Lens- Artists Photo Challenge: Second Time Around

I did not participate in the LAPC Challenge for months because of my very busy schedule, but today I am able to squeeze in some time to write a post and John’s chosen theme is something that most of us, I’m sure, can easily find photos for as there are many places we would like to revisit or imagine revisiting at this time when we cannot travel to any place outside our home cities.

The first place I would really go to again as soon as travel bans are lifted is Jimei, where my husband has been living all alone for three months now after my son and I left. Jimei has been my second home for over 17 years, and this is the longest I’ve been away.

Jimei, Xiamen

Last year, I was so lucky I got to see the U.S. of A. for the first time, and before the virus broke out. I got to see New York and Boston and enjoyed every minute of it. I was looking forward to seeing Washington, DC and Maryland in June this year, but I guess it’s not meant to be.

Oculus, NYC
Boston

The one other place I would really love to visit again is South Korea, not just for the place but to see my best friend again.

I hope we all get to travel again soon, and have the chance to revisit places we love and create new memories.

Have a lovely week!

T.

LENS Artists Photo Challenge: Second time around

LAPC: Nostalgic

Kempinski Hotel, Xiamen

Last night, for the first time in a long, long time, my husband and I went out to attend a party. This time it was at the Kempinski Hotel. It felt good to go out again and relive those evenings many years ago when we used to go out with friends more often without worrying about adult stuff.

But those night outs aren’t what I’m nostalgic about.

It’s Christmas. Kempinski had nice Christmas trees both in the lobby and outside the hotel, and I felt like a kid again excited about Christmas!

Kempinski Hotel, Xiamen

And Christmas always brings me back to my childhood when our Christmas tree was small and simple and the Christmas presents we got from our parents were not expensive, but we had the tradition of getting up at dawn to go to Mass at 4:30 in the morning (Misa de Gallo, literally Rooster’s Mass). Yes, you read that right. 4:30 in the morning which meant waking up an hour earlier before that to wash up and have something hot to drink!

You would think we were unhappy to be woken up that early, but we were actually pretty excited to hear our mother whispering our names to wake us up.

Christmas tree in our house in the Philippines. Picture taken by my sister

We then walked to church (a 10-minute walk from our house) and would see other churchgoers walking. During Mass, my sisters and I often dozed off especially during homily, but would once again perk up just before the singing of the Lord’s Prayer as it meant close to Communion and the end of the Mass.

After Mass, we would walk to the bakery and buy pan de sal for breakfast.

Life was so simple yet we were happy.

If only I could be a child again, and have my parents worry about things that only adults worry about.

Nostalgic.

Tiny Christmas tree in my apartment in Xiamen

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Nostalgic

Christmas in a coffee shop

I was happy to see there’s Christmas ornaments and merchandise in this coffee shop. As soon as I entered, I heard my favorite Nat King Cole Christmas song. It brought back many memories of Christmas with my parents when I was a kid.

Christmas is not celebrated here the way it is in my country. Here many people confuse Santa with Jesus, and they aren’t as excited about it as we are, which is understandable because they don’t get a 2-week long holiday from school or several days off from work.

Nevertheless seeing the ornaments and hearing Christmas music put me in a nice mood while waiting for a friend. The people here may not share the same feeling about Christmas as people back home, but this place is still nice to look at and the coffee was good! 😛

Have a lovely week!!

T.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Cold

img_6172-1

Canada

Tina’s challenge this week is a real challenge for someone like me who comes from a tropical country! Thankfully I’ve traveled to some places with a winter season. The first image above I have used more than a couple of times on my blog. It is one of my favorite photos because when I took it, it was the first time ever (and this was 2016) I had seen a snow-covered mountain! I couldn’t believe it! It was summer in Canada but there was snow!

Now let me say something about the word “cold” and how subjective that is: when I told my cousin who was then living in Alberta that I was visiting, she got so excited saying, “Perfect! You are lucky. It’s already summer here. Just bring shorts and T-shirts!” My mistake was I just believed her and did not bother to check the weather app.

When I arrived in Vancouver in my summer clothes (luckily I always bring a summer cardigan when I travel because I know in  some planes and airports their A/Cs are just set too low), I was not ready for the 18C (64F) temperature. When I met with a former student, I noticed she was wearing a coat. And we both said, “This is not summer!” 

When I finally saw my cousin in Alberta, she was wearing spaghetti strap top and shorts! And she had the A/C on in her house! I begged her to turn it off and borrowed winter pajamas. She couldn’t stop laughing at me and told everyone in the family how cold I felt.

Well, can you blame me?

The very first time I saw snow though was in my husband’s hometown, in Shandong Province in China. At first I was so excited to see snow. But after a day of being cold (in the countryside their houses do not have central heating), I begged my husband to let me move to the city and said to him, “Please, look at my skin! It’s brown! This skin is not for the cold!” And I’m not being racist about my skin! It’s really brown.

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Shandong Province

 

Hope you feel comfortable whether you’re in a cold or warm place!

T.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Cold

LAPC: Waiting

This week’s theme is “Waiting.” Even before I read Amy’s post I knew I would post pictures related to flying — which I do every month.

Most of the waiting I do now happens at an airport. I often go on red-eye flights because they are cheaper, though the layovers are always longer than the flights themselves. But then again they are cheaper.

So what do you do when there’s air traffic and your plane can’t land because the airport has only one runway! Take pictures of those things that are so commonplace you forget they are there!

