December 17, 2010

For the love of Facebook

Friday, December 17, 2010 Posted by Mary , , 3 comments

I do not understand what's with all the hate coming out as a result of Mark Zuckerberg being chosen as TIME's Person of the Year for 2010. I myself have a love-hate relationship with Facebook, but we have to admit that in recent times, nothing else on or off the Web, has made so much impact on so many people all over the world. While it is true that some people spend so much time on Facebook for the wrong reasons, the idea of the technology itself is amazing. It is the easiest way to communicate with people, and it can be used both for business and pleasure. The application is what you make of it, and now with its advanced privacy settings, it's been made even better. As a web developer, I have a lot of respect and admiration for it.

I'm not on Facebook to be cool nor to play games. I'm just really thankful that I do not have to search hell or high water for someone's email address when I need to communicate with them. For that, I'm grateful to Mark Zuckerberg. At the very least, I think the man deserves some sort of recognition for coming up with what has now become the world's largest social network.

November 16, 2010

Curry Remedy

Tuesday, November 16, 2010 Posted by Mary , , , 1 comment
I came down with colds a few days ago, and so of course, I had a stuffy nose. To get some relief, I wanted to make soup. There were not a lot of ingredients I could choose from in the fridge, so I decided to try my luck on a Japanese curry mixture. 

I've always made my curry quite saucy and thick, but since I didn't have much left of the mixture, I made it light that time. I couldn't find any fresh vegetables in our fridge, so I sliced a piece of onion and put it in I didn't expect much from my curry soup, but lo and behold--it did the trick! It was quite delicious and cleared my stuffy nose almost immediately.

I was pleasantly surprised with the quick relief so I did some reading on the web. Curry is indeed a wonderful cure for a stuffed nose! It's because spicy food contain capsaicin, a chemical that causes inflammation in the nerves and increases the production of mucus in the nasal membranes. Spicy food will  basically make your nose run... which means you won't have a clogged nose!

I know they say that chicken soup is all you need when you've got colds or the flu, and in all fairness to the well-celebrated chicken, I did try making chicken soup the next day after my curry mixture ran out. But you know what? The curry soup did the job better. So I braved traffic and rain yesterday afternoon and went to the supermarket to buy more of my trusty curry mixture. Since my nose was especially stuffy tonight, I made this:

To make the soup, I used S&B Golden Curry Sauce (a Japanese curry mixture I discovered while I was in Japan and have been using ever since; this should be available at a local supermarket), put in some onions, tomatoes, and included a bell pepper because of its Vitamin C content (it has more Vitamin C that citrus fruits). To amp the heat factor, I sliced two cayenne peppers and added them in. And just because I love experimenting in the kitchen, I threw in a handful of whole wheat fusilli pasta and some Chinese cabbage as well.

I have to admit that the pasta did not quite fit (LOL), but the rest of the ingredients worked perfectly! I am now quite happy that I have finally found a remedy for annoying stuffed noses. This concoction does need a bit of courage if you are afraid of hot and spicy food, but do try it the next time you get a cold. It works wonders!

November 9, 2010

A Letter

Tuesday, November 09, 2010 Posted by Mary , , No comments

Dear God,

I know that during my birthday, I act weird. I go emotional, and I dwell about the things I do not have in my life. But I do not want to be ungrateful, because I really am so thankful for everything I have in my life. Thank you most of all, for all the blessings I have received. I have never lacked nor wanted for anything and I know that's more than a lot of people in this world can say. For that, I'm truly grateful. Thank you for my parents who have always been so supportive, and for the wonderful friends I have who put up with me every single day. I thank you, too, for the things and circumstances that do not go my way, because I know they shape me into becoming a better person. Above all, thank you for my character--my resilience and my optimism that allow me to stand up again each time I fall. I really do not know where my life is going, but there's nothing I can do except trust that you will make things turn out the way they should. There is nothing else I can ask for myself except that in my everyday existence, help me to do things according to your will... because I know that is the only thing that matters.


October 22, 2010

Boulevard Series: Le Chalet

Friday, October 22, 2010 Posted by Mary , , , , 1 comment
I figured that there is no better to way to kick off my Boulevard Series than by blogging about my favorite restaurant in all of Dumaguete--Le Chalet. It's a quaint Swiss-style restaurant near the southern tip of the Rizal Boulevard, and is part of the Why Not complex, along with Why Not Disco and Chicco's, another restaurant.

