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

Daily Prompt: Triumph 

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. ” — Edmund Burke

Everyday now I only hear bad news coming from my city. It makes me angry. It makes me fear for my family.

But I have hope we can overcome this one. There is light in this darkness. We can get out of this darkness.

Iliganons are tough. We have always been. We won’t let evil triumph.


Daily Prompt: Triumph



I have to admit I am a little scared to go home to Mindanao this time. I actually cried as I was packing this morning. Living for so many years in China where the only explosions I hear are from firecrackers or fireworks, I have become too comfortable and a little cowardly. In 2001, when the government declared an all-out war with the rebels, I dared to go to Marawi to accompany my journalist friend who was going to interview a religious leader there. On our way to Marawi, we could see and hear helicopters strafing certain areas. I was scared, but also thought of it as an adventure, something I could boast about later on.

Then I left for China. Seven years later when I went home in the summer for a visit, rebels threatened to attack my city. It was the first time I felt real FEAR. Seeing my sister deathly pale and cold, watching my mother pray the rosary as we all huddled in the bedroom, I nearly went crazy with fear.

Now, I am going home again to a conflict-ridden Mindanao. I envy my fellow Mindanaoans , who do not  allow their fear to defeat them, who continue to believe that this too shall pass. I have lost my Mindanaoan courage and optimism, but I hope to get them back when I arrive home. Soon.





Weekly Photo Challenge: Shine


This week’s WPC theme is “Shine.”

I took this photo a few months ago when I was in the Philippines. I have taken several photos of this place and posted some of them here on my blog.

Beautiful sunsets almost always make me wistful, and this one truly did as I was on my way home from a neighboring city working on one of the many, many things that needed my attention during the first quarter of this year. I was exhausted and looked out the car window. I just had to ask the driver to stop so I could get out of the car and snap photos of this sunset.

And for a few minutes, I forgot how tired I was as I looked at the photos I took.

Have a lovely weekend!





Weekly Photo Challenge : Local


I have been living away from the small city I was born and raised in, Iligan, for about 14 years now. But it will always be home for me, even though my parents are no longer around and so many friends have left for other countries.

It is a coastal city of about 300,000 people, which is a much bigger number from 30 or 40 years ago. Back then, on Sundays, when we walked to church my parents would be saying “Hi!” or “Good morning” to people we met on the road. Now, I can walk around the city for an hour and not see anybody I recognize.

But it’s a different feeling when I look out to the sea. Watching the sea in Iligan gives me  the feeling of being home.

Then I feel I am truly a local.

The Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge: Local

Weekly Photo Challenge: H2O


Dalipuga, Iligan, Philippines 

I love watching the sea. And this photo is of one of my favorite spots at home. As I prepare to go home again for a few days, I look forward to looking down from the plane again and seeing the beautiful waters north of Mindanao.

There is something about seeing the blueness of the sea and scattered white clouds above it, and the feel of the cool breeze on your skin, and the sound of the waves, and  the briny scent of the sea. When I sit  alone on a beach witnessing all this, I just wish for time to stand still.

What comes into your mind when you hear the word “water”?

The Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge: H2O

Weekly Photo Challenge: Nostalgia

This week’s Weekly Photo Challenge theme is “nostalgia.” There are many things I’m nostalgic about (me being drama queen and all,) but as I was making coffee earlier, I remembered why I bought the coffee that I’m having right now. It’s the same coffee that my family — my parents and my sisters, and my aunts and uncles and cousins and grandparents — drank before instant coffee became popular in my country. 

The last time I was home (which was a couple of weeks ago, because now I go home every month to see the love of my life), I bought coffee from the same store that my mother used to buy it from. The husband and wife who own the store are still there, now with dyed hair, but their assistants are much younger women. The young assistant seemed to do a mental eye-rolling as my sister and I went “Aaw” after smelling the coffee that brought back lots of memories of our childhood. (We probably drank more coffee than milk when we were kids!) 

So I’m saying goodbye to instant coffee for now. And also to Starbucks. It’ll be Iligan kape for now.  For a long, long time 🙂
Happy Weekend! 

Iligan coffee



Some goodbyes are sweet — 
You smile and hug and kiss 
And say the word, believing
That you’ll be better people 
When you see each other again. 

Some goodbyes are bitter —
You turn your back 
Perhaps with tears 
Or with a frown, hoping 
You’ll never have to see each other again. 

