Thursday, October 25, 2007

6 na Tulog na Lang...

I'll be back to view one of my most favorite buildings in the world.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Havin' It All: A Myth

I have to admit that the latest Sharon Cuneta commercial caught my attention. She's endorsing a product that claims to give her the ability to "have it all".

In the past, I would have bought into the marketing blitz and taken the multivitamins if only to extend my energy, or shall I say, power. The world brings that out in me - the desire to "be all", to "have it all", and to "be complete". I'm reminded of another multivitamin brand that promises to give me everything I need from A to Zinc in order to help me fulfill my dreams and realize my passions, whether it be of opening a business, or of saving the world (the actual claims of the product endorsers are even grander).

If there were any truth to this advertising, then I would probably stand to benefit a lot. I could wake up earlier, prepare my lunch, have a healthy breakfast, spend time in prayer, squeeze in enough time to exercise, avoid traffic, arrive at work cheerfully and look my gorgeous best, go through the work day with passion and dedication, leave the office early to attend mass, meet up with friends or go home for dinner with my parents, help out young people with their homework, do volunteer work for the church, attend baptisms and birthdays and weddings, hang out with friends at the latest "It" mall, clean the house, organize my room, read books, watch movies, and blog. Those are only the major things I want to accomplish in a week. I have a thousand other dreams, the complete fulfillment of each being the condition before I could contentedly purr that "I have it all".

If I took the capsules and found the results wanting, then I would just be my usual, human, self - a stress magnet who is forever anxious to get one more task done, a frustrated artist who refuses to create for fear of failure, and a hard-to-please child who throws a tantrum every time she gets less than the best that the world has to offer.

I think it is a myth to say that anyone can have it all in this world, for St. Augustine correctly put it - our hearts are restless 'til they rest in God alone.

Up until my college days, I tried to be perfect and complete, but naturally, I met disastrous results. Then when I was 19, I met a Man, Someone who taught me that it's better to "give than to receive". That was my paradigm shift - instead of wanting to receive it all, I learned through my growing, personal relationship with Jesus that I would find more meaning in life and gain eternal life if I strove to "give it all". He changed my life completely.

In Tagalog, I would call this "todo na 'to", roughly translated, it means to give full blast, without holding back, into whatever it is I commit to do. Last year, I prayed for my finances to stabilize so I could be free to pursue my passions. Now, I have the opportunity to do that. For this job, my mantra is "todo na 'to".

I've reviewed the aspects of my life that I gave up temporarily as I was studying the path God wanted me to take. There were many things I could not give full attention to before - mundane things that I thought the saints like Francis of Assisi or Teresa of Avila shunned - but which turned out to be things I had the ability to do without betraying my identity as God's daughter. I would probably write about them in detail in some future time.

Tonight, my Lingkod friends are gathered in a national conference in Ormoc. Some of them have texted me that they miss me out there. I miss them, too. I miss everything about Lingkod, the NLTC, and most especially, the brothers and sisters. But even my time in Lingkod had to end, in order for a new life to begin. Who knows, I might find myself serving in Lingkod again, in my small way. But I've let go of my attachment. I miss them but I'm not incomplete without them.

Todo na 'to. I'm experiencing how it is to be disciplined anew and to be open to blessings I had not thought myself qualified for before. The next Ella will use her Bachelor of Science degree in Business Economics, combined with her Bachelor of Laws degree. *

* With apologies to the writers of Ate Sha's ad.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Oxymorons and Other Morons

There are many things I don't get in life, most likely due to my limited understanding and perception.

I don't get why the new Bayantel product is called a wireless landline. I don't care if the consumers could more easily understand what they mean even if it does not make sense. It still is an oxymoron in my book and it's contrary to the common meaning of a "land line".

I don't get why Kris Aquino still has many billboards. Is she considered a role model for Filipinos? Why do people buy the products she endorses, or watch the shows she stars in? I don't care if her father is considered a hero. People should stop giving her attention; otherwise, she just won't smile her way to the bank, she might be the second woman in her family to win a presidency that her father aspired for. I shudder at the thought.