Italian and Mexican on the menu

Le Chalet serves a wide range of international cuisine--from European, to Thai, to Mexican and Cajun. Never actually having been to these places, I really cannot tell how authentic their cooking is, but I do know that I love how food is cooked is Le Chalet. The flavors are subtle and nothing has ever been salty, which I absolutely cannot stand. The atmosphere is also just right for me, as it's got a cozy ambiance that will make you feel right at home.

A booth and a choice of wines

One thing I really like about Le Chalet is their salad bar where you can choose what to put in your salad. I'm not a big salad fan (I like my vegetables cooked), but since I can choose my own ingredients there, their salad bar works great for me. Their food prices average at 200 pesos for the regular menu, and around 400 pesos for the specials. This can be considered a little bit on the expensive side, but it's totally worth it. Their servings are huge compared to those of Philippine restaurants and two people can even share one dish.

The salad bar

Shrimp Curry
Spaghetti Carbonara
A side dish of mashed potatoes
Filipino Chopsuey
Cordon Bleu

Le Chalet is a regular hangout for expats in the area, and this could intimidate locals who are not used to the expat scene. It's a restaurant targeted at foreign customers, after all. Filipinos do not have to worry though, as I've never seen or felt any difference in the treatment of customers. I do wish the waitresses could be a tad more friendly, but that's to all customers in general, not just to Filipinos.

The bottom line is, I really like this restaurant. And until I am disappointed, it will be my favorite. I hope the disappointing does not happen though, because they have some nice food. Some of my favorites: a seafood spaghetti that is just heavenly (their Spaghetti Marinera), and the best pizza in town--for me, at least--their Quattro Stagioni.

This entry is part 1 of the Boulevard Series and is also posted at Everything Dumaguete.

October 21, 2010

Bo's, Coffee, Green Tea, and Me

Thursday, October 21, 2010 Posted by Mary No comments
I really envy people who love coffee. I make an effort to enjoy it, but no matter what I do, it doesn't work. There seems to always be this weird taste in my mouth after I drink the beverage. Bo's Coffee recently opened in Robinson's Place Dumaguete, and I thought I'd be converted with all the mouth-watering coffee drinks they have available. I have been spending quite a lot of time there, but it's to no avail. I still have the  same aversion. Some people tell me it's good that I don't have this craving for coffee, but sometimes it's a pain, too, especially when I need help in staying awake. It's during those times that I wish I had a coffee addiction!

There is a new drink I'm loving at Bo's, though: Green Tea Latte! I remember the first time I drank green tea. It was during my first day in Japan, and I had bought a cold green tea drink from a vending machine. I tasted it, spit it out, and threw the rest away. I couldn't stand it! If you're in Japan, though, you cannot stay away from green tea. You get used to it. I got used to it, and now I love it! The secret is to drink it hot (when it tastes better), If you drink it cold, you must add a lot of sugar. It is an acquired taste, but if you give it a chance, you enjoy it eventually. 

Green Tea Latte at Bo's is wonderful. You don't need to be a green tea fan to appreciate it. It's really good; it's made to taste that way. You should try it! The Starbucks Green Tea Latte is equally as good and was actually my first addiction. But since there is no Starbucks branch in Dumaguete, then Bo's it is!

I still wish I could appreciate coffee. A good mug of it is quite delicious, I have heard. But I just am happy that I have a substitute, one that has amazing health benefits. Most importantly, I'm ecstatic that Bo's in Dumaguete now serves Green Tea Latte. It makes up for all the fun those coffee addicts are having that I'm missing!

October 17, 2010

Dumaguete's Pride

Sunday, October 17, 2010 Posted by Mary , , No comments

If you are a tourist and you come to Dumaguete, there is probably one spot in the city that's going to stay in your mind--the Rizal Boulevard (named after the Philippine national hero who was said to have taken a stroll here while on the way to his exile in Dapitan). This is the stretch of boardwalk along Dumaguete's coast near the pier; a jogging destination in the morning that turns into a melting pot of lights, tempura vendors, expats, and SMB's at night. This where things happen; this is where the good restaurants are. This, for me, is Dumaguete's pride.

