Biking and Views

Every weekend now since early June, I go biking with my cousins, and each time I make sure to take lots of photos. These are some of my favorite ones.

My cousin Giovanni

My cousin Gina

Have a fun week! 🚴☀️

T.

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

Traveling with a Child with Autism

My son was only 5 months old when we took a 1-hour and 20-minute flight to Manila and then a 2-hour international flight. I don’t remember him ever crying on the plane.

WeChat Image_20200219095739

For the next five years, we flew an average of 8 flights a year, and though there were a couple of times he did not want to sit during takeoff or landing, most of the time he behaved himself well. The bigger he is getting though, the more worried I become about travelling with him because of how he behaves, not in the plane, but in the airport where he loves running around. But so far, for the past 9 years, I have always been grateful at the end of each trip that both of us made it to our destination safe and sound.

Going through security check

I can’t remember what year the pat down at the airport that we often go through started, but when it did my son who, back then (ages 4-7) was easily scared by strangers who tried to touch him, would scream and try to run when an officer approached him. A couple of times, a supervising officer yelled at me to hold my son and calm him down even after I explained that he was autistic. That was 4 or 5 years ago, and the officers doing the security check have since become more understanding and crouch down to my son’s eye level and do the check while I rhythmically say “pat, pat, pat, pat” with him. Whew.

WeChat Image_20200219095649

In December last year, we took a train to another city and also took the subway several times which meant going through security checks several times. By the time we had to take a flight home, he had gotten so used to the pat down that it didn’t bother him anymore.

Practice makes perfect.

Gadgets and toys

Unless he is very sleepy or very tired, my son would never sleep while traveling. He likes being in a car, train, bus or plane and look outside the window, singing. But if there is nothing interesting to see, then that’s when he asks for the iPad. I always make sure the gadgets are fully charged whenever we travel because some planes still do not have power outlets/USB ports in the seats.

WeChat Image_20200219095750

My son always needs to have something in his hands to play with and always wants to be chewing or biting something. He started biting his hands and fingers about a year ago, so we bought him chewy tubes which have been a blessing. Fidget spinners have also been a huge help in keeping his hands busy.

These three things I never forget to bring when I travel with my son: iPad, fidget spinner and Chewy Tubes.

WeChat Image_20200219095719

Each child on the spectrum has his/her own specific needs, and perhaps your child does not need a fidget spinner or a chewy tube, but the point is, apart from packing food, always remember to pack something to keep your child occupied. Traveling with a child on the spectrum does not have to be stressful, and it is good to let them experience traveling as often as possible so they will get used to it. The only way they will learn to cope with the difficulties of traveling is by actually doing it. It may be stressful for the family at first, but in time, the child will learn. It needs a lot of patience, but things will be better.

Experience is key.

Keeping the child at home to avoid embarrassment is not helping anyone, especially the child with special needs.  

Optimism

Took my son to the beach last weekend

I had planned to let my son stay with us in China for a month in January but disappointed by my husband’s busy schedule at work, I decided to bring my son home after two weeks. Looking back, I think it was one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life — a blessing in disguise. I don’t know how I would have handled the situation if I and my 9-year-old son with ASD were stranded in China or quarantined!

As it is, we have a longer break from work which means longer time spent with my son, but my husband is all alone in our apartment back in China. I try not to worry but can’t help when I read the news or hear about what’s happening from people who are in the country.

Still I’m optimistic that there’s an end to this, and it will end soon.

I am hoping and praying for it, especially because the people I am praying for do not believe in a power stronger than they are.

So much has happened in the weeks I have not posted on my blog, some I am so eager to share but can’t find time to write as I am busy being a full-time mom. I look forward to writing again and also reading posts from blogs I follow, but right now it is so difficult to find time when I’m home and fulfilling my roles as mother, sister and aunt. As always, family comes first.

I hope you are doing well. Thanks for visiting my blog.

Silence: A Haiku and some thoughts

In the midst of all

This life’s hustle and bustle —

Silence from within.