I don't get why it's taking the police too long to determine the cause of the bombing in Glorietta 2 yesterday. It has claimed nine lives and caused injuries to a hundred innocent people, aside from damaging the stalls and restaurants in the surrounding area. Filipinos are once again fearing for their safety, and we don't know who to trust anymore.

I don't get how the bomb from high-powered explosives could have gotten through the "strict" security of the mall. It goes to show how useless it is to pretend to check the belongings of everyone who dares enter the malls in Metro Manila. What a futile exercise. The violation of our privacy and the unwanted delay in our schedules do not bear the necessary fruit, for recent history shows that malls still get bombed. Maybe I'm asking too much when I want to be protected from bombers - whoever they are, as speculations abound as to who the real minds were behind the incident in Makati yesterday. For the sake of my ignorance, I won't say any more about this.

Since it's an incident that's so sad and frustrating, the Glorietta 2 incident deserves another rant in this post.

I don't get why PGMA chose those words when she addressed the people immediately after the incident. At the very least, I was expecting her to succeed in assuring us, the Filipino people, that we are not on the brink of chaos. Who are her speech writers? Couldn't they have written, however hastily, a more sincere-sounding speech, one that could have reached out to the victims, or showed some concern over their plight, or expressed firm control over the situation? I felt the same way every time I watched her give her SONA. Maybe the problem does not lie with the speech writers.

There are days when I dare voice out questions such as these. There's plenty more where they came from, but I'll save them for another day.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Hannah Banana

MCLE in LV 058
Originally uploaded by galadriella2007
This is me with my goddaughter Hannah, who left the Philippines when she was just two months old. We met in 2005 when her family visited us while we were vacationing in Arizona, but she was too young to remember. When I went to their house in Las Vegas, it took her a while to warm up to me.

A few Disney Princess lip glosses later, I became her favorite Tita and she asked me:

"How come I didn't know that there was a you?"

I loved her more then. She's pretty, she's smart, and she's a chatterbox. She definitely knows how to make her presence felt. She's very animated and has the makings of a drama queen. I wonder who she takes after...

Oh, I know. Her mom!

Phantom Photo

Las Vegas 009
Originally uploaded by galadriella2007
I mostly worked at our lawyers' seminar in Las Vegas, but having friends who live in the area, I was able to squeeze in some sightseeing. I dined at Spago, a Wolfgang Puck restaurant in Caesar's Palace. I enjoyed the buffet at Treasure Island and the shopping at the Premium Outlets. I also watched Mamma Mia at The Mandalay Bay Hotel and Phantom of the Opera at The Venetian. I wasn't a Phantom lover but it was a spectacular show. I fell asleep around four times while watching and my friend had to pinch me and remind me that I paid a lot of money and was wasting it by missing the show.

Mamma Mia was a wonderful musical and I found myself singing along. A tear fell during the scene "The Winner Takes it All". I'm a drama queen, after all.

Las Vegas is now more than just slot machines and weddings. It's a place the whole non-gambling family will love due to its myriad of dining and entertainment choices. I did not play in a single slot machine during this visit, and enjoyed myself immensely after a hard day's work.

Inside a Chocolate Factory

San Francisco 022
Originally uploaded by galadriella2007
My fellow chocoholics would instantly recognize the name in lights. I went to Ghirardelli Square and tasted not just premium chocolate but delectable ice cream and rich coffee as well. If only I could take the entire store home to give away to friends and family! It's that good, and it's a stop that every tourist ever in San Francisco should make.

Happiness Is...

San Francisco 021
Originally uploaded by galadriella2007
There's a song from the musical "You're a Good Man ,Charlie Brown" popularized locally by Lea and Gerard Salonga that captures how I feel when I see this picture and remember that beautiful day I spent with Mel hanging out at Pier 39 and walking around Muir Woods.


x x x
Happiness is having a sister

Sharing a sandwich

Getting along-

Happiness is singing together when day is through.
And happiness is those who sing with you.
Happiness is morning and evening,
Daytime and nighttime, too,

For happiness is anyone and anything at all
That's loved by you.