I have yet to see or hear of a lovelier boardwalk than the Dumaguete boulevard anywhere in the Philippines. I am really pleased that we have something like this here, which is the reason why I've decided to create the Boulevard Series, where I plan to blog about the people, places, and goings-on in the Dumaguete boulevard.

So sit back, relax, and allow me to take you on a tour of my favorite place in my favorite town... coming really soon!

tempura - different from the Japanese, the Philippine tempura is not actually a whole shrimp or a slice of vegetable, 
but is made of flour flavored with shrimp. 
It is deep-fried and usually sold in the streets in the late afternoon or evenings

Photos courtesy of revenui.

October 10, 2010

Panic Mode

Sunday, October 10, 2010 Posted by Mary , No comments

Tomorrow starts my comprehensive exams for masters, a series of 9 exams in total over 3 days for 9 of the 12 subjects I took up over the past 1 year and a half. I am panicking, because I really am not ready. I tried studying for a few hours last Friday at Bo's Coffee, but I covered very little only. That's my problem when the exam is still far (yes, 3 days before the date is far for me), my mind tends to wander... and instead of studying, I ended up starting to write a story involving coffee while I was there. Pffft!

I am a little bit upset because I have been somewhat busy with work the past few days (that comes first), but now, just 12 hours before the exam, studying is actually better. I breeze through the notes very fast, and it's like I can internalize them better. I've never been a studious person, but I'm really afraid that fact will someday bite me in the bum. I feel like I am never ready for exams, not like other people I know who study for hours and hours and hours. I'm sort of panicking... but not really... because I know this is my style. I just hope I won't have to pay for this tomorrow. And can you imagine I squeezed in time to blog? It relaxes me. Seriously though, I must be crazy for wasting the already little time I have left.

October 3, 2010

They're Real

Sunday, October 03, 2010 Posted by Mary , , , No comments
You know the "secretaries of Juliet" who answer letters in the movie Letters to Juliet? Well, they're real.

Verona, the "City of Love," is the setting of Romeo and Juliet. And while the star-crossed lovers are just a figment of the author's imagination, on Via Capello in this city, there actually exists a house with a balcony... said to be the house of the Capulets, the powerful Veronese family that inspired the Shakespearean play. This house is Juliet's House, the Casa di Giulietta.

Juliet's balcony

Juliet's House is a huge tourist attraction in Verona. It is a place where people can place love notes or graffiti on the walls. A statue of Juliet also stands in the courtyard, whose right boob visitors rub for good luck.

The story of Juliet is indeed an important part of Verona's charm, which is why the city has commissioned the secretaries of Juliet, a group of volunteers to promote the legend of Romeo and Juliet. They are known as The Juliet Club or Il Club di Giulietta. Just like in the movie Letters to Juliet, they answer letters addressed to the ill-fated heroine from all over the world. They give advice, support, or just listen to those who need to talk about love. Yes, they really do exist, and you really can write to them at The Juliet Club, via Galilei 3 - 37100 Verona, Italy. 

I think I will send them a note one of these days.

Photo taken from flickr.

October 1, 2010

Letters to Juliet

Friday, October 01, 2010 Posted by Mary 1 comment

'What' and 'if' are two words as non-threatening as words can be. But put them together side-by-side and they have the power to haunt you for the rest of your life. What if? What if? What... if?
Do you have regrets in life? Are you wondering, what if? If you are, then this movie is for you.

I do not have a lot of what if questions, and I've seen my share of romantic comedies, but this movie struck me, and left me awed and speechless. It's exactly what I need right now--something to remind me that somewhere out there, fate is working. Or at least I hope it is.

Watch it. It is absolutely lovely.

September 13, 2010

Kookoo's Nest

Monday, September 13, 2010 Posted by Mary , , , , , , 1 comment
There is a hidden treasure in the Tambobo Bay area of Siaton, Negros Oriental, approximately one and a half hours away from the provincial capital of Dumaguete. It's called Kookoo's Nest. I've heard of this place long before, but I never got to check it out until last Friday. It was a holiday in the Philippines because of Eid'l Fit'r, the end of Ramadan (our population is 20% Muslim, after all), so a couple of friends and I decided to go on a road trip to make the most of the no-work day.

