The Baby Question

I was going to write a long post about this after seeing it on Facebook the other day, but I decided to just put it up on the blog instead. I have thought about writing about this for so long now but I have always felt a bit unsure about it simply because it is a weirdly sensitive subject matter, I will explain why I say it’s weirdly sensitive later.

But just some context, if you are a friend or have been following my blog for the last seven odd years, perhaps (or maybe not) you would be wondering why JG and I don’t have kids yet. I am sorry to say that I will not go into details as to the why and how, but we don’t.

The reason I will not explain why, is because I very much agree with the article. I may not say out-loud or as straight-forward as she did in the article, but yeah… what she said.

I’m not sure how it is in your country, here in the Philippines, asking about how many kids you have, more importantly the lack thereof is a normal, casual, common question. And because I have yet to have them, I do get them a lot. We have a very in-your-business culture and so I think void of a tragic death, no topic is off-limits, even in the most mundane conversations.

And even though I grew up around this way of life I have always been very uncomfortable with it. Perhaps because I am (to my utmost aversion) too sensitive, I am often taken-aback at comments, however slight. This is why I do my best to practice not making such comments simply because I do not want to make others feel what it makes me feel when it is said to me.

Common examples are, “Uy tumataba ka ata.” (You look like you gained weight), “Nag-swimming kaba? Umitim ka.”(Did you go swimming? Your skin got a bit tanned), my personal favourite, “Hoy, balita ko mayaman ka na daw…” (I heard you’re loaded now).

And then of course there’s the, “May baby ka na?” (Do you have a baby now?) And if you say no, “Ay, bakit wala pa?”(Why not?). Sometimes, I would explain, but there are days when I wouldn’t be able to because the follow-up comment taps it off, “Dapat meron na!” (You should have them!)

Just because it is our culture, doesn’t make it okay for you to ask, because it is, to be honest, a very sensitive issue. As explained in the link it is sensitive because, there could be several reasons why, and none of them however simple or complex is any of your business. And getting someone in that kind of thought provoking situation, where in you put them in the need to explain themselves, is neither respectful nor kind, no matter how good your intentions are.

And personally that is where my problem lies. I really don’t mind being asked, I have the patience to explain, and will really gladly do. But why do you ask? What is your main objective in wanting to know? What are your intentions? Because if you are trying to be nice, why not just ask me about my day? (As the article mentioned). In this regard, a simple “How are you?” always works just fine.

And like I said, I don’t mind being asked, it’s a valid question and no harm in setting straight. But asking me about it when you just bumped into me at the mall, or casually adding it to a comment on my Social Media posts, or dropping it on me when I meet you at a party after not seeing each other after a number of years is truly not cool.

A question such as that needs to be asked in an appropriate time and place, and in a properly timed manner. I can think of a number of times I was asked in what I felt the right way, but my most recent experienced example is a couple of months ago. I was having coffee with some close friends. It was a rainy evening, and we have been talking for hours by then, our conversation gradually drifted to life choices, regrets, the heavy sort of stuff, and one of my friends then said, “If you don’t mind me asking, is you and JG not having kids yet intentional?”.  I have known that friend of mine for years, but we aren’t the closest in our small group, but I know him, and I understood why he was asking, but he still asked politely without a hint of mischief or offhanded care. And so I happily explained everything to him, and it felt good to have done so, without feeling like defending myself or being embarrassed about the choices my husband and I make in our married life.

And another thing, sometimes these awkward conversations are really unavoidable and I get that, and I also have the right kind of attitude to politely let it go as well. Like I said because it is in our culture there are times when people would ask out of habit, and realize they stepped over a line. You could see it in their apologetic faces, wanting to be able to take back what they said. And when that happens I think it’s completely okay. And sometimes, they do apologize, or to both our relief just try and change the subject.

However there are those who try and fail to salvage the situation:

Person: Uy! May baby ka na? (Do you have a baby yet?)

Me: (With a shrug) Wala pa eh. (No not yet)

Person: Bakit wala pa? (Why not yet?)

Me: (Sometimes I would explain, sometimes I would just say)  Ganon talaga  (That’s just how it is)

Favorite part…

Person: Magkakaron din yan! (or) Darating din yan! (complete with thumbs-up assurance style gesture as if to say “trust me, I know.”)

Saying the phrases “Darating/Magkakaron din yan.” (It will happen/It will come) is the worst thing you can possibly say to a person who has yet to have kids. Because again other than God, their physician, and the two people who will actually procreate, you have no means to actually do anything about it or even know for sure if it is ever going to happen or not.

Because you are the least credible person to make such a cavalier prediction makes you seem like mocking either their choice of not wanting to have children, or if in cases that they are having a hard time conceiving for whatever form of reason, making fun of their difficult reality.

And with all due respect, just because it worked out well for you, doesn’t necessarily mean it can happen to others as well. Nor is it a bad thing if it doesn’t.

Some days when it really catches me in a bad mood, whenever they would say, we should be having kids because it’s such a great experience, or when we’re given the seal of assurance that it sure will come about, I often want to bite out with every bit of bitter sarcasm, “Requirement?!”. Which is the worst thing for me, because it always makes me feel that I let callous and unthoughtful people get the better of me, and that makes me worse than they are.

Think of it this way, what if we ran into each other one day and after saying hi I just blurt out,

“Ikaw kamusta mga utang mo? Nabayaran mo na ba?” (How are your debts? Have you paid all of them?).

If I did this, you would probably be blind-sided as to where the heck did that question come from? Because it is the same as asking someone whether they have kids or not. Your debts whether you have them or not, is none of my business. And I bet, that you would be uncomfortable in simply trying to explain the complexities of having them, why you haven’t been able to pay, and how you plan to pay them. Or where do you begin to say, that you are not the type of person to have debts?

And most important of all, asking about your debts doesn’t necessarily mean that I would be offering to help you pay them. I was simply trying to be “nice”, curious, and starting conversation.

This is why it is even more unnerving to be asked about the baby thing, because not only will you not be able to do anything about it, there is no way you could contribute in improving the situation.

In the beginning of this post I said that this is a weirdly sensitive topic. It feels weird because I am baffled as to why people like me who are eligible but yet to have kids are automatically put on the defensive, even if you don’t mean for them to feel that way, when asked why? And if you declare that you mind being asked you risk being called jealous or bitter, or in my case just really fed up with the insensitivity and manner of asking. But once you really think about it, we really don’t need to explain anything to anyone, and yet we forced to do so. To the point when articles and blog posts have to be written why it’s quite rude, not okay, why you shouldn’t ask someone why they don’t have kids.

When all it takes is just a bit of courteous respect, and not asking at all.

City Girl does Mountain Part 2: Pico de Loro

Now that you’ve heard of our trip to Pinatubo, fast forward two years later some weeks ago when my now leaner healthier husband has once again decided to go up another mountain. This time up Pico de Loro also known as Palay-Palay mountain.

It was the Spanish who called it Pico de Loro because at an angle the two mountain summits looks like a parrot’s open beak facing up the sky. The mountain is smaller than Pinatubo at 664m above sea level while Pinatubo is around 1200m.

Can you see the beak at the peak?

Can you see the beak at the peak?

