hello there

It's cold and rainy where I am, how about you? I really miss blogging in the last 2 weeks. Life got super hectic and no matter how much I wished for it to have more than 24 hours in a day, the reality is that I really needed to attend to pressing matters at hand.

But enough of my woes. The good news is: I'm going home to the Philippines in a week! I can't even begin to tell you how excited I am. And nervous too, I still have so much to do before I leave and now I officially have 6 more days to get them all done. But I can do this, I have to.

I also want to say that I'm really blessed with wonderful, wonderful people who helped me get through this stressful time:
  • My friend M who took me to a Sound of Music sing-along at the Castro theater and we sang our hearts out, Maria style.
  • Holly prepared an impromptu tea and cupcake party for me in the middle of Japantown.
  • My aunt Faye who took me shopping and insisted that I buy make-up because "looking pretty will always make you feel better". And it did, though I don't even wear make-up but its good to get dolled up every now and then.
  • My cousin Bill who listened patiently while I ranted and took me out to eat sushi and ice cream afterwards.
  • My friend N who calls/texts me random anecdotes that never fails to make me laugh. This one is my favorite: So I found out that this guy who likes me is my younger brother's age. Does that make me a cougar? :)
  • My friend D who shares my love for k-dramas and understands my fangirl ways, who laughs when I'd randomly say, "I think I want to be CF's stalker."
  • My parents, especially my dad, who manages to calm me down every time I call them.
And lastly, there's you my dear friends. Thank you, thank you for your messages. I read each and every one of them and I am really grateful. I'll leave you with this picture of me dorking out at a photobooth in Japantown. What can I say, sparkly photobooths makes me happy.

inspire me

Its been tough these past couple of days. And no, I'm not having a personal, existential crisis, nothing of that sort, but I/we are in a middle of a big case at work and its making me so stressed that I'm even having trouble sleeping at night. Obviously I can't talk about it here and as much as I want to write about something else, I just can't do that right now.

So this is where I need your help. I'm trying to think happy thoughts, so if you have time, please drop me a line in the comment section about words or poetry or things that inspire you and make you happy. I would really appreciate it. Gracias.

P.S. What I wouldn't give to be traveling somewhere on a train in Europe right now. With the one I love, of course.

Photo via le love and A Cup of Jo

colors, colors everywhere

Hello friends! I know I haven't been posting as much as I used to lately but I'm still here. And I'm proud to say that in the past few days I now have: a clean apartment, a very organized closet, a somewhat organized paperwork, and a plan for the coming winter break and my 30th birthday in December *gasp* - yay!

This weekend my dear friend and fellow SF blogger Holly and I finally got our act together and went to visit a lavender farm in Sonoma County. The lavender fields is like a little slice of paradise and we had the loveliest time. I can only imagine what it will look like when everything here is in bloom.At one point, a group of ladies came by and one of them said, " you guys need little antennas". Apparently she thought we were like busy bees, the way we were jumping everywhere. I thought that was pretty hilarious considering that I was also wearing a black and yellow outfit. Here's Holly taking pictures with her Diana and me flouncing about in the lavender fields.

I've always said that I'm a summer person, growing up in an island and all, but now autumn is slowly wooing me with its breathtaking colors. We saw an artist painting in front of the vineyards and I couldn't imagine a more perfect setting.
And lastly, here's a picture of me with a sprig of lavender and my new skirt from Anthropologie. They make me happy in so many ways.
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P.S. How are you? I'd love to hear from you.

favorite color

Some of our first-graders write b instead of d. Reb. Red. Its all good.
By the way, Reb is my favorite color too.

the umbrellas of cherbourg

There are two movies that I go back to when I'm not feeling well or when its raining outside and I just want to stay in and huddle under the blankets. One of them is The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. I can't say enough good things about this film, its saturated colors and gorgeous cinematography, its storytelling, and its music. Everything about it is beautiful and romantic without being too overly sentimental. Its like a favorite childhood memory, something that makes you smile and feel warm and toasty inside when you think about it. And the ending, oh the ending will surely make your heart stop.