Some goodbyes are not meant to be —
You think it is over 
That the last chapter has been written
And another one cannot be added. 
But then a sequel is started. 

Some goodbyes are inevitable — 
You hate to part 
You know you shouldn’t 
But you’re not characters in a book 
Or lovers in a rom-com….

These goodbyes leave you feeling cold and empty 
Like a house stripped 
Of every furniture, curtain and picture,
Of every sign of being lived in, 
And all that’s left is a hollow sound 

And the echo of one’s sigh 
And the memories of a voice…

Such is the goodbye that, in my ear,
You gently whispered
As you kissed away 
A tear on my cheek 
And softly,

Left me
For good. 


“Love is so short, forgetting is so long..” is a line from one of my favorite Neruda poems, “Tonight I can Write.” I think it’s a beautifully sad poem that captures not only the pain one feels at the thought that love has gone, but also the courage to imagine that the person one has loved so passionately will eventually move on.

Tonight I can Write by Pablo Neruda:

Click here for the English and Spanish versions.
Click here to listen to Andy Garcia’s reading of the poem.


Two Cities: Iligan and Xiamen

Xiamen is not what most Chinese would call a big city, but perhaps to a lot of people from my city in the Philippines, Iligan, it would be pretty big. Xiamen has an area of 1,699.39 km2, while Iligan has an area of 813.37 km2; Xiamen had an estimated population of 3, 531, 347 at the 2010 census, while Iligan had 322, 821 in the same year.  (Source: Wikipedia.)

Even though Wikipedia describes Iligan as a “highly urbanized city”, by Chinese standards, it is perhaps just a village. But size is not everything, and Iligan also has some things to offer that would not be easy to find in richer Xiamen.

Iligan is known as the City of Majestic Waterfalls, boasting of 23 waterfalls, the most famous of which is the Maria Cristina Falls, the primary source of electric power for the city’s industries. It has one mall (hopefully another one in a couple of years), a couple of parks, spring pools and beaches. I know it doesn’t sound like Iligan has a lot to offer, but as it is where I grew up, I still find it more convenient to live there. First, I know a lot more people there – former classmates, former students and colleagues– and have more relatives there (and that counts a lot especially if these people work in banks and government offices or company with whom you have to do business. Wink.) Second, shopping for food is way easier. I can easily buy butter, cheese, pasta, spaghetti sauce, etc. even in corner stores, and they are cheaper too! (In China I have to take a bus to go to a German-owned store that sells imported products! Hopefully that will change.) In Iligan I can go to the church whenever I want – especially when I want to be alone and have some quiet time. (I once took a 45-minute bus ride to a church in Xiamen only to find out it was closed on weekdays. Sigh.)

To be honest I do not know exactly what Xiamen should be famous for, although whenever  asked what is there to see in Xiamen, I, and most people living here would say “Gulangyu.” Gulang Islet is known for its old buildings, most of which were used as consulates or embassies. But there is so much more residents can do for entertainment in Xiamen – there’s the beach and swimming pools or spas, numerous parks for people to go to, countless malls and shopping streets and KTV’s and bars and clubs. But these are not the things that make me like living in Xiamen. I like living in Xiamen because I feel so much safer here. I can go out without worrying about bomb explosions or people firing guns. I can sleep on rainy nights without fear of our home getting flooded. (God forbid there’ll be an earthquake as I live in a 6-story building!)

Seeing Xiamen develop so fast in the eleven years that I have been here, I wish the same could happen to my beloved Iligan. Sadly, my beloved hometown has not changed much for the past eleven years. (Except perhaps for Gaisano Mall, and the unusual color that the RVM Sisters chose to paint St. Michael’s College to match that of the St. Michael’s Cathedral’s, there’s really nothing new.)

When I go around Xiamen and notice what the city has to offer, I truly wish I could become the mayor of Iligan one day (IMPOSSIBLE!) and make my “yuta’ng natawhan” just as peaceful, modern and beautiful as my second home. (If not me, then somebody else who really cares about Iligan and help it develop as a city.)


Happy Easter to all!



Xiamen University

Xiamen University

Xiamen beach

Xiamen beach


Maria Cristina Falls

Maria Cristina Falls


Xiamen at night

Xiamen at night

Timoga Spring Pools (panoramio.com)

Timoga Spring Pools (panoramio.com)

Cheradel Suites, Iligan (panoramio.com)

Cheradel Suites, Iligan (panoramio.com)