Based on my Pinatubo experience, I was not up to doing it again. I made a decision two years ago that mountain climbing wasn’t really my thing as I explained, it is one thing to go up, the going back down feels more like a mandatory unfortunate stretch of torture. But JG put-on his puppy dog pleading face and really asked that I do this with him. And what unfeeling wife would say no to that? Also he pledged crossing his heart to take me to the beach for our next trip.

Similar to Pinatubo we joined this group called Travel Factor that organizes different kinds of trips for groups of people, where you get a ride to and fro the site, guides, and sometimes snacks all in a package. I think it’s great that there are a lot of companies such as this springing up here in the Philippines because it really helps promote tourism and outdoor activities, not only to foreigners visiting but for the locals, looking for a trip without having to go through the hassle of organizing and making necessary plans and decisions.

So we went with around 20 other people ages ranging about 18-35, including two guides from the said company and another guide, Kuya Wilson who lives near the mountain and has been guiding hikers up Pico de Loro for three years.

The starting point

The starting point

There are I think three other ways up the summit, and I think we took the shortest way. When we got there early around seven in the morning, we were told that the trek usually  lasts an hour and a half. But because it rained during the night the trail has turned muddy and therefore slippery. This in turn would slow us down to twice as long as the usual time to go up the summit.

And boy were they not exaggerating about the muddy-slippery warning. The first few minutes was okay, albeit a little tricky as you had to cross this little stream. I guess most of us wanted to get through the trail as clean as we started so we did what we could to avoid falling into the water.

But all that proved to be fruitless since the next few kilometers into the trail started to become steeper and more difficult to handle. It would definitely have been easier, admittedly bit of a work-out for a hike, but easier still if it wasn’t for the mud and really slippery trail. We had to be careful we made sure steps, because even the firmest and most stable stance causes you to slide off balance.

The muddy slippery trail

The muddy slippery trail

The trail also wasn’t a one direction kind of way, sometimes it would require you to climb, and sometimes you would need to go in a downward direction. Both ways tricky, as you need to get a firm grip onto something to ensure a stable climb in case you slip as you carry your weight up. Meanwhile I found the descending paths more difficult as the pull of gravity often leads you to instinctively run down. But because of slippery factor you lose control of your descent. I must have landed on my butt several times during these parts of the trail.

It did help a little that I found a walking stick which proved really useful. At the beginning of the trail there is a basket that rents out sturdy ones made of cleaned tree branches, but I found them heavy and thought that I wanted to challenge myself and not use one. I soon changed my mind minutes into the trek, and luckily found one along the way. It wasn’t as stable as the ones available, in fact it thinned out towards the end which made it a bit bendy like skiing pole. At first I wasn’t sure how to use it to my advantage but I got that hang of it eventually by sticking it down to a higher more stable part of the climb and use it as leverage to lift me up. When I needed to go down I did the same thing and it helped keep me stable and keeping me from slipping.

Compared to the Pinatubo climb, in Pico de Loro you are surrounded by trees and plants which kind of makes things a bit more reflective. Unlike the dreary desolation of rocks and grey ash of Pinatubo, every time I took a breath and looked up the height of the trees and the sounds of the forest, felt a bit more calming and refreshing. The shade of the trees also lessened the stress the heat of the sun could’ve added.

The dwarfing and humbling trees of the mountain.

The dwarfing and humbling trees of the mountain.

Occasionally Kuya Wilson would climb ahead and tie ropes around sturdy branches to serves as handles for the really steeper parts of the climb. But because there were twenty of us, some not as fast or as strong climbers as the others, he eventually decided to stick with the middle part of the group to make sure he had an eye on everyone and that no one got so far behind.

On our short water breaks we were free to ask him questions that he graciously answered. Pico de Loro is also the same mountain where one of our greatest National heroes, Andres Bonifacio, was allegedly taken to be assassinated. I asked if the said historical area was close but he explained that was part of a different trail. But he did say that the mountain was also where General Yamashita was buried so the long standing rumors of his buried treasures of gold are somewhere there along with the several man-made caves made by the Japanese soldiers who fought in the Philippines during the second world war.  

Kuya Wilson was also asked to debunk an old Filipino belief of wearing your clothes inside out whenever you find yourself lost in a forest to help you find your way. And he said that it was of course true, recalling how he once did this one time he was lost. He explained that the spirits and mythical creatures would play tricks on trekkers, even experienced guides like him. He said he remembered being able to hear the sound of the the nearby village so he thought he was close but somehow he just kept going around in circles, thinking he is getting closer to the town but couldn’t quite get there. But as soon as he changed his clothes inside-out, it was as if a clearing was made right in front of him.  

Kuya Wilson in the blue shirt looking down to make sure everyone is able to keep up.

Kuya Wilson in the blue shirt looking down to make sure everyone is able to keep up.

I suppose since it took a lot of effort and concentration in making sure stable steps, time seemed to pass during the climb, and as tiring as it was, we soon found our way up a plateau, the jump-off point before the actual summit.

The view from the jump off point to the summit.

The view from the jump off point to the summit.

Now to get to the summit is a bit more treacherous, I dare say. The climb would take about ten to 20 minutes depending on your strength, but even steeper in fact it felt almost perpendicular. We knew this because we were no longer able to stand upright as we climbed, and felt the strain of each climb in our calves. And just as you feel like just sliding down from the pain, you get there.

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As explained earlier, the name Pico de Loro originated from its beak like form, which means that the mountain has two summits. The one we just climbed and the monolith which is the main attraction of the hiking experience. As per its definition the monolith is the protruding monument-like rock a few meters from the regular summit. And if the climb to the regular summit was treacherous, getting up the monolith is a teeny-tiny bit deadly. Especially the part where you need to use a rope as the only grip while climbing.

The monolith

The monolith

JG and I decided to forego the monolith part as we were both really wiped-out, plus we decided that being able to climb up one summit was achievement enough for the two us, who five years ago refused the very safe, very stable stairs of the Eiffle Tower because we thought it to be so dauntingly exhausting. Plus because of the continuous number of hikers that come up, the line up the monolith meant a wait of almost 30 to an hour. And by that time it was around 10:30 in the morning which meant the heat was starting to get scalding.

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I wish I can say that this is the part where it’s over but after taking some necessary selfies up the summit, JG and I decided to head down. To which began one of the most terrifying experiences of my life. I am usually trooper in a lot of other cases but the climb down felt really perilous. The ideal way would be to climb down like you would facing a wall, but because you would not be able to see ahead where you’re going, you are forced to walk down as upright as you can. And you can’t, because you would surely roll down to your death. And so the safest way was to do it was slowly sitting down, one staggering painful butt crawl at a time. At one really steep break JG, unable to get a good footing, slipped, and had to break his fall by holding onto a tree that was sticking out like a branch on a wall. The fall wasn’t that high, but it wouldn’t have been a very soft landing. The sight of him hanging there for a second seemed funny now, but I remembered my heart stopping at the sight of him woosh out of my sight.

Once we came down to the landing, I remembered JG turning around ahead of me and opening his arms to hug me. I hid my face in his chest as I hugged back, embarrassed the others would see me crying, more than conquering that mountain and getting up the summit, the relief of getting through that was so overwhelming it took a lot to keep the tears from coming.

