Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Maligayang Pasko

The joy of the holidays is being with family. As we celebrated Christmas today, I am grateful to be blessed with the love at home. The past few days have been fun, catching up with my parents and with my daughter Nicole as well as enjoying the glory of being an aunt to my fast growing niece Gabrielle and nephew Liam.

This entry will be brief because my internet is not as efficient as that at home in New York. But you can only be so sure that there's much more to tell than what I can share at the moment.

For the meantime, from my family to yours - Maligayang Pasko at Manigong Bagong Taon!

Saturday, December 08, 2007


cost of airline tickets - $1,100
flight from New York to Asia - 15 hours
stop over - 4 hours
flight to Manila - 4 hours
spending the holidays with family - priceless.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Leaving on a Jet Plane

I am ticketed and prepping to take the long haul flight to be with family for the holidays. At work, I have finally submitted my leave form and though it is not yet signed by the section chief, we all know there is no way they can stop me now. Not unless they are willing to reimburse me the full cost of the frigging ticket anyway. Of course they are all still bitching about my long absence this time of the year but hey, cut me some slack since I rarely take days off the rest of the year.

Literally psyching myself up for the 15 hours from New York to my connection in Seoul prior to a shorter flight of 4 hours to get to Manila. My fantastic travel agent worked on a wonderful itinerary that wouldn't require me to have more than one stopover and to make sure departure and return dates are as I have requested. This, despite the fact I only gave her 3 weeks to get me my tickets. If you want a great travel agent, email me and I will give you Juliet's number. She comes with my highest recommendations.

Next steps now are shopping - which started yesterday when we went to the outlet mall in New Jersey, packing and to mentally prepare myself for the loooong trip. And yes, starving myself for the days prior to departure so I can create enough expansion space for my mom's dishes.

Most likely, I will be blogging from Manila next.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Just Another Holiday

The end of the American Thanksgiving celebrations seems to put everyone into a tailspin for the next series of holiday celebrations. Suddenly, New York City is back to its cheery holiday mood. The shop windows are all dressed in the holiday colors and there is that obvious chill in the air. Then there's the shopping and the many dinners/lunches to schedule with friends. Yet the world doesn't stop - I have too much in my plate to take in any more even just for the reason of celebrating something I just celebrated last year.

I am still undecided on what to do this year – if I am traveling to see my parents or if opting to stay home in New York will be more reasonable and less stressful. Work has become crazy the past weeks and until the last minute I have been terrorizing my travel agent with more changes to my itinerary. I am amazed that the brave woman still bothers to take my phone calls. As per our last talk this afternoon, she has given me a strict deadline to get ticketed by the end of the month (which happens to be this coming Friday, 3 days away) or lose my reservations altogether.

I would drop the world in a second to fly back home and indulge in the love of family anytime. It was always great to look forward to weeks of slowing down the pace and of just kicking back and relaxing. Perhaps it is a process of growing up but the priorities are now screwed up. No matter how the immense the amount of mental debate I undertake, I keep coming up with the wrong mindset that staying in New York and hashing out the urgent demands at work as more important. To sit idle on a plane for more than 15 hours each way has become an awful nightmare for my constantly double-booked self. And frankly, yes, I love this life of crazed pace. It makes me feel so alive!

I have addressed four boxes of Christmas cards and the stamps are attached, they’re just waiting for their mailbox drop date. I am wrapping up whatever work already is on my desk with the assumption that I am leaving. I have shopped for the gifts to bring home. And yet the Christmas decors for my apartment are out, deciding if they are going up. Mentally, I am not yet in December but more like April. Is it a sign of age to lose my glee for what was once my most favorite season of the year? Perhaps I'd even dare to say that at this point even the idea of Christmas has lost its meaning on me.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

A Real Thanksgiving

I have written before about how I can't relate to the celebration of the American holiday of Thanksgiving. I still haven't and have really no intention of putting much effort into it. Not when it continues to be insignificant to me, the foreigner in New York.

This year, however, will turn out to be the first official Thanksgiving dinner I will be hosting. My friend's friends are driving into the city from New England and we have offered to make dinner. As of tonight we are still drawing the logistics of how to make dinner magically appear on the table. Will there be the traditional turkey and stuffing and all that jazz or shall we adjust it more to reflect our personalities (and where we come from)? An odd combination, of course, but it could be worked out.

I will blog on this next weekend.

For the meantime, I will write about school and how it was more of a 'deja vue' for me. Three intensive Saturday classes on Project Management later, I will share some of the juicy details of the experience in the next blog entry.

Stay tuned!

Monday, November 05, 2007

On Being Back to School

On Wednesday last week, I officially I became a member of the NYU campus for the Fall 2007 school year. I went to the Union Square office and registered for my class and through the registrar’s window, was handed my class schedule and my student ID.

I had trepidations about going back to the classroom environment. Within the perimeter of my small world at headquarters, classrooms were for language classes and software training. Going out into the real world worried me – was I competitive/smart enough? Who would I eat with at lunch at the cafeteria? My friend laughed at me and said I sounded like a 4 year old on her way to nursery school and offered to take my hand and walk me to school. But seriously, I felt so anxious that by Friday evening, I was ready to call up NYU and withdraw my enrollment.

Well, I didn’t retract my enrollment. The night before Day 1, I hovered around my closet for about 3 hours putting together what to wear for what seemed like the event of the century. I organized my syllabus and some notes from the first email from my professor in a binder and stashed that in an academic-looking bag with my spiral notebook and some pens. I figured I’d decide about bringing my laptop after the first class. I also hardly slept.

I took the subway to downtown Manhattan on a crisp Saturday morning when the tail-end of hurricane Noel blew 20 mpi winds into the city. I easily found my classroom and introduced myself to the professor before realizing that I was the first arrival. Good grief.

Slowly, the class filled. Most of the instructions were done by Powerpoint presentations and some notes on the flipcharts. Although she didn’t really strike me a quite an expert in the field, I thought the professor conducted the class well. Homework and quizzes would be uploaded online, she informed us, on the NYU website’s ‘Blackboard’ site. Textbooks are suggestions but online references and some reading materials were handed out after class. Well, it was like being Rip Van Winkle waking up after 100 years and realizing that yep, they do things quite differently now.

At the end of the day, I stepped out of the campus and my friend was waiting for me at the Starbucks around the corner. He asked me how my day went and I smiled. It was good I said, sort of like a case of déjà vu but in a more ‘Jetsons’ kind of way.

Later, readers… I have homework to do.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Two Ships

Eventually, they said, it would be easier to deal with it. For me, ‘eventually’ took two months. It is not the easiest thing to talk about still but yeah, I’ve dealt with it.

Relationships are hard. Two people with each their own emotional baggage, coming from different cultures, faith and upbringing getting together and trying to merge is often more like a chemistry experiment. If it works out then fantastic. If it doesn’t then you have simultaneous combustion. Not pretty.

Sometimes, like in our case, it works out for a bit and then it gets better and then the chemistry begins to cook itself. It was no big drama. I guess at a certain age that is no longer expected, or even appreciated. The symptoms that began to manifest are all too familiar. We were two pros when it comes to relationships – we’ve both gone through some. We went into denial, pushed for it some more, strained it further instead reached breaking point and then realization: nothing good lasts forever.

The thing is, we have been through this road before. This is not our first break-up and we have had a long record of break-ups and make-ups. When he moved out we met up and had dinner the evening after. Maybe we are truly the freaks that we have thought ourselves to be but it was great to know that we could sit and talk through our loss without loading the blame on the bread basket and pushing it across the table. Probably because we knew we both gave it one hell of a try. Through the many hurdles that we had to go through, we agreed that if it takes two to tango, it also takes two to entangle. It had been good while it lasted. And then you deal with the truths – of failure, for one thing. We then immersed into our ‘healing’. A long few months of 'solitary confinement'.

Life picks up from where we once left off. Resumed the life of the single un-coupled social being in the midst of a metropolitan social scene where everyone is seeking to be loved. Friends offer the same solutions - blind dates, match-ups and voila, the novelty of online dating, which by the way hasn't worked for me. I know it works great for other people but to me, it is just too weird to pay a website to find me a man. Not yet anyway.