I used to look forward to flying, but now I just try not to think about it and simply look forward to arriving. I hope one day teleportation will become real!

Taken just before a 10-minute long turbulence

Waiting for a flight may be exhausting, but at least you know eventually you will get to your destination.

It is less stressful than waiting for something whose arrival is forever uncertain.

—-

Have a lovely week!

T.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Waiting

Christmas in November

It’s Christmas in the Philippines! Well, it’s been Christmas in the Philippines since September. It’s the biggest and most anticipated holiday in my country. Countdown begins in September and ornaments and Christmas trees aren’t put away until early January on the feast of the Three Kings.

Arriving at the airport after a red-eye flight, I was so excited to see all the ornaments and even a Christmas tree!

Another short flight and I’ll be home, and with my family it will really feel like Christmas in November!

Happy weekend!

T.

Beautiful November Morning

I went out for a walk this morning and couldn’t help taking photos as I thought the weather was perfect at 70F and it was breezy with blue sky above and quiet except for the rustling of the leaves and chirping of the birds.

Life is beautiful.

I hope you have a beautiful morning (or evening) too! 💕

T.

LAPC: Monochrome

Huawen Xue Yuan, Jimei, Xiamen

This week Patti chose “Monochrome” for LAPC’s theme.

She said, “Monochrome can also add drama, mystery, and emotion to a shot…” and I agree!

These are some photos I took yesterday when my husband and I went out for a walk.

Long Zhou Hu (Dragon Boat Lake), Jimei, Xiamen

Happy Sunday!

T. 💕

Lens Artists Photo Challenge:Monochrome

In search of Gong Bao Ji Ding

In my first few years in China, I often ordered Gong Bao Ji Ding (宫保鸡丁 or Kung Pao Chicken) and Mapo Doufu (麻婆豆腐)whenever we went out to eat simply because the Chinese restaurants my friends and I often went to were Sichuan restaurants.
But as years passed and my friends left in China, my husband and I seldom go out to eat, and when we do we don’t usually eat Sichuan food. So I had not eaten Gong Bao Ji Ding in at least 4 years even though I live in China! Until today.

We purposely went out to find a restaurant that serves Gong Bao Ji Ding because the restaurant we used to go to no longer serves my favorite dish! We walked about 3 km until we found one that serves it. Though I was a little disappointed it didn’t taste the same as I remembered it, I was still glad I finally got to eat it again!
Another dish I recalled liking then and ordered today was Gan Bian Si Ji Dou (干煸四季豆).

This one tasted the same though.
All in all we had a beautiful morning walk that culminated in a good lunch that brought back memories of good food and fun company.

Have a wonderful weekend! 💕

T.

LAPC: Seeing Double

Two map puffers at the Manila Ocean Park

“There is no satisfaction in any good without a companion.” — Seneca the Younger

Two penguins at the New England Aquarium

Meteorites exhibit at the Harvard Museum of Natural History

Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Wax figures of two former presidents at the Dreamland Wax Museum, Boston

Wax figures of two members of the Royal Family at the Dreamland Wax Museum, Boston

“A good companion is one you wouldn’t mind dying with.

— Frank Herbert

May you find a good companion in life, if you haven’t yet. 💕

T.

Lens artists photo challenge: Seeing Double

A Trip to Gulangyu

I’ve been living in Xiamen for 17 years and I’ve visited Gulangyu over a hundred times over the years, but there are places on both islands that I still have to see.

So I was glad to get to the top of Sunlight Rock for the first time yesterday and be able to take pictures of the southern part of Xiamen island and the view of Gulangyu taken from the top of Sunlight Rock.

As we arrived there early, we were able to avoid the crowds of tourists that started to come around lunch time when we had already walked over 7km.

I was also able to get inside the Christ the King church which had to be unlocked by a kind lady who asked me if I was from the Philippines and did I want to pray.

It had been awhile since I last came, so I was happy to be able to come to this church again where I came to hear mass every week for years.

You can come to Gulangyu by ferry from Youlun Zhongxin (for tourists) and tickets cost 35RMB. (Thankfully we have a card that shows we work in Xiamen, and so we pay the local’s fare of 8RMB and get on a different ferry that is not crowded at all!)

We spent one morning on Gulangyu and walked for over 9km.

But surprisingly, I wasn’t tired at all.

If you’re ever in Xiamen, you can’t miss Gulangyu. It is truly worth a visit.

Have a lovely Thursday!

T.

Darkness and Light

Zheng Chenggong, Gulangyu Museum, Xiamen

We went to Gulangyu this morning, and I was able to visit places that I had never been to before.

One of these places was the museum that one could go in for free. It doesn’t seem to be a very popular place (there were thousands of tourists outside but less than 50 people inside this 3-story museum), so it was nice to walk around and learn about the history of this tiny island.

I took a picture of this statue of General Zheng as I liked the contrast of darkness and light where it stood. It was dark coming from the left side, but there was light coming from the window to the right. I thought it was the perfect location.

As a general he probably went through many times of choosing between darkness and light.

At least that’s what I saw/thought of it. Or maybe I am just overthinking again!

What do you think?

T.

LAPC: Candid

Gentle and glowing,

She dazzles every creature

With her candid pose.

—–

I know Ann-Christine suggested candid photographs of people and animals, but I don’t have lots of those that I think I can share publicly. Then I saw the moon tonight and thought, “What a beauty!” And I attempted a haiku praising the moon, and thought of the word “candid.” So there. 😉

Have a lovely week!