We took a nap on our jackets under the shade and a couple of hours later started back down. The trek down was as tedious and as careful as the climb, because you had to take the same trail. But this time fatigue has set in so everyone was a bit more quiet and determined to finish. The stream that we saw at the beginning of the climb turned into a rejuvenating final break as well as the perfect opportunity to clean off the mud and dirt we’ve accumulated over the last eight hours.

I was sore everywhere but I really did enjoy climbing Pico de Loro. And as scary and as tiring as it was, it was definitely a good challenging experience, one that I recommend you do at some point in your life. I am not however taking up mountain climbing as a regular hobby, although the husband seemed to be entertaining the thought, Lord forbid…

City Girl does Mountain Part 1: Mt. Pinatubo Flashback

I have so much to write about, as JG lined-up a lot of activities for us before he started graduate school. I actually have the time to post entries every day, but I thought it be best if distributed it at least one new article a week so as not make it into an obligation.

But I wanted to write this down because, one, it was really a great experience for both JG and I. And two, I can hit two birds with one stone by finally getting the chance to write about something I neglected to post for two years. This is why this post will come in two parts.

As you read in the title, JG and I recently climbed Mount Pico de Loro, which is located about 2-3 hours away from Manila. The said peak can be climbed from either Batangas, Maragondon or Tarnate both in Cavite, the latter where we started our hike.

Now it would be impossible for me to explain why conquering Pico de Loro was such an accomplishment for me and JG without telling you about our trip two years ago where we climbed Mount Pinatubo, in Capas Tarlac.

Actually both mountains are volcanoes and are part of what is called the Bataan arc which I think is what they call the collection of volcanoes in the middle-north of The Philippines (or something like that), except Pico de Loro is considered dormant while Pinatubo is infamous to many for its epic and devastating eruption in 1991.

So let me first take you back two years ago in our Pinatubo hike. This was around the time when we came home for a month long visit, and JG (for some crazy reason) decided it would be fun to spend the day climbing and seeing a crater of a still active volcano. I considered this decision of him peculiar and outrageous, because not only does JG hate outdoor activities, back then he was also lethargic and fat. Those were the days when JG would refuse to climb one flight of stairs even if you paid him to do it. So you can imagine my confusion when he said he wanted to go hiking. To be fair, I was also unfit during those times, difference is I knew that, and was practical enough to know my limits.

I realized what compelled my husband to do this when we got there and was given a glimpse of the trek. He perfectly described the trip as climbing Mt. Pinatubo was like climbing Mordor, the same volcano that Frodo and Sam had to climb to destroy the One Ring of Sauron. Yes, it was my husband’s geeky fantasies of playing Hobbit, that drew him to do this. Because as Mordor was in the Lord of the Rings, hiking Mt. Pinatubo meant walking seven kilometers in desolate lands of part soil, ash, and rocks.


But before you started this dreary climb, you will first have to be shaken like a dice in a box, via a 40 minute to an hour 4×4 ride to the starting point. The said trucks used to take hikers up to more than half of the 7 kilometer walk, but as bad luck would have it, during our batch this was not allowed as the only passable road for vehicles was closed for some reason.


Even at our unfit state, walking wasn’t such a problem, the challenge Mt. Pinatubo brought was that unlike other mountains where your trail is soil and trees, you would have to tackle a slippery and rocky terrain. If you don’t carefully watch your step, you might slip on a rock and hit your head. And while other mountain trails will distract your physical efforts with its flora and fauna, the grey and grim atmosphere will surely zap out whatever enthusiasm you managed to collect as you get closer and closer to the crater.


If you are wondering what my incentive for this, and why I ran along with this crazy idea, is that I am sucker for swimming trips. I love the lure of a water, whether it be a sink hole, or a fancy pool, or the beach, tell me there’s swimming involved and I am there. And I was told that up the crater is a lake, and so what swimming enthusiast would deny getting a chance for a dip in a lake up an active volcano?

There isn’t much to say about the whole trek expect rocks, dried grey soil, and ash. Nevertheless as you continue about ready to crawl or pass-out from the terrain, occasionally indigenous Aetas native in those areas would casually pass by, some carrying heavy loads of luggage or food, others barefooted, without breaking a sweat like it was nothing.

When you get to about the five kilometer mark, it will start to feel more like a mountain-climbing trail as it will get a bit greener, albeit a more steeper climb.

And before we could even get there, JG was about ready to give-up. In fact at one point he told our guide that he couldn’t do it anymore, and he would just sit there while we go up the crater and wait for us to come back for him. At this point I too was tired and sticky and wondering what the hell were we doing there, and I could not help but resent JG for wanting to give-up when all this was his idea in the first place.

JG channeling his inner hobbit.

JG channeling his inner hobbit.

Our guides, God bless them, were kind and patient, willing to stop every time we got tired and wanted to rest (which was happening more frequently as we got even more tired, which in turn slowed us down, not to mention slowing down every one else in our group putting us way behind schedule). They were determined to politely and enthusiastically encourage JG to keep going. And slowly but surely he did, and once we got up there, more than looking at the crater, he was just so happy to have done it.

Our very patient guide, sorry I forgot his name, but he was really nice and encouraging.

Our very patient guide, sorry I forgot his name, but he was really nice and encouraging.

For as long as I live, I will never forget, my husband (who refuses to even sit on public park benches), lying down on the ground up on the summit, sweating all over, out of breath, panting, saying, “ Let it be a testament to all fat men, that it can be done, and that I did it!”

As for me, as happy as I was to also have conquered Pinatubo, my disappointment could not be hidden when we were told that they have forbidden climbers to swim the lake because they recently found out that it has hazardous substances like sulphate and arsenic. (But if they had me sign a waver and let me swim, I would’ve done so in a blink. Call it crazy, but it beats forever wondering).

The view up there, was quite awesome though, especially if you think about the fact that it was wrecking havok spewing gas and fire just a couple of decades ago.

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Now many hikers will tell you that the view up a mountain, will surely make you forget all the pain and hardship you went through getting up there. And for as long as you are there, you kinda do. But what they neglect telling newbies is that going up is one thing, coming back down is another. It’s also sort of like, the fantasy of happy endings in fairy tales or romance novels, without considering; what happens during the ever after? And as every story has a climax, all stories also have a denouement before the finale. And in JG’s case, unlike Frodo and Sam, there are no gigantic eagles to come and fly us back down.

You now probably sensed, and I will have to admit that climbing Mt. Pinatubo was an experience I really did not enjoy. By the time we got home, I was beaten and tired, hungry and resentful, with nothing but my aching muscles and a very dry bathing suit to show for. I will always look back and be a bit proud that I climbed Mt. Pinatubo and its crater, but I guess it wasn’t my kind of mountain, and an experience I would rather not do again.

Around Manila : Rizal Park


While most if not all our stuff is still sailing somewhere in South-east Asia, most days I have a lot of free time.

Which I thought is a perfect time for me to get reacquainted with my city. To be honest some of the places I will be writing about are places I have never been to, despite living so close to them for most of my life.

You know when they say that you often take for granted the things that are just within your reach, or just under your nose? For some it’s the curious mystery of the greener pasture brought by the unknown, for others it’s as simple as distraction. In my excuse, life got in the way, which really isn’t much of an excuse especially when the university I went to is one jeepney ride away from most of these significant places in Manila.

