Monday, January 30, 2012

Binondo

Monday, January 30, 2012

It is with shame that I admit to have never set foot in Binondo, Manila’s very own Chinatown, till last week. The kitschy charm and gustatory delights of various Chinatowns all over Asia have enamored me, yet I’ve never been to the Chinese district closest to home. D had to drag me to the area, and when we got there a rush of guilt coursed through me. Through all the years I’ve lived here, why is it only now that I am seeing this place? I thought. I looked around, enchanted by the flurry of activity, the richness of tradition and the variety of colors and flavors set before me. 

There is wisdom in the saying, “huwag maging dayuhan sa sariling bayan” (don’t be a stranger in your own country). I confess that I am one: I’ve seen more of other countries than my native land. Binondo has made realize how terribly ignorant I am of the wonderful places in the Philippines. It is but time to discover my own country.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

not just once in a summer

Sunday, January 29, 2012

...It took me several years to figure out that on that July night were were actually experiencing the gladness some people feel every day, not just once in a summer. I saw how it was with other people, because I watched the children in church, running to their mothers after Sunday school. I saw it every Sunday, week after week, year after year. The mothers swept their children off their feet and kissed them on their cheeks, and both mother and child laughed. They didn't need to say words because they had this gladness inside, just the same as if for a few minutes they all had a splat of ice cream dripping down into their mouths, and it's the hottest day on earth...

~ Jane Hamilton, The Book of Ruth, 1988

Friday, January 27, 2012

Learning Style

Friday, January 27, 2012

The adoption of the Understanding by Design (UbD) framework along with the recent rollout of the Enhanced K+12 Basic Education Program for Philippine schools aims to augment the quality of education in the country. Both highlight the use of multiple forms of media for learning and assessment. Print is no longer the primary vehicle of learning: coverage-focused instruction, where teachers try to cover all topics specified in a textbook, is to be replaced by activity-focused teaching. The use of various instructional media that facilitate interactive learning has been proven to enhance student engagement and performance. 

Though aware of the changes in education the new millennium has ushered in, I must admit that I still adhere to a paradigm of education that is rigidly 19th century. Call it antediluvian learning  or 'old literacy', but I still prefer books over any kind of media. Only the written word can capture and hold my attention, and it’s through reading and taking down notes that I gain understanding of something. 

 Last year, in preparation for our trip to South America, I repeatedly listened to several podcasts that offer Spanish language lessons. I thought I would learn how to speak Spanish by just hearing common words and phrases used in conversation, but I did not. After several months of listening-and-repeating-after, I still could not make sense of the language. I was lost. During our entire stay in Peru, incapable of constructing a single intelligible sentence in Spanish, I subsisted with the basic Hola, Hasta luego, Buenos dias, ¿Cuanto cuesta? and ¿Donde esta…? 

Yet determined to learn the language, I got hold of a Spanish language textbook (with audio guide) and started poring over it a couple of weeks ago. It clarified many things that I was very confused about before. It provided the explanation my mind was looking for but did not find while I was merely listening to the podcast episodes. “Le hablo a el todos los dias” with “Because le and les can have several meanings, they are usually clarified by using a and the prepositional object pronoun” makes so much sense to me. Reading about grammar and usage fascinates me so, and I fall more in love with words and how they are put together. And it helps, too, that I have a partner with whom I can practice my Spanish. 

People truly have different learning styles. What’s yours?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

happiness kept her

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Happiness kept her--as nearsightedness and fear kept the man she was holding by the hand, as faith, fatalism, or habit kept those who were running, limping, walking down to erect the barricade--from seeing what was all about her, from reflecting and drawing the conclusions that common sense, reason, or sheer instinct would have allowed her to draw from the spectacle...

~ Mario Vargas Llosa, The War of the End of the World, 1981

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

December at the Beach

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Jomtien Beach, Pattaya, Thailand
It seemed like a great idea to spend the cold days of December on the sun-drenched beaches of Thailand. And it was. We chose Pattaya not only for its proximity to Bangkok but also for reasons that would possibly turn off other travelers. Described by Wikitravel as a “notorious den of sleaze trying to clean up its act”, by Frommer’s as “a high-rise seaside palace of pleasure built on exotic titillation and rental sex” and by the NY Times as “a city of sleaze reaching for respectability,” Pattaya sounded really interesting. With that kind of “advertisement” how could we resist the place? I wanted to see how a den of sleaze looked like, but what I saw was a place inundated with couples and families lounging on the sand, drinking in the rays of the sun and feasting on trays of fresh seafood; I wanted to hear cries of festive licentiousness, but what I heard was the cheerful chatter of tourists who—like us--were probably simply happy to have escaped the gloom of winter. From our hotel in a quiet soi along wholesome Jomtien Beach, we knew we were on the “wrong” side of Pattaya. The action and titillation were up north, yet we felt content with the inaction in where we were. 

(Response to Indie Travel Challenge Prompt 4: Winter Travels: "When the weather gets cold, do you prefer to head to sunnier locales or do you love the outdoor adventures or off-season prices of winter?")

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Leisure

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

I have been on vacation for the past two months where, as Updike describes it, “food, exercises, and sleep, no longer squeezed into the margins of the day, swell to sumptuous importance.” The warmth of D’s smile and the smell of fresh coffee greeted me every morning; not needing to rush to work and deal with meetings and deadlines, I spent the early hours languorously, watching as the hazy skies gave way to a blazing sun. Worries seemed to dissipate, and all we thought about was the fun we had and are going to have each day.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Amateurs

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Last night we attended the orientation for our climb to Mt Pulag on the weekend. It was disappointing and annoying to listen to a speaker who is more interested in bragging about how he endured -5°C on the mountain without feeling the need for a jacket; or that we could do with just minimal amount of water while climbing; or that we could do without a sleeping bag up there. He must have thought we are all amateurs who have not done any trekking in both below zero and sweltering temperatures.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Wonderful

Friday, January 6, 2012

What is more wonderful than coming home to a house where the busted bulb has been replaced, the clogged drain has been fixed, the tapestry and the paintings that for years have been waiting for a place on the wall have been hung? The man who did all of those, of course.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Travel Resolutions (which sound more like a bucket list)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Indie Travel Challenge Prompt 1: "What are your 2012 travel resolutions? What, specifically, do you want to do this year?"
  1. See the Dalai Lama in person in his home-in-exile, Dharamsala, in Himachal Pradesh, India
  2. Master the art of--and summon the utmost patience for--overland travel
  3. Join in the communal breaking of bread, the Guru-ka-Langar, at Amritsar’s  Golden Temple
  4. Sleep in a dorm-type backpacker’s hostel
  5. Travel (anywhere) by an overnight sleeper train
  6. Travel light (bring less of everything- footwear, accessories, clothes, toiletries) 
  7. Get a shot of some alpine adrenaline from the spectacular Himalayan landscape
  8. Obsess less about each itinerary detail
  9. See more of my country
  10. Learn to converse in a foreign language

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

44 Days on the Road

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

2011 was a year of travel for me: 
44 days in 13 cities, 6 countries and 2 continents. 


I am looking forward to another year of adventure.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Remembering 2011

Sunday, January 1, 2012

It is with a tinge of reluctance that I look back at 2011. Dare I evoke those dreadful times when all sense of hope in life was lost and cynicism obscured the good that remains? Or shall I simply relive those glorious moments that induce a happiness that is transient and rare, and the sweeter for it? Yet perhaps the past year is about the prosaic humdrum of every day – laughter shared, love expressed in simple ways, taking delight in the mundane, the solitude of escaping into a book and the relentless struggle against destructive thoughts.
 
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