Today the gutsier one between us had enough guts to nudge the other for a little 'hello'. And then we reeled into the familiar innocuous exchange about life in general. Eventually it can get easier. Not totally healed but getting there. We still have a friendship. And it was good.

In the end I gained 4 pillows and a bigger bed. Really, not bad at all.

“The ships that pass in the night, one seeking light and the other seeking night; They started out from the same distant shore, each taking their own voyage and now, together no more….”

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Making Strides 2007

For the 6th year in a row, I joined the American Cancer Society (ACS) in their 15th annual Making Strides Against Breast Cancer. On a gorgeous crisp autumn morning, 7 miles is nothing but a walk in the park.

Walking with my friend Wally, we set off before the rest of our team showed up, eager to get an early start so we could also find time to enjoy a great Cuban lunch on the West Side.

Thank you to all those who have donated through my page. Unfortunately, I have been able to give this year's fundraising the same attention as I have in the previous years. Blame it again, on the work which got in the way of life. But in case you still want to contribute, you may go straight to my participant site and donate directly to the American Cancer Society. Hmm, maybe help me reach my fund goal (which, last year, by the way was over-achieved!).

I'm rich! I'm rich!

Got this on the email today:

Dearest, (???!!!???)

I got your contact during my search for a reliable, honest and a trust worth person to entrust this huge transfer project with. My name is Mr Amakwe James, Branch manager of a financial institution here in Ghana. I am a Ghanaian married with two kids.

I am writing to solicit your assistance in the transfer of $ 4,550.000.00 Million United States dollars only. This fund is the excess of what my branch in which am the manager made as profit during the 2005 financial year. I have already submitted annual report for that year to my head office here in Accra as I have watched with keen interest as they will never know of this excess. I have since, placed this amount of $ 4,550.000.00 Million United States dollars only to an Escrow Coded account without a beneficiary (anonymous) to avoid trace. As an officer of the bank, I cannot be directly connected to this money thus I am impelled to request for your assistance to receive this money into your bank account on my behalf. I intend to part 30% of this fund to you while 70% shall be for me. I do need to stress that there are practically no risk involved in this. It's going to be a bank-to-bank transfer. All I need from you is to stand as the original depositor of this fund so that the fund can be transferred to your account.

If you accept this offer, I will appreciate your timely response urgently.

With Regards,

Mr Amakwe James
Accra, Ghana


Saturday, October 20, 2007

Union Square Fresh Market


DSW is my mecca, Whole Foods, Blue Water Grill, Saigon Grill, Republic, and of course, the fresh market on Saturdays. Today, it was all about the pumpkins. With halloween less than 2 weeks away, this is the closest we have to a pumpkin patch - a mini pumpkin patch!

The fresh market has everything - from venison, to wool for knitting, potted plants, even kittens and dogs for adoption (!?!). And then of course there are the crates of apples, tomatoes, onions, herbs, and this time of the year - pumpkins of all sizes. I adore these small ones, of course because I have NO space anywhere in my life for a major full size pumpkin!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Bionic Wednesday

It is embarrassing to note that yes, I did get to see the original bionic series. My only salvation would be that I watched it from Manila where the series aired about two to three years after they started airing in the US.

I was a big fan of the Six Million Dollar Man. The intro spiel? "Steve Austin, astronaut. A man barely alive. Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the technology. We have the capability to make the world's first bionic man. Steve Austin will be that man. Better than he was before. Better, stronger, faster...." segue to theme song.

The original Bionic Woman series? Shall I even mention I have forever pretended to be Jaime Sommers? I can even replicate that slow motion run she makes when she is in bionic mode. That, by the way is the only thing I appreciate about the new Bionic Woman series - when she runs bionic speed, she zooms and zaps across the TV screen. The 70's version had them running in slow motion.

Anyway, tonight albeit the work that beckons, I am on bionic Wednesday mode. Come remote control, come to mama....

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


BEFORE: I would upload pictures on a photo site and then switch to my email account to send my friends the link. I would upload my videos to another website and then go to my email account and paste the link to a note to my friends so they watch it. I would Twitter and if my friends remember to check then they can follow me. I blog and if they have time they can check to see if I have new updates. Or, add both in an Atom or RSS reader such as Google Reader so you don’t have to jump from site to site.

The precursor to the now popular social networking sites must have been Yahoo Groups and I have ownership of three e-groups, two which are work-related and another one for grade school classmates. In many ways, I have proven that the e-group is a highly efficient and cheap online tool to stay connected with friends. It relies however pretty much on hands-on management and administration of each e-group, reason why I have chosen to annihilate some of my less active e-groups in the past. Setting up birthday reminders, registration of email addresses of users and ensuring it stays active can be extremely tedious.

Funny that until I had Friendster exercise its option to spam all my contacts, I thought all social network sites were all the same. OK, enough DUH’s from you dear readers! So I was stuck with Friendster for a while…. like four years. I thought I had all that I needed there – my 50+ friends and the new feature to share or limit access to the limited number of pictures I was allowed to upload to my site. I opened an account with multiply.com and wasn’t impressed. MySpace freaked me out. And then…enter Facebook.

I opened an account with Facebook after an invite a year ago and then forgot about it. Exploring other options after falling out of love with Friendster, I decided to update Facebook and was quite impressed with its easy but powerful interface. What? I have unlimited number of picture albums that I can upload on the site itself? And did you say that for each album I can control privacy settings? And really quick upload of videos? Straight to the site did you say, with the same privacy settings? Yeah, I know – DUH. And because each user registers their own birthdays and other information, the reminders to connected friends become automatic without effort. And so Facebook it was. Goodbye Friendster and farewell to my contacts who I hoped would follow me to my migrated site. Unfortunately Friendster, of course, remains the more preferred social network site in the Philippines.

The good thing about Facebook is that it also integrates into its platform my Twitter updates, creates a badge of my Flickr pictures and if I wanted to, choose from the more than 5, 500 other applications relevant and not to make my page as unique as I am. Some of my New York friends and some other friends from far and beyond have joined my friends list on the site. Whenever I send an invite they always respond to me to join them instead in their own social network.

I really believe to make it worth its two clicks people can belong to different social networks but still be able to interact with each other virtually. What I think would make it perfect is when everyone’s separate social networks could link up to each other to create one huge community of internet denizens. Yeah, sort of like a United Nations sort of an online world but with less of the controversy and the politics.

In a perfect world, anything and everything is of course a possibility. For the meantime, I wish those I left behind in Friendster can reconsider and join me at Facebook!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

My Alibi

I am, I am, I am HERE!!! I swear I am! Now and then I am reminded of my various responsibilities such as updating this blog but work always gets in the way of life.

Dang it if I will be expected to complain. I love what I do regardless how you might read about it in the vignettes I share in my twits. Seriously. When what you do to pay the rent also happens to be something you are glad to wake up for everyday then you know that life is good.

I have been working too hard lately though - on my desk at 8:00 AM and finding myself still there until past 6PM. The lingering lunches at the communal table are but long-lost memories while I hardly have time to chow down my turkey avocado club and work on those powerpoints.

Thanking the gods who invented Twitter which limits my blogs to 140 characters.

I am starting to feel unhinged. This week I have had two crappy days so far and it is only Tuesday. I have been making major errors that people assure me should be expected because I am only human (gasp! what?). In a moment of certainty I swear I saw boss' eyes glare at me and wanting to throw me out of an open window. But he laughs it off and assures me that everything is working out fine and that I shouldn't worry. What I do not share is that these are days when I want to get scolded at, screamed at and just be sent back to where I belong - a desk on the south end!

Don't get lost... it is all a private joke. These will all sound cryptic unless you work within the exclusive group of freaks (used as a term of endearment) I belong to and who I love with all my heart.

Until then, work and the usual other minute stuff (twitter, facebook and my egroups) will keep me in touch with the rest of the world outside of my bubble. Add me, follow me and know what a hardcore party life I enjoy (yeah, right!).