T.

Lens Artists Photo Challenge: Candid

LAPC: Countryside

There is something about the countryside that is so relaxing. Though it doesn’t give me the same sense of serenity I get from sitting on a quiet beach, being in the countryside still feels like taking a break from the busy-ness of life.

The picture above is of a rice farm in Northern Mindanao, Philippines. I was on my way to the airport when I saw this farm. The sky was so blue with some white clouds, and the hills in the distance so green — I just thought it was so beautiful. I asked the driver to stop the car, and I got out and saw this farmer. I asked him if I could take a picture of him, and he said it was OK.

Then I got back in the car, and went to the airport and back to my busy life. But this picture always gives me that feeling of wanting even a quick break from life and its worries.

I had the same feeling visiting my cousin’s uncle’s farm in Alberta, Canada. After a 12-hour flight and then wandering around Vancouver, it was relaxing to not see people and rest the eyes and the soul by just watching green grass, blue sky, white clouds and farm animals!

Hope you have a relaxing week!

T. 💕

Lens-artists photo challenge: countryside

LAPC: Magical

I love looking up at the sky, whether in the day time or at night. I often wonder what it’s like up there looking down, (which is why I follow NASA and the International Space Station on social media.)

To me the sky or whatever is up (or out) there is magical.

Sometimes when I am going through a difficult time, I only have to go to a quiet place — by the lake, on a quiet beach, or my balcony and look up at the sky and remind myself of the vastness of the universe and the minuteness of my life and worries.

Now isn’t that cure magical? 😉

Have a lovely week!

T. 💕

Lens Artists Photo Challenge: Magical

Lens Artists Challenge: Silhouette

This summer I had a 12-hour layover in NYC, and luckily my friend and his wife offered to show me around.

Coming from the Philippines, I was looking forward to a cooler weather, but I wasn’t so lucky as it was about as hot in NYC that day as it was back home. Still, I enjoyed the few hours I spent in NYC.

And of course, I took lots of photos!

This one of the One World Trade Center was taken around 3 in the afternoon. I had thought I wouldn’t be able to get a good picture in the brightness and from where I was standing facing the sunlight, but hey, now I have an entry for this week’s challenge! Yay!

Have a lovely weekend!

T.

Lens Artists Challenge: Silhouette

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Unique

I had a wonderful time at the New England Aquarium and took lots of photos, but the one below of the jellyfish is my favorite. I find this shot the most unique among all the photos of creatures I photographed.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge

Have a unique week! 😉

T.

Lens-artists challenge: Take a Break

Last week I took a break from my Philippine reality and flew to the States for the first time. Now that I’m back in my home country, those six days in the States seem just like a dream.

I took lots of photos while in NYC and Boston, but these ones below were taken while on an unplanned trip to New Jersey at the Liberty State Park. It was very quiet on a Friday afternoon. It was a welcome break from busy NYC!

After that long walk around the park which probably made up for one week of no dance workout, I had strawberry milkshake — a very welcome break!

Have a lovely week! 💕

T.

Lens-Artists

Not Today

Sunset in Jimei

The bottle will remain unopened.

That pack of cigarettes will stay unsmoked.

Those cheesecakes calling me as I walk past the bakery will be ignored.

And the backups won’t be hearing from me anytime soon.

For as long as there’s a teeny bit of will left in me…

You’re not winning again.

Not today.

——

Be strong. You are loved. ♥️

T.

Another week of healthy eating

Celery, Cucumber and Apple Smoothie

Normally I try not to talk about my little achievements if I have not reached my ultimate goal yet. I have this superstition that it will be jinxed if I talk about it. But last week I wrote about my diet, and the weekend passed without me ruining it. So here I am writing something more about my diet.

Some vegetables I used to ignore have become interesting in my eyes, simply because I am looking for variety. Before I came to China, I seldom ate vegetables. This is true of most Filipinos. We love our lechon and meat too much. So one thing I’m truly happy about coming to China is learning to love and cook veggies. And fungi!

I had never eaten mushrooms before I came to China, but these days one of my favorite ingredients for cooking is the king oyster mushroom.

king oyster mushrooms

I use this kind of mushroom to replace meat, and I just love it! I cooked it with celery the other day, and today with eggplant.

King oyster mushrooms are abundant in China, but I have never seen this kind in my home city in the Philippines. I will surely miss this when I go home for good!

This evening I tried the cucumber, celery and apple smoothie after coming across this recipe. It’s not my favorite smoothie, but it’s good enough for variety.

I hope I can stick to my healthy diet (and silly dancing) so I’ll be strong and healthy for a busy but fun summer with my son!

Have a healthy, happy Monday!

T.

Nanputuo Temple

I have been to so many temples in China, and the most impressive ones I’ve been to are up north. After visiting so many temples over the years, I no longer have any interest in visiting another one. But as we had a guest who was in Xiamen for the first time, we took him to Nanputuo Temple.

Nanputuo was first built during the Tang Dynasty (618-907 A.D.) It was destroyed during the war around 1300s and rebuilt in the 1600s.

Many practicing Buddhists come, but there are probably more tourists.

When I first came to China I did not really think of a temple as a place of worship because most people were just taking pictures. But one Christmas at the church where I used to go, tourists came inside the church during mass and took pictures of the altar and the priest. I was at first shocked, and then angry. When I calmed down I realized the rudeness of these people were due to ignorance. They thought the mass was a show, like a concert.