If there's someone I sing well with, it's always been Mel. We don't just finish each other's sentences, we also finish each other's songs. Never mind that we remember songs from obscure Disney movies or some Broadway musicals or even wordless classical music played by Papa on his turntable while we were growing up- we just love to sing as we do household chores, and we sang well while I stayed with her for a week in her San Mateo apartment.

I'm excited to see her again together with the rest of the family very soon. I know she doesn't like publicity, but I just had to write this post.

Visiting the Redwoods

San Francisco 026
Originally uploaded by galadriella2007
They reminded me of The Faraway Tree in Enid Blyton's books. When planning for my US trip, my sister asked what I wanted to do that I wasn't able to do during my first visit. Among my top requests was to visit a redwood forest.

She drove me to Muir Woods. I got car-sick for a while due to the zigzag roads but upon reaching the beautiful forest and inhaling its fresh air, I felt peace and balance. I did a little research and found that:

"California's magnificent Coast Redwood is the world's tallest known tree and one of the world's oldest trees. Average mature trees, several hundred years old, stand from 200 to 240 feet tall and have diameters of 10 to 15 feet, and some trees have been measured at more than 360 feet. In the most favorable parts of their range, Coast Redwoods can live more than two thousand years."

This is a picture of me beside one slice of a redwood tree that shows its age. Awesome. Simply awesome.

My First Football Game

Tailgating 025
Originally uploaded by galadriella2007
Not that there will be a second game, but the first is always memorable. My sister graduated from Arizona State University and the Arizona Sun Devils were in San Francisco to play college football against Stanford University. My sister, her husband, and I watched the game at the new Stanford Stadium. Josh very patiently tried to explain the game to me. I couldn't appreciate the many pauses within the game, the changes in players, etc.

What I appreciated was tailgating. For my Pinoy readers - a tailgate is "a hinged board or closure at the rear of a vehicle, such as a pick-up truck, that can be lowered during loading and unloading". To tailgate means "to participate in a picnic that is served from the tailgate of a vehicle, as before a sports event."

My brother in law grilled some bbq that my sister bought from an Asian store. Then she prepared a special sandwich made of grilled portobello mushrooms, avocado, lettuce, and tomato. We washed everything down with beer. Somebody please have the heart to tell Josh that I'm not a sports fan. Or maybe he noticed after one whole day of explaining the game and still I had a blank stare during the actual game.

American football is a winter sport. Josh said the cold was part of the deal. Since not many people showed up, it was freezing at the stadium. Many people won't believe that I cheered for a team whose mascot is a guy in a little red devil's costume. What's a girl to do?

I am truly Pinoy, I realized then. When I say barbecue, I usually am just referring to tiny pork bits skewered on a thin stick. I appreciate watching basketball a lot more than football - though I relished the experience of it all.

Our team won. GO ASU! Stanford's gifts must lie elsewhere, just like my beloved alma mater University of the Philippines. I read that once again, we're the top university in the country in terms of board passers in all courses and fields. I'm quite sure they didn't include UAAP as a category, because just like me, my university is so not into sports.

Next month, I'll be in Sydney and I heard that the whole country stops for Melbourne Cup. It's a horse race. We'll see. That would be another wonderful first for me.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Travelogue: Las Vegas & San Francisco '07

MCLE in LV 005
Originally uploaded by galadriella2007
I'll be writing a series on my recent US trip. This photo was taken at Fremont in downtown Las Vegas. It's the place of the old strip. I posed with Lilet, my high school friend who's now Vegas-based. They own the Manila Sunshine restaurant. They (her husband, sisters, and daughters) dragged me to see some sights even if I was on "work mode". They knew me well.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

It's All on Multiply

It would be good if I could annotate these photos from my US trip, but as I said earlier, I'm too lazy.

San Francisco trip -

Tailgating -

Leaving Las Vegas -

Let them speak their thousand words.