Kookoo's Nest is a beach resort tucked away beside a cliff. It is adjacent to the more posh and popular Antulang Beach Resort. It is a little out of the way, and one might consider it to be in the middle of nowhere, but it is such a charming and relaxing place that I would recommend it to anyone.

The resort has a white sand beach, clear waters, a quaint restaurant right by the water and bamboo cottages. It's perfect for a relaxing weekend getaway because it's quiet and private. You can sit by the beach admiring the view, or read a book or magazine from their ample collection.

Kookoo's Nest is also a place you can come to if you want to dive. If you want to go kayaking, you can do that there as well. But since my friends and I do not dive (yet!), and we didn't bring extra clothes so we couldn't swim, we contented ourselves with taking pictures and enjoying what I think is the best of Kookoo's Nest: the food!

Food at Kookoo's Nest is truly to die for! We had Pork Schnitzel, Filipino Coconut Chicken Curry, and Pork Kebab with Sate. All were amazingly delicious! They were pretty affordable, too, ranging from P150 to 200. For the food alone, I would go back there. If you plan to check it out, though, make sure you order the food immediately upon arriving, as it can take some time for them to prepare it. 

Needless to say, I'm quite happy to have made the trip to Kookoo's Nest. It's definitely a good road trip destination in this part of the Philippines. 

This entry is also posted at Everything Dumaguete.

September 4, 2010

Finding Heritage

Saturday, September 04, 2010 Posted by Mary , 4 comments

A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place (such as a forest, mountain, lake, desert, monument, building, complex, or city) that is listed by UNESCO as of special cultural or physical significance. The list is maintained by the international World Heritage Programme administered by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee. I think these sites are really special, as they are carefully selected for their significance to humanity. So on my bucket list, I have a goal to visit at least fifty UNESCO World Heritage sites. I've only visited a few (thanks to my stay in Japan), but that is only the beginning. Today is the start of my journey to finding heritage.

UNESCO World Heritage Sites Visited
  1. Hiroshima Peace Memorial (Genbaku Dome)
  2. Itsukushima Shinto Shrine
  3. Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu 
  4. Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks (Banff National Park)
  5. Waterton Glacier International Peace Park
  6. Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump

September 3, 2010

My Bucket List

Friday, September 03, 2010 Posted by Mary , , 2 comments

A lot of people are making bucket lists.

What is a bucket list? Well, it's a list of things you want to do before you die, and it was made popular with the movie The Bucket List starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. I have yet to see the movie--I will watch it soon, I promise--but I've made my own bucket list.

With where I am in life now, a lot of the items in my list seem almost impossible to achieve. But no matter. Anything is possible. And making this list has been truly enlightening, because I now have a vague idea on the direction which I must steer my life.

My Bucket List

September 1, 2010

100 Scents

Wednesday, September 01, 2010 Posted by Mary , , No comments

It is no secret that I love perfumes. I am a perfume addict! And on my bucket list, there is an item that says, "Smell a hundred different perfume scents." This item would be crashed out the moment I am able to try on a hundred different perfumes.