Although I had never misbehaved in a temple, I became more conscious of my actions in a temple which may be misinterpreted by Buddhists.

Nanputuo can get very crowded especially during weekends, but if you visit Xiamen, it is one of those must-see places. It is right next to Xiamen University, which has a beautiful campus.

Nanputuo also has a vegetarian restaurant, which serves a variety of delicious vegetarian dishes. But if you are not vegetarian, there are countless restaurants nearby to choose from. One good thing about going to touristy places in China is you will always find some place to buy food!

Buffet at North Bay in Jimei

If you ever find yourself hungry in Jimei, try the buffet at Cafe Realm at North Bay Hotel. (No, this is not a paid ad. I wish it were. Maybe I should ask? Lol.)

This weekend I was fortunate to have had Saturday lunch and Sunday dinner at North Bay. It made me smile when the guy who prepares the sashimi recognized me, said “Hello!” and spoke to me in English. He knows I love salmon!

The buffet includes a soup selection, and seafoods, barbecue/steak, rice and pasta, fruits, Chinese, Japanese and western dishes, ice cream (local and Haagen Dazs) and what I love best — the pastry selection! All you can eat cheesecake and many other sinfully delicious cakes!

They also offer a variety of fruit drinks, coffee, milk, soda, Budweiser. In the evening they serve wine as well.

North Bay Hotel, Jimei, Xiamen

Lunch: 11:30 – 2:00 P.M.

Dinner: 5:30 – 9:00 P.M.

Price: 26-28 USD

Now, I hope North Bay sees this and rewards me! 😉

Have a lovely week! 💕

T.

Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport

I’ve been in Guangzhou several times, and each time I had a wonderful time, partly because of my friend who’s always good company and partly because I like Guangzhou for its size and the seeming vivacity of the people. (It seems there are more young people in GZ than in Xiamen.)

When I was here in 2010, the Baiyun International Airport was already in operation, but there were not as many shops as there are now. I remember thinking back then it was like a mall. Today, in some areas, you can forget you’re in an airport.

There are places for mothers and their babies. There’s also a play area for bigger kids.

One other thing that I like about this airport is the announcement in both Chinese and English is much clearer than in other airports (in Xiamen, for instance. Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE Xiamen, but at the airport you have to listen very carefully to understand their announcements in English!)

The only thing that disappoints me is at 5:30 in the morning I couldn’t find an open shop that serves coffee!

I need my coffee!!!

Still, I look forward to coming back to GZ. 😊

Have a beautiful Friday!

P.S.

At 6:00 AM, Mickey D opened. The staff spoke English! And best of all I got me coffee!

Bohol Cathedrals

La Purisima Concepcion de la Virgen Maria Parish Church (also The Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary Parish Church), commonly known as Baclayon Church, is a Roman Catholic Church in the municipality of Baclayon, Bohol, Philippines within the jurisdiction of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tagbilaran. Baclayon was founded by the Jesuit priest Juan de Torres and Gabriel Sánchez in 1596, and became the oldest Christian settlement in Bohol. It was elevated as a parish in 1717 and the present coral stone church was completed in 1737. The Augustinian Recollects succeeded the Jesuits in 1768 and heavily renovated the church since then. (from Wikipedia)

Reconstruction after a 7.2 magnitude earthquake in 2013 caused major damage to the church was completed in 2017.

Dauis Church

Our Lady of Assumption Church is locally known as Nuestra Señora de la Asunción. It is constructed of solid rocks or stones and has paintings on the walls. There is a tower with a bell, outside the church another tower and also a small well. The front face of the church collapsed during the earthquake in 2013. (From Wikipedia)

Something to warm the heart on a cold, rainy day

It’s a cold and rainy day, and my apartment has become too quiet for me, so I decided to bring my work to the McDonald’s in the mall across the street from our university.

A few minutes after I sat down, a young woman with a baby sat a few tables across from mine. She was having a difficult time watching the baby, making sure he won’t fall down from the chair as she tried to get something from the baby bag. Another young woman at the next table looked like she wanted to help, but as most Chinese do, she probably did not want to seem like intruding.

When their food came, the young mother (she has to be the mother) became busy with arranging the food on the tray and just for a few seconds perhaps, forgot what the baby was up to. And it turned out the baby had reached for the cup of milk tea and spilled the whole thing. The young mother panicked a little as she called for the crew. Two McD staff calmly came over and even smiled at the mother, cleaned the mess, and one of them later brought her another cup of milk tea.

Before they left, the young mother apologized to the staff and the same man who had helped her earlier just smiled (I couldn’t hear what he said) and also said something to the baby.

Why am I writing about this? Obviously because this is something I don’t often see, especially here in Jimei where workers often look so unhappy and unhelpful.

So, I am grateful to the staff of McDonald’s in Jimei Wanda for making this cold and rainy Jimei day feel warm.

Have a beautiful Tuesday!💕

T.

A Quiet Walk on Lantern Festival

After 6 busy weeks in the Philippines, I am back in very quiet Jimei. Blissfully quiet for now, except for the occasional firecrackers in the distance, as the students are not back from their holiday yet.

Though I miss my son already, I am thankful for the quiet walk I had this afternoon, something that I did not have a chance to do back home.

Every now and then I need to be alone with my thoughts, and today I got the chance.

Here’s what the campus looks like for now.