—-

After spending a couple of hours marking papers in McDonald’s (I can’t work at home as I’m always tempted to do something else like doing laundry instead of marking papers!) I went to my favorite noodles shop which was noisy as it was lunch time. Traditional Chinese music blaring from the speakers, a group of young women at a table behind me talking loudly, buses, cars and motorcycles driving past, some honking — so much activity and noise, loud noise.

But as soon as I started thinking of the issue that I’ve spent months thinking about — all those sounds went away. My eyes were only perceiving the movements not quite different from a boring, black-and-white silent movie.

I was figuratively alone in a figuratively quiet but in reality very noisy place.

This made me think of most people’s capacity to tune out noise or to tolerate minor irritants if they truly want to and try. I am saying most people because I believe most of us actually have this capacity to do so, but perhaps there are many who just refuse to even try. And of course there are those who have some sensory or emotion regulation problems who literally cannot stand certain irritants (like my autistic son who does not mind loud music but cries and gets angry when he hears other children crying!)

I have heard and read numerous accounts of people complaining about babies crying during a flight, especially a long haul one. Some reactions and suggestions offered I find quite unhelpful and extremely unsympathetic. I understand that there are parents (or grandparents!) accompanying children on a flight who may not be bothered by the child’s crying and do not care that other passengers are bothered by it. I honestly think these people are in the minority though. Most parents or caregivers on the flights I’ve been on (and I fly several times a year) do try to get the child to be quiet. But yes, there are those who don’t, and their indifference is more annoying than the child’s behavior.

As I said, I have read reactions and comments that are quite unhelpful or are extremely unsympathetic to parents who do try their best to calm down their child (and I believe they do because, let’s be honest, no sane parent loves to hear his/her child cry or be noisy.) Some people said: babies should not be allowed on a flight. This is very unhelpful because these people who complain do not know why the family are traveling. One never knows unless one asks why somebody is traveling — maybe for a holiday, or maybe to see a doctor. But one doesn’t even have to know — everyone has the right to fly and they are paying for it like everyone else.

I have taken several flights with my son, and thankfully he has always behaved himself (we have 2 flights coming I hope I don’t jinx them!) Even as a baby (at 5 months was when he had his first flight), he never cried. But also as a parent, I have always prepared for our flights — toys and gadgets to keep him occupied (I am also lucky that my flights with him are no longer than 2 hours.) However there are babies and young children who are really bothered by ear pressure during flight and parents who do not know how to deal with it. (click here for Tips) When I travel domestically, I usually say something to the parents (fellow Filipinos), “Maybe baby needs his bottle or pacifier?” but in international flights, I tend to keep quiet as the culture is, “Mind your own business.”

There are misbehaving children with parents who let them be and there are babies who cry whose parents just let them be. But there are lots of good parents who do try their best and babies who, for whatever reason, just cry! I hope we can be more sympathetic. We were all babies once — were we always so angelic?

So going back to my main idea — we are capable of tuning out noise or tolerating minor irritants. We surely can if we truly want to and just try. We do not even need noise-cancelling headsets to do this. To prove this, pay attention to how you sometimes tune out your best friend when he’s going on and on about something you’ve already heard a thousand times. That easy.

Silence.

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

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

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: 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

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)

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.

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. 💞

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

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

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

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.

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

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!

img_6171

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

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!

mmexport1510397231111

West Lake Park, Quanzhou

mmexport1510397221318

West Lake Park, Quanzhou

mmexport1510397212173

West Lake Park, Quanzhou

mmexport1510397201566

West Lake Park, Quanzhou

mmexport1510397280876

Qingjing Mosque, Quanzhou

mmexport1510397288109

Qingjing Mosque, Quanzhou

mmexport1510397272192

Qingjing Mosuqe, Quanzhou

mmexport1510397265354

Qingjing Mosque, Quanzhou

mmexport1510397257822

Qingjing Mosque, Quanzhou

mmexport1510397249586

Qingjing Mosque, Quanzhou

mmexport1510397240964

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)

img_6441-1img_6449-1img_6436-1img_6442-1img_6437-1

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 

WPC: Windows

Whenever I travel, I always try to get a window seat. I’m on a plane at least 4 times a month, and still I don’t get tired of looking out the window to see the clouds or the land or the ocean.  There’s just something about these three viewed from above that makes them mesmerizing.