That is my excuse for not updating my blog. What is yours?

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Goodbye Friendster

I have been weighing the decision for a while but today after Friendster decided to email all my contacts without asking permission from me, I closed my account with them. No tears, no regrets.

I lost some 50+ friends from that account but life goes on. Online social networking is not a monopoly of Friendster, I realize. Actually, with the limitless applications that is available on Facebook which allows it to make each account website extremely unique, I have already set my heart on a site preference even before Friendster commandeered my email contacts.

So to my friends who I left out in limbo after I closed my account, add me back - on FACEBOOK!

And no, I never had an account with MySpace.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Another One

And so it comes to pass - another milestone in my life. A birthday.

Highlights: the numerous text messages, IM messages, emails and phone calls reminding me that I am a year older. And that I am remembered, and loved very much.

Of course the question is always: am I wiser? Answer: Of course never.

Regardless how many birthdays I will have, I find myself to be the same person as I was years ago. The same carefree girl who loved having the wind on my face and feeling the rush in the uncertainties that I get entangled with. I will always venture into the unknown and tweak the possibilities that life might offer in the most unconventional ways. I live outside the box, and as I have been warned that I also tend to push the limits. Live on the edge, you know... life is short. Make it fun. No drama, if I can help it.

The only thing that makes this birthday significant is that I have this huge range of people that I have collected in the journey of life. People I have gone to school with, grew up with, fell in love with and those who continue to embrace me to take part in their world. If it comes to a point when it becomes hard to keep track but that I have not managed to bungle the ones that matter most then it must mean that I'm still ahead.

I am also blessed with a great family and a job that I honestly enjoy and wake up everyday for. At this point, despite the many things that I may not have that everyone else insists I should have, with the hope that I wouldn't jinx it - I can declare to the world that I am indeed, at a happy point in my life.

On with the celebrations then... cheers!

Saturday, September 08, 2007

8 Random Things About Me

I initially declined to be suckered into getting tagged again. Today over lunch with friends though, I tossed the idea to the table and it turned out to be quite a fun exchange.

So here we go:

1. I used to drive my friend’s car in illegal quarter mile races in Manila and often won. It was also fun eluding the cops whenever they got wind of the races. The adrenaline rush was a major high.

2. I am the only Filipina I know who can’t ballroom dance. Neither have I the talent nor a liking for karaoke singing. I have never been a big rice-eater either. I blame this all on my mom’s side of the family. My dad sings like Sinatra, dances like Astaire and can’t have a meal without rice.

3. I develop crushes instantly, swoon like I’m in high school and flirt unabashedly. My weakness: tall, tanned, well-dressed and nice smelling guys. And I usually end up with the gay guy because my gaydar is so freakin’ out of whack!!!

4. Autumn makes me feel sad. Falling leaves, the colours of the season, dying trees or the end of summer – I really don’t know why but it always makes me feel melancholy and very vulnerable.

5. I owned just a single pair of jeans when I was in Manila. I still am not much of a denim person but yes, I now own several pairs. I tend to have loyalty to brands that make my butt look awfully sexy.

6. In grade school I was dark, awkward, tall, thin and lanky. I guess it was the start of my ugly duckling phase... am still waiting to grow out of it. Good thing is I have grown boobs (and yes, they ARE mine!).

7. When I’m bored, I go to B&N grab some celebrity gossip magazines and sit on the floor in a corner to read them. I would never buy a copy (except if probably it had pictures of Shiloh Pitt. She's my baby, see. Brangelina just adopted her.)

8. I am in my element when I am close to the sea – salty air, the ocean spray, the sound of the waves and the sand on my feet reminds me of being home.

Not that you care, I’m sure.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


The music has been in my head for the past three weeks now - in an endless loop. The words are very simple, the music very upbeat.

".... I hope you know that this has nothing to do with you. It's personal - myself and I, we've got some straightening out to do.... It's time to be a big girl now and big girls don't cry... don't cry, don't cry..."

Without meaning to be overly dramatic.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Disco Fever

Move over John Travolta.... ladies and gentlemen, presenting the new Disco Dancing King and Queen for this century: my favorite niece Gabrielle and my favorite nephew Liam.


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Fire + Water

One weekend in July, the boyfriend and his friends decided to head back to their alma mater for a 'grand reunion'. Some of the 'gang of 12' flew in from as far as Costa Rica and Hong Kong, while most of the others swooped in from the continental US, mostly from around the Northeast. And we all converged into the picturesque city of Providence, Rhode Island at an opportune time - the festival of luminaria lanterns was on - called the Waterfire Festival.

It had threatened to be a stormy weekend and thus not too many outdoor pictures came out too well. The sky was constantly overcast and eventually, late on Saturday evening, we had torrential rainfall that continued through the next day which made the drive back to the city quite adventurous.

While the 'gang of 12' regressed back to their old juvenile-personalities, the 'girlfriends club' spent the evening touring the romantic waterfire festival on our own. Well, we had to give the night to the boys - they have not had the chance for a get-together since they graduated almost 14 years ago.

The Waterfire Festival started in 1994 and is held annually along the banks of the three rivers that surround Providence, Rhode Island. These torches comprise the sculpture of the artist Barnaby Evans. It starts with a procession of the torches and then are set on pedestals that sit just above the water and the bonfires are kept lit until the early morning of the next day, just after midnight.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

One Fine Day

We found us on a lazy Sunday in the city and planned to have the usual run around the Resevoir. But on the way out, I decided to bring the camera and that was enough to have us find new routes to discover. We ended up taking the runner's route southward from the 97th Street entrance. From there we passed by the 70 foot high Obelisk behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Then we turned west toward the Turtle Pond, also known as the Belvedere Lake, now covered with green (moss? algae? but sure, it looked good). On the way up to the castle, we also passed by the Delacorte Theatre which was highlighting "Free Love in New York" and a long line of people waited for their turn to enter. A Swedish cottage comes into view, also known as the Marionette Theatre and behind it is a dreamy garden tucked away from the rest of the world. The Shakespeare Garden, it is called overflows with colorful flowers, butterflies, dragonflies and definitely a slice of heaven in the middle of urbanity.

We went around the lake, found ourselves in the refreshing oases of the Bethesda Terrace and Fountain and the lake behind it. And further east, we found ourselves in what I have always called the Boat Pond actually the Conservatory Lake but because it is always where remote control boats seem to find themselves, it is appropriately named so. Around the pond, statues of uber storyteller Hans Chritian Andersen flanks the west side and Alice in Wonderland on the north end. Saturday mornings from June to September, children gather near the statue of Andersen for a free reading of his works.

Two hours later, we exit on the east side of the park on 72nd Street.
I've lived in the city for the past 5 years, always making the park a stop during the weekends. No matter how often I come and visit, however, seems there is always something new in it, something that makes it personally mine, as it is to the million other Manhattanites who feel they own a piece of it. It is our backyard, our park, our own little refuge. All 843 acres of its land, hills, lakes and flora and fauna.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Baby Rafa

My friend Renee gave birth to her first-born today at 12:25PM. It was a surprise to everyone who just saw her yesterday when she came to visit us at work and poked her head in offices, joking with everyone that she was 'still very pregnant', a week after she had started on her maternity leave. The office requires that mommies be out of the office on leave two weeks before the delivery due date.

So today after work, friends and I hopped on the 6 train and came to see her at Mt. Sinai, right across from Central Park and met for the first time baby Rafael Alfonso. He was such a well-behaved gorgeous bundle of joy!

Congratulations to the new and very happy parents, Renee and OJ. Like we always say: welcome to a new life where you will never sleep the same way again! (Or at least not until he is 35...?)

Monday, August 06, 2007

Wedding Weekend

We traveled to Boston this weekend and found ourselves basking in the first August weekend of the year in Beacon Hill. The weather had not been different from how we left it in Manhattan but on Sunday, the heat and humidity had dissipated and paved the way for a perfect garden wedding.

The nuptials was a union of a tres charmant French bride and a charming Italian-American groom. The end result was more than 15 cases of wine for general consumption. And that didn't include the champagne that flowed starting at breakfast with the mimosas.