I am still quite far from the hundred mark, but here are the scents I have already smelled or tried using so far:
  1. 1 Million by Paco Rabanne
  2. 1 Million Intense by Paco Rabanne
  3. 212 by Carolina Herrera
  4. 212sexy by Carolina Herrera
  5. Acqua di Gio by Giorgio Armani
  6. Amazing Grace by Philosophy
  7. Anais Anais by Cacharel
  8. Ange ou Demon Le Secret Elixir by Givenchy
  9. Angel by Thierry Mugler
  10. Aqva Pour Homme by Bvlgari
  11. Aqva Pour Homme Marine by Bvlgari
  12. Arlesienne by L'Occitane en Provence
  13. Attimo by Salvatore Ferragamo
  14. Be Delicious by DKNY
  15. Black Suede by Avon
  16. BLV Notte by Bvlgari
  17. Brit by Burberry
  18. Chanel No 5 by Coco Chanel
  19. Cherry Blossom by L'Occitane en Provence 
  20. Chic by Carolina Herrera
  21. Cool Water by Davidoff
  22. Dune by Christian Dior
  23. Eternity For Men by Calvin Klein
  24. Euphoria Blossom by Calvin Klein
  25. Euphoria by Calvin Klein
  26. Fidji by Guy Laroche
  27. Funny! by Moschino
  28. Green Tea by Elizabeth Arden
  29. Haiku by Avon
  30. I Love Love by Moschino
  31. Incanto Bloom by Salvatore Ferragamo
  32. Incanto Shine by Salvatore Ferragamo
  33. Intuition for Men by Estee Lauder
  34. J'adore by Christian Dior
  35. Kenzo Amour by Kenzo
  36. L'eau The One by Dolce & Gabbana
  37. L'Homme Sport by Lanvin
  38. Lacoste Pour Femme by Lacoste
  39. Lapidus Pour Homme by Ted Lapidus
  40. Lauren by Ralph Lauren
  41. Living Grace by Philosophy
  42. LouLou by Cacharel
  43. Miracle Forever by Lancome
  44. Miss Dior by Christian Dior
  45. Omnia Amethyste by Bvlgari
  46. Omnia Crystalline by Bvlgari
  47. Omnia Green Jade by Bvlgari
  48. Paloma Picasso by Paloma Picasso
  49. Poison by Christian Dior
  50. Pur Blanca by Avon
  51. Rose 4 Reins by L'Occitane en Provence
  52. Rose Essentielle by Bvlgari
  53. Shalimar by Guerlain
  54. Stella Eau de Toilette by Stella McCartney
  55. The Vert au Jasmin by L'Occitane en Provence
  56. Touch by Burberry
  57. Unscripted by Patrick Dempsey
  58. Vivid by Liz Claiborne
  59. Voile de Jasmin by Bvlgari
  60. Wild Cherry Tree by L'Occitane en Provence
Among all these, I only have a few favorites: 212, Kenzo Amour, Wild Cherry Tree, Fidji, Lacoste Pour Femme, and Euphoria Blossom. What about you? Which perfume scents will you never forget?

August 26, 2010

August 23, 2010

Sad Day

Monday, August 23, 2010 Posted by Mary , 1 comment
What a sad and embarrassing day for the Philippines today has been, as a former police officer who was dismissed from his job took a bus of 25 people, most of whom Hong Kong tourists, hostage at around 10 o'clock this morning. Ten hours later, the crisis is finally over, with the hostage-taker shot by a sniper. As of the moment, it is confirmed that seventeen hostages have survived, nine of whom were released through negotiation.

Once again, the Philippines is on worldwide news, for something as horrible as this. Someone tweeted, "Philippine humiliation at the cost of one man's selfishness", and how true that is. This man obviously had problems, and he is to blame. Filipinos are bashing the police, and yes, they could have done better. But we have to remember that although we have seen things like this happen over and over in movies, CSI, NCIS, and whatever else, the bottom line is, those are all make believe. In real life, it is not easy. My heart goes out to the victims of the hostage, though, especially the families of the casualties. It is heart-breaking, this incident. That cannot be denied.

Hong Kong has now issued a black travel alert for the Philippines, telling its citizens not to come here. I hope the world will realize though, that not all Filipinos are like the suspect, Rolando Mendoza. He was just one distressed man. This hostage-taking could have happened anywhere. The Philippines is still a beautiful country, the Filipinos still loving people.

Read the news story from

August 14, 2010

The Opposite of Love

Saturday, August 14, 2010 Posted by Mary , 2 comments
From debut author Julie Buxbaum comes a brave original heroine who will be instantly recognizable to anyone who has loved and lost. . . and loved again.

When twenty-nine-year-old attorney Emily Haskey ends her happy relationship just as her boyfriend is about to propose, she can't explain to even her closest friends why she did it. But beneath her independent exterior, Emily knows her decision has less to do with him and more to do with. . . her.

As the holidays loom and Emily contemplates whether she made a huge mistake, the rest of her world begins to unravel. She's assigned to a multimillion-dollar lawsuit where she must defend the very values she detests by a boss who can't keep his hands to himself, her beloved Grandpa Jack is losing it, while her distant father leaves her to cope alone; and memories of her deceased mother continually remind her that love doesn't love forever. Emily has faced tough opponents in the courtroom--but as she reaches her limit in the heartbreak department, can she face her deepest fears?