So here are some of the many photos I’ve taken from a window seat of a plane. Hope you like them.

T.

 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Windows

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.

USas1USas2USas3USas4USas5

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 

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. 


Daily Prompt: Sail

img_1570

Northern Mindanao, Philippines

The last time I traveled by boat was in 2002 from Bohol, Philippines to my hometown. I was with a new friend then. We were just getting to know each other, and he was really nice. So even if it was very dark, star-less night at midnight as we hung out on the stern of the ship, and all I could see was the white foam on the big waves, I didn’t want the evening to end. (I always find it interesting looking back how when I was younger, I was not easily scared by dangerous situations — bombings, typhoons, big waves — for as long as I was with a guy I liked! How silly was that?!)

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.

sail

Northern Mindanao, Philippines

img_1148

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.

 

Daily Prompt: Sail 

Daily Prompt: Passenger

passenger

I can see the island from here,

A part of me is eager to see

What it has to offer,

What kind of people I’ll meet.

But a voice inside me tells me,

“This island won’t be any different

From the one you just left. 

The stories you will see 

Unfold before you,

Will have the same plot,

Different characters,

But the same endings

Because you are the same you. 

Wherever you go.

Your story never changes.” 

T.

 

Daily Prompt: Passenger

Weekly Photo Challenge: Transient 

Jimei Bridge, Xiamen


This photo was taken last month as our plane was landing at Gaoqi Airport, Xiamen. 

For the  last two years, I’ve been flying home every month, which means at least four flights a month. So I feel something like a transient in the two cities I call home. They are both home, yet when I am in either place, it seems I’m only there as a guest. 

I am hopeful that this year, I will cease feeling like a transient and have more stability in my life. I hope my whole family can be together in one safe place. 🙏🏻
T. 💕

Weekly Photo Challenge: Transient 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Order 

Misamis Oriental, Philippines 

 

There’s chaos in some parts of Mindanao, but in some areas like Misamis Oriental where the airport is, there’s peace and calm and order.

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.

Lohas Hotel, Laguindingan, Misamis Oriental

 


With or without Martial Law, life goes on in Mindanao. There’s still some kind of order.

Have a peaceful week!
T.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Reflecting 

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. 

T. 
Weekly  Photo Challenge: Reflecting 

Daily Prompt: Better


Blue, blue sky

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
.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Wanderlust 


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. 


It was truly a beautiful Saturday morning with the family, especially with my son, on our beautiful island of Mindanao. 



Weekly Photo Challenge: Wanderlust  

WPC: The Road Taken (The Caves of Guilin, China)

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERA

When I went to Guilin in 2009,  it was the first time I ever got inside a high-tech,  beautifully lit cave. I say high-tech because it had an elevator inside. The only cave I’d been to in my country was extremely dark and had thousands of bats inside!

So when I was told we were going inside a cave, I was expecting bats.

So I was pleasantly surprised to see it was wonderfully lit for people to see the beauty of the stalagmites (I don’t know why I don’t have pictures of those) and stalactites.

These photos are almost ten years old, but hey, I can still use them. 🙂

Have a lovely weekend!

T.

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERASAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERASAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERAguilin2SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERA

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERA

Weekly Photo Challenge: The Road Taken 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Paths 

This week’s photo challenge theme is “Paths.” And these photos of a runway symbolize my hope for a straighter, smoother 2017. 


It is quite apt for me to summarize my year with photos of a plane (part of it) and a runway, as this is the first year I found myself on a plane at least four times a month for 11 months (May was the only month I didn’t travel).  

The first quarter of this year, the reasons for flying was my son’s visa and my mother’s deteriorating health (and passing). The rest of the year, I flew home every month to see my son just for the weekend. 

