Monday, January 31, 2011

Looking Forward

Monday, January 31, 2011

They say that life is not worth living if one doesn’t have anything to look forward to every day, and I feel lucky to have several things to be excited about for the rest of the year.

  • Those weekend runs that leave me exhilarated
  • Daniel Deronda, Reading Lolita in Tehran, Wolf Hall, The Leopard, and all the books I intend to read for the next 11 months
  • Several days of fun at the beach with my family
  • Spending summer break doing teen stuff with my sister
  • A refurbished, bikini-ready body after months of workout
  • Kota Kinabalu with friends in June
  • Hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu with D and watching giant Andean condors soar over the Colca Canyon
  • Road trip to Subic with girl friends in September
  • D’s longer stay in the Philippines

Friday, January 28, 2011

Fitness Chick

Friday, January 28, 2011

I’ve recently turned 33, and I know that I really need to do something about my health. After weeks of agonizing over whether or not I should join a gym and become a fitness chick, I decided to just go there and do it. My stair climbing jaunts and weekend jogs won’t give me the toned body that I want, and the rigors of a fitness program and the discipline it will extract from me would somehow up the ante. I just hope that hitting the gym would not only prepare me for future hiking adventures but also afford me a healthier lifestyle.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

China Chronicles Two: Old Hong Kong Street Scene Painting

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

When I saw this oil painting displayed in one of the stalls at the Mongkok night market, it reminded me so much of W. Somerset Maugham’s Hong Kong in The Painted Veil that I could not resist buying it.


But the magician who built worked swiftly and now a fragment of colored wall crowned the bastion; in a moment, out of the mist, looming vastly and touched here and there but a yellow ray of sun, there was seen a cluster of green and yellow roofs. Huge they seemed and you could make out no pattern; the order, if order there was, escaped you; wayward and extravagant, but of an unimaginable richness. This was no fortress, nor a temple, but the magic place of some emperor of the gods where no man might enter. It was too airy, fantastic, and unsubstantial to be the work of human hands; it was the fabric of a dream. (W. Somerset Maugham, The Painted Veil, 1925)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

22nd of January

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Alone; banana pancakes and a steaming mug of chocolate mint; watching The Social Network and The Tourist while taking delight in the lovely birthday greetings sent by friends on Facebook; an afternoon nap; several chapters of Anne Enright’s novel The Gathering with Offenbach in the background – that's how I celebrated my birthday.

My birthday may have been uneventful, but the weeks leading to it were not: I was given a chance to spend marvelous time with my dear childhood friends. And, freed from the confines of propriety and self-imposed solitude, I relished every minute of the most uninhibited fun I’d had in years - which left me breathless and intoxicated.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

she had saved herself whole from the seeming ruin of her life

Thursday, January 20, 2011



Strive as she would to put some order in her thoughts, the words would not come more clearly; yet she felt that she could not leave him without trying to make him understand that she had saved herself whole from the seeming ruin of her life.

~ Edith Wharton, The House of Mirth, 1905

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Disoriented

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


With all the get-togethers since Christmas break, the activities that compose my life’s everyday routine—reading, writing, working out, worrying—have all been squeezed into the margins of the day. I feel disoriented yet happy, distracted but invigorated.

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Luddite Spectrum

Friday, January 14, 2011

Yesterday morning’s breakfast meal from McDonald's came with a copy of the Philippine Daily Inquirer. Not having read a real newspaper for years, I’ve forgotten its distinctively inky smell and how it felt like to actually turn the pages, instead of just clicking the next page button as I’ve grown accustomed to through reading online. The actual act of holding the newspaper and the pure concentration it required of me made for a wonderful reading experience. Reading at leisure, I was able to savor every page and reflect on those items that engaged my attention: 1) Randy David’s insightful article on the Filipino’s religious devotion, manifested in the annual procession of the Black Nazarene of Quaipo, as “a vestige of feudal culture;” 2) the recently filed ordinance that bans sex and other indecent acts in public places—including hotels, hostels and boarding houses--in Boracay; 3) Conrado de Quiros’ mention of John Irving’s visit to Ilocos last Christmas, which most never knew or cared about – a redoubtable confirmation of “how literary heroes have fallen from the pedestal of the human race.”