No basketball games

The cafeteria is closed

Happy Lantern Festival!🎉🏮

T.

Beautiful Alona Beach, Bohol

The first time I went to Bohol was in 2002 to attend a Young Writers’ Conference. It was a very quiet place then. I don’t remember seeing tourists.

Bohol looks so different now.

Here are photos of Alona Beach in Panglao, Bohol, Philippines at different times of the day.

Noon time when we arrived

sunset

early morning

early morning

sunrise

Have a lovely week! 💕

T.

Fear, Fascination and Autism

There are many things that can make Eli, my 8-year-old son on the spectrum , happy and very few that terrify him. To neurotypical adults, it would seem silly to be scared by the sound of a hair or hand dryer, or a blender or coffee grinder or a drill, but these are sounds that have a different effect on my son and other autistic kids like him. Thankfully, the noise from crowds don’t bother him anymore, and the hair dryer we have at home does not bother him as much as it did before. If we use the coffee grinder, he would just leave the kitchen.

Still there’s so much I envy my son for — one of which is his lack of fear of things that terrify most people I know, from tiny creatures like cockroaches or spiders to pythons. When we went to a zoo in Bohol last week,our guide showed us this yellow python. Thinking my husband was holding Eli’s hand, I couldn’t help screaming when I saw him already inside the cage with the guide. He was the only one inside the cage with the guide who showed him how to pet this beautifully yellow python. None of us adult tourists dared to go in, but Eli did and seemed to really enjoy touching the snake.

Eli also loves the ocean. Unfortunately he doesn’t know how to swim yet. Just like me and my husband, Eli can sit (or stand) on the beach for a long time just looking at the waves or the horizon. The ocean is mesmerizing. He is most calm when he is on the beach. On our last evening in Bohol, he and his father watched the sunset until it got too dark to see anything on the ocean, but I guess he was listening to the sound of the waves, and that too is mesmerizing.

But Eli has no sense of the danger of the ocean especially for people who cannot swim. And if no one is watching him, he will just keep walking towards the water. From what I’ve read, most autistic kids and adults are drawn to water, and in fact when an autistic person goes missing, the first area rescuers would search is a body of water.

The “fearlessness” of our autistic kids may be admirable sometimes, but we also have to remember that fear is one way we, humans, protect ourselves from danger, and if our “fearless” kids are not aware of the dangers that their fascination with certain things poses, it will not be good for them.

Have a lovely and safe Sunday! 💕

T.

Change, Challenges, Moving On

Jimei sky on a winter noon

Introverted, routine-oriented people like me get disoriented when something not part of the routine takes place. The occasional lunch with co-workers is always a task, even though they are nice people, simply because it’s not part of my daily routine, and I always make an effort to be an interesting or even just a lively person (I personally find it rude when a person joins you for a meal and looks miserable. I’d rather that person refuse to join me for a meal than be with me looking unhappy. Hence, my effort at being an interesting/lively rather than boring companion.)

This disorientation is magnified when bigger events occur in my life, like when some 16 years ago, my then-boyfriend left the country (and me!) and all of a sudden, I was left to make plans for the day for only myself. “What will I do with this much time all to myself?” I went to work moving about like a zombie for months!

When my mother died, I felt so vulnerable whenever I remembered (actually, I still do) that I no longer have a “prayer warrior.” In the past whenever I had a problem, I would just pick up the phone and call my mother long-distance and ask her to pray for me. I know it sounds so immature for a grown woman to be depending on her mother so much, but that was all I depended on my mother for. I never asked her for anything else after graduating from university. Just prayers. Still, when she died, I was at a loss not having anyone to call to ask for prayers. I mean I could have called my sisters or some of my friends, but with my mother I was assured that her prayers were most fervent because she was praying for her youngest daughter, the only one to leave her side to work in another country.

When introverted, routine-oriented people like me are put in a new situation, we tend to have an extremely difficult time adapting to change. We may seem to look like we are coping well with the change, but deep inside, the challenge is overwhelming. Yet, we survive and I think our introversion has much to do with it. As introverts, we rely on very few people, but more important and this is most helpful, we rely on ourselves the most. Slowly we learn to start a new routine, and we recover in due time.

And we move on. In due time.

May you find the courage to adapt to change, face challenges and move on.

Happy New Year! Happy New Life!💕🎉

Week 2 Prompt: Bridge

Incheon Bridge, South Korea

It does not matter how long

this bridge is, that we are on,

as it will never be long enough —

when every second, every inch

that we cover to get to the other side

brings us closer to the end

of this painfully short reunion.

**********************************

I have started my own weekly writing prompt to make me write something or post a photo. Feel free to use the prompt for your own posts!

Have a lovely week!

T. 💕

Life, Love and Flowers

“Life is the flower for which love is the honey.” –Victor Hugo

All these photos were taken during my trip to South Korea early this week. Although I went there not for sightseeing but to comfort my friend, I ended up going to so many places that not many tourists get to see (in fact most of the places I’d been to had zero tourists! Except for me.)

I am glad I had time to take photos of the flowers I had seen. Flowers are my favorite subject for photography. Hope you like them.

T. 💞

South Korea blues

After 14 years, she finally saw him again. He was waiting for her at the airport. They saw each other at the same time. They hugged and laughed, incredulous at seeing each other again after that quick goodbye at an airport in China like a lifetime ago.

For the next three days, they went out to a number of places, different cities, exploring like they were racing against time.

