The first day of spring — and I’m still alive =)

“If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?” — Percy Bysshe Shelley, Ode to the West Wind

It has been almost four months since the last time I have written something on my blog. A lot of factors definitely contributed to the sudden drop of entries leading up to the last one — it could be the sudden loss of interest, or the overwhelming number of topics I had been keeping tab on — but  a very serious incident almost pushed me to the edge and I have been meaning to get back on my feet and write again. But where do I start?

Two weeks ago, Mon gave a “Le Petit Prince” notebook. I never got the chance to buy a planner like I yearly do, since I got hospitalized for several weeks by mid-December (more on that later). And with everything that has been going on after I got discharged, I was lost on where to even begin. I’ve been struggling to get organized and I appreciated more the habit of writing things down on my planner. I eventually went to look for one last February but National Bookstore had already pulled out the usual planners that I buy. I took a look again at the Little Prince notebook and noticed that it had a couple of pages with little boxes for the calendar. Too bad that it has no label for months and dates, and I even had to write every number down from January 1 to December 31. It was a good throwback to my last year in undergrad, when I just used a tickler notebook to get organized and jumbled the most tasks I had just to finish my degree. Google also reminded me that today is the first day of spring (astronomically speaking) and I could not have picked a better day to breathe new life on my page. (We don’t have spring here, but hey, I needed a jumpstart!)

The Little Prince notebook

A new spring for my blog

Continue Reading

Measuring up!

Black is beautiful, but too much black is charcoal” — that was the tongue-in-cheek saying I immediately thought of upon receiving the Porter by Yoshida Company bag on the mail yesterday. I already have eight black bags but it did not prevent me from getting this briefcase/messenger bag. I was really happy because the bag was lightweight and both the straps and rolled handles are comfortable on my shoulders. The coated canvas gives off a leathery finish on pictures, but I guess it will hold up really well under the heavy rains.

Porter by Yoshida Company briefcase messenger bag

Porter by Yoshida Company briefcase messenger bag and Red Wing 8875 boots

Anyway, on my way to work today, I dropped by the Handyman store in Farmers Plaza to buy locks and bolts for the apartment we will be renting starting in June. I found the aisle dedicated to these items and I had a great time choosing what should be used to secure our apartment. At first, I was just looking for a traditional door knob but I remember Mon describing an alternative. He was not able to give its exact name but when I saw the ‘deadbolt lock’, I immediately sent him a photo to ask if it was what he had described.  I subsequently bought approximately Php 900-worth of items, which we would be giving to the landlady so that they will be installed during the repainting of the unit.

Locks and bolts from the Handyman storeSpeaking of repainting, I wanted to have the unit’s paint changed from yellow to at least off-white, just like what I’ve mentioned in my previous post. The unit is due to be repaired/renovated for occupation this weekend, so I also asked the landlady if she could have it repainted and I will just pay for the extra cost. I wanted off-white because that is the color of our walls in our house, so the color scheme is a piece of home away from home. Our extremely yellow roomSo during dinner break, Faye accompanied Mon and me to the apartment . We needed to give out the locks to the landlady, and I also had to measure the floor area so we can proceed in deciding what pieces of furniture to purchase/bring. I know that I should have brought a retractable measuring tape, instead of the one made for human/fabric measurements because my hands were a bit dirty as the place was still quite dusty. It was an oddly-shaped studio apartment (well, at least the area excluding the bathroom), so I have drawn a rough sketch on paper of the floor area to facilitate measurement.

Floor plan of the studio apartmentWhen I got there, my immediate decision was to use inches instead of centimeter. I normally use inch-foot when measuring bags and clothing, but I usually resort to centimeter-meter when measuring space or floor area. SO I had no idea why I immediately jumped the gun on inches, when centimeters could have given me a more accurate measurement, especially I needed every single space I could measure. Well, no good crying over spilled milk so I would just have to live with the measurement I have made.

From the sketch, I have generated this floor plan of the unit with approximate measurements of every single side of the polygon. The total floor area is 115.50 ft²! It was not much but I see it as a challenge.  I’m not big in interior decoration as I never had the chance to foray into tinkering whatever it is that we have in our house. But honestly, I see the limited as an opportunity and I was greatly inspired by this “IKEA Small Spaces – Small ideas” video.

I love the idea of maximizing every bit of space available, and having items with multiple functions. What worries me the most is the amount of clothing, shoes and bag I have. I’ve been doing a mental inventory and selection of what items I will be bringing with me; and as much as I have pared down that list, I still could not think of how I will manage to properly fit them in the unit. We will be going to the Makati malls on weekend, and I look forward to seeing possible options for the bed and closet (if we will be getting one). I think our work would be easier because we have the floor plan with us. I just  hope we’ll find a decently-price sofa bed because that is the whole point of moving from Marikina to Makati —to have a decent sleep!