The realization that I have yet to visit these places came when I found myself able to travel abroad visiting places I only ever dreamed about. The inevitable sense of guilt came crashing within me, standing under the Eiffel Tower. I was thinking about how this was France’s iconic landmark, a few seconds later naturally my thoughts drifted what could be The Philippines’s counterpart, and then it hit me, my chest felt a bit of twinge when I am reminded that I am a shameful Pinoy who haven’t been.

For the Filipinos reading I’m sure you’ve guessed where it is by now, and as for the non-Filipinos, I thought it would be best to start where our Kilometer Zero is.

Kilometer Zero is right across the street of the Rizal Monument along Roxas Blvd.

Kilometer Zero is right across the street of the Rizal Monument along Roxas Blvd.

I wrote about Luneta Park, presently known as Rizal Park, a few months ago, when I learned of this travesty of a building being built near its vicinity forever ruining its once beautiful backdrop of the wide sky. As of today, the said issue of the Torre of Evil has risen much to my dismay, I of course is not alone as it has gained plenty of protests as well some staunch defenders (probably unit owners and investors). Its construction has since ceased as the gruesome legal battle of its existence and approval has yet to be resolved. And as long as it’s going, the ugly damage remains standing there.

I tried really hard to avoid catching the infamous

I tried really hard to avoid catching the infamous “condominium” in my pictures. But here’s one to give you an idea how much of humongous sore thumb it looks.

My visit to the said park was cancelled due to continuing heavy rains around Metro Manila, but as soon as the skies cleared, went I did. At the time of my visit, I knew I have more weeks of free time to I went with a quest to find a corner where i can visit once in a while for a quiet read. I did this a few times back in Muscat when the weather was cooler, my spot was somewhere in Shatti beach on the grass under one of the Palm trees near the shore. Now that I am home it’s best to find a new one there, especially since JG and I found ourselves living so close to it.

This is the entrance on the other side.

This is the entrance on the other side.

The park is I think the biggest we have. It’s main feature is the actual tomb and monument of our National Hero Jose Rizal, as the area, used to be known as Bagumbayan is the actual place where he was executed via firing squad during the Spanish rule. His death sparked revolutions that eventually lead to our independence. Locals also know it as Luneta, which they say is because it used to be the best place to walk under the moonlight (“Luna” as in Lun(a)eta).

It stretches from Roxas Blvd, along the coastal road, and into land towards Taft Ave. Around the park are some of the old yet important buildings, including the National Museum, the Museum of the Filipino People, The National Historical Commission, and the Department of Tourism.

Inside the park are sculptures, busts of other Filipino heroes, and several gardens like this one, The Chinese garden.

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My favorite would have to be the Children’s playground because the place was just as I remembered, so it’s kind of nice to think that children of past and present have been creating happy memories of abandoned, carefree, days at this very place for years.  This would probably be my winning reading spot, as I think it would be nice to be surrounded by the refreshing laughter of happily playing kids as you read a good book.


I forgot to take pictures inside because I got so lost in thought at how nice it is there. Also please ignore the ugly tower at the back ground.

I entered three of the said parks, which by the way have entrance fees. Most of its visitors now are young students who need a place to rehearse their group activities, some lovers, etc. The Orchadium was my least favorite, because I think it charged too much. Most of the other places asked for at least 10 pesos which isn’t bad. This one charged 30 pesos, so I expected to see a garden full of orchids, but alas there was none, not even a one. As I was heading out, I had half the mind to ask for half my money back, or a picture of an orchid at least.  (Okay perhaps it wasn’t the season for the flowers to bloom, but if that’s the case, a fair warning should be given at the entrance, so you could get your hopes down a notch).   

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I was actually pleasantly surprised at how clean it is, growing up I was once told that there was nothing really much to see but bums and unkept trash. But now that I’ve seen a fair share of parks abroad, I realized that no park, even the ones in wealthy countries is void of such things. In fact I now have this belief that every city needs to have such a park where everyone can come and visit, especially the ones who have no where to go, even for a bit of respite from whatever journey they are undertaking.  

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When I mentioned that I have yet to visit the place, I meant specifically the area of Rizal’s monument. I have visited the park several times in my life, but only around it, but never that area. So I guess the heavens thought it would be a great treat for me as I wound up there around noon, which is when the changing of the guards take place. Because this is the tomb of our National Hero, ceremonial soldiers of the Philippine Marine Corps’ continuously guard it (rotation is every two hours). Also at the tip of the tomb are three genuine gold stars so the guards are also for the thieves beware.


Tips from the local:

  • Weekends are of course the busiest time. Also during holidays. So if you’re a tourist and you don’t want to get stressed out with lots of people and be able to enjoy the park at its most tranquil, come during weekdays, in the morning or the afternoon when the sun is not at its harshest.
  • Most people would start at Rizal and into Taft Ave. but as you might have already gotten the clue that I am against the erection of that horrible building. So I decided to start my tour from the Taft Ave. side going towards the Rizal Monument, this way I would have my back turned and moving away from the said building.
  • There are nice men and women who take pictures around the areas, if you’re feeling generous and would like a souvenir, I suggest you help them out.
  • Snacks and drinks can be found at small stores around.
  • For the love of God don’t take a nap there by yourself. I know it can be refreshing to lie back on a blanket after a nice picnic on your own, but Manila isn’t the most crime free city, some idiots are known to have lost a wallet and even shoes during their naps.
  • There is also an open auditorium which regularly shows cultural presentation, so if you’re looking for an educational experience or a date that’s low on fee (at times free of charge) check out their scheduled programs.

So here I am a bit less shameful and happy to have finally paid homage to Rizal Park. I guess I shouldn’t work myself up about how long it took me to get there but it feels really great to finally do so. Nowadays, many Filipinos especially the younger citizens have the means and the ability to travel abroad, so I really hope you take a lesson from me. Don’t wait too long and take time to get to know your country first, especially around here in our capital. 

More to come, for now I leave you with pictures near the Rizal Monument minus the ugly “condominium”.

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Home Sweet Home?

First off, Mabuhay! And hello from my home The Philippines!
For my non-Filipino readers, Mabuhay literaly translates to “to live” or “long live” in Tagalog, but we Pinoys often say it as a welcome greeting to visitors or when we start a formal greeting to a crowd.
JG and I have now been officially home 21 days, and as predicted it has been a long three weeks of adjustments and getting by. It isn’t all bad, of course it always great to come home, most importantly to see people you’ve missed.
Oman was a blast, and it really snuck up on us on how we found ourselves loving it like a second home; more surprisingly finding it difficult to leave. But like many of the Expats living there, and have eventually left, we were all just meant to pass by, citizens already belonging some place else.
I could just lie and say that everything is coming up roses, but as I mentioned we already knew that we had a lot of things to get used to again, both the good and the bad. I’ll keep dragging writinng on the bad as long as I can in this post, I just wanted to first highlight the good parts.
Eating Pinoy food and delicacies is definitely a positive part. Getting access to pork is really awesome, you can of course get in Muscat but at a much expensive price. But here it’s just everywhere. Today I got to eat Filipino style pork barbeque, ate it with vinegar on the side. Also had numerous breakfasts involvng Tocino, which is cured sweet often from the pig’s shoulder, rear or loin.