It was one of the best weddings I have attended for a while. The food was sumptious - simple but freshly prepared starting with breakfast that quickly segued to lunch after a one-hour intermission when waiters walked around peddling exquisite French and Belgian chocolates (truffles!!!), cheese and fruits. And then voila, the spread for lunch was ready. More food! More drinks! More wine!

By the time the rabbi arrived and the wedding took place, everyone was joking that the couple already had a legitimate cause for a divorce - they were too drunk to know what they were doing.

The ceremony was unscripted and joyfully simple. The guests were limited to very close friends and family. The food was a mix of the penultimate in French and Italian cuisine made mostly from only the freshest ingredients and drawing exquisite flavours. Sitting in the middle of New England, it felt more like we were in another continent surrounded by trellis of fresh flowers and the chirping of birds. There was a single violin that provided the tune for the dreamy wedding march. For the rest of the day, the bride's brother who is a DJ managed the music including the processional which was a remix of the dance tune "It's a Beautiful Life". PARTY!!!!

This wedding would rank as one of the best I have attended in my lifetime. It was about everyone having fun and celebrating the special occassion. By the time we were ready to drive back to New York, everyone have had a bit too much alcohol and the party was literally just getting started.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

My Frat Boys

Four days later away from my 'frat boys' and missing them badly.

My 'frat boys' - a term of endearment to the 10 engineers and architects I have worked with for three years prior to this pending promotion to a new post. I can only describe them as a bunch of surrogate brothers who have relentlessly doted and spoiled me. In the same way, they would often gang up on me - teasing, roughening me up and just give me a hard time one minute and then totally sweet and kind the next. Yes, we are a skit of oddities if you were a fly on the office wall. Yet I miss the simplicity and straight-forwardness of dealing with mostly male co-workers. Females tend to get jealous of each other and there is always an element of cattiness and competition regardless how long you'd already established a relationship with each other.

Today they sweetly teased me over our communal lunch that they were 'proud of me' for not getting the new post get to my head. I am, afterall, now a very 'powerful' female staff in our office (allow me few minutes while I burst into laughter...).

Sometimes, the sincerity of such statements can be misconstrued especially when you factor in the fact that these boys are all poker faced jokers. But at the end of the day, just as he was leaving the office, I ran into one of the architects and more seriously, he told me again that indeed it was the general sentiment amongst my 'frat boys'. Having worked with him the longest, he said it was similar to watching their child grow up and accomplish something significant.

"You make us really proud of you" he emphasized in that tone that made me tear up.

Throbbing headache from the work I had to finish today and the protocol and politics that I now have to deal with daily, I feel somehow justified that for all that I have given up, it has been worth it.

Still, I miss my boys.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Something old, Something new

I migrated today to the north end of the office. Same office, same project, same people I have been working with for the past 3 years. Just new computer, new printer, new office and yes, new boss.

The morning began with the drama. The new computer did not have any of my music files so I worked on that first thing (soft soothing music very important to a stressful job). Then I discovered my Lotus Notes was coming without its familiar workspace buttons - not my address book, not my archived emails, not my shortcuts. Worse, the new printer assigned to me did not have a CD for the driver and the online download was complicated to install. The closest network printer was a mile away so. Well, I managed by typing email addresses by memory (my brain memory, not the computer's) which surprised me most of all. It was a sure sign that I have been in the project too long. I also decided to use my previous printer which had a simple driver to download.

Drama over by lunchtime, I settled to my new responsibilities, new adventure. The new boss was easy to work with. He was familiar with much of what the project was all about and was open to learning what he didn't know. He was low key, very humble and smart enough to already focus on what items were crucial for his immediate attention.

I have always loved my job but now I love it more. A new challenge. New learning experiences but something I am eager to tackle. Most of all, being with the people I still call my family away from my family. AHHHH, great day!

Now about that new apartment....

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Major Squeegee Job

From the conference room at work, we have a good vantage point of the site of the steam explosion at midtown last Wednesday, 18 July. The expanse of the damage was isolated to a few buildings within close perimeter of the blast site. The other effects that it had caused, mud splattered windows and the extent of the initial frozen zone that limited vehicular and pedestrian traffic was wider. The day after the accident Park Ave to Third Avenue and from 34th Street to 47th was impassable to all kinds of vehicles. 42nd Street was crowded with emergency and support vehicles (see previous post).

On Saturday, 3 days after the accident, the tow truck was finally removed from the site. The city reported that they would open most roads back to normal operations with the exception of 41st and Lexington Avenue where they will continue to repair and test the utilities that were affected. Hopefully, they can prevent another such accident from happening.

The video shows how thick the mud had covered the windows on the building immediately next to the blast and how windows on the lower floors were shattered. On the background, the tall dark building demonstrates the height the dirt has flown. On Friday, window cleaning crews were already at work.

Tests done by the government state that no asbestos were airborne post-accident and that most of traces of the material was found on the desbris on the ground. My architect friend notes that old steam pipes (before 1987) were usually wrapped in abestos for insulation. The pipeline that gave way was laid in the 1920's. Go figure.

I'm not whining or contemplating packing up to move to Timbuktu. I have accepted that part of living in Manhattan involves some risks, different from that I would have encountered in other parts of the world but risks just as well - just some quite unique to this city (refer to previous post again).

Inspite and despite of it all, I LOVE NEW YORK!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Living Dangerously

Images, c/w: mud covered windows, 42nd Street closed to traffic, site of the explosion with towstruck still in the hole and broken windows on the building across the site.

After five years of living in the city it feels like
I’ve become what they call the seasoned New Yorker. Admittedly, I am slightly paranoid, slightly oblivious to the familiar and the trivial, constantly in a hyper state of mode and almost always immune to the wackiness that is customary of the daily life in the city.

Some years ago, New York City was famous for its notoriety and it took a long time before Manhattan to get cleaned up of homeless vagabonds and reach a level when criminality is at its lowest. These days, very few areas of the metropolitan can be considered ‘unsafe’ any time of the day.

Just when you thought it is safe to go back out there however, comes new dangers that lurk everywhere. Grates that line the sidewalks that can catch your stiletto heel and cause you to fall and break your nose (really happened to someone I know!). These same grates fatally electrocuted a dog in Chelsea and a woman in the East Village early this year. ConEd has admitted that there are more than 1,000 stray voltage sites in the city. In May, a woman in midtown survived a fall when the grate gave in after she stepped on it. And then what about A/C units falling from high-rise buildings? Terrorism? Mentally deranged people randomly pushing people off the subway platform and onto the path of an incoming train? Too much partying?

The antiquated infrastructure of the city is starting to give way and there are warnigs. Last year Astoria, Queens suffered several days of power outage at the height of a heatwave after manhole fires. This week, ConEd claims that condensation have caused the steam to build up and thus explode in a geyser cocktail of mud, steam, water, asphalt and asbestos in midtown at the height of rush hour. This was a block away from my building. The tow trcuk driver that was trapped in the midst of the accident suffered 80% burns on his body and as of this time is still in a medically induced coma. A 51 year old woman running away from the scene in panic suffered from a heart attack and did not make it to the hospital. In all, the city reports that there were about 20 people rushed to hospital because of the incident.

So now when I walk out of my apartment in the morning, I just hope that I would make it back in one piece later. In New York, you just never know what is waiting out there.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Baby Love

Last Saturday, 14 July, my friend Thereza gave birth to her baby boy Hunter at 9:27 AM. It took a whole lot of urging for Hunter to come out into the world but eventually, the little sweetheart made his touchdown.

Weighing 9.6 pounds and measuring 21.5 inches at birth, he is truly the most awesome little baby boy.

Congratulations to my my skydiving friends Thereza and Drew on their brand new bundle of joy. Hoping that they will have fun with the nappy duty (but hey, I am always on call!!!).