Photos from Movie Screenshots

confession tuesday

This picture was taken last weekend at Fort Baker. I am not quiet sure what I was doing here, I might have been dancing or doing a yoga pose, or simply dorking around, but it makes me happy.

You see, 6 years ago, I don't think this would have been possible. I was (and in some ways, still am) terribly self-conscious and randomly dancing/dorking around in a semi-crowded place would have been too much for me. The only time I was completely free and unmindful of what others think was when I was writing. And even then, it was only until I started this blog that I became more comfortable with other people reading my work.

Looking back, its amazing how much I changed through the years. I'd like to think that everything that had happened -- leaving my country to study and eventually living here, moving to San Francisco, literature and poetry, meeting kindred spirits both in the real and virtual world -- all of this led me to where I am today, closer to finding who I am and who I'm meant to be.

January wrote this post about her authentic self, which in turn inspired me to do the same. Things has been really hectic lately and I barely have time to sit down and write, but today I told myself that I need this, I must do this. So here it is, my personal truth, my authentic self:
  • I want to live in the present moment.
  • I am happiest when I'm writing.
  • I am inspired by people and places.
  • I want to travel and learn many things.
  • I want to make a difference, no matter how small.
  • As much as I need to spend time with the people I love, I also need time to be on my own.
And now for the not-so-good things about me, the things that keep me from being my authentic self:
  • I procrastinate all the time.
  • I have very poor time management skills.
  • I am very indecisive.
  • I tend to make promises that I can't keep.
  • I often worry about what others think of me.
  • I am way too trusting.
One of the best things that someone told me was this: we are a work in progress. And always will be. So its good to give ourselves a pat in the back sometimes, for everything that we've done, for all that we want to be.

all i wanna do

Right now, I'm so tired I can barely keep my eyes open. I had a really rough week. I'll spare you the details but let's just say that for the first time in all 7-something years that I've been in my profession, I actually wondered if its time to switch careers. Or work with a different population at least.

I love working with children, I really do. But they can be very challenging at times. And working with children with special needs is even more challenging. Especially if they start throwing chairs or anything that they can get their hands on. Add lack of sleep to the equation and I was ready to tear my hair out.

And then this morning I did some assessments and met two of the sweetest kids and my heart lightened. Just like that.

So yeah, I'm still tired and overworked. But not so much frustrated anymore. Weekend plans include: sleeping, reading, yoga (I haven't gone in 3 weeks!), watching foreign films, and sleeping more.

P.S. Don't you just love the photo above? I want her purple tights! (by Rebecca Miller via deMode)

P.P.S. I hope you have plans for a relaxing weekend too.

inpiration: these lines

I remembered one summer afternoon, I was laying on grass at the park and staring at the tree above me, looking for the exact words to describe how everything is illuminated but I couldn't find them. And then I read these lines from this book and knew that she was describing that moment exactly as I had experienced it. Isn't that amazing?

I know for a long time I've been shy to say it but I really want to write something like this. That if I could just have one reader feel exactly how I felt when I read these lines - that recognition, that sense of being connected to another, of sharing the same feeling even if your circumstances are completely different - that is the kind of writer that I aspire to be.

There, I said it.

a lovely surprise

A couple of months ago, I was reconnected with a relative of mine who was also our nanny when we were little. She is now living in Arizona and we haven't heard from her in years and all of a sudden, through another relative and through Facebook, we were able to exchange messages and talk on the phone. Don't you just love it when that happens?

Today, she found an old picture of us and scanned it for me. That's her on the left in the vertical stripes and me right beside her with my super straight hair. And that's my mom in the middle, my sister Moira holding a stuffed toy and our neighbor who was hairdresser. Check out our haircuts - oh my.

Looking at this picture brought back so many memories. Like how for a long time I didn't know how to smile for the camera and how nervous/anxious I was. Meanwhile, my sister Moira couldn't care less, always the feisty one, I remember how we used to have a hard time just making her sit still, let alone pose for a photograph, haha. Those were the days.

