were so popular back in elementary school, and they always had that space where they ask you what you want to be when you grew up. For a time, I thought I wanted to be a businesswoman. To all my childhood classmates and friends whose autograph books I signed, my page will probably show evidence of that dream having been real. Businesswoman sounded like such a classy dream, especially for someone who didn’t exactly know what that meant or entailed. For many years, I thought I wanted to be a businesswoman. And here in the Philippines, if you were Chinese-Filipino, being a businessperson was usually (and more often than not) an option when deciding what to do.

And then I grew a little older, and I didn’t want to be a businesswoman anymore. I wanted to be a journalist, I wanted to write. Once in class, one of my teachers asked the class if they already knew what they wanted to be when they grew up. I distinctly remember this was in 6th grade, and maybe less than half the class raised their hands, I was one of them.  I remember having a classmate who raised her hand without fear or doubt, the teacher called her and she told us she wanted to be a lawyer. I’m still good friends with that girl right now, though I’m not entirely sure if the path she’s on will still lead her to becoming a lawyer, or if that is still her dream.

A few years later, I changed my mind again. No longer did I want to be a journalist, I wanted to be a writer or a diplomat working in some foreign embassy. I thought I had it all planned out when I graduated from university; work for ABS-CBN or some newspaper/magazine/publishing house, get my work written, eventually get recognized, yadda yadda. Then I would maybe take the Foreign Service Exam and try to get into working in an embassy abroad. Doesn’t sound that confusing, at least it’s a dream with a laid-out plan.

Four years of university and one year of Mandarin (in China) later, I am now stuck in a rut. Back in Manila and job-hunting, with no real goal or desire in mind. Honestly, I don’t know what to do. It’s funny how things turn out the way they do. Sometimes, those who are so sure of what they want in their childhood, inevitably discover that those dreams that they built weren’t the dreams they wanted after all. And those who didn’t really know what they wanted, found it somewhere along the way.  There’s a quote or a saying that can be compared to that, something about not finding what you want when you go looking for it, and finding things when you least expect them. Something like that.

I’m turning 23 this year and I still have no idea what I want to be, or what I want to do with the rest of my life. All the ideas or dreams I have or thought I wanted, just seem so idiotic when trying to think about how practical it all really is. Haha. Life is so hilarious, and surprising, really. To the kid me, if you could see me now, I wonder how disappointed you would be. The worst part is knowing what your best skill is, and what you love doing, but wondering if it’s enough to compete with in comparison to other people who think their best skill is the same as yours. Is it all really good enough?

I’m no master of my kitchen

Rewind back to about a year ago, I was discussing with my friends about how we were going to go about living together when we were in China, and we decided to try to live in a flat if we could find and afford one. One great thing about living in a flat, and not in the school dormitories, is that you get a chance to cook for yourselves. At times it can be quite helpful especially when a person gets sick and tired of the food in the area, or if you’re saving on money and just want to have something simple to eat.

Me? I’ve never really been fond of food. I ate food because I needed to, and I didn’t really enjoy eating much. It’s only been recently, and when I say it like that, it’s only in the last maybe 3-4years that I’ve actually gotten to really enjoy eating. Last year, I got introduced to a good number of people who enjoying eating as well and they invited me to join them on their food escapades, and as a blogging group, we began to call ourselves The Food Club.

Besides that, being in China and being independent in a flat gave me the opportunity to be able to try cooking for myself. I’m no food cooking expert, and most of the things I know how to cook are canned goods and well, eggs and spam. That’s basically most of what i know. I took a year of cooking back in High School because it was required of students in my all-girls school to do so, so I had one semester of cooking and one semester of baking. The great thing about learning what I did in High School was that it gave me the chance to be familiar with cooking and how to handle utensils and how to try to understand the basics and workings of the kitchen. So when I got to Beijing, I was a bit afraid of how things would work out at first, especially when I moved to my second flat and the sparker for the stove in our kitchen wasn’t working and I had to manually use a lighter to start a fire going. Other than that, I had a few opportunities to cook when me and my roommates would try something, or when our friends would cook and we got to help out in the kitchen.

