November 7, 2011

The (Dreaded?) High School Reunion

Monday, November 07, 2011 Posted by Mary , No comments
A lot of people dread their ten-year high school reunion. I didn't, because I was part--if not leader--of the organizing committee. So when ours came along during the last weekend of October, I was (forced to be?) in the midst of it all.

Our t-shirt design

It was funny, because months before, we had such grandiose plans of how we would celebrate the thing. But of course, as expected, a lot of people did not cooperate. Instead of a cocktail event at some posh resort, we had to come up with humbler plans.

We joined the school parade to celebrate its 107th anniversary, to an Angry Birds theme

November 2, 2011

Hong Kong Honeymoon

Wednesday, November 02, 2011 Posted by Mary , , No comments
My husband and I don't exactly have all the time in the world to spend with each other because of our current living arrangements, but we wanted to squeeze in a honeymoon after our civil wedding. We decided on Hong Kong because it was close to the Philippines thus we'd need less travel time, it had a Disneyland, and we thought it would be, well... cheap. It wasn't. Hong Kong is about as expensive the West, or Japan; at least the Japan of seven years ago. But it's beautiful. And clean. Yup, it's the cleanest and most beautiful city I've visited so far.

Their airport was lovely. And it was huge! Just imagine having to take a train from the arrival area to other parts of the airport. That's how big it was. And the shops--they were awesome! That is one airport I wouldn't mind being stuck in. It's divided into two terminals, but both are connected. We found this restaurant called Hung's Delicacies at one of the terminals and had our first taste of Hong Kong food. We had roasted chicken with garlic, and roasted pork with goose meat. My husband hated his chicken, and even though I am very adventurous when it comes to food, I can't say I enjoyed my pork and goose meal, either. They were just sort of, icky. They seemed to have this weird-tasting seasoning we've never tried before. The funny thing is, we were forced to eat the same kind of food the next day, and the day after that, in Disneyland and Ocean Park! It seemed to be the only food widely available. Whereabouts were the world-famous dim sum?!?

We checked in at the Regal Riverside Hotel in Sha Tin, New Territories. My husband and I go by the motto, "The most stars for the least price" when picking a hotel. We chose Regal Riverside because it was the best one we could get for its price. We knew it was a little out of the way, but we opted for comfort over location. And we weren't disappointed. The hotel was located in a quiet area relatively close to a train station and it had a number of restaurants. The staff were friendly and room service was good. It didn't have free WiFi, though. (Which should not be a surprise, as free WiFi in Hong Kong was hard to come by.)

I was in my element when we were going around Hong Kong! We took my most favored form of transportation--the trains--their MTR or Mass Transit Railway system. It was like Japan all over again, but even better, because for every Chinese instruction or announcement, there was an English counterpart. It was such a relief! The entire city of Hong Kong is connected by trains, so it's fairly cheap and really easy to go everywhere.

Of course, you can't visit Hong Kong without going to Disneyland and Ocean Park. Disneyland was so-so. If you've been to another Disneyland park before, I'll have to warn you that you'll be disappointed with the one they have in Hong Kong. Kids, of course, will still have fun, but adults might find it boring, like we did. It didn't help that Space Mountain was closed when we were there. Ocean Park was great, though. We loved the Raging River log ride and the Grand Rapids. We really got wet! The best experience of all was the cable car ride. It's something you should definitely not miss if you find yourself in Hong Kong!

The highlight of our Hong Kong trip was Victoria Peak. Known locally as The Peak, it's a popular tourist attraction of a mountain that offers great views of the the city and Victoria Harbour. At the summit is the Peak Tower, a building that has shops, restaurants, the Madame Tussauds wax museum, and an observatory. Getting there was extremely fun: we took the Peak Tram, an old train that goes at an incline up the mountain.

We had dinner at a restaurant called Pearl of the Peak at The Peak Tower. We were seated overlooking the city and harbor. The view was amazing, but the dinner was ridiculously expensive! We charged it to a once-in-a-lifetime experience, though. In all fairness, it was an extremely lovely experience and we had the best food that night. Ever. And I'm not exaggerating.

We only had a weekend to spend in Hong Kong, and that was very short. There were other spots we wanted to visit, such as the Tian Tin Buddha and Po Lin Monastery, but we just didn't have the time. We wanted to go to Macau, too, but that was impossible. Still, our Hong Kong trip, albeit short, was a lovely experience. It's one that we will cherish for a lifetime.

October 31, 2011


Monday, October 31, 2011 Posted by Mary , , No comments

A close friend of mine told me last year that I would get married in 2011. I laughed at him. I did not even have a boyfriend at that time, how could I get married this year? Little did I know, my friend's prediction would come true.

I got married in a civil ceremony last month. Of course, as the Philippines--and my mother--are highly religious, a church wedding will have to follow. Not much has changed because my husband is still away from me in the meantime, but it still feels surreal. I have a new last name?! I still need to get used to it.