Thanks for the picture Te Erms.

pure love

My heart nearly stopped beating when I heard the first few chords of this song. What a perfect way to end a most wonderful evening. The stars have aligned, I was in San Diego on the same weekend that he had his free show to end his concert tour, I somehow managed to get tickets online when it was sold out 5 minutes after they were released, and I had the best concert buddies to share it with. It was truly meant to be. I hope you enjoy this video - my favorite Beatles song and my favorite artist.

(Credits to SharkReefMINI via YouTube)

my cousin's wedding

My cousin Wilmer and his wife Jen had the sweetest wedding at the beach in Coronado last evening. It was very intimate and low key, we were even barefoot in the sand during the entire ceremony. I'm so happy to see so many of my relatives that I haven't seen in years.

Here are two of my nieces, Lidia and Julia. Look how they're so much taller than me. How did that happen?

These pictures are my favorite. My 18-month old niece Mikayla dancing along with everyone. She was definitely the star of the show.

catching my breath

Lately my days have been filled with testing students, writing reports, driving from one school to another, attending meetings - just insanely busy. In the midst of all this, while I was at the playground today, something just hit me, like a tap on the shoulder that says 'stop, take a deep breath'. And so I did.

I've been here countless of times, running around with the kids that I work with, watching them play games, but I've never really noticed how beautiful the view is from here. Or how intricate the artworks are on the walls. And just like that, its as if I was seeing them for the first time and everything is saturated with colors. Funny how that goes.

I hope you also found something bright and beautiful today. And thank you so much for your sweet messages regarding my previous post. I am so deeply touched.

confession tuesday

7,107 islands. That's how many there are in the Philippines. We used to memorize certain facts like this in elementary school, along with geographical definitions of an archipelago, an island, a river, a sea, an ocean. I grew up in a land surrounded by water on all sides that now as an adult I get anxious when I'm not close to one, its as if a part of me is missing. The important part.

I don't know if any of you have heard the news lately, but my country has been badly hit by a typhoon last Saturday and there's been so much flood in Manila and its surrounding areas that everyone is just overwhelmed by it. We usually have about more than 30 typhoons in a year so this is not new to us but last Saturday's calamity caught everyone by surprise - 6 hours of heavy downpour that was worth a whole month of rain and no one was prepared for the onslaught of flood that followed.

The effects of this typhoon was compared to Hurricane Katrina. Watching the news and looking at videos online fills me with so much sorrow, and yes, guilt. How is it possible that I am here, worrying about what to wear for my cousin's wedding next weekend, while back home so many people are cold, hungry, displaced?

Thankfully the typhoon did not hit our island as badly as it did in Manila and my family are doing well. I was on the phone with my sister the other night and I could hear the winds blowing outside. It brought back so many memories, images that I seldom allow myself to remember because doing so means treading on difficult emotional ground. But perhaps I needed those memories because hours later, I found myself in a coffee shop writing away, writing until my hand and my heart hurt.

Love means you breathe in two countries. I've always loved this line by Naomi Shihab Nye. I am living this line. Sometimes I wonder why I make things complicated, if I miss my country and my family so much, why not go back? Why not? I really can't answer this question and maybe only time can tell if I ever will.

P.S. That's my sister in the photo, I took it the last time I was home, on our way to a boat ride that took us to a small, uninhabited island with the whitest sand its almost like a dream.

marshmallow for you

Because we all need something to cheer us up on a Monday.

This video is a variation of a psychology experiment on self-control that was done in the 60's (read more here). Aren't these kids just adorable? I think the redhead girl who just went for it is my hero. And oh, the blond boy and his expressions are hysterical, he looked like he was in such pain. How about you, do you think you would have waited or eaten the marshmallow right away? I would have waited, just 'coz I was such a goody two-shoes as a kid and always followed the rules.

Video by Steve V via A Cup of Jo

bright star

I went into the theater trying to downplay my enthusiasm for Bright Star, first because I didn't want to be disappointed and second because I didn't want my love for poetry to color the way I saw it. Well all that flew out of the window in the first few scenes. This film is pure poetry, from its cinematography down to its costume design. I was literally tearing through half of it and my heart was aching so much that I had to take a lot of deep breaths.