But the truth is, they really were — they are — racing against time.

And as they drove past Surisan Mountain on her last day in the country, she thought to herself, “Goodbye, Surisan,” because she knew her voice would break if she said it out loud. But then she heard his voice as he said, “Goodbye, mountain,” like he knew exactly what she was thinking (perhaps he did.) And that was all it took to make the tears fall, and she looked away, trying not to let him see as she wiped the tears away.

They had said goodbye so many times before.

But this was different.

T. 💞

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A few minutes before landing in Incheon

Banwol Lake, Gunpo

DMZ, Imjingak

Sanbon Catholic Church, Gunpo

Blue and white and green — photos taken in Chomakgol Ecopark

View of Surisan from Chomakgol Ecopark

Main Gate of Seoul National University

Incheon Bridge on a cloudy day

“Coco” and Remembering the Departed

COCO

“To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.” — Thomas Campbell

I am no longer a big Disney fan, but I watched “Coco” because I wanted to find another movie that my son can watch and enjoy watching. I absolutely loved this movie, not only for its story but for how close it is to my own culture. This movie reminds me again of how similar the Mexican and Philippine cultures are – having both Spanish and American influences. (And this in turn, reminds me of my trip to Canada last year where I met a young Mexican man at the airport in Vancouver. I had to call the travel agency, but my phone wouldn’t work. He offered to let me use his phone, even though we didn’t even know each other’s names. Later he sat next to me on the bus, and we talked all the way from Vancouver to Victoria like we’d known each other forever! It felt like I was talking to my own nephew!)

For an adult to enjoy this movie, one has to employ a willing suspension of disbelief – for example, there’s no need to question (like I did): before the invention of the camera, what was the requirement for the departed to be able to visit the living if they had no pictures in the ofrenda?!

In my hometown (I’m not sure if this true in all of the Philippines), when All Souls’ Day comes, people would write down on an envelope the names of their loved ones who had passed on, and put money inside and offer this to the altar during the Offertory part of the mass. The priest would then read the names of the departed, praying for their eternal repose. (When there are too many names to read, the priest would just say, “All the departed whose names are here on the altar” or something like that.)

One All Souls’ Day years ago, my mother couldn’t find an envelope to use for the offering. She was getting agitated. I finally found an Air Mail envelope with the red and blue stripes on the sides, and said, “Here, Ma, this will get to God faster!” She tried so hard not to laugh, believing it was blasphemous.

Also on All Souls’ Day, we fill our altar with the departed’s favorite things. Just like in “Coco.” I’m using the present tense “fill” because we (my sisters back home, and me here in China) still practice the same. But what we do prepare is nothing compared to what my grandparents did back in the day.

My grandparents had something like a prayer room. There was a big altar with several icons. At the center was that of Christ the King, and then that of St. Michael (the patron saint of my city) and the Immaculate Conception, Our Lady of Lourdes, Our Lady of Fatima, St. Joseph, etc. My grandfather had a big chair facing the altar where he would sit and pray the rosary in the evening. On All Souls’ Day, there would be different kinds of food, and drinks and tobacco or cigarettes. It was an exciting time for us kids back then because we looked forward to eating those sweets prepared for the dead. We were told to wait until the dead had seen them. To be honest, I can’t remember what time they said it was that the dead came to see the offering.

Since I moved to China, I would make a small altar made up of a cross and a candle on my father’s birthday and on All Souls’ Day. I’d “offer” a brownie or a slice of chocolate cake, a can of beer or a glass or rum, and a pack of cigarettes, and in the evening I’d drink the beer or rum (with coke though) and smoke a cigarette. These are the only times I smoke or drink. I’m allergic to alcohol, but I like remembering him this way. (My father only drunk on weekends after playing tennis. He didn’t drink on Sundays or weekdays because he didn’t want to be hungover at work.)

As my mother has also passed on, I now have two pictures on my altar.

Watching “Coco” made me realize that this practice of remembering the dead is rooted in the belief in the existence of purgatory and that the dead need help from the living for them to move on. I do no really think of heaven, hell or purgatory anymore unlike when I was a kid when I saw the cover of the Novena for the Souls in Purgatory.

So why do I still keep photographs of my dead parents and prepare an “offering”?
If I am to be honest, it is for selfish reasons – I miss them, and I do not want to ever forget them, and part of me wants to believe that somehow they can still see or hear me and help me when I have a burden that’s too much for me to carry.

It is very selfish and immature perhaps, but I think when you grew up having very protective parents, a part of you will always remain a child of your parents, looking up to them for guidance and protection. Just like Coco, who was already a great-great grandmother, yet still calling out for her Papa like a child (she might have had Alzheimer’s, but her memory of her father was not a false one.)

Can the dead see or hear? Will they know that the living even think of them? Perhaps not. But remembering the dead is not really for them to be taken out of purgatory and into heaven. It is for the living that theymay have the courage to live their lives the way their departed loved ones would have wanted them to do.

WPC: Place in the World

“For this week’s photo challenge, explore what it means to find your place in the world. Where’s your safe space? Where do you go when you need to feel inspired or cheered up? Do you prefer to feel cozy and comforted in a smaller town or do you thrive on the buzz of a big city?”

One thing my husband, my son and I have in common is we find comfort in sitting on the beach, hearing the waves roll onto the shore. It’s mesmerizing, relaxing, comforting.