Some of us go through life knowing exactly where we are and what we want. Some others are not so fortunate. A lot of us have issues that keep us from moving forward, usually borne from experiences we had when we were growing up. (I'm not really sure where I fall on this issue scale, but that is beside the point.) The Opposite of Love gives testament to that struggle. It tells the story of Emily, who almost has everything, but who, because of her fears, is not ready to have it all.

This must be the trend now--all these novels about soul-searching. After all, it's only been a couple a weeks since I've read Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat Pray Love, and the two books almost sing the same tune. Are people really that confused? Eat Pray Love and The Opposite of Love both tell stories about women who are trying to find themselves, and both books I really love, but that is where their similarities end. I have to say, that to me, the latter comes out superior even though it has not been getting much publicity. The Opposite of Love, despite being the fictional one,  comes out with so much more emotion and reality, it's hard to believe it's just a tale straight out of the author's imagination.

Like all good books, The Opposite of Love forces you to take a look at your own life and take lessons from it. It is true that experience is the best teacher, but it really wouldn't hurt to listen to this book and not have to learn a lot of life's lessons the hard way. It is definitely a must-read, and you won't be able to stop turning the pages. If you're like me, you will shed buckets of tears. Although I have some similarities with the heroine, we are not completely alike. At times all I wanted to do was knock some sense into her, but I understood her.

Perhaps the best description of this book comes from another author, Hope Edelman, who sums up the novel as "A brilliant examination of loss, romance, and the jagged, imperfect, utterly realistic way we fall and stay in love. A stunning debut." I couldn't agree more, and I can only add, "Move over Nicholas Sparks, I've found my new favorite author."

August 12, 2010

Notting Hill

Thursday, August 12, 2010 Posted by Mary , 1 comment

Notting Hill is on HBO again. I've seen this movie about a gazillion times, but every time I watch it, I am reminded that it is undeniably my most favorite romantic comedy of all time.

There are so many things I love about this movie, I don't even know what to start listing first. I remember when it was coming out in 1999. Even before it was shown, I was already looking forward to it. After all, the lead star is my favorite actress, Julia Roberts. Also, the main song of the movie, When You Say Nothing At All, was performed by Ronan Keating, the lead singer of my favorite boy band at the time, Boyzone. But that's only the beginning. 

I don't think I've ever seen a wittier and funnier romantic comedy, really. Notting Hill is just one comedic scene after the other, made especially brilliant by its ridiculously funny supporting characters and witty lines. Remember Spike (Rhys Ifans) and his ridiculous t-shirts? Or the part where William (Hugh Grant) goes to visit Anna (Julia Roberts) and he has to pretend he's a journalist from a magazine called Horse and Hound? Remember the young Mischa Barton and the Leonardo DiCaprio/Da Vinci disaster? How about the prescription goggles? And who can forget the memorable quotes? "Surreal but nice," "You daft prick," and of course, "I'm also just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her," along with many others.

Many romantic comedies will be created, but I don't think there will again be one with just the perfect blend of star power, comedic wit, and cheesy romance. I'm quite grateful to have witnessed this movie, and I'm sure it will remain my favorite for a long, long time to come.

August 11, 2010

Longing for Tennis

Wednesday, August 11, 2010 Posted by Mary , No comments
I shouldn't be here, sitting on my bum in my cubicle freezing my fingers off because of the chilly air conditioner. I should be running around on a hard, green court, whacking balls back and forth over the net with my skunk racquet. Yes, I should be playing tennis right now. But it had to rain this morning, and our plans had to get cancelled.

I've always been a tennis aficionado. I started playing at the YMCA when I was thirteen, and I've been playing on and off since then. Tennis is a lovely game. When I was in grade school, I used to be addicted to volleyball. But when I started playing tennis, it became my favorite. There's just something so beautiful about whacking a ball across a court, haha! You give it all your strength, and it relieves all your tension. It's a great feeling!

Patrick Rafter at Wimbledon 2000

My favorite tennis player of all time is the Australian Patrick Rafter, who retired from professional tennis in 2003. I created a website for him a long, long time ago, and it's still up! I can no longer update it, though--I forgot the password! LOL.

I long to be able to play tennis regularly and actually get better at it. I suck as a player right now, and my shots are very erratic. It's because I can only play once every few years. Finding tennis partners and tennis courts can be very difficult! I hope my friends and I will be able to push through with our plans to play in the coming days. Not only will it be fun, it's also going to be an awesome way to work out!