The Jonah in Me

I can't help but be amused by the story from the First Reading today. It tells me how I relate to God and how God relates to me.

We know the biblical character Jonah more because of the big fish that swallowed him and in whose belly he stayed for three days. What happened to Jonah after he obeyed God, since he was given a second chance to do so, is told in Jonah 4, the last chapter. In the previous chapters, Jonah tried in vain to escape from God because he didn't like what God was asking him to do. As he found himself on land again, delivered by the fish to the shore, he got God's point and proceeded to deliver His message for Nineveh. We read that the people repented so much that God decided not to punish the Ninevites anymore. He was moved by the prayer and fasting that they all did. Jonah, who was supposed to be just the messenger, did not like it that God forgave and forget so easily. So chapter 4 reads:

4:1 But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry. 2 And he prayed to the Lord and said, “O Lord, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster. 3 Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.” 4 And the Lord said, “Do you do well to be angry?”

5 Jonah went out of the city and sat to the east of the city and made a booth for himself there. He sat under it in the shade, till he should see what would become of the city. 6 Now the Lord God appointed a plant and made it come up over Jonah, that it might be a shade over his head, to save him from his discomfort. So Jonah was exceedingly glad because of the plant. 7 But when dawn came up the next day, God appointed a worm that attacked the plant, so that it withered. 8 When the sun rose, God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on the head of Jonah so that he was faint. And he asked that he might die and said, “It is better for me to die than to live.” 9 But God said to Jonah, “Do you do well to be angry for the plant?” And he said, “Yes, I do well to be angry, angry enough to die.” 10 And the Lord said, “You pity the plant, for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a night. 11 And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?”

Believe you me, this drama sounds so like me these days, by analogy. To put it simply, God told me to do something, but I didn't like it. I tried to run from him and to hide, as if there was a place on this earth that was beyond His loving eyes. He scooped me out of the "bottom of the sea" that I was in, and gave me a second chance to do what He asked of me. But something happened - something unexpected - that shook my faith. I didn't confront God, but tried to avoid Him.

The ending of the book of Jonah sounds unfinished, at least, from a human standpoint. Jonah wasn't given a chance to reply. God had the last word, and I ponder upon these words. I was angry at God for something that He took away from me, but now I see that I did not labor for it, I did not make it grow, just as Jonah did not have the right to be angry at God for letting the plant that gave him shade to wilt. God, who pursues us the way He pursued Jonah, deserves much better treatment than what I'm giving Him.

I cannot say that I understand. That may come later. But I realized that I would not do well to be angry.

Monday, October 08, 2007

For sale: Stateside Items

I couldn't resist posting this.

I'm selling Liz Claiborne wallets & a brown office purse, Smashbox makeup, Julie's Closet blouses, etc. at reasonable prices. Please email me at if you are interested. I haven't had the time to photograph them. Direct buyers only.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

I'm... Too Lazy for My Blog

Too lazy for my blog, too lazy it hurts.

I visit this page regularly, stare at the archives, articles, photos, and tags, and yet am not moved to write. Perhaps there is too much going on and I'm too lazy to put them into words. Writing requires a process - some analysis, a little simplification, at times, it calls forth certain embellishment - and I have neither the energy nor the desire to go through it.

Many things to be grateful for - my trip, the seminar we had in LV, my vacation, and the new things I experienced - but I guess I'm still lagging behind on many things so writing has to wait.

And there are the sad parts - failures and longings, frustrations and disappointments. There is the undeniable doubt that I struggle with daily, clogging my vision, blurring my passion. This too shall pass. The doubt comes from some pain I have not fully faced yet. If I'm too lazy to write, which is something I love to do, when it comes to facing pain I am downright slothful. I tell myself that if it doesn't go away soon, I'll have it removed by a professional.

Sometimes, though, when I let the thoughts wait too long, they pass me by, never to be recovered. A life is lived even though it is not blogged about anyway.

So I'm still here, gathering material until the day when the words come. I may write about a different time then and a different me. That would be so much better, not just for the writer, but for the reader as well.