This whole experience made me wonder about the future of the printed world when everything’s fast becoming digitized. And as a blogging, Facebooking, perpetually online 33-year old who reads the news through the Internet but rarely uses her Blackberry and prefers bookshelves filled with books to a Kindle, I do not know where I fall within the Luddite spectrum. Nothing electronic could ever replace the pleasure I get from holding and reading the actual text.

"In a world in which most things seem ephemeral, books imply permanence: that there exist ideas and thoughts of sufficient weight that they are worth preserving in a physical form that is expensive to produce and takes up space…. With its weight and solidity, a book signals to the world that there are ideas worth preserving in a form that carries heft, and takes up space; by its touchability, a book signals the importance of our engagement in an arena external to and larger than ourselves; and by sitting on a shelf, along which we can run both hands and eyes, a book signals the possibility of still being surprised by what we discover." (Stephen L. Carter, Where’s the Bailout for Publishing?)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

China Chronicles One: Happily Idling the Day Away

Thursday, January 13, 2011

We could be walking in the middle of Binondo, and I would have been just as happy. I can’t remember where exactly we went: I saw brightly colored double-decker buses, harried pedestrians in fashionable winter clothing, streets with English-sounding names, rows and rows of enticingly lit shop windows and gaudy casinos, yet nothing quite registered. I was somewhere in Hong Kong, or some place in Macau, with people I’ve known for more than two decades – that’s all that matters. The biting cold at 7 degrees was something I’m not accustomed to, but in the company of friends I was enveloped in the warmth of familiarity that comes only from years of closeness and friendship.


You look like a bunch of chattering school girls happily idling the day away, someone remarked while looking at our pictures. And we did. Our joy was ineffable, yet those photos captured how happy we were; what it didn’t show was how precious that time is for all of us. It’s something that we’ve planned for, worried over and looked forward to for a year. Because we now live in different countries, we’ve made it a yearly tradition, an indispensable indulgence and a sacred vow to spend several days together.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

When I Return from a Trip

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Invariably, when I return from a trip—a few days or a few months, it matters not—I fall into a low-grade depression, what I call Post-Trip Funk (or PTF). Symptoms of PTF include lethargy, sleeplessness (or sometimes sleeping longer than usual), irritability, loss of appetite (or sometimes ravenous hunger), spatial disorientation and a marked tendency to pick up one’s home phone and ask for reception. (Eric Weiner, Post-Trip Funk)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Intoxication

Thursday, January 6, 2011

I had only to stop thinking and embrace that shimmering moment of intoxication, when the past is fused with the present and familiar old emotions blend with the excitement of rediscovery. Spending time with a person who knew me when I was younger laughing over our adolescent indiscretions and reliving that certain level of idiocy only teenagers have a right to released me, for a moment, from the person I have become. Within that bubble of time I returned to an earlier self -- when I still believed in the possibility of hope, when my mind is not yet constantly interrogating itself, when days were still untroubled and joy was free, when stupidity was the norm and having fun was fun. Reminiscing about the closeness that was, or wasn’t quite, or might have been, or never could be, we had a taste of happiness that’s ever so tenuous, so ephemeral, and the sweeter for it.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Thrill of a Morning Run

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Still I hesitated, straining to see the north end of the boardwalk and wondering how far it is and if I could reach it. I felt the cool breeze gracing the early morning smog that hangs low over the city, and I began to walk. And then run. My lungs were bursting, but as my legs continued to move to its own natural rhythm I felt an overwhelming surge of elation run through my body. Everything and everyone else faded into the background, and only the sound of my heart beating and the touch of my feet against the hardness of the pavement mattered. Reaching the end of the promenade, I began to slow down. I was so happy to have made it that I wanted the moment to last. I turned around and, with a steadier, less excited pace, kept on running.
 
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