ToSiLog short for Tocino, Sinangag (fried rice), Itlog (egg); photo from

The other day, we passed by a stall that sold Bagnet (crispy deep fried pork’s meat) all the way from the Northern parts of the country. JG couldn’t help but point at it loudly as if seeing a celebrity in person, “Uy! Bagnet!”


The crispy Bagnet of the north; photo from

For me, I really like now being able to wear “tropical clothes”, or as my husband would call it,  my-attempt-to-look-like-a-European-on-vacation. I really have no idea by what he means by that, but in Muscat although it wasn’t really illegal to wear shorts or sleeveless shirts, I was still mindful of their Muslim culture and conservative views so I always tried to keep it as wholesome as possible. Not that I dress like a tramp now that I am in a more liberated place in terms of clothing, but it is nice not worry whether my skirt is too skimpy or not having have to wear sweaters over my tank tops especially during the humid afternoons, or that sticky moment when you know it’s about to rain.
As for JG, I think he is okay settling back to work in the home office, but more than that he is excited about finally getting a chance to go back to school. Years ago, he did not really have the financial resources to go and while we were abroad he never really had the time to do so, which is why he really made sure to set aside some money, making time, and is really looking forward to starting Graduate school next month.
Okay now that I’ve filled you in the good parts, I am sighing loudly as I dump on you the not so good ones. Like I kept saying, we already knew that the differences between Oman and here at home will force us to readjust to the many stressful aspects of living in a busy, very congested, urban city. The last time we came home for a month long visit we underestimated how living in a quiet laid-back city like Muscat has changed us, believing years of growing up in chaotic Manila couldn’t possibly be altered in just a couple of years.
So this time we told ourselves that we wouldn’t make the same mistake and just take things slow. But boy were we just unlucky. The first few days upon our arrival, it rained almost non-stop, last week three typhoons consecutively passed by the Phililppines. We did not mind it at first, we kind of missed the rain, as it only happened once or twice a year in the Middle-East. But in Metro Manila, rain, even a drizzle, meant some flooding, which consequently leads to heavy traffic, which in turn something we rarely came across in Muscat.
To make matters worst, we came home during a time when our capital is experiencing a public transportation problem brought by several issues concerning the train lines that go around the city.


Monday mornings at one of our stations. The train lines these days.

This means commuting is like going through a struggle. JG and I have a small house just outside of Metro Manila in the mountains of Antipolo City, the capital of the province of Rizal where my husband grew up. In an ideal world where traffic runs smoothly, it would take about 30-40 minutes. But because it would take you at least an hour to get a ride, plus the hellish traffic, it takes us about 2-3 hours, sometimes four to get home. That means getting up at four in the morning so we can get to work by nine. That means at least six hours of our day, for five days a week, sitting in a jeepney.


Manila Traffic

We used to be able to do this before we left for posting, surrending wasting hours of our youth doing nothing, reading, or at the very least catching up on some snooze in the commute. Perhaps because like every hard working Filipino we really did not have a choice, perhaps because we just accepted that was how things are. But I guess four years in a place where the longest we’ve been stuck in traffic is 40 minutes tops, does shorten your patience a bit, perhaps it’s because you are given a glimpse of how much you can do in 2 or 3 hours, just sitting in a vehicle makes you realize all the time you are wasting away.
So we solved this by renting an apartment right next to the home office. Apparently many of husband’s colleagues have been doing this for years, some have even invested in buying expensive condominium units that they rent out when they are posted abroad. This saves the husband from the stress of having to go through the daily grind everyday, plus we told ourselves that we might as well spend the money we’ll be wasting for fare, on a place that can provide for a comfortable place to crash during the work week.
Which brings me to where we are now. At the moment I am sitting in an almost empty apartment, because all our stuff are still on a cargo ship somewhere between Dubai and India. The people running the building was kind enough to lend us a few things like a bed and a fridge, thus the getting buy part.
One of my main problems with this set-up is that we also opted to just live on take-out menus until all my cooking paraphernalias have arrived. This means staying healthy and eating right goes right out the window. Rice and a carbo-based diet is the ideal meal for most Pinoys, which is why joints that offer “all you can eat rice” are sure hits here. Meals usually cost around 150 php (roughly around $3). And what you will usually see is a plate 3/4 full of rice with the remaining quarter part for meat/chicken/vegetables. If it’s not rice, it’s noodles, or pasta. And since JG and I are trying to cut back on the carbs, we are left to just make do for now.
We have considered buying what we need, but it really seems impractical to have to live with two sets of everything once all our stuff from abroad arrives.
A note to fellow young diplowives. Leaving at the same time as our stuff is a rookie mistake for me, my husband said that it would’ve been better if we did it the other way around and lived in our last month in post in a hotel and shipped all our belongings ahead. Most especially since there you can easily get from one point to another, to get food etc. That way you get here with everything else at the same time.
We also predicted how it may be hard to get back into the circulation as far as social life is concerned. It is as if waking up from a coma, years passing us by, and realizing that almost everyone who were ones part of our almost everyday has found their own rhythm without you. They have all of course expressed how much they missed us of course, and took some time to see us, but mostly you can feel a certain akwardness brought on by years of not having seen each other.
Suddenly names and places, are unknown to you. My closest friends have chided to how my referencess, like in pop culture, are years behind.
Now I know why some Filipinos who have lived abroad have chosen to just completely migrate, because for some there really is no place for them here. Especially when they have established their own family and community off-shore. Of course we could not begrudge those we left behind to go off in our adventure, they love you just the same, they just learned and strived to live without you, and it seemed unfair to unsettle the normalcy they’ve established just so they can make room for you who suddenly decided to show up again. These things take time, a connection you have to rebuild and can never rush.
My situation has also left me to be in a place wherein I have left the same as I am, meanwhile everyone else in my life has gone through some major changes. Two of my closest cousins, and two of my best friends from college (married each other) have become parents over the six years that I was away.
When I saw them, looking at their adorable little kids, I couldn’t help but be amazed about the fact these once carefree crazy people have created human beings and are now responsible for their growth. I may have gone off in wanderlust and perhaps had some shift in perspective, but basically still the loud, sensitive, also crazy same old self. But that’s nothing to actually raising a person, for me that kind of thing forces you to be everything and anything you can actually be to provide the best chance for their children, admittedly a club that you can’t easily just be part of and relate to.
As far as my country is concerned, I mentioned that we here in the capital are having some transportation problems. But as the news says, we are at the brink of an economic take-off, and it seems a bit obvious to me in some aspects. High-rise buildings are popping up everywhere, and people seem to have more purchasing power judging from more malls, and the high-end signature establishments opening in them.
The transportation problem is of course effected because suddenly more of us can afford cars, for some the cheaper option of motorcyles, and so congesting the traffic even more. Nevertheless it’s still the same organic mega city that I know, filled with all sorts of people, and the method to its madness I have once again get to know.
JG and I are planning to see more of it, hopefully we find the time. And I for one is planning to explore Manila, and hopefully get to write about them. At least until all our stuff arrives…

One More Week

It is both sad and exciting that in one week JG and I will finally be finishing our first tour of duty as Diplomat and trailing spouse. Our experience between Tripoli and Muscat makes six years feel like a lifetime, but in some way it also feels like that afternoon writing my first post abroad seem like yesterday.
The past few months I have found myself busy taking care of things, preparing, packing away six years worth of stuff and memories. There’s also the anticipated paperworks, contracts and bills to be cancelled, and the surprise setbacks. Scratch that, I wouldn’t call such setbacks as a surprise, as it is the story of my life that something always goes wrong along the way.