UP Diliman University Graduation v2.0

Yesterday afternoon was foreboding. After the sunny day during the early morning college graduation, it rained really hard that it made me worried about the fate of today’s weather. There was even a report of tornado and hail stones and somebody also sent me a message that there was a Low Pressure Area forming in Luzon. As the University-wide graduation would happen in an open area, the prospect of a bad weather will literally dampen our spirits. Looking back at my first University Graduation, I remember that it was so hot that I had been sweating a lot both from the influence of the direct sunlight and the uncomfortable barong that I was wearing. But for today, leaving our house at exactly 2:00 PM, the sky was gray and I was eagerly  praying for another chance with the sun. LOL The sunflowers were not-so-perky that I had to hold a couple of them upright   Our first itinerary upon reaching UP was to take pictures with the sunflowers along the University Avenue. My family was particularly excited about this as they kept on seeing news feature this entire week about the graduation in UP Diliman, and how the sunflowers were finally in full bloom just in time for the event. But frankly, I was disappointed to see that the sunflowers were no longer that perky because of the bad weather yesterday. The petals were no longer as nice-looking as the ones I’ve seen last Friday. =/ Anyway, that did not prevent my family, along with Mon, Lot and Lay to take lots of photos with the sunflowers. But the photo-op was cut short — it sporadically rained and we had to run for cover.

Mandatory picture with Oble   So proud of the three UP Pep captains   I was carefully evaluating the weather and I thought that it would eventually stop, with an overcast sky  as the worst that could happen. I was right. Around fifteen minutes before the start of the program, the weather had sort of ‘stabilized’ and I was confident that it will no longer rain. When Erin and I went looking for the designated meeting place for our college, I chanced upon this small group of people: the UP Pep Squad captains for the school year. I was really happy to see them and who would have thought I would be finishing my graduate degree, the same time as these kids finished their undergrads. I suddenly felt old. I even remember my very last halftime (as an alumnus, because I was one of the ‘babysitters’) with Irish in 2007, when she was still a freshman.

Goofing around before the university graduation

I still have mad skills in taking a picture of a group with me as the 'photographer'

Finding our line, I was happy to know that we were situated at the back, giving us more freedom to move and just budge when we were to finally go inside the Amphitheater. We even managed to buy a cone of ice cream each!

Quezon Hall in varying degrees of daylight - UP Diliman, 2013 Commencement Exercises

Quezon Hall in varying degrees of daylight

Mon and I in the University Graduation

Our Sablay now officially transferred from right to left

To be honest, it was tedious hearing the speech of the Guest Speaker. Apart from the low volume, it did not help that the speech he was delivering was written exactly on the pamphlets distributed on top of our chairs prior to occupying our seats. Why listen when I can always read it later? Just kidding. There was also, I think, a slight error in the sequence of the program. By the time we have already transferred our Sablay from right to left, majority of the graduates were no longer paying attention to the valedictory address. Poor kid. I could not even remember a lot of the things he said, apart from comparisons with national heroes and jokes that took me a moment to digest.  But I’m happy to remember him saying about his advocacy to give back to the community by teaching along with a couple of students. I’m extremely happy to hear that. Gomz, though, asked me about my experience with my previous university graduation, and whether it was this unruly (he did not attend his university graduation in 2008).  From what I can recall, everybody was quiet and intently listening to the valedictory address of Mikaela Fudolig, the Wunderkind who finished summa cum laude at 16 years old (Yikes!). I still remember about the “take not the road less traveled” from her speech. The whole event was festive but not unruly as the one we just had last Sunday. Oh well.

I did not know that I brought along UP Pep fans with me!

Yihee!

Family picture after graduation

After the graduation — time to take photos! I have taken lots of photos with friends, classmates, family, etc. But I did not realize that I brought along UP Pep fans with me! Same as yesterday, some UP Pep drummers were present and I dropped by to take a picture of the drummers playing. I saw Kiko and Irish again, and the next thing I knew, Lot and Lay were begging me to ask the captains if it was okay to take a picture with them. LOL Same as the afternoon, I had little chance taking a photo with Oble. There was a very long queue of people waiting for their few seconds to have their picture taken, that I did not bother having one at all, except fpr a quick shot with Mon. I was too hungry for dinner.

Famished in A VenetoA Veneto dinner in Trinoma - chicken, pizza and pasta galore

Already well-fed --- family picture after dinner

I was really worried about getting a decent place to eat in. We did not have any reservation placed and when we reached Trinoma after rushing away from Diliman, we still did not know where to eat. We first thought of A Veneto but there were groups waiting outside, so we transferred to the seafood resto next to it (I forgot the name, was it Seafood Island?). But ‘lo and behold, we had to wait longer as we were the third in line, so we went back to A Veneto. By the time we finally made up our mind, we were seated within five minutes! =D Chicken, pizza and pasta galore, all of us were hungry that it took us less than thirty minutes as soon as all the dishes arrived to get our fill. Monday awaits all of us, and Mon, Lay, Lot, Kuya and Ate Ja had to leave to go home to Cavite and Makati. I can’t be thankful enough that they shared that special day with me.

My official graduation 'self-portrait' LOL - UP Diliman Sablay and CSSP master's degree token/medal

Hello! Ilocos Norte! – Day 2

Following the previous day’s madness, I was able to get a very good night sleep and recuperated enough energy for the day ahead. But since we did not have anything special for the day, except for the graduation party of Mon’s cousin later that afternoon, it was the perfect opportunity to drop by the public market to buy a few things Ilocos was famous for.

Bagnet for sale at 440 a kilo - Laoag, Ilocos Norte

Longganisa from Ilocos Norte

So after a quick breakfast, Mon and I took the trike to the market and went straight to the second floor and looked for his grandma’s suki. I was excited to finally see a pile of bagnet on the table, but it was a bit pricey. At Php 440 a kilo, I only bought half a kilo. LOL On the other hand, I bