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. ;)

July 29, 2010


Thursday, July 29, 2010 Posted by Mary , 4 comments

I've had bad eyesight since I was in second grade. I was afraid to tell my parents that I needed glasses because I knew they'd say "I told you so." Ever since I could remember, they've always told me not so sit too close to the TV or not too read too much because it would damage my eyesight. I was afraid to tell them that had indeed come true. Of course, at that time, I didn't know that my eye problem was congenital. I endured grade school, high school, and part of college in a state of blindness. I literally couldn't see the things written on the blackboard! I had to squint so much in order to be able to read anything on the board. It didn't help that since I was always one of the tallest people in class, I always had to sit at the back. There were times when our teacher would call on students to read something on the board aloud to the class. I'd pray so hard to God that the teacher wouldn't call my name. But it seemed that the harder I prayed, the more the teacher called me!

Thinking about experiences like these makes me feel that God doesn't like to answer my prayers. I know I have been blessed in a lot of aspects in my life, and I'm very grateful for that, but every time I fervently pray for something, nothing happens. I'm envious because my mom's prayers are always answered. In fact, I feel that everything I am now, is because of her prayers. My academic achievements, the fact that I'm still here living with her, even the fact that I'm single--I feel that all these are God's answers to her prayers. But what about me? What about what I want? 

I know I need to get down on my knees even more, put in more effort and maybe God will hear. But sometimes I wonder: can you even ask God for anything? I know the act of praying matters, but what you ask for... does that matter? Or is everything laid out and planned already, just waiting to be fulfilled? What I'm saying is... can I even ask God for something in particular and hope He will give it to me? Or can I only ask Him for the strength to be able to handle the things that life gives me?

July 21, 2010

Remembering Dapitan

Wednesday, July 21, 2010 Posted by Mary , , 2 comments
In September last year, I stepped on the island of Mindanao for the first time. I was there with five friends to spend a weekend at Dakak Park Beach Resort in the city of Dapitan. Since I was on a blogging hiatus at that time, I was not able to blog about the experience. And what a shame, to not be able to write an entry about it! But since it is never too late to do anything, here is a recap of our weekend in Dapitan--in pictures!

The port of Dapitan
Kids waiting for us to drop coins from aboard the ship
BigJoes! in Dipolog City
Dipolog is the capital city of the province of Zamboanga del Norte and is approximately 15km from Dapitan
The specialty at BigJoes!, Baby Back Ribs

Dakak Park and Beach Resort
The white sand beach in Dakak
One of the swimming pools in Dakak
The bed of Jose Rizal at the Rizal Shrine in Dapitan
Jose Rizal is the national hero of the Philippines. A shrine in Dapitan City is dedicated to him, where he was exiled by the Spanish Government of the Philippines from 1892-1896
Fantasyland is a theme park at Gloria de Dapitan, a commercial complex in Dapitan
The horror house at Fantasyland
In a nutshell, the Dapitan/Dipolog area in Mindanao is an interesting place to visit. Not only is it historical with the presence of the Rizal Shrine, it also has a lot of beaches that you can enjoy, the most popular of which is the Dakak Park and Beach Resort. I am amazed by the presence of Fantasyland, which is not something you would expect from a fairly small city in the Philippines. One thing I also noticed about the area is the abundance of restaurants that serve good, affordable food. Seafoods are especially cheap in this area. A place worth visiting is Kamayan ni Manay at Sunset Boulevard in Dapitan, and the DAMPA (Dapitan Aqua Marine Park) that boasts of native restaurants by a river.

Open Your Eyes

Wednesday, July 21, 2010 Posted by Mary , No comments

I do not watch Oprah regularly. But on the two times I remembered to watch her show recently (the most recent being last night), they were showing the episodes that were a part of her special, Inside the Minds of Child Molesters. Two different instances, same topic--as if some higher power really wanted me to catch these episodes.

The issue of child molestation has become so close to my heart recently, and watching these episodes on Oprah... I felt like I needed to do something. I don't think I'll ever be in peace until I blog about it--thus, this post.

But I do not even know where to start.