Mom and baby share a quiet moment of bonding

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Workout Sunday

I have been complaining that my summer had been very lazy so far. Last year, I started hitting the tracks of the Reservoir even before the winter was over and quite regularly in the weekends would so 3 to 4.5 miles every weekend. And when springtime '06 came along, my friend Wally and I were at the tennis courts in Central Park at least three times as week. We were relentless that even on the hottest day of the heatwave we were hitting the courts. On top of this I was also regularly going to gym!

This year however, my body seems to have had no motivation to move. I am hardly doing anything at all but walking and at this point in my life when my metabolism is in slow motion seems the 'just walking' is not good enough.

Well, today I dragged myself out of bed at 8AM, jumped into my sweats and was immediately back to the park enjoying a lap around the Reservoir with a brief stop at the tennis courts to reserve a court for 4PM. Once started, my body was immediately familiar with the great feeling of cardio workout and another lap was an easy progression.

My intention was to run through the bridle path and then exit at 89th Street so I could grab some groceries before heading back to my apartment before the weather got too warm. Instead, I found myself heading straight for the gym and spent another 45 minutes lifting weights to firm some parts that have given way to gravity.

By the afternoon as we had planned, my friend came over my apartment and together we headed for the courts for a set of tennis. It wasn't competitive tennis but just keeping the ball at play and an excuse to hang out after.

So tonight I am sitting at home, wallowing in so much in pain and so tired death seems a relief but would you believe it - I am feeling good. Tomorrow I am packing my gear and spending lunchtime at the gym. Yeah, I love this. And then I will be lean and mean again.

I feel good.... you know that I would now....(singing).

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Weehawken/West New York

View of Manhattan from West New York side of Blvd. East.

On a perfect weekend day, I took the bus from 42nd Street with Desiree and we headed for the stretch of Weehawken and West New York in New Jersey.

More than 4 years ago, Desiree used to live in West New York. I used to spend weekends with her, strolling the promenade or just enjoying the flavors of the area before she decided to stop throwing away money on rent and become a homeowner. I have always loved it here. I love that it is conveniently close to the city but still far enough. And nowhere in the world can you get such a vista.

The sweeping views of Manhattan are breathtaking and Hamilton Park lines the length of Kennedy Boulevard East (or simply Boulevard East). It is a dreamy town dotted by bench parks, fountains and playgrounds. Weekhawken and on its northern border, West New York are townships of the Hudson county and is perched on top of the New Jersey side of the Hudson River. It is located just outside the Lincoln Tunnel and is conveniently a mere 15 minutes commute to the city.

The rent is not cheap, though, almost similar to that of Manhattan's but comparatively, the floor space is about double what you would get in the city. More closet space as well for the clothes whore such as yours truly. The decision to move here has opened up many times previously as an option but still tied to a lease on the studio, I have only kept promising myself that I would seriously look into it when the time is right. And now the time is right.

What? Leave the city? What is wrong with me? Yes, I have thought about it. Friends have tried to dissuade me from my relocation decision. I assure them it is not Kansas. In my Manhattan studio sometimes it feels like I am the coed who is residing in a tiny dorm. Ergo, moving out is the equivalent of me getting a bigger, much more grown up space. I long for the living space where my bed is not actually sitting in the middle of the room when I have guests come over. I would like to have to cook at home and not have to make sure that all my clothes are moved into the closet so that it wouldn't smell like chicken teriyaki.

Do I love the city less? No way! I love Manhattan eternally and I don't think I can be infatuated with any other location as much as I have learned to love it. However, being across the river doesn't at all alienate me from it. It is actually closer to midtown than where I live right now on the Upper East Side.

It is a big move and even a major change for the city girl but something I have been contemplating for a while. There are days when I hesitate and wonder if it is a decision I would regret. I know however that the city will always be there and if things do not go well, I can always come back. For the meantime, it is something that I have to seriously think over. If I find something that suits my needs at the price that I can afford then chances are, yes, this is the year I will lose residency in the city but gain an extra room across the river.

This entry....to be continued (when the lease ends).

Picture right: Sunset reflecting on the skyscrapers of Manhattan as seen from the Weehawken side of Boulevard East.

Friday, July 13, 2007

On Crushes

Shamelessly, I confess that I still have crushes. Major ones - the kind I'd swoon about and obssess about. The kind that when they come up to talk to me I know my face brightens up a slightly redder tinge and then I start to act juvenile and lose my sanity temporarily. It used to drive my boyfriend up the wall with intense jealousy until eventually he may have confirmed that they were innocuous so he resorted to just teasing me about them.

There are certain qualities that I am most attracted to - tall (5'11" to 6'4", beyond that I think is TOO tall), a nice lean athletic build and an unaffected sense of confidence that I seem to find common among men who are intelligent and accomplished in their field. And there is, of course no bigger turn-on than power.My crushes change day to day but the basic qualifications that attract me stay the same. No, I do not obsess about them so much that my boyfriend is ever threatened. He calls them childish whims that he has learned to find well, 'cute'. He says he finds it amusing and at the same time entertaining that I can be giddy about someone, talk about him endlessly one minute and then lose interest the next.

I have had crushes since I was in 3rd grade, so do I have plans of stopping soon? Heck, no. Whatever makes life fun and makes us young is good. As long as I know I am not hurting anyone, right?

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Padme Amidala

I have probably have nagged the boyfriend long enough so finally today he came home and brought me a beautiful pot of blooming phalaenopsis orchids. It was a wonderful gesture after I told him he had 'hurt my feelings' for not sympathizing with a recent devastating discovery I had made with regards to some past mistakes (review: Twitter entries). But of course any woman knows such 'fretting' is only staged, with the purpose of creating some leverage for future objectives. Well, it worked!

I worry though that I will kill the plant since I travel often and it seems I have absolutely no hint of a green thumb. As a matter of fact, frightfully, every living thing I touch seems to die an immediate death: plants, pets, even fish.

Anyway, but what abode of a genuine Asian would not be without a pot of such a beautiful orchid, right? At work, I had brought in a very real-looking stem of pink orchids which I had put in an empty bottle of some fancy Italian sparkling water. Officemates thought it was the real thing for about 3 days but after noticing that it has not withered/died/browned/changed they just declared that I was busted.

And so, just as my aunt used to do with her orchid collection in San Francisco, I have decided to name my first pot of orchid. She is now Padme Amidala. Yep, the Star Wars princess because to be an orchid under my care she'd need to be really tough.

When the boyfriend told the florist about my gardening reputation and he says she had a very strange advise: when in doubt, do nothing.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

E-Group it!

The internet is the easiest way to stay in touch with people. It is the Petri dish for maintaining social connections. My most favorite social networking tool are my e-groups, which allow people to send out messages to others who are subscribed to a common mail list.

My first e-group was started in 2000 and is composed of friends I worked with for ten years in Manila. It was during a great time when the Philippines was experiencing a construction boom and cement was making a killing not just in the country but in the region as well. We were exporting cement and expanding operations. The company was generous to us with bonuses, training and other benefits. Management was composed of young entrepreneurs who knew how to motivate staff and who inspired us to reach for accomplishments beyond our imagination. When the peso plunged against the dollar in 1998, however, things changed. Management changed and it enforced several phases of ‘downsizing’ the company. Many of the oldtimers were the first to get retrenched while those who management chose to keep eventually took their skills with them and moved on to other companies, mostly abroad. We had set up the e-group to stay in touch and as its membership grew to those outside of the cement company but within the same group of companies, so has its significance. While some members continue to be employed with our previous cement company which now goes by a different name, many are now based abroad – in the Americas, in the Middle East, some are even in Australia or in Europe but the exchanges continue to bridge the distance, 6,000 emails later. We have a photo album site where everyone contibutes regularly and where the years passed are noticeable in receeding foreheads and expanding waistlines.

And there were those that were set-up and just died an almost immediate death immediately after including my high school group and another one with people I worked with in Manila.

I also have a group for my grade school class which was set-up in 2002. While it is fun to put together a majority of the awkward prepubescent people I shared grade school angst online, for a while it was also exhausting as the exchanges were fuelled by teasing, cajoling and not always the immaculate kind of exchanges. Many times I had to enforce the role of moderator to prevent a word war from erupting. Membership is currently at 48 but after 5 years and a little more than 4,800 messages it feels like it is dying slowly out of apathy, its value only to announce birthdays and spring sporadic greetings.