So recently, I got to watching Masterchef Australia, and Junior Masterchef Australia. And the show, is just amazing. I’m watching all these cooks and kids prepare these amazing dishes, and I am impressed beyond comprehension. I’ve never really been allowed to cook at home since the maids get mad at the possible mess I would most likely make, so my only chance to cook is when I’m out of the house.

I may not exactly be following what the chefs are cooking, but I’m watching in amazement at how fast they’re making these dishes and how beautifully prepared the end results are. And when the camera pans closer and they show photographs of the dishes made, I can feel my mouth watering. I would probably never be able to make a dish that good or that aesthetically-pleasing, but having watched so many episodes in recent days, it reminded me of how I had asked my mom if she would enroll me in cooking classes so I could try to learn simple dishes, not just for me when I inevitably have to leave the house to live independently, but also in preparation for my future as a wife. It just got me thinking that if ever I had to live abroad, I wouldn’t have a maid to do the cooking and well….I would not be ale to fend for myself, especially if I was married. Here’s wishing I marry a guy who knows how to cook well. 

Ever since my stay in Beijing, I’ve gotten to appreciate both cooking and eating. Beijing foods are delicious, and I’m not just talking about the usual Chinese food. Restaurants in Beijing serve delicious food, like Japanese or Indian food and the like, which is why me and my friends often went out to eat. Sure it was a bit more expensive than the normal Chinese side-street restaurants, but the food experience was worth it. Since arriving back, my appetite hasn’t been all that good though I’m still trying to appreciate the foods I eat, especially when I go out with friends. Hopefully soon, I will not only appreciate eating but being able to cook simple dishes as well.

As they say, the way to a man’s heart, is through his stomach. And not only that, food should not only be a necessity to survive, people should enjoy making food and eating food. It is an art in so many ways.

Chicken Massacre

Last Friday, me and a few friends from my college org (all my batchmates) decided to get together for a dinner since we don’t get to go out that often. Because we wanted to take advantage of Max’s Chicken All-You-Can-Eat which would end the day after, we all decided to pig out and see how much chicken we could all eat. Apparently, lots of people wanted to try out the Chicken All-You-Can-Eat too, since it was available only from 6-10pm, and that’s at Php165! Imagine!

So we waited in line for about an hour till we got called and took our spot. Out of the 9 of us, 8 of us opted for the Chicken All-You-Can-Eat, while my other friend opted for lumpia since she had just gone to Max’s a few days before. While everyone wanted to make the most out of their meal and didn’t order rice, me and a friend each ordered one plate of rice. Usually, I don’t like putting  Banana Ketchup, but as I noticed all my friends eating their chickens with it, I decided to give it a try and noticed that banana ketchup actually tasted good with Max’s Chicken.

What’s even funnier is that the boys at our table (4 of them) who were all on one side, emptied an entire bottle of ketchup unto a plate! When we had to ask the waitress for another bottle since our side didn’t had any left, soon after the 4 of us girls poured out a little ketchup, the boys again took hold of the bottle. The waitress came back with a new bottle soon after, even if we didn’t ask for one. Hilarious.

Somewhere nearing the end of our dinner, or amidst our dinner, one of the servers who was going around serving chicken told us that it would be the last round as they had run out of chicken. Actually, they came back one more time after that before we decided we had enough.

In contrast to my usually not-eating-a-lot, I had 4 chickens, one plate of rice and loads of glasses of Pepsi. I could have eaten more though. The rest of us girls had about the same amount of chicken while the boys…well..they’re boys. Haha.

My chicken tower.

Combined chicken feast of the girls’ side.

Appetite Markers (Almost Final).

I’m “Xta”. Haha. Actually come another round of chicken, my friend whose name above is “Porky” was able to finish 9 pieces of chicken! Twas so cool. According to my friend’s calculations, as long as you’ve eaten 3 pieces, you’ve already gotten your money’s worth.

I wish they hold something like that again soon. It was just so good. And maybe next time, me and my friends won’t go out on a Friday as more people are likely to attend something like this.

On a Positive Note

I’m trying to look back on a few recent things that are making my life a little better, despite the stress that school is giving me. Being a graduating student is really not an easy task, and so many things seem to make life unbearable. But at the same time, there are things that one cannot help but appreciate.

Three things, recently.