One of my favorite scenes is when Keats wrote Ode to a Nightingale while laying down on top of a tree. It was so serene and yet so ecstatic at the same time and it definitely reminded me of those rare moments in a creative process when you know that something magical is about to happen. And did I mention that the acting was superb? I think both lead actors, especially Abbie Cornish, deserves an Oscar nomination for their powerful performance here.

making me happy

Sushi in Japantown with my favorite cousin.
Free concert tickets to see Jason Mraz.
Going to San Diego in two weeks.
This book by Jhumpa Lahiri.
Handwritten letters from friends.
Dreaming of nutella croissants.
Making chai tea, the traditional way.
French music coming from my neighbor's window.

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Have a lovely weekend my friends!

Photo via Toast

Hong Kong on my mind.


I was cleaning out my computer files and found this picture, taken on Christmas in 2007 at a subway in Hong Kong. Its been almost two years and yet the memory of that spontaneous trip with my 80-year old grandmother is still so vivid that when I think about it, I am simply flooded with joy. So much so that its hard for me to write about it.

Like my first glimpse of Hong Kong from a rain-smeared window of an express train, arriving just after midnight and finding our quaint little hotel on top of a hill, my grandmother's white cotton nightgown silhouetted against a pitch-black city sky, an open market that never sleeps and the rush of people talking in a language that I don't understand, the smell of dim sum and chicken noodle soup, spending Christmas Eve walking around the city square and listening to young children singing carols in the park, the feeling of being giddy, nervous, alive, open - all those things that you feel when discovering a place for the first time.

One of these days I know the story that I've always wanted to write about that Christmas in Hong Kong will come to me. But until then, I'll have these images, bits and pieces of a time and a place that I keep close to my heart.

that full feeling

View from where I was sitting in downtown Tiburon, 9.20.09

"When I was a child in Chattanooga, seven or eight years old, I remember sometimes in April when that spring gold light would come in at the end of the day and just be there for 10 minutes...that gold time, well, I could hardly stand it as a child. I would lie down and hug myself and my mother and father would be playing bridge with the Penningtons. Lying on the floor hugging myself, I'd look at her and say, 'Mama, I've got that full feeling again,' and she'd say, 'I know you do, honey.' So I grew up in an ecstatic world in which it was okay to lie on the floor and hug yourself or maybe just sit out on the bluff and watch the river." -- Coleman Barks

P.S. I had such a lovely weekend. How about you?

Quote taken from Never in a Hurry

making me happy

Click on image for a larger view

This Literary Map of San Francisco. I love it, I want to have it. No, I need to have it. (via SFist)

Finding a dress that I love on e-bay -- new with tags, a quarter of its original price! And because I'm terribly shallow, I think its destiny. Ha.

Writing again. Exercising again. Getting over my 'under the weather' phase, because frankly, it doesn't look good on me and I'm sick and tired of being tired.

A bag-full of tangerines and strawberries for $2.25! It's amazing how much cheaper things are on the other side of town.

An elderly Chinese couple holding hands in front of a movie theater. He was carrying her purse, she was gazing adoringly at him. Ah, love.

Reading some of my old journals, laughing out loud in the middle of night. Some of the things I wrote were just too silly.

This book by Naomi Shihab Nye. I am absolutely blown away by her beautiful writing.

Writing old-school letters and notes. I keep a stash of notecards in my purse and try to write on them whenever I can. E-mails are overrated.

Walking everywhere to do my errands. Especially walking to the library, there's something so magical about carrying books while walking up and down the hills of Noe Valley.

"Your face is written/ on the setting sun, all colors/ and fire, all warm." (San Diego, 12.11.08)-- scribbled on my planner, makes me smile.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

gazing at the sky, gathering stories

It's been quiet here lately. Work, the beginning of a new school year, and trying to get organized are taking over my days. I just realized that I'm not really good with the in-betweens, this transition between seasons, particularly because it feels like summer had just started for us here in San Francisco. All these blue skies and intoxicating afternoon light makes it hard for me to believe that its already mid-September, and yet there is definitely a certain chill in the evening air, a sign that fall is just around the corner.