Proudly, the most successful e-group I belong to is that of previous workmates from New York. We had set it up on the week prior to our biggest farewell party in October 2003 and just months before the project was dissolved. Almost immediately, word was spread about it and previous colleagues who were involved in the project many years before and have moved to other countries found ways to get in touch with the moderators to be included in the mail list and it has been a party since. Membership is currently at 117.

I think the continued relevance of the e-group depends on the members’ efforts and interest to stay connected to each other. Of late, one of the moderators of the New York group has initiated a poll of where the next Grand Reunion should take place and when. The responses have been overwhelming and varied but the interest to meet up and get together is fuelling more exchanges and even more enthusiastic suggestions on how make sure that it happens.

With the internet, it is a small world after all.

Sunday, July 01, 2007


New York’s new “Noise Code” quietly takes effect starting today.

I am sitting in the apartment with the windows open and oooops, there goes a car alarm loudly blasting off. But wait, it is quickly shut off. Once again except for the music of Van Buuren from my iTunes, I only hear the whiz of speeding cars along the avenue and the laughter of children from the swingset in the playground across from me. And the tweeting of birds. What happened to Mr. Softee? No ice cream trucks on this Sunday summer afternoon? No Jennifer Lopez screaming “Let’s Get Loud” emanating from the car parked downstairs?

The city’s Noise Code hasn’t been updated for 30 years and so the mayor’s initiative is much appreciated by the near-deaf city dweller. Nevermind that we walk around oblivious to the world and immersed in our iPods. It is our choice of listening genre that we are basking on. Not someone else’s chacha music or karaoke.

Of course, when you live in the city you learn to deal with it and yes, I can sleep through the activity that a car crashing into the building next to mine can create. Firetrucks and police cars and news trailers were parked downstairs they said. I only saw it on the news the next morning of course, and what remained of the commotion when I stepped out of the building to go to work. It did not bother me that weeks prior to that, I didn’t wake when firemen barged into one of the apartments in the building because the fire alarm had been set off and no one was home. My landlord was concerned. I shrugged it off, pleased that I had my eight hours of rest.

With the new law, ice cream trucks are required to turn off their music when they park on the curb (that usually means downstairs from me and right in front of my window). Dogs cannot bark more than 10 minutes (explain that to Fido!!!). Nightclubs and bars will limit their music to a certain decibel. Construction areas will have to make their equipment quitter (soundproof those jackhammers!). Garbage trucks will have to stay away from residential areas between 11PM and 7AM (the one in my area used to come by at 5AM Mondays and Fridays). Those loud mufflers from vehicles and motorcycles are also banned. Stereo music/TV noise from apartments should not be heard more than 25 feet and your iPod tunes should not be audible to someone 5 feet away. A sigh of relief.

There are however some noises that will persist – what they call regular city noise. Conversations from people passing by, the subway, the buzz of the hydraulics of a bus kneeling to pick up disabled passengers (a bus stop in front of my building) and sirens from fire trucks, police cars and ambulances.

But a little bit goes a long way, I guess. Living in the city has its pros and cons and if the minimized urban noise still ticks you off the wrong way you always have the option to walk away. So either you move to a retirement community in Florida or take the long road to the suburbs.


Came upon your post today on the new NYC noise code. Interesting point of view.

Sincerely,Todd A. Hamo
Chapter Member, Noise Free America
At www.noisefree.org

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Pridefest New York 2007

Sunday, 24 June 2007: New York City

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Grom Gelato

Despite a serious endeavor to get slimmer in time for the beach weather, I have found myself a new favorite that I cannot resist. And so every weekend whenever I am in the city, all roads lead to Broadway and 76th Street. There is often a long line in front of the store, each person patiently waiting their turn for the best tasting Italian gelato in Manhattan : Grom.

OK, fine, it is ice cream but it refuses to be associated with the regular pints that you will find in the supermarket freezers. Grom's brochure notes that it is 'made fresh daily with all natural fresh ingredients' and that its gelato 'is a healthy alternative to ice cream distinguished by its smooth texture and distinct flavor'. It guarantees that it is a guilt-free dessert with less calories, carbohydrates, cholesterol and fat compared to commercial brands. Frankly, I do not care. If 'Sex and the City' was still around, I can imagine Carrie Bradshaw and the gang would readily trade their favorite scoops of Tasti-d-lite anytime. I did!!!

Today I had a small cup of half extranoir chocolate (Ecuadorian chocolate chips) and half pistachio while my friend had tiramisu. Yum!Previously I have tried the stracciatella with Venezuelan chocolate chips and the zabaione which has a hint of marsala wine and which remains to be my favorite. All of them are great of course but I am not an ice cream connoiseur who can distinguish the slightest of hints of flavors and describe it. I can only tell you that it was worth the walk from midtown east side to upper west side.

At $4.75 per small cup of course it is quite pricey considering that is how much a pint of my other favorite, Ben and Jerry's Cherry Garcia costs. But well, it is worth the splurge. You see, a small serving of Cherry Garcia is 260 calories while my gelato is only ....whoa!!!... 240????

OK, calm down... you walked across Manhattan and up 25 blocks so less that it adds up to much less than 240 calories.

Hehehehe, justications never run out, do they?

Mini Blogging

207 updates later, I find that even when I haven't spent much time blogging lately, I have continued to keep an online presence though my twitter account.

Limiting each entry to just 140 characters, it encourages the twitter-blogger to be creative, precise, almost poetic sometimes. In the process, it benefits me two ways - I can upload vignettes of my daily life even when I am away from my computer through my phone either through mobile web or through text messaging and when I am not blogging, friends still have something to follow - real-time.

I have had the chance to meet a lot of interesting people in twitter and when you browse my updates with my friends' you will see glimpses of their daily life too. Thus you have bits and pieces of lives from all over the globe interpersed into each other but totally separate from it. Interesting no?

I continue to enjoy twittering since it is almost like taking down the gist of a moment and sharing it with whoever wants to get a feel of my trivialities.

Of course this is because I still believe that the world revolves around me.

Follow me: www.twitter.com/victoria0918

Monday, June 11, 2007

A Brewing Storm

I sat having coffee with someone today and discovered myself in him. Without so much as thinking about it, as he was telling me about his life and how he has lived it and then there it was: remarkable similarities.

We were both restless people, constantly raising the bar for life. There has to be something new to learn, a new adventure to discover or just any kind of novelty to make one day different from the last. We both wanted to shape our lives not in the regular structure that people long for. We love taking the roads less travelled, living life to the fullest and just inhaling it with a lungful of expectations.

Restlessness has been what has been ruling my life lately. I have been living my New York dream for many years now - more than what I had initially planned when I first came here. I have been doing the same work with the same people for three years and though I continue to enjoy what I am doing, I need some kind of variety. I've had the same home address for the past 5 years which I feel I have now outgrown but still undecided if it is time to buy my own house or just upgrade to a bigger rental (if I can afford it).

Don't get me wrong. I still love New York and I know very well in my heart that there is no other city in the world is like it. But when the weekend streetfairs no longer fascinates me or when it feels like I have seen the city end to end and have photographed the same images year after year, then just like a lover in a relationship that seems to go nowhere - I know I need some space to re-evaluate and time to renew that loving feeling.

I am still seriously looking into taking a sabbatical, or perhaps spend a few months in a mission abroad. I'd like to experience living in another city (in Europe preferably) albeit much more laid back. At this point I feel that there are many doors open for me and the options are overwhelming. The advantage of being single is that it easy to pack up and go at any time. And when New York beckons once more, it is nice to know that I can still come back and have something to come back to.

And all the more it is so tempting to do just that.

Monday, June 04, 2007

The Rude Groom

Friends and their partners - usually there is a crossover of relationships. My girlfriends’ partners becoming close friends with my boyfriend and then they end up meeting up for boys’ night out when the girls get together. When relationships break up and they often do, it becomes an awkward party of former loves trying not to cross paths. But friendships and their love relationships always had a way of making the social circle bigger and much more interesting.