My 2016 path was full of bumps and potholes. I hope (and pray to whoever can hear up there!) 2017 will be straighter and smoother, like a runway!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

T. 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Paths

Weekly Photo Challenge: Anticipation 

Jimei Sunrise

This week’s theme  for the weekly photo challenge is anticipation. 
Part of my ritual upon waking up in the morning is to go to the balcony and look at the sky. Since we moved to our new apartment in September, I haven’t stopped looking forward to having my son come and see what I liked about this new apartment.  I know he doesn’t like change, but I also know he would enjoy looking up at the sky as much as I do, and watching the sunrise and in the evening, looking at the moon and the planes flying to and from and the airport at a distance. He will enjoy walking and running and riding his bike around wide, open spaces. 

I look forward to having him join me and his father again, being together as a family again. 

Anticipation. 

Have a lovely weekend! 
T. 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Rare Visits 


(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.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Flight = Freedom = FUN 

The theme for this week’s photo challenge is FUN. 
I took this photo last month during a short visit to Kuala Lumpur. I noticed there were so many birds in the area, and I really wanted to photograph a bird in flight between the two towers. Since I’m not good at photography, and I only had my iPad to take pictures, it was not very easy. But I managed to do it.  

The “fun” part of this post is not about taking photographs of birds in flight, but it’s the thought of flying as free as a bird. 

People take pictures of things and people and places they find beautiful, and they use all kinds of tools to have a better view: selfie sticks and drones. Birds don’t need such tools. They can see beauty in different angles. 

Birds can fly to places they want to go to, and they don’t need visas or the right skin color to do so. 

Birds can fly freely and see the beauty of this world. 

If humans could do the same, wouldn’t that be fun? 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Morning

(This is my first time to participate in The Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge, and it’s just because I saw the theme and remembered this photo I took two mornings ago.) 

I took a very early morning trip two days ago –at 4:30 A.M. to be exact, and it was an hour and a half hour drive to a resort on top of a hill. 

Though I wasn’t happy about waking up at 3 in the morning,  the sight that welcomed me at 6 A.M.  truly woke me up and made me feel ready to face the day better than a goood cup of coffee could (hmm, maybe I’m exaggerating a little bit. I need to have my coffee first thing in rhe morning!) 

It was a littte cloudy, and there was a soft breeze blowimg and birds making morning music,  when I saw these bungalows and the green lawn in  the foreground of cloudy skies. It was such a quiet scene that Wordsworth’s words came to mind :”the very houses seem asleep.”

I am a morning person, and I love bathing in  the beauty of early morning — clean, cool.air, a quiet place save for the birds’ simging or the rustling of the leaves as a gentle breeze blows. 

That’s better than coffee (but I’d still need my cofee. ♥)

On Thinking and Writing

Kinetic Rain Sculpture, Changi Airport, Singapore

The Kinetic Rain at the Changi Aiport is a beautiful thing to watch. It had a calming effect on me. If I had more time, I’m sure it would’ve inspired me to think. 🙂 

I miss thinking. 

I have not been writing, not even reading except for online news. Most of my time the last three weeks has been spent doing things a mother is supposed to do. I’m not complaining, it is just a fact. 

I did have a very short break when I went to Bangkok four weeks ago,  but it wasn’t a leisure trip. This time I will have a few hours of quiet as I plan to just stay in at the hotel for the whole afternoon and evening before my flight to Kuala Lumpur tomorrow. 

I look forward to reading and be inspired to write again. 

Wish me luck. 😉 

Have a good life

I’m back from a much needed break. I went to Singapore and spent time with friends, visited Gardens by the Bay and took photos of the flowers in the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest.

I had promised myself and my husband that after this trip, I would focus on working on a project that needs my undivided attention for it to be completed this year. This means I have to forgo my hobby of writing for now, and that means no WordPress.

Thank you for visiting my blog. I hope you enjoy viewing these photos I took in Singapore. Until we meet again. 🙂

 

Travel Woes

 

Afternoon clouds over Visayas, Philippines. I was so excited to see this cloud formation. Looks like a duck, don’t you think?

 

Pack. 
Unpack. 
Pack. 
Unpack. 

I could fill this page 
With the same words
According to the number of times
I had to 

Pack. 
Unpack. 

Barely had the time to start shedding 
The pounds from stress eating  
And I’m stressing and stress eating again. 

Someone once said to me, 
When tragedies pile up
Then you have a comedy. 

How come I’m not laughing? 

March 3, 2016