Four years worth of books, clothes, toys, memories, etc.

We’ve managed to settle such problems in time (of course in the hopes that nothing else comes in te week), which is why I have now found some time to write something down for the blog.
First let me say something about Oman, and this wonderfully peaceful place we have called home in the past four years. The other day I found myself emotional, even teary-eyed driving alone somewhere in between Shatti Qurum and Al Khuwair, I thought about how I will miss how laid-back everything is and that the hectic, noisy, busy, stressful, bustling concept of urban city life is non-existent here. Or if it is, only happens in certain moments of the day, in some particular pockets of Muscat.
Growing up in busy Metro Manila I have always thought I would go crazy living in quiet places, but here I learned how nice it is to wake up to birds chirping outside your window, and drawing out your curtains to a sweeping view of rocky mountains and clear blue skies, and a short drive away is a shoreline for everyone to enjoy.


The always surprising rocky mountains of Oman

I always feel a little sad that I had very few chances to get to know the Omanis, but it is true what they say how hospitable and kind they all are, welcoming to
the presence of the expatriate community in their country with open arms. But I think I have mentioned this before, it says a lot about them that they choose to maintain the identity of their culture, always present in their neighborhoods, fighting the urge to follow other Middle Eastern countries with their sky scrapers and huge malls.
Before I left home to live abroad, I told myself that I wouldn’t let myself feel so at home wherever I get posted afraid that I would get attached to it so much I wouldn’t want to leave. I couldn’t stay long enough in Libya even if I wanted to, enough to establish a connection, and when I got here in Oman, I tried to be distant and kept reminding myself that I am but a visitor here, just passing by. But as one year becomes two you make friends, get familiar with its ins and out, without realizing it you find yourself falling in love a little everyday.
Of course The Philippines will always be home, the first love, and as a popular song in our country, the one you will always keep coming back to. But it would be foolish, and as I learned, futile to fight feeling something for a place that gives you chirping birds, rocky mountains, and shorelines everyday. It crept in slowly until you find yourself realizing this attachment. In my case acceptance came with the knowledge that no time soon, you are going to have say goodbye.
For most people, Muscat and Oman, may not be as axciting or as alive as say Dubai or the others. But for me Muscat’s tranquil environment is the perfect place to help a rowdy, talkative, importunate, young wife learn how to literally and figuratively settle down, listen, get some patience and get to know herself, especially in the quiet moments when she is alone in her cozy small home she has to run far away from all the comfort and support she had back home.
I wish I was a bit more consistent in writing about life and the culture here, but Iet’s just I was preoccupied with lots of things that kept me from sharing them. I also like to think that some memories I’d rather keep to myself, the same way there are some views you see no picture can ever do justice to it, so you just take it all in.
And with that I give a huge thanks to Oman, to Muscat, and how you will always have a fond place in my heart.
I do have some trepidations about going home, however excited I am to see family and friends. One, is once again adjusting to the hustle and bustle of city life. I’m afraid that falling in love with Muscat meant getting used to its calm, laid-back charm. It will probably take some time to get back into the rhythm of life in Manila, and getting reacquianted with the method to its madness.
The last time I was home, it took a while for me to get used to things again, and when I did I had to go back to Oman. The good thing about this is since we are staying a lot longer now, I can take things slow and get back in touch with the city’s beat in my own good time.
My number two concern about going back is finding my place amongst the people that I left behind. Social media sites is a blessing for persons abroad like me as it helps us keep in touch and keep tabs with friends and family, but it also kind of shows you that with you gone  so long their lives move forward without you.
It’s a bit of a morbid analogy but it’s like being in a coma but fully aware of the things happening around you, no matter how badly you want to participate and take part, you just can’t. And it isn’t just the birthdays and holidays that you miss out on, but it’s the moments in between, the inside jokes, conversations, shared laughter and grief, small triumphs and achievements, all those warm welcoming hugs and see-you-laters. How do you catch-up to all of that?
But it is of course part of the life I have chosen to live, where change is a constant factor, and change is almost always difficult. But I am always hopeful, at least for now that it will get easier the next time, and even more so the next time after that.
So I guess nothing else left for me to say other than, “See you all in Manila!”

I received a small trophy today….

… Not sure what it is for exactly, but it’s a special award, I think mainly for participating. For the past few weeks I have been attending a community exercise with fellow Filipinos living here in Muscat and today there was a sort of contest, an “Aerobics Marathon” as they dubbed it.

Part of JG’s job is to attend activities organized by the many clubs and/or organizations of the Filipino community here in Muscat, and a couple of months ago he was invited to help open this exercise activity led by a group of Filipino professional fitness instructors. And because it came in a great time where JG and I are seriously trying to get fit, I decided to have a go at it.

First let me use this blog to congratulate the said organizers. I thought this is an excellent idea because it simply but profoundly helps many by sharing their knowledge and skills. Especially here in Muscat where there are a lot of fitness centers but charge really expensively. And health I believe is one of the things overseas Filipino workers should take care of.

Life here in Muscat can be a bit laid-back. Not much distractions as compared to other busy and hectic metropolitans. You go to work, come home, occasionally you go out, and gorge at the many awesome places to eat at the malls or elsewhere. The weather is also a cause to get unhealthy especially during the hot season when the heat would make you really too lazy to move, and just sit on the couch with the AC in full blast, watch TV and munch on humongous bags of chips.

I know this, because this is somewhat what has happened to me and a lot of the many others I know living here. Many of us who hardly noticed that we were no longer physically moving our bodies to help it regulate everything we consume and keep body parts and organs in top shape. Many of us who suddenly found ourselves overweight and just shrugged it off as a part of life.

Back to the Filipino community, I know that during the colder season, the most popular form of gathering aside from the Tagalog Catholic Mass every third Friday of the month is the weekly basketball tourneys. This is also great, but in terms of fitness and health only benefits the men who are participating. Another downside to this gathering are the Filipino food sold, which are too good, with its nostalgic appeal and of course delectable taste, to pass up.

This is why organizing a group exercise open to everyone, led by professionals, is a great idea because it can be a benefit to a great deal more. And I think it’s really great that they decided to lend out a hand to Filipinos living here.

Photos from the organizers's Facebook Page

One of the these ladies is Me, not going to share which… sorry Photos from the organizers’s Facebook Page

And so I found myself driving to the said event every Friday night with a growing number of my fellow kababayans. This is a big deal for me because this is the first time for me to be participating in an activity that requires doing things outside my comfort zone. Most specifically the dancing part, most specifically the gyrating parts or as Mylie Cyrus has popularized  – “twerking”.

The hour-long exercise usually composes of Zumba exercises, and many aerobic routines that require hip thrusting, booty shaking, and often times hair tossing. If you know me, you would understand, I walk like an awkward teenage boy and has the grace of a Mason (not the members of the Knights Templar, but the ones that layeth bricks for a living). Most of my family, especially my brother and mother are great dancers, but alas I was cursed with genes that has the  flexibility of a tree branch.