August 8, 2010

August 7, 2010

Eat Pray Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia

Saturday, August 07, 2010 Posted by Mary , , 1 comment
In her early thirties, Elizabeth Gilbert had everything a modern American woman was supposed to want--husband, country home, successful career--but instead of feeling happy and fulfilled, she felt consumed by panic and confusion. This wise and rapturous book is the story of how she left behind all these outward marks of success, and of what she found in their place. Following a divorce and a crushing depression, Gilbert set out to examine three different aspects of her nature, set against the backdrop of three different cultures: pleasure in Italy, devotion in India, and on the Indonesian island of Bali, a balance between worldly enjoyment and divine transcendence.

Finally, I am done reading the book. Eat Pray Love is the first memoir I have ever read, and to sum it up in a word: empowering.

As mentioned in the synopsis, Eat Pray Love chronicles Elizabeth Gilbert's journey to three countries after a devastating divorce, trying to find herself and her happiness. This memoir is something that would appeal to a lot of women, especially those who are currently unhappy or confused. Early on in her book, I found out that I was able to relate to her almost completely. These lines feel like I could have written them myself:

...I disappear into the person I love. I am the permeable membrane. If I love you, you can have my everything. You can have my time, my devotion, my ass, my money, my family, my dog, my dog's money, my dog's time--everything. If I love you, I will carry for you all your pain, I will assume for you all your debts (in every definition of the word), I will protect you from your own insecurity, I will project upon you all sorts of good qualities that you have never actually cultivated in yourself and I will buy Christmas presents for your entire family. I will give you the sun and the rain, and if they are not available, I will give you a sun check and a rain check. I will give you all this and more, until I get so exhausted and depleted that the only way I can recover my energy is by becoming infatuated with someone else.

And no, that doesn't mean I like to cheat. I've just noticed that I could never get over a person until I found someone else. Rebound relationships? Not good.

Later on, there is another paragraph that I can almost consider mine.

I have a history of making decisions very quickly about men. I have always fallen in love fast and without measuring risks. I have a tendency not only to see the best in everyone, but to assume that everyone is emotionally capable of reaching his highest potential. I have fallen in love more times than I care to count with the highest potential of a man, rather than with the man himself, and then I have hung on to the relationship for a long time (sometimes far too long) waiting for the man to ascend to his own greatness. Many times in romance I have been a victim of my own optimism.

This very accurately describes all relationships I've had in the past.

For me, Eat Pray Love has been extremely timely and helpful. It's like a wake-up call, making me realize mistakes I've been doing with my life. It has also allowed me to be more spiritual and to be closer to my God, to always be thankful of whatever comes my way, and to do good to the world. But perhaps the most important thing this book has given me is cementing the belief that everything I need to be happy is not out there, but already inside me. I just need to look for it and find it.

August 5, 2010

On Eagles' Wings

Thursday, August 05, 2010 Posted by Mary 3 comments

The theme for Silliman University's Founder's Day celebration this year is "Silliman @ 109: Raised on Eagles' Wings." And for the past two semesters, all I've been hearing about in sermons during university Christian convocations is the grace of eagles while soaring above the wind.

What does it mean then, to be raised on eagles' wings?

The eagle is one of the strongest birds in the world, and it is able to glide for hours at a time. When it flies, it doesn't flap its wings wildly. Instead, it waits patiently for the wind to come and glides with it as soon as it arrives. Thus, by just spreading its wings and riding the wind, it is able to maintain its strength. Because an eagle soars above the wind, it is able to evade storms beneath.

God is the wind, and when He raises us on eagles' wings, we are able to soar above life's problems. In order to be like the eagle, we need to wait for God's timing--the right wind.

I've never really been good at waiting. I've been very good at prematurely flapping my wings and fighting. This is why certain things in my life do not work out, and it is what I need to stop doing. I need to let go of all control, learn how to wait, and learn how to glide with the wind.

So please, God... help me keep still.

August 1, 2010

Bohol Bee Farm

Sunday, August 01, 2010 Posted by Mary , , , 3 comments
After living for 26 years on the island next to it, I was finally able to visit Bohol last weekend.