At 7 years, my son still cannot verbalize what he feels, but seeing him so calm — not stimming — is enough to make me realize that, just as it is for his parents, this too, is his place in the world.

Weekly Photo Challenge :

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/place/

Weekly Photo Challenge: Unlikely

My husband and I were walking from the restaurant to the post office when he spotted this caterpillar. I wouldn’t have seen it because it was high up on a vine on a fence, and I’m short. Luckily phone cameras have a zoom function.

Weekly Photo Challenge:
Unlikely

WPC: My favorite place

Prince Albert National Park, Saskatchewan, Canada

Jimei, Xiamen, China

Dalipuga, Iligan, Philippines

… any quiet place near a body of water, where I can sit and watch the sky and its reflection on the water, and feel the breeze on my skin and perhaps hear the happy singing of the birds.

It doesn’t matter which country. I can have a favorite place anywhere.

Favorite Place

WPC 2: A Face in the Crowd

Wonderful performance from these young men at the Hong Kong International Airport. We will never know who these young men were, nor recognize them when we see them up close, but as a group, their performance will be remembered for a long time.

新年快乐!🐶🎉

A Face in the Crowd

WPC: A Face in the Crowd

Initao, Northern Mindanao, Philippines

Initao, Northern Mindanao, Philippines

“Explore the use of anonymity to express both that which is common to all of us and the uniqueness that stands out even when the most obvious parts of us are hidden. Just as all of us can oscillate between conformity and individualism, allow your photo to do the same.”

Weekly Photo Challenge: A Face in the Crowd

Beautiful Bukidnon

Bukidnon means “from the mountains” or “mountain dweller.” It’s a province on the island of Mindanao. Dahilayan is a village in the town of Manolo Fortich. In recent years, it has become popular for its Forest Park and its Adventure Park.

Go check out their websites by clicking on the links. I’m not a very adventurous person, but I did go on the zip line. I truly enjoyed the beauty of this village — cool, clean air, blue skies, mountains and trees everywhere. I enjoyed just walking around and taking pictures.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Tour Guide

I grew up in a coastal city and love watching the sunset. Yesterday, my husband and I went to my favorite spot in the city and watched the sunset.

It’s been a very busy month for the two of us, so it was good to have to some quiet time, walking. I will always love this part of my hometown.

Tour Guide

Weekly Photo Challenge: Sweet

While I never and will never think of myself as “sweet,” the fact that my husband likes to take photos of me even when my back is turned makes me think I’m blessed to marry a man who thinks I am. Lol.

He likes taking pictures of me, especially candid ones. I know he finds my facial expressions funny, and I’m like a comedian to him, but I especially like the ones he takes of me when I’m not aware of what he’s doing, like the ones above.

These two were taken just this weekend while we’re on holiday in the Philippines.

Have a lovely week! 💕

Sweet

2017 Favorites

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language. And next year’s words await another voice. And to make an end is to make a beginning.” — T.S. Eliot

Below are two of my favorite photos that I took this year. Both are records of my first visit to North America and of the very first time I saw  snow-covered mountains. That feeling I had as I looked out the window and saw those mountains will always be as vivid as I felt it when I was on the plane flying to Alberta from Vancouver.

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After all the pain and sorrow of 2016, 2017 was overall a calm and peaceful year for me. And I am very grateful for that year. I have no idea what this year is going to be like,  but I continue to be hopeful. I am ready for another beginning.

Happy New Year to you and your loved ones!

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Canada

img_2011Weekly Photo Challenge:
2017 Favorites

Daily Prompt: Varnish

The over 200-year old trees on Gulangyu that were uprooted by Super typhoon Meranti were turned into works of art by Chinese artists. This trunk has been varnished and inscribed with Chinese characters that mean “remember” and its synonyms. It is also fitted with several speakers that play recordings of local people talking about their memories of the island.

Have a lovely weekend! 💕

T.

Daily Prompt: Varnish

Weekly Photo Challenge: Serene

I spent the whole day today on Gulangyu (Gulang Islet) and was able to visit the church that my husband and I used to go to every Sunday more than a couple of years ago, before we had our baby.

The church was locked when we arrived (as is usually the case when it’s not Sunday and there’s no mass), but the priest’s assistant opened it for us. (The young couple in the photo were just getting their wedding pictures taken outside the church but didn’t have a ceremony inside. )

Gulangyu was very crowded and noisy, but inside the church, it was quite serene.

Christ the King Church, Gulangyu, Xiamen

Weekly Photo Challenge
Serene

Daily Prompt: Clutch

After a red-eye flight, a 3-hour layover and another hour and a half flight, I was met at the airport by my sisters, nephew and my son. We then headed to the beach because I wanted to walk along the beach with my son. He loves the water, but he is always afraid to try anything at any new place. This was our first time at this resort.

As always, at first he refused to step into the water when I asked him to. So, I did the routine of me stepping into it and showing him it was fun to get the feet wet. After a few minutes, he signaled for me to go back to where he was standing with my sister, and as soon as I reached out my hand, he clutched it and stepped forward.

After that, he didn’t want to leave anymore.

It was cloudy, but it was still a beautiful Saturday morning with the sound of the waves, the cool breeze and the warm sea water. And the love of my life clutching my hand.

Hope you have a lovely weekend, 💕

T.