Although it had been easy with most of these situations, not all have been painless. There was a wedding that I had helped set up a few years back. The bride and I worked together and are good friends and the groom is also from the NY area. The wedding however was going to be in Manila and so there was major logistics involved. She and I worked together in closing her reservations with the hotel in Makati and booking San Antonio Cathedral in Forbes Park. We worked on the wording of her invite and the lay-out of their website, even the selection of food for the reception.

When the wedding date arrived however, the groom and his sisters were a problem. They bossed around like they had paid a real wedding planner. They were very bossy and rude and the manner to which they regarded me was totally uncouth and ungrateful. I tried my best to put up the courage to get through the day thinking it was something I was doing for my friend but in the end I walked out because it was just too much. The last straw was when the groom changed the agreed set-up of the ballroom to accommodate a bigger dance floor and thus affecting the number of tables that could fit in the ballroom. This then affected the seating arrangement and the funny thing was, it became my fault that these changes were affected while I wasn’t around. And he had the audacity to yell at me in front of the guests while I was trying my best to do what I came to do – organize the event. And remember, I didn’t get paid for my services to do the event, and he had not even pitched for my flight to Manila or my stay in the hotel.

Fortunately, my friendship with my girlfriend was not affected. Last weekend, four girlfriends and I drove more than an hour to visit our friend and to see her newborn baby. In the four hours that we were in the house, the guy holed up in the master bedroom showing up in the dining room for just a second to get the baby but did not even have the courtesy to say ‘hello’. I would like to presume that he was embarrassed to show his face because the last time I saw him he was making an a**hole of himself. Well, my last memory of him hasn’t been any better and he has even made for himself an impression with the rest of the group who were just meeting him for the first time.

Like I always say, you win some, you lose some.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


Two or three years past, I was organizing one bachelorette after the other. If not, I'd be involved in the wedding details of girlfriends or attending bridal showers. Of course, there were also the weddings which until now fill my calendar an average of about one every two months. Eventually, I knew everyone would get onto the next step after the bachelorette, the wedding, the honeymoon and the mortgage - THE BABY.

Last month, on 16 April, Sophia Anne was born to my friend Kristine. Last Friday I talked to her on the phone where she proudly declared to me that she was breastfeeding. And then we began to giggle about her struggles to manage taking care of her child by herself, after her mother-in-law and other relatives have finally left mom and child alone for some bonding time.

It was tough, she confessed, trying to give such a fragile baby a bath and try not break it apart. She laughed as she shared with me her first baby bathing experience and how she has not had a decent sleep for more than a month now. But yes, she was very very happy. Sometimes, she confesses she feels like little Sophie is just staring at her wondering what mom is trying to do but many a moments, I assured her, it would be very very rewarding to know you ARE doing the right thing - whatever that is.
And then of course, there are the showers. On one weekend, I drove near Long Island with my friend and her family to attend the shower of a friend having twins. Needless to say, most gifts came in tandem.

Later on during the week was the baby shower I held for my dearest Thereza whose baby boy Hunter is due in July. Friends from our old office came to join us for a mini reunion and it was fun catching up and joking about hairlines receeding and waistlines disappearing.
In an email to a friend a few days back, we talked about setting up families and finding ourselves as single people in the midst of our friends' couplings. To me it is about the certainty that I am happy with where I am right now. To him, it is hoping that he can partake in these life celebrations eventually.
I told him I could organize his bachelor party for him. Whenever that will be.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


There is a place in Brooklyn called DUMBO which stands for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass. It is the first stop on the Manhattan downtown subway trains after ir crosses the river. It is where the other end of the Brooklyn Bridge will drop you off. And it is the boomingest real estate location outside of Manhattan Island and it has the best vista of the city skyline. It has beautiful cobblestone streets with remnants of a tram perhaps once upon a time in an area previously known as Fulton Landing.

On Front Street, a row of restaurants line the road leading to the romantic River Cafe that overlooks lower Manhattan across the East River. A small fountain, a small garden graces its frontage and the romance of summer weekend lunches comes to mind.

New York City’s #1 pizza place and a must-go-to, Grimaldi’s is easy to spot. It should be the restaurant with an unassuming façade that holds a long line of people in front of its doors. Here each pizza is prepared and baked with fresh ingredients from an oven that is coal fired. The flavors play with the palate and each bite is savory, a mix of rich mozzarella and other ingredients. I had white pizza, with just garlic and a ton of cheese topping and mushrooms. It was memorable.

Along the length of the riverfront is a promenade that is filled with sunbathers and people enjoying one of the first perfect weekends of the season. Babies in strollers, dogs on leashes, groups playing Frisbee or badminton or a dad showing his kids how to fly a kite, it was a weekend that is so distinctly New York, so Americana and yet so urbane.

There is a long row of brick façade that once have housed warehouses now lends an air of antiquity to a district that is surging into a new rebirth. DUMBO’s real estate is booming and there are numerous high-end residential buildings mushrooming around the area. Several old buildings with watchtowers on its top floors have been recently converted into residential lofts, some of the most expensive living spaces in the city.

There is a dreamy location just beneath the Brooklyn Bridge promenade, a short walk across the river on a beautiful day. A get-away when you do not want to be too far away. So dreamy.

NOTE: This entry was featured on the website: DUMBO, NYC (link here)

Thursday, May 17, 2007


Year after year I have escaped unscathed from the maladies of the histamine sensitive. This year, either the pollen levels are extremely potent or my immunity has broken down because I have been besieged by sneezing episodes every morning and my eyes dry up so bad that by late afternoon my contacts are ready to pop out.

So then I have discovered that the perfection of spring with its fresh foliage and lavish blooms in bright colors and scents has its downside: pollen. My friends taught me to monitor the pollen levels daily on weather.com to find out to which pollen I was most sensitive to. I had a clue and confirmed after a week of checking online – of course it is grass!

When I was still Manila-based I had major allergy attacks whenever the wild grass locally called talahib bloomed, ripened and when its pollen were airborne. Matter of fact, whenever I traveled around the country, I was a radar to any talahib growth. If there was talahib within a certain radius I’ve begin wheezing and then depending on how dense the growth is either have a mild asthma attack or in worst case situations – suffer with swollen eyes and an itchy rash (on the inner fold of my arms and behind my knees the spots being most vulnerable).

Fortunately, my symptoms are quite mild. I manage with the 5 blister packs of Claritin I had brought back from Manila, which I believe is a more potent concoction than what is sold in NY locally (even that of the same brand). My other friends are not as lucky. My friend Vani was so sick from her allergies last year that she suffered a mild stroke from the stress of coping with it. Thank goodness that she had recovered well from it, only because her husband had the presence of mind to rush her to hospital when her symptoms didn’t improve.

When I was in high school suffering through one of my bouts of really bad asthma attacks, a guy brought me flowers. In the middle of his bouquet was a stalk of a talahib in full bloom. I guess he found this hilarious. I found it despicable and mean. Suffice to say, his feat didn’t earn him anything but this single memory of his twisted sense of humor.

Monday, May 14, 2007

A Walk in the Park

More pictures from my weekend in the city.

Until I have something to blog about, enjoy the pics!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

In Love Again

Six years later, I continue to find spring to be my favorite time of the year. Everything just feels like a rebirth, a sense of renewal. This weekend was about wandering and rediscovering the city I continue to be in love with. In an email to a friend last week, I told him that New York and I have this kind of a secret love affair that continually rediscovers itself in the spring.
Like love, there is so much excitement in waking up in the morning knowing that you have the whole day to spend together. I can run around the island from East end to the Hudson basking in the sun, feeling the fresh breeze and low humidity, under the blue skies and amidst the sweet smell of the colorful blooms. And that was what I did.

I walked the Brooklyn Bridge from Manhattan and headed for the promenade of the East River along DUMBO in Brooklyn to enjoy the vista of downtown New York. Sun worhsipers were sprawled on the grassy shores. Along Front Street, I shared a white pizza with a friend and had a scoop of homemade ice cream at the Ferry piers.

