Yes, you have moved on —
Grateful for every minute
Your poor heart forgets.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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)
These butterflies are from the Butterfly Garden in Loay, Bohol.
I wanted to take more pictures, but my 8-year-old son wasn’t interested in butterflies. He found the pythons more interesting. Sigh.
Hope you like these photos.
A blessed Ash Wednesday!🙏🏽
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.
Have a lovely week! 💕
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! 💕
“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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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! 💕
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, 💕
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! 💕
These days I would rather travel by plane than be on a ship, especially if I have to travel in the evening. I don’t care if Bradley Cooper is on the same ship, I would never travel by boat at night.
Don’t get me wrong. I love the sea, the ocean. See, I made this watercolor because I really like this view of a boat sailing on the sea. When I made this, I was imagining myself being on that boat watching the horizon. But now several months have passed, and I look at this again, I’m thinking that can’t be me. I’d never get on a boat alone.
Mango: my favorite fruit. The sweetest mangoes I’ve ever tasted were from the Philippines.
These ones are from a local supermarket here in Xiamen but they are imported from I’m not sure which Southeast Asian country. Or maybe they are just from Hainan.
Back home we would slice these green mangoes into strips and dip it into a mix of soy sauce and vinegar. It’s sour and salty and just thinking about it makes my mouth water.
I don’t have a picture of it here, but the Carabao mango or Philippine mango, locally grown in Zambales, is supposedly the sweetest mango in the world.
If you’re looking for something to satisfy your sweet tooth, try Philippine mangoes. 🙂
I had asked the driver to stop at this spot. The farmer agreed with a smile when I asked if I could take a picture. My family and I were on our way to an airport hotel where we could spend the night before my flight back the next day. I didn’t want to miss my flight because of the curfew and numerous checkpoints (at least 6 during a one-hour drive, but the soldiers were all courteous and friendly!)
Being home and seeing how people were scared but were fighting their fear by trying as best they could to live as normally as possible, I was greatly encouraged, and I’m very proud of my fellow Mindanaoans.
With or without Martial Law, life goes on in Mindanao. There’s still some kind of order.
Have a peaceful week!
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.
Impressions of my two homes: Jimei, China and Iligan, Philippines
Sunrise over Visayas, Philippines. I took this photo early this month on a trip back to Mindanao.
It may sound cheesy but … the beauty of the sun reflected on the the ocean made me reflect on the beauty of nature. And I’m grateful for this beauty and for being able to witness and experience it.
White cottony clouds,
Cool breeze blowing the hair from my face,
Warm water touching our feet,
And your soft little hand in mine
Holding tightly, afraid of being let go,
Days like this are few and far between
And make moments like these
More precious than anything money can buy.
Until next time, my dear son,
When things will be better
I’ve been taking this same early morning flight every month for over a year now. Each time, the beauty of the sunrise amazes me like I’m seeing it for the first time.
This time though, before heading home from the airport, I decided to stop at the beach just 15 minutes away from the airport, so my son can enjoy the early morning breeze and play with the white sand in the cool, clear water.
Nothing relaxes me more than being alone and quiet on a quiet beach– feeling the ripples touching my feet, seeing the waves at a distance and hearing their rhythmic sound like a mantra, smelling the briny scent of the sea and feeling the breeze on my skin.
I had lots of quiet moments at quiet beaches back in the Philippines. I have one precious memory of being in a stilt-hut a few meters from the shore. It was part of the property owned by the Carmelite Sisters at whose monastery I was having a one-week retreat. One week of quiet except for a one-hour visit three times that week from the retreat directress.
Whenever I get overwhelmed with tasks and life, and I cannot go away to have some quiet time on the beach, all I do is recall that time of solitude — quiet, and peace, and self-awareness. And that’s enough to relax me.
May you have a relaxing week. 🙂
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”?
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 🙂
(The theme for The Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge is RARE.)
Photographs of sunsets aren’t rare, but I love this photo I took of the sunset in my hometown — Iligan, Philippines. I don’t get to see this kind of view often because first, I only get to spend a maximum of three months a year in my country, and second, I have a very busy schedule whenever I’m home.
Seeing this kind of sunset in my hometown, then, is a rarity. And its rarity makes the scene truly special to me.
Life in Copenhagen, Denmark, after moving during Covid-19.
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