One, I love my ASEC passport. ASEC (Ateneo Student Exhange Council) is one of the organizations that I’ve been a member of since I was a freshman year. 4 years or loyalty. Wow. FYI, ASEC is an organization that helps cater to foreign exchange students who come to the Ateneo; we also help them to feel at home in the Philippines.  This year is one exciting year since my blockmates are part of the editorial board and I’m just gushing with pride. Also this year, they have this new, but not really new thing called the ASEC passport which I totally love. This year, they’ve materialized the project and made a passport that really looks like a passport.

It includes student information on the front, a calendar of activities for the year somewhere inside its pages, it also has this awesome visa stamping part where they stamp the events as you attend them (which I might say is a great incentive if you want a cool looking stamped passport).

I’m really looking forward to filling my ASEC passport up for the year. Finally, this year, I’ll try to be more supportive of my org and do the best that I can to attend as much activities as possible. My last year, last chance.

Two, I had my hair dyed and highlighted last week. My hair has been turning somewhat brown from more exposure to the sun since I got to college. I decided that since this will be my last year in university, why not go all out and have it dyed while I still had the chance to. Basically, the color is copper-brown with some red-blonde-copper highlights. It’s not something that can easily be described. One thing that makes me love it though, are the numerous comments I’ve received from people, telling me that the color or well the combo of colors just suits me very well. Glad I took the chance to go for something bold, at least now I know that this color suits me. 🙂

Check picture below. I’m the girl at the utmost left.

Three, I attended this party last Friday that was most awesome. It was with the coursemates of my sister, a welcoming of the freshman into the Ateneo and into the course. I was invited because a lot of my friends are in that major, plus it’s also the major that people always seem to mistake me as taking. It was ultimate fun though. The organizers hired this mobile bar to be at our party, which was coincidental since the owner of the bar happens to be a friend of mine from freshman year.

All in all, it was a total blast though. Picture above was taken from the party. Dialogue was added on by another friend later on. Haha. So much bonding with friends. Made me realize how much I’m going to miss all this company, when I finally go to China next year (if it really pushes through). Not expecting the parties to end once I go to China, but the company will never be the same.

Parties are just so awesome though.

Just a few things to keep me looking positively at this stress-filled year.

Bout of Motherhood

As I explained somewhat in my previous entry, I spent half a month in the province with my family. In those 2 and a half weeks, I was able to experience what it (in some way) felt like to be a mother, or at least what it felt like to be in-charge of someone/group. Living in my aunt’s house, I was tasked with the responsibility of taking care of my 5-year old cousin (who by the way considers me her favorite “achi” – a hokkien term for older sister/relative).

In those 2 weeks, my 5-year old cousin stuck to me like a gecko. She’d always rush into my room in the morning, and whether or not I was asleep, she’d switch the telly on and watch. Not only that, but she loved to lie under my bed, or under my bedside table while watching, which woke me up from my sleep in countless instances. At night, after we’d have dinner, the first room she’d usually rush into was my room, where she’d stay to watch telly till her mom or dad called her up for bed. After lunch, during the normal “siesta” (afternoon nap) hours, my room was also a place where she usually rushed into, even if I’m watching my own show, or trying to sleep, or reading a good book. It was only then that I realized, if I was a mom, I’d probably encounter the same things with my growing child, which is what I usually did with my own parents when I was growing up.

On our trip to Lake Balinsasayao, I was assigned to another car for the trip to the Lake and my cousin almost threw a fit when she found out I wouldn’t be in the car with her. It was touching, actually. At the gate to the lake entrance, my cousin ran out of her car and took my hand in hers. She made me carry her around, help her to climb on the big rocks, and eventually even to do her business. When I mentioned to her mom that she had to go to the restroom, my aunt told me this was a good opportunity to practice and gave me a packet of tissue. Great really.

In those weeks with my cousin, I realized how touching and frustrating it is to be a mother. If there was one thing I learned (that I had not already known before), it is that there are many difficulties and restrictions and responsibilities that come with being a mother, which is why I should live my single young life to the fullest before I get married and have children. Marriage and children should not be something I should rush into. Being a mother may be a wonderful thing, but to have to be responsible for a baby (and even a cousin) can be a tiring thing which I’m not totally prepared for. Those 2 weeks were a long two weeks, and I’m far from being too old to be a mother. Being young is something I should enjoy, and being under the care of someone else is a wonderful thing while it lasts.