My Mom said that I just need to let go a little, or a lot, and try not to be too self-conscious of how I look. The problem here is I do not seem to have the irrational confidence most people seem to have when it comes to dancing, the kind where you feel you are capable and truly good at something but in reality really looks weird doing it. Whoever said to “dance like no one is watching” seem to have gotten through to a lot of people, but not to me. I am always aware of how stiff my hips are and their incapability to gyrate and/or twerk, and even if no one is watching, I know, and so I try to avoid doing it in public or otherwise.

Nevertheless, I participated in that exercise activity because dancing, albeit rigidly, is also a great cardio work-out.

My Special Award trophy of Participation

My Special Award trophy of Participation

But unlike jogging, dancing is less meditative and serious, more spontaneous, and quite simply more fun (The fun aspect I use whenever I do a variation of the parts where the twerking is required). I participated because I like the idea of community dancing and being a part of others like me who are away from those we love, and would like to break from the monotony of the daily habits that’s causing some of us to get fat and lazy. Both amongst those who are truly really good at it, and the others who have the irrational confidence that they are too.

I have been to many Filipino events, but almost always as the Diplowife. As JG’s wife my participation was mostly a supportive role, a plus one, and therefore more of just an observer. And so not only was this a great chance to get out of my comfort zone (well sort of), but it’s also an opportunity for me to finally feel truly a part of the community here.

They won’t be holding the exercises in the following weeks, I think most of the organizers will be going home for a vacation and by the time they resume I will have already left Oman for good.  Today is my last day to be attending, which is why receiving the trophy seems fitting and genuinely appreciated.

Paris 2.0 and The Beginning of the End

JG and I just got back from a week long vacation in France. I don’t know if I’ve explained this in previous posts, as a couple we don’t go all out on special occasions like birthdays, anniversary, or holidays. Sometimes we go out for a simple dinner date, we don’t exchange expensive gifts, and there are times when we would just spend it at home. But once a year we would use all the money saved from all the occasions we skipped  and go somewhere, something I’d like to call the one-time-big-time annual vacay.

Paris was the first trip that started this tradition, and it was a great experience as I explained in previous posts. We initially decided to go on a Sound of Music tour in Salzburg this year, but we thought it would be great to come back. Mostly because we wanted to conquer France with a vengeance.

I think I briefly discussed a snobby bus driver, and getting overwhelmed at finding Mona Lisa in my post of our first visit five years ago. But looking back now, we seemed to have found ourselves in over our heads. Because even though it was a great experience to be able to see one of the most famous tourist destinations ever, back then, we sort of had no idea how to go about attacking this great big place and how to experience it as much as we can.

JG planned our trip then as best as he could I know, and we had a generally good time, but again so much to see, so little time, no idea how to do it in a smart way.

On our first trip we just went head-on and hit as many of the tourists destinations as much as we can, without having any idea what to expect. What this did was exhaust us to the point of not fully enjoying where we were because we got too tired trying to find the place to too hurried trying to squeeze in all the other things we wanted to see.

One of the mistakes I made was that I allowed myself to get distracted, I’d see this shop and spend hours thinking about stuff to buy, thus wasting even more time on the more important things on the itinerary.

What did this naive and newby approach also  did to two very young and still hot-headed newly weds was create friction that started several heated arguments. Suffice to say that the city of love left some ironic memories of petty bickerings and cold treatments.

Case and point of how clueless we were was going to see the Eiffel tower. Of course you’d go there to get this great romantic picture together, and so went we did. It wasn’t all that bad seeing the famous tower up-close but both of us soon realized that getting a good angle of the whole thing that close was a bad idea. It’s a good thing I don’t show pictures of our faces in the blog, because now I have a convenient excuse not to show you our horrible pictures that looked like we photoshop-ed half our faces on side of a postcard that showed one leg of the tower. Not even ONE decent picture together…

                    Imagine a sweaty girl and/or an even sweatier chubby man on the corner of this picture…

But now, five years and about nine other European cities later, I am pretty sure we now had a pretty good idea how to go about things. One of the best things we discovered over the years and our other trips are the free walking tours of Europe. It’s not exactly free, but they are a tipped-based scheme where funny and very informative tour guides takes you  around the famous spots, tells you it’s history and interesting anecdotes, and at the end of the tour you decide how much you think the tour was worth. You can even just walk away without paying if you think you weren’t that satisfied at all to give a tip. We usually take the Sandemans New Europe tours, and so far we had never been disappointed enough not to pay.

The tours eliminates tourists from walking around a big place like Paris like headless chickens not knowing where to go. It’s also a great way to learn about the city in a funny and more interesting way, especially if the guides are really good. (For example the guy in Berlin did a great job of eerily telling Hitler’s final moments in the area of his bunkers. Another is the hilarious American lady who told the story of guy who wandered into Queen Elizabeth’s bedroom in London). Our tour guide in this recent Paris visit is bubbly Nancy, originally from Yorkshire, but fell in love with the city so much that she decided to talk about it for a living.

We also got better at taking their subway systems, most importantly buying a five-day ticket (in the Philippines what we call a stored-value card). During our first trip to Paris, every time we used the Metro, we would buy a ticket, which 1, wasted time; and two left you with a wad of train tickets and heavy pocket full of coins.

We got a lot better at planning our trip, this time, agreeing before hand the things we wanted to see, and places we wanted to visit. Not to mention, setting a day for just buying the stuff we wanted, including finding out where exactly to get them.

Some good news and bad news is that we were able to find a great place to take an awesome picture with the Eiffel tower. There is an area somewhere a bit further out of Paris on a hill called Trocadero where you could finally get an awesome view and a finally take that memorable photo. The bad news is, thanks perhaps to the Internet, everyone else is also there, as well as some constructions that are taking place. And if that is not bad enough, the angle of the sun was not agreeing with us that day so our pictures looked a bit dreary. I guess some things are really out of your control. Also JG and I are quite shy about bothering people to take our picture for us, so we mostly end up taking it by ourselves.

The view from Trocadero in Paris

The view from Trocadero in Paris

On this subject I would like to add that we refuse to purchase and use the now widely-used contraption called the selfie stick, which some would say is perfect for lone travellers like us, but alas we both agree that we are too old for such things and feel kind of silly waving a stick around just to get a picture.

And finally perhaps the best thing about our come-back visit to Paris, which is also known as a walking city is as compared to our other trips we are now slimmer and fitter. Some of the arguments I mentioned earlier were brought along by fatigue and staminas that were easily defeated by a flight of stairs, weak respiratory and cardiovascular systems that were rarely tested for long walks, and undetected diabetic symptoms that affected our moods and energy. Thanks to a now healthier lifestyle, we felt stronger and sturdier as 30 year old farts, than we did as fat and stubborn twenty somethings five years ago. The commute to Tracadero, took a bit of a walk transferring from one subway line to another, climbing several staircases, last year that would have been unthinkable, but as we brisked along for that stunning view, we found ourselves smiling at each other realizing how better it feels, and how lucky we are to get this second chance to experience it this way.

Finally, the reason we decided to come back and redo Paris is this is probably our last European trip in a long time. This vacation is actually one for the road, as we are now counting the days to the end of our first tour of duty. In the Philippine Foreign Service, one tour takes six years, and so two unforgettable years in Tripoli and four quiet years here in Muscat will come to a close in a month or so. So we thought it would be nice to come full circle and come back to France as wiser, stronger, better versions of what all the yearly trips has a molded us into.