From there, I returned to the city by foot again via the Brooklyn Bridge. I chanced upon a couple who were taking pictures of each other. I offered to take their picture together and found out they were visiting from London. Since I had a camera slung over my shoulder, they offered to have my picture taken too, as a return favor. I refused, telling them I have many pictures on the bridge already since I lived here. They smiled and said, "You are very lucky to live here."

It was a wonderful day and my love for the city is once more affirmed.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007


Lekat ang hirap maghanap ng isusulat.

Nawalan ako ng inspirasyon – sumama yata sa aking tru lab na ngayon ay kasalukuyang nasa biyahe para sa kanyang trabaho.

Lekat, mapapa-tunayan ko na naman na di na magaling ang aking Tagalog. Di yata at binagsak ko ang aking Pilipino 3 nuong Kulusa pa ako. Mabuti pa ang aking Spanish 3 na-ipinasang-awa ko. Nuon pa man yata ay naka-destino na ako malinya sa trabaho ng foreign relations. In other words, hindi talagang hindi pang-Pinoy ang hilig ko.

OK, Victoria, saan ka nanaman pupunta sa inyong kwento? Saka na natin isulat yang iyong abersiyon sa mga Pinoy. Sabi nga ng iyong ina, wag kang magsasalita ng tapos at baka subukin ka ng taghana.

Pero teka, off-limits ang kwento tungkol sa aking love life dito sa blog. Kasama ng mga ilan pang masyadong personal na di ko pa kayang ipamahagi sa buong web (Sapot? Nyek!). Di ko ambisyon maging celebrity - kaya nga di ako nag artista eh. Ipinapamahagi ko lang paminsan-minsan ang aking mga kwento ukol sa buhay-buhay para sa inyong mga naging kaibigan ko na at suki sa aking blog. Yun na din po ang dahilan kung bakit di ko na ibig ipamahagi sa inyo ang larawan ng aking tahanan ngayon. Oo nga’t naikwento ko sa inyo ang aking masalamuot na simulain sa pagsosolo sa Manhattan pero masyado namang personal na ipamahagi ko sa inyo ang loob ng aking studio ngayon, di po ba? Baka ma-imbentaryo pa ninyo ang aking net worth. Bisitahin ninyo ako at nangangako akong iimbitahin ko kayo para matikman ang ilan sa aking mga specialty: paella man or menudo o ang ang bago kong experimento na lemon squares.

Di ko din naman maisulat ang bagong epidemic na kumakalat sa aking mga kaibigan: ang pagbubuntis. Maliban sa mga kaibigan ko na kundi baog o walang nobyo/asawa o mayroon nang higit sa ninanais nilang bilang ng anak, tipong lahat yata ng aking kaibigan ay buntis. Kaliwa, kanan, harap at likuran – lahat sila ay buntis o nakapanganak na. Suki na ako ng “Babies are Us” na website dahil halos lahat sila ay nasa registry. Tila yata kailan lang ay pinag-kaka-abalahan ko ang kanilang mga bridal shower. Ngayon naman ay puro baby shower ang aking naka-kalendaryo. Nakaka-hawa daw, babala ng aking kaibigan sa akin. Sure, sagot ko naman. Safe ko kasi wala si boypren dito. Pero GULP, nag pills na din ako.

Maganda ang panahon. Primavera o spring sa ingles ang paborito kong panahon. Mabulaklak ang paligid, luntian muli ang mga puno at ang hangin ay may matamis na halimuyak (wow...minsan pati sarili ko'y ginugulat ko!). Madalas ay nilalakad ko ang tatlong milya mula sa opisina hanggang sa aking apartment. Hindi rin matipid na ehersisyo ito dahil nadadaanan ko tuloy lahat ng sale kaya labas pasok ako sa mga tindahan. Magastos man, ang nagiging konsuelo ko na lang ay humihigit sa tatlong milya ang nalalakad ko dahil sa mga ‘side trips’.

Ito ang panahon ng sinigwelas at duhat sa Pilipinas. Matagal na din akong di nakakatikim nito. Pero tuwing iniisip ko ang pag-planong umuwi sa tag-araw sa bayan natin at na-aalala ko ang tindi ng init at mahal ng kuryente (kung meron man) nade-desisyunan kong mas mabuting matigil na lang muna ako sa aking kinalalagyan. Masyadong mahal na sinigwelas at duhat kung sakali ang uuwian ko.

Isa nanamang kasulatan na walang saysay. Makulit kasi si Ana – napilitan tuloy akong magsulat bago ako mapagalitan ni Ate. Hehehe….

Pangako: ito ang huling soliloquy ko sa Tagalog. Masakit nga ba sa tenga?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A Woman's Life Journey

Reading her blog, Julia sounded to me like the typical ‘Kano’ who is adjusting to life in the Philippines. There is an amused awareness of the extremely diverse economic difference in the lifestyle in cities and that of the provinces. There is excitement in the discovery of the Tagalog language and so you try to inject the few words that become familiar into your everyday conversation. Often times, it is the common phrases that Filipinos use that easily get remembered like – ingat ka (take care); eto, buhay pa (well, still alive); the meals – almusal, (breakfast) tanghalian (lunch) and hapunan (dinner); and the family’s nanay, tatay, ate, kuya (or mother, father, older sister and older brother).

In her blog, she shares in her stories the enormous hospitality of the Filipinos to her group. As a member of the Peace Corps, she lived with ‘foster families’, often in economically challenged situations and in homes with hardly the basic essentials that people from the First World have been so used to that they take it for granted. It is a luxury for homes in provinces to have a flush toilet, a shower and air-conditioning. In her adventures in the Philippines, she acknowledges this in almost the same breath as her appreciation for her foster family’s warmth and generosity. Her ‘foster sister’ offers to wash her clothes (by hand, for sure and not with a washing machine). Her ‘foster parents’ sleep on the living room floor so she can have their bedroom. And she tells stories of how people are always happy, always finding the sunnier side of life despite the hardships. She enjoys her new celebrity status, when people constantly adored her caucasian features and greeted her "ma'am" or 'Julia Roberts'. Kids followed her around, adoring her and probably young pre-pubescent boys developing crushes on her.

I imagine that after 2 years, she had adapted well into the country that she has become familiar with the people and the culture. Definitely much different from the world she had known when she was still based in New York City.

Today on the bus I sat next to a woman who was on the cellphone ttalking to her friend and she was crying. It isn’t so unusual when you are in Manhattan to see people cry in public. People scream on their cellphones on the street, break up with their sweethearts in bars or do just about everything out in public. Everyone is their own soap opera here. But this afternoon, despite I was reading my book, I couldn’t help but eavesdrop when the woman began to narrate how her friend Julia might have fallen victim in the mountains of Batad.

Then I realized that she was talking about Julia Campbell, the New Yorker who traded her life in the city and to join the Peace Corps. In 2005, she was assigned to the Philippines and based on her blog has traveled around the country to help in various relief missions.

On 11 April, she decided to hike the rice terraces in the mountains of Batad and was never seen again. Today in the news, Philippines authorities are claiming that the decomposing body found in a shallow muddy grave might be Julia.

It is disheartening that the good intentions of a woman like Julia were reciprocated with such violence. I hope the world will not think that Filipinos in general would be so ungrateful. Like any other country, there are a few exceptions to the general – despite the many kind hearted, loving and genuinely good natured people living in constant struggle and hope for a better life, there are also a few whose minds are just twisted. Just like in any other place – in urban or rural setting, it is a matter of misfortune that had befallen her to have found a wrong turn on the road that led her to these hooligans.

In the wake of other stories that banner today’s headlines of lives wasted in senseless deaths, I wish we can all celebrate Julia Campbell’s life and how the people she had gotten to know in the Philippines have become part of her life. And I hope people will remember most about her would be how she had found a country that had readily welcomed her as one of them and how she had grown to call it her own.

My deepest sympathies to her family and the friends who grieve for her tonight.

Julia Campbell's Blog: http://juliainthephilippines.blogspot.com/

Picture credits are from her blog also.