Daily Prompt:

Clutch

Weekly Photo Challenge: Experimental

I’ve been living in Jimei for over a decade, and this place is just a 10-minute walk from my old apartment, but I’ve only been to this place twice. It’s not my in my usual route when I go walking. Yesterday though I decided to show my friend this place, and we loved it. It was 17 degrees C, cloudy and breezy.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Experimental

Weekend Trip: Quanzhou

Hubby and I went to Quanzhou to visit a friend whose work place is close to the oldest mosque  in China (Qingjing Mosque was built in 1009) that has since become a museum. We also went to West Lake Park and walked around a little bit.

Hope you like the photos.

Have a lovely weekend!

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West Lake Park, Quanzhou

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West Lake Park, Quanzhou

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West Lake Park, Quanzhou

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West Lake Park, Quanzhou

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Qingjing Mosque, Quanzhou

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Qingjing Mosque, Quanzhou

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Qingjing Mosuqe, Quanzhou

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Qingjing Mosque, Quanzhou

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Qingjing Mosque, Quanzhou

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Qingjing Mosque, Quanzhou

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Tomb covers, Qingjing Mosque, Quanzhou

Big clouds, tiny houses 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Scale 


I took these photos yesterday flying from Mindanao to Manila. Everything below looks small when you’re thousands of feet above the land. But sometimes you see clouds that look gigantic right outside your plane window. 

Have a lovely week! 💕
T. 

Daily Prompt: Elastic 

To be elastic is to be flexible, tolerant, resilient, to easily recover from depression or exhaustion.   

To be elastic should be everyone’s goal. 

I easily get angry, but I also easily get over the anger which sometimes annoys me because I think people shouldn’t just be allowed to readily forget the hurt they caused you. But that’s me. 

I also get depressed so easily, but let me walk around a quiet park and give me solitude and let me have a good cry, then I’ll be fine. 

Fuzhou Normal University

Jimei University

I like to think I’m “elastic,” but my husband doesn’t think so. He always tells me I’m stubborn, and maybe he’s right. But there’s one thing I’m 100% certain of — that both us have some “elasticity” within us or we wouldn’t still be happily married after 11 years! 

Have a lovely weekend! 💕
T. 

Daily Prompt: Elastic 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Pedestrian (-less)

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This week’s photo challenge is to interpret “pedestrian.” I’m choosing to interpret the noun form of this word in that the bridge, the road, the sidewalk, and the campus are devoid of pedestrians.

These photos were taken yesterday on the campus of Fuzhou Normal University in Fuzhou, China. This city is an hour-and-a-half by fast train away from Xiamen and is the capital of Fujian Province.

Even though it was cloudy, hubby and I had a nice walk with my cousin (who teaches at a neighboring uni.)

Have a wonderful Thursday!

 

T.

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Pedestrian 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Waiting

I took these photos of the campus of the University of Saskatchewan while waiting for my friend who was in class.

It’s a beautiful campus, and I didn’t mind waiting at all.

Hope you like the photos.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Waiting

Daily Prompt: Symphony 

A symphony of natural beauty

Here’s a collection of photos I took from the day my plane landed in  Vancouver to the week I spent in Alberta, and to the last day I spent in Saskatchewan. 

Canada is a beautiful country, and the Canadians I’ve met are such wonderful people. 💕

Daily Prompt: Symphony 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Textures 

I took these photos in Saskatchewan, Canada. The birch bark photo was taken at the Berry Barn in Saskatoon, and the rest at the Boundary Bog Trail at the Prince Albert National Park. 

Enjoy! 💕
T. 



Weekly Photo Challenge: Textures

 

Flowers at Berry Barn

Yesterday my friend took me to the Berry Barn, a wonderful place where you can pick berries, see different flowers, shop for things for your garden, and jams and tea and all sorts of souvenirs, or have a meal or snacks in their cozy cafe with a view of the South Saskatchewan River. 

What attracted me most was the … flowers. I hope you enjoy these photos as much as I did taking them. 

Have a lovely Wednesday! 💕
T. 

Morning Walk around Kinsmen Park, Saskatoon 

I arrived in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan yesterday afternoon. And this morning I walked around Kinsmen Park which is quite close to where my friends live. 

I’m really liking Canada (in the summer). I love the big old trees, and wide, open spaces. As I walked, I imagined how my son would love lying on the lawn and looking up at the sky. 

Enjoy the photos! 

I took a picture of this tree because I think it’s climbable, and I miss climbing trees!

E. would surely love running around or lying down on the grass and looking up at the sky.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Satisfaction 

Walking around a park or any place where I can appreciate the beauty of nature gives me satisfaction. These past couple of days I’ve seen so much beauty in Canada. So much beauty gives one so much satisfaction. 😊

I hope you enjoy the photos. 💕
T. 




Weekly Photo Challenge: Satisfaction 

Beautiful Weather in Vancouver 

Beautiful weather welcomed me today in Vancouver. So even if I had no sleep for over 24 hours, I was eager to see the city during a 17-hour layover. My first impression is there are so many Asians. I only got to walk around the University of British Columbia where I met with a former student (Chinese) who is doing a summer program there. I met her classmates who are also Chinese, and everywhere I went I heard Mandarin. It really felt like I was just in China, except that everyone can speak English. 

I didn’t get to take as many pictures as I wanted to as I wasn’t feeling well. But I’ll definitely do that when I come back to Vancouver next week. For now, I’ll sing with Neil Young…”Think I’ll go out to Alberta…🎶🎵.”

I hope you enjoy the photos. 

Have a lovely week! 💕
T.