It wasn’t all that perfect, but still it was awesome none the less…

Jogging Is The Worst!


This is my new favorite quote. Today alone, I must have said this three times in a span of an hour. And yes, it was in that hour that I was actually jogging.


Let me back-up a bit. I don’t normally talk about JG much in the blog, mostly because he doesn’t like it if I do, but today I am willing to make an exemption at the risk of him getting mad at me. See when I met him a little over 13 years ago, he was on his way to becoming really fat. I know fat is such a mean word, I could say, obese, on the heavy side, words and phrases like that, but we he was, well in the universal vernacular, fat.


For years and especially when we got married I had compelled him to try and live a bit healthier, and watch his weight, and do some exercise, walk for a few mintes at least. I was truly deeply afraid that he was going to die of a heart attack and leave me a widow. And I wasn’t kidding because everytime we would see a doctor for regular check-ups everyone of them would be surprised at how he hasn’t keeled over yet with his shockingly high blood pressure.


I am also compelled to explain that convincing a very intelligent person to do something for you is very difficult. I remember epic fights wherein philosophical points of view of the freedom to choose the way you live is main theme of such heated debates. He would argue that life is short and the existence of heaven is yet to be proven so one must live as one prefers. I remember him saying that he would rather happily die young eating a huge Baconator burger and not wasting precious reading time, than live a long life forced to eat broccoli and all the garden variety food and exercising. Quality over quantity, and all that shitake mushrooms…


JG, bless his heart is a good man, a great one, unique in his way, and I would always say that I am lucky to have found such a smart, kind, principled, honest, and hardworking fella. Except for the fact that he had the eating habits of seven year old, who prefers everything fried and chugs sodas by the litres. I have mentioned in previous posts that travelling with him is such a great experience because of all the historical facts he knows and shares, what I don’t share are the frustratingly slow walks and how he refuses to go anywhere uphill or places where there are no elevators to take you up.


And as the years passed, I gradually just gave-up, hoped for the best, and over time succumbed to the carefree eating myself. Of course I am not being all self-righteous, although I liked eating vegetables unlike JG, I also liked eating instant noodles, chips, puffy marshmallows covered in chocolate, extra-servings of rice, and large fries and drinks to go with my Big-Mac. And since my husband pretty much did not care what I looked like, getting fat myself wasn’t an issue, plus the fact that I am not the least bit vain.


And so a little over a year ago, we found ourselves turning 30, and unhealthy. At this point  I suppose at the back of our minds we knew the risks this does to our well-being. I stopped nagging him about it and while looking at pictures of me during my birthday trip to Ankara, I sighed at the fact that my neck has all but disappeared and that I hadn’t seen my clavicle bone in years.

But alas, one day during said trip, JG suddenly asks about this gym that has been mentioned to us since we arrived in Muscat and had ignored since then. And when we came back home one of the first things he did was sign us up as members, immediately followed by buying exercise gear, and started the slow and painful process of getting fit.


And so the jogging part. It is strange, but no other way to explain, except that my husband seemed to have caught a bug for running. It is as if the old JG who would happily leave his wife for a good book and a Baconator, has found a new mistress in the form of jogging. Now a days, he buys books about it, watches documentaries on the triumph of marathons, follows sweaty looking bloggers who reviews shoes, specially formed earphones designed to never fall off your ear, tips on how to avoid nipple chaffing, and proper techniques on breathing and running stance. HE RUNS EVERYDAY! Even in days when he is sick, even when the weather is bad.


At this point in the post I am happy to announce that he has since lost about 30 kilos off his weight, he is still in the over-weight section technically (in the BMI chart) but is now watching what he eats, hasn’t had a slice of pizza for months, and most-importantly is the proud bearer of a normal BP! A complete turn around.


As for me…


One of the things I took from this experience is that I suppose getting healthy and fit can never really be forced into a person. It is as if JG just woke up one day and decided that he was really going to do it, and on that aspect, I suppose I regret to say that my healthy AHA moment has yet to come. Which is probably why I detest jogging so much these days, especially about the fact that it seems to be working so well on JG and not on me. I think I like swimming better, swimming holds a special place in my heart because it was all I did back when JG was left in Tripoli during the whole arab spring phase four years ago. For an hour or two I was forced to just concentrate on taking in air and blowing it out at every stroke so I won’t drown, and in the process forget my concerns, and clear my head.


But to be honest, I really get what Anne Perkins was saying on jogging. I find myself bored especially during runs when my phone runs out of juice or when Freddie Mercury singing Don’t Stop Me Now has long lost its motivational beat. I get distracted by the littlest thing, and at times gets really irritated when dirt or worst a fly shoots into your open mouth, one you have to keep a gap because breathing makes the heavy feeling of your lungs and the burning sensation at your calves a little better.


The worst part, while jogging, unlike swimming, I am left to deal with the clutter in my head, the dishes I haven’t washed, the appointments I need to keep, loved ones I miss, regrets, embarrassing memories, shortcomings, failures. I know, I know,  the inside of my mind is depressing, but tell me do you really think about happy thoughts when your heart rate is at double the normal pace, your mouth is dry of thirst, and your lungs heavy with the short puffs of breath you take?


Being the supportive wife that I am, I could not complain everytime I am dragged to this thing that seemed to have saved JG from an almost certain path to a cardiac arrest. Admittedly I too have lost some weight and is slowly getting my neck back, but more than that now,  I too am curious to catch the bug, to get that high my husband seemed to not get enough of, and comes back for more every day.


Check back to me in a month or so, perhaps by then I can tell you differently, for now, I am just happy to get what ever benefits it gets me, and for making my husband seem almost perfect.

Here’s the thing…

… I imagine I am starting to sound annoying every time I start a post on why I haven’t been consistently, well, posting… But I think it’s mostly just me punishing myself about my lack of follow through in maintaining a regular blogging habit. I drive myself crazy thinking about whether or not I should explain my reasons, it used to be just plain old laziness, now it’s a bit more complicated. If you are reading this and you are curious and would love to spend a few minutes reading a long e-mail from me, let me know down at the comments section, and I will try to find the time to explain.


I did explain to my new friend and fellow diplowife who is posted somewhere in Asia, I met her through the blog, she wrote to me and it started an exchange of long e-mails of what I think are somewhat two kindred souls who found each other. To be clear, I haven’t really met her in the flesh but as I told her, reading her blog, and exchanging our e-mails, it felt as if I had a chance to talk the same person I was six years before when I was a new bride swept away in another country with my diplomat husband. Anyway, it’s good to find someone out there who shares a lot of the things I feel and are concerned about, and as I was saying earlier, there is one person who knows my reasons for questioning this blogging thing that we do.


Meeting her and getting to know her, has however reminded me of the good thing about blogging which is as previously stated  finding fellow diplowives like me. Plus, I seem to be getting a lot of traffic lately, more people following me on Twitter and stats consistently being seen, despite my old old posts. I also received a lot of kind and encouraging comments about not stopping, so those too are very much appreciated and would like to let those of you know that warms my heart very deeply.


Although this weird emo-post is in no way another pledge to constantly do this, like I said, I have some issues regarding blogging, what to write about, what not to write about, etc. And of course there is also the laziness part, that variable is still there, and is still a big hurdle to get over in most cases.


So there, just saying…