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!