I guess that's how life is. It's full of surprises. You never know what's coming around the corner. Your best bet is to go with the flow. And when something feels right, there's no reason to hold back. So that's what I've done: jumped in! And I look forward to beautiful things ahead.

May 5, 2011

The Gift

Thursday, May 05, 2011 Posted by Mary , , 5 comments

It is a common belief in the Philippines that if you complete the Simbang Gabi, or nine-day novena of dawn masses before Christmas, you will get something you fervently wish for. I have completed Simbang Gabi for the last three years without having my mom force me into it. The first year, I prayed for a scholarship to Europe. I was so confident God would grant my wish, too. After all, I completed my Christmas novena just a few months earlier. But oh no. I had some computer errors when I was taking the TOEFL (part of the requirements), so the results arrived too late and I wasn't able to apply. God didn't grant me my wish. The next year, I went through a major heartbreak. Reeling from that, I asked God that Christmas that the person I was then "rebounding" on, be "the one." He wasn't, either.

I was astounded by the two succeeding heartbreaks, almost unbelieving that God would do something so cruel. I really did not know where my life was going. Work was there, but surely I could not live just for work alone. I was just not that type of person. It was a trying time, and I remember a friend trying to console me with the verse from Jeremiah 29:11, something I really tried to hold on to:
"For I know the plans I have for you", declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
The next year, I'd learned my lesson. My previous efforts had been futile, and I did not ask for anything specific anymore. I just asked God to arrange my life according to His plans. This was last Christmas. Little did I know I was in for a treat.

On December 25, 2010, I joined a penpal site. I was only expecting to find friends, but I found something more. I found someone who felt so right. I finally met him in person in April, and then we got engaged.

Now, I feel that spring has finally begun and my life is about to start; that this is what I was destined to do, and that this is God finally giving me my heart's desire. The fact that I joined the site instrumental in making me meet my fiancé on Christmas Day does not escape me. It just reinforces the feeling that he truly is a gift from above, something I am extremely thankful for.

February 25, 2011

I got hit

Friday, February 25, 2011 Posted by Mary , No comments

After driving for four and a half years, I had my first car accident yesterday. And I'm still seething from it.

This 50-something man, in his easyride pick-up, just merged into traffic from the opposite side. He checked the traffic coming in his direction, but didn't mind that I was driving along on his blind side. I didn't even have time to stop, because although I saw him (stopped somewhere on my left side), I didn't even think I had to stop! Who in their right mind merges with traffic when there is an oncoming vehicle? In most countries all over the world, if two vehicles arrive on a certain spot at the same time, the vehicle on the right has the right of way, which in yesterday's case was me. And this wasn't even an intersection! I was just driving along in almost bumper-to-bumper traffic, and someone tried to run me off the road!

I guess he didn't see me coming, or else he wouldn't have tried to merge. But now my car has a huge dent on the driver's side door and right above my left front wheel. And the thing that infuriates me the most is that this man had the audacity to get out of his car, yell at me, tell me it was my fault, and then drive away in a hurry. I didn't even have time to get his plate number! I wanted to call the police, have them investigate the scene and see whose fault it really was, but how could I, when the other vehicle already got away? If it was truly my fault, then why was he the one in such a hurry to leave?

I feel so bullied by that man and it makes me so angry! So to all drivers out there, especially women (and especially if you're in the Philippines), let my experience be a lesson to you. Don't ever let anyone bully you in a traffic accident! If you're physically okay and there's no traffic enforcer around, immediately get the plate number of the vehicle who hit you. Forget about arguing, get the plate number first. I wasn't expecting the person who hit me to drive off, but he did, and I'm left to deal with this dent on my car alone. My only consolation is that I wasn't harmed and I was on my old Kia, not on our new SUV. But I am still extremely pissed off, and there's nothing I can do but let karma deal with that bastard who hit me. Now that is just a bitch.

February 13, 2011

Love Day

Sunday, February 13, 2011 Posted by Mary , , 2 comments
Last year, I had a cringe-inducing Valentine's Day. Let's not dwell on the details, but let's just say that being single, I made the mistake of going out with my mom, to a nice restaurant, where all the other diners were couples--an experience I will always remember not to let happen again. In the ensuing weeks, I immediately worried about this year's Valentine's Day. Yes, as early as March 2010, I was already worrying about Valentine's 2011.

But lo and behold! It's Valentine's Day 2011, and even though I do not have a date (he is far away), I have never felt so loved in my life. Just a few hours ago, I received a lovely bouquet of roses. Yes, the first ever that is not from family, female friends, or that was not given as a prank. What is it they say? God provides?

Every day should be Valentine's Day, but I hope everyone is feeling especially loved and appreciated today. For those who are not quite there yet, though, there's only one thing I can say: don't stop believing.