This morning I drove by what used to be a neighborhood grocery store, saw the sign that says "Gone Fishing", and felt really sad. I 'know' of the couple who owns the store, middle-aged Italian men who were very warm and welcoming, and I remember all those times when I used to go there for my lunch breaks, cold and sleep-deprived, and their homemade soup never failed to lift my spirits. They didn't talk much but they always made sure that I had everything I needed - napkins, plastic utensils, salt and pepper, etc. and placed them in a brown bag before I even asked for it. What will happen to them, I wonder? Will they still live in the city or will they move somewhere else?

Why is it that some people, even the ones you only spent the briefest of moments, leave you with a certain impression than others? Is it a recognition, a sense of kinship, or just a case of "the right time and the right place"? For instance, there are days when I'm on the train and I couldn't remember even a single person around me, what they look like, who they are with, and there are also times when I see high school students chatting while doing their homework in a coffee shop and I'm instantly drawn to them, curious about their lives and dreams.

A month ago I was walking around my neighborhood, an elderly Japanese lady walked up to me and asked, Do you live around here? I must have nodded yes and the next thing you know we were already walking together. She told me about her husband, how he is 10 years older than her, how they go to the Y every morning, how she walks around the neighborhood in the afternoons, how she used to have a best friend who's Filipino but she passed away and she'd lost contact with her friend's children, how convenient it is to live in a walkable city.

In turn, I told her a little bit about myself, how I come to live in the city, what I do, and which local shops I love to hang out in. She couldn't believe that I live alone and thought that I should be with my family or a boy who will take care of me. I remember thinking to myself, how do I explain to this 65 year-old woman who's lived with her husband for more than half of her life that I'm actually happy being on my own?

We walked for about 10 blocks, parted at the intersection that leads to her street, and her last words were, you be careful, okay? I stood at the intersection for awhile and watched her walk up the winding hill. I don't know why, but in that moment, even though our lives are completely different, I felt like we both understood each other.

Photo by peta mazey via Marvelous Kiddo

making me happy

sunny afternoons, watching the fog roll in, a pastel-colored sky

walking in sandals, brightly-painted toenails, jeans that fit just right

scent of roses, the color yellow, flowers around my neighborhood

patterns and textures, my binder's cover design, unrolling my yoga mat

how about you, what's making you happy lately?

a little trip to goldilocks

Last Friday, we braved the fog in Daly City to eat at Goldilocks, a Filipino bakery/restaurant, for some mouth-watering pastries. Our dinner was so yummy it made me forget about the mountain of paperwork that I need to organize for the beginning of school year.

Here's me being such a dork while eating bibingka (a form of rice cake). I personally think my grandma makes it the best but this one comes close. Afterwards, we watched the movie Julie and Julia, which made me crave for more desserts - of course.

Now about the movie, it was good but it wasn't great. I absolutely loved Meryl Streep's performance as Julia Child. In fact, I think a movie of just Julia (minus Julie) would have been so much more interesting. I don't know why but Julie (played by Amy Adams) seemed a bit annoying and needy to me. Anyone else seen the movie? What do you think?

come away with me

This summer has been very laid back, I've had a lot of free time (maybe even too much), I did so many things and visited places in and around California, but I still can't help but feel a little restless. For the most part, I've been surrounded by friends and family, and I guess I was just craving some alone time, so yesterday I drove across the Golden Gate Bridge to the beautiful town of Petaluma in Sonoma.

Some photos that I took around downtown Petaluma. My aunt Faye used to live in this riverside town and it will always hold a special place in my heart. Its one of the places that made me want to move to the Bay area, it has a lot of old buildings, Victorian houses, art galleries, and quaint old-town charm.

This store is my favorite. Everything about it makes me happy, especially its name - Splendid Little Shoppe. Its filled with scented candles, handmade soaps, exquisite aprons, and all things lovely.

Soon I found myself at the travel section in a bookshop, but unlike before, I didn't spend my time browsing travel guides, wishing that I went somewhere far. I am happy to be here.