How can I talk about this topic without the risk of offending a victim? How can anyone who has not been subjected to the pain and suffering claim to understand? But at the same time, if we all turn a blind eye to it, how will we able to stop future abuse from happening? And it is happening. Here is the staggering truth according to Wikipedia:
Approximately 15% to 25% of women and 5% to 15% of men were sexually abused when they were children. Most sexual abuse offenders are acquainted with their victims; approximately 30% are relatives of the child, most often brothers, fathers, uncles or cousins; around 60% are other acquaintances such as 'friends' of the family, babysitters, or neighbors; strangers are the offenders in approximately 10% of child sexual abuse cases. Most child sexual abuse is committed by men; studies show that women commit 14% to 40% of offenses reported against boys and 6% of offenses reported against girls. Most offenders who sexually abuse prepubescent children are pedophiles although some offenders do not meet the clinical diagnosis standards for pedophilia.
In the United States, there is an increasing awareness on child sexual abuse issues, as evident in the Oprah special. But I am worried about the Philippines. The victims are innocent children--they do not know better. They cannot/do not tell, perpetrators do not get caught... and what's worst is that there doesn't seem to be much awareness about the issue itself. In a society that prides itself on being happy-go-lucky, people do not tend to dwell on not-so-happy things. I do not see or hear a lot about the general population trying to talk about or address this dangerous problem. Parents especially, need to be on the lookout, because they are the first line of defense. Only in opening our eyes and educating our children can we put a stop to this.

Asked by Oprah what he thinks he did to his victim, one of the child molesters she was interviewing replied, "I killed the person she could have been." Heartbreaking... and true. Child molestation is a very serious problem that brings so much pain, confusion, and suffering to millions of people around the world. I know I'm not an expert, but to every sexual abuse survivor who gets to read this, please believe that it was not your fault. Please do not make the mistake of thinking you are to blame for the disrespect that was done to you. You were only a child and there was nothing you could have done. But you are not a lesser person because of it. You were, still are, and always will be precious, especially to the people who love you.

To support the fight against child sexual abuse and exploitation in the Philippines, visit the Stairway Foundation Inc. 

July 18, 2010

Admiring Monet

Sunday, July 18, 2010 Posted by Mary , , 2 comments
I love paintings! There is a frame of Vincent van Gogh's The Starry Night in our living room. I purchased it from Art.com around 6 years ago because I wanted to pay homage to the van Gogh--the subject of the song Vincent, with his sad life, severed ear, and tragic end. I thought then that The Starry Night was my favorite painting. But when asked recently what my favorite was, I found myself choosing Claude Monet's Impression, soleil levant.

Impression, soleil levant by Claude Monet (1872)
Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris

Impression, Sunrise--I'm not exactly sure what attracts me to this piece of art. It's simple, and the image depicted is quite common, but it draws me in, like it has strings pulling me closer. I think it's the sun; the impression of the sunrise itself. It seems to give so much hope amidst the dark shades of blue--like an actual sunrise always promises a new day, a new beginning... something that we all should try to remember every day.

I've always loved Impressionist paintings. There are other works of Monet I like, as well. I badly wish I could paint, but unfortunately, that is one talent I just do not have. I guess I'll have to satisfy myself with just looking.

Argenteuil by Claude Monet (1875)
Musée de l'Orangerie, Paris

Water Lilies by Claude Monet (1920-1926)
Musée de l'Orangerie, Paris

Weeping Willow by Claude Monet (1918-1919)
Kimball Art Museum, Fort Worth

What about you, what is your favorite painting?

July 14, 2010

Because A Girl Can Dream

Wednesday, July 14, 2010 Posted by Mary , 8 comments
This is my parents' fault. They bought a piece of land for me in a subdivision in this neat part of town... so of course, what is there for me to do but dream about building a house?

Yes, I want a house. I'm 26, single, only working part-time (still studying Masters), and I cannot even afford to rent a house--much less build one, but I want a two-storey house complete with a two-car garage, 4 bedrooms, and 3 toilets + 1 bath.

I want the house to be all white in a somewhat modern Pueblo Revival style. Something like this:

I pretty much want everything to be simple, but since I love cooking, the kitchen has to be super pretty!

The second floor is gonna have a terrace, and that's where 3 of the 4 rooms are going to be. There's going to be a lounge area to do fun stuff in, and I'd need a library for all my books! Of course, most of the perks should be in the master's bedroom, so it has to have a bath and a huge walk-in closet!

It's crazy because I already have the entire floor plan mapped in my head. But with the job I have now, there is just no way I can pull this off without a loan or without my parents' help. I know it's impossible at the moment, but I'm kinda grateful I have this fixation of having a house of my own. Weird as it may sound, I've never wanted to achieve or acquire anything for myself in the past, so I think this is a good sign. At least it's something that can occupy my mind, so I don't keep thinking about, uh... other things. Hehehe.