I'm crazy, I know. Bohol is an amazing tourist destination, but since it's just less than 2 hours away by fast ferry from Dumaguete, I guess I took it for granted. If not for my boss's wedding, I probably would not have made it there yet. But visit the island I did, and even though I was not able to see most of the touristy places, I loved it. Along with Siquijor, it has quickly become one of my favorite destinations in the Philippines.

One of the sites we visited on the island was the Bohol Bee Farm. Before getting there, I was unaware this place even existed. Thankfully, my colleague's husband took us there, and I fell in love with it immediately.

Bohol Bee Farm is a farm cum resort tucked away in the town of Dauis on Panglao Island (a beautiful, tiny island near Bohol's capital, Tagbilaran) and it is a place you must not miss. When we got there, a tour guide immediately showed us around the place to tell us about their bees and organic farming.

Exploring the farm
The bees--yes, you can get close to them. Apparently, they only sting during the rainy season when they cannot find flowers to pollinate and are hungry

The main concept of the farm is to offer an alternative way of relaxation and enjoyment. When other resorts give you modern luxuries, Bohol Bee Farm takes you back to the basics--nature and fresh, healthy food.

The Cave Restaurant--named as such because it is nestled beside a cave
Aside from providing accommodations and good food, Bohol Bee Farm also has livelihood activities. They make all kinds of handicrafts, from bags, to slippers, hats, fans, cloths, and even paintings!

Making slippers
A woman on a traditional weaving machine
A painting
I've read a lot of bloggers raving about the food from Bohol Bee Farm. We went there in the afternoon, so we were not able to experience a full meal. But we did have their ice cream. The Buzzz Ice Cream--boy, was it lovely! It was definitely the best thing about that visit. They have these interesting flavors: malunggay, pandan, langka, avocado, buko, durian, spicy ginger, mango... I tried the malunggay and spicy ginger flavors and they were sooo good! I'm actually quite picky with ice cream. I only ever enjoy the Philippine Nestlé ice cream (uhhuh, no Selecta, Häagen-Dazs, or Baskin Robbins for me--although I would love to try Ben & Jerry's), but I loved The Buzzz ice cream!

Malunggay and spicy ginger ice cream on a cone made of cassava (called cab-cab, which was also incredible in itself)
The menu
We did not have enough time to spend at Bohol Bee Farm, but I'm so looking forward to going back and being able to actually have the experience of trying out their organic dishes. Good thing they have the Buzzz Cafe that sells goodies from the farm to take home to your family and friends. I love bringing home some pasalubong so the place was heaven for me! They had all kinds of honey, tea, and homemade spreads. I found pesto spread in that shop which got me totally excited. I love pesto so much and I've never seen anything like it before, so I was a happy girl leaving that farm!

All kinds of tea and homemade spreads at the Buzzz Cafe
Needless to say, I'd recommend Bohol Bee Farm to anyone who plans to visit Bohol. It really is quite an interesting place, and I'm looking forward to going back there--hopefully soon!

July 31, 2010

Time to Go

Saturday, July 31, 2010 Posted by Mary , 1 comment

I feel like a weight has been taken off my shoulders. But at the same time, I feel a little bit sad, too. What's going on, you might ask.

Last year, I was elected as the president of the Graduate Students Organization (GSO) in my university. Because I'm a full time student and part-time teacher, I really did not need this position to further clutter my already cluttered schedule. But I didn't have a choice. Apparently, it was my boss's idea (the former president) to nominate me... and that's how I got elected. I must admit, I was thrilled. All my life, I've always been a student leader. It's hard work, but organizing events and making things happen--I love it! I guess I just love being in control, haha.

Leading graduate students was extra challenging. My members were highly esteemed people: educators, lawyers, accountants, and even priests! I had to perform. And since almost all members were working and studying at the same time, it was hard to gather them. I was busy, my officers were busy... it was frustrating at times. Leading up to tonight's activity, which was the last I would organize, I couldn't wait to pass the torch on to the next president.

And finally, that is done. We elected and inducted new officers tonight, which is why I feel as if this weight has been lifted off my shoulders. But like I said, I am a bit sad, too. It was an honor being the president of GSO, and I will miss the experience. If I weren't so darn busy, I'd do it again, too. But no, no. Once is enough. I am just thankful to have had the experience of heading such a wonderful group of people. And the best thing? I get to add it to my resume. ;)