Meant to Be

Wednesday, July 14, 2010 Posted by Mary , 1 comment

Yesterday marked my one year anniversary at Cellutrim Health Club and Fitness Camp, the gym where I work out. It's the longest gym membership I've kept so far. In the span of a year, I've lost around 18 lbs., gained some muscles, and met a lot of new people.

I started going to Cellutrim not because of vanity and wanting to look good, but because I wanted a change. And that change did come, because the past year has been such a turning point in my life. It's not the gym, per se, that has caused the change, but it surely made a lot of things possible. I'm not going to elaborate, but I feel that everything was meant to happen. This stage of my life--it's where I am supposed to be. The reasons that brought me to this particular gym, how I've grown, the way I feel, the people in my life now... everything is part of the grand scheme of things. I'm honestly amazed at how things are unfolding. In a way I've never experienced before, I truly feel God's hands making things happen. Needless to say, I'm deeply grateful for it all, despite its ups and downs.

I'm at a point in my life where I'm more accepting of whatever is given to me, so I feel as if there's no point in questioning where it's all going. I know, though, that God will make all things work out if I allow Him to take control. Heck, He's even made things fall into place while I was screaming and kicking along the way. This is all His work, no doubt about it. And I'm seriously convinced now that angels did bring me here.

July 6, 2010

Leaving on a Jet Plane

Tuesday, July 06, 2010 Posted by Mary , , , 9 comments
I have a weird relationship with airports and airplanes.

Ever since I could remember, my mom and I have always been at the airport every few months to send off my dad to work in the Middle East. When I was growing up, he was working in Yemen, and he'd be away for 5 months at a time, spending only one month here in between. A few years ago, he transferred to Saudi Arabia, and he's there for 70 days before he comes home for a 35-day vacation.

It's easier now. For one, I'm older and I think I've gotten used to it. The thought that he's only going to be a way for 70 days (as opposed to 5 months) makes me feel a little bit better, as well. But I could still remember the times in the past when I'd be unable to control myself and cry while his plane was taking off. At one point, I swore to myself, "Someday, I'm the one who's going to be leaving, and you're going to be the one who's left," addressing that thought to no one in particular. I achieved that, too, when I left for Japan on an exchange scholarship a few years ago. I didn't even like Japan, and I did not get credits for my stay there, but I wanted to go nevertheless, because of my insane urge to "be the one to leave."

As you know, I'm back in the Philippines (I was only in Japan for a year), with more love for my hometown and my country than before (having experienced what it was like to live in a foreign land), and with my wanderlust somewhat satiated. I still want to travel, but I no longer have this intense desire to live anywhere else. I know now that I could settle here (provided of course, that I'd be able to find someone here to settle with). One thing I've realized from all these is that I'm willing to relocate anywhere, anytime to be with the person I love. I've been away from my dad all this time, I don't think I can also handle being away from him who would become the most important person in my life.

I'm writing this entry because my mom and I had to send off my dad again this morning, and I'm amazed at how the airport, most especially airplanes, still tug at my heart every single time. I actually love airplanes to bits... but I know my love for them will always be bittersweet.

An Air Nippon Airways Boeing-747 at the Naha International Airport in Okinawa, Japan. (These jumbo jets are amazing: aboard them, you can hardly feel any turbulence due to bad weather because of how big they are.)

July 3, 2010

Jutsz Café

Saturday, July 03, 2010 Posted by Mary , , , 7 comments
One good thing about Dumaguete is that it just teems with places where you can eat. For a relatively small city, it has so many restaurants it seems the only thing people do here is indulge in food! A quaint restaurant that I've recently learned to love is Jutsz Café in Sta. Catalina street (right in front of another restaurant, Food Net). It was formerly known as Boston Café and is an unassuming little place that serves wonderful food at a good price.

In my opinion, Jutsz Café has the best pasta in town, my favorite of which is the Clam Vongole, a sumptuous dish of spaghetti and clams. It's the reason why I keep going back! Their Chicken Milanese is quite delicious, too, and very affordable. Their shakes are super creamy, and they have this chocolate cake, Cake or Death, that is simply to die for!

Owned by an artist and a favorite hangout of Dumaguete's literati, Jutsz Café's ambiance is very artistic. Paintings hang on the wall, and pictures of the city are displayed in one area.

The restaurant is definitely a worthwhile stop for Dumagueteños and visitors alike. A lot of people have yet to explore it, that's why I was encouraged to blog about it. It's unlike other restaurants in the area because of its personality. Outside, at night, you can even enjoy a candle-lit dinner under a cute little tree. Now, isn't that just interesting?

This entry is also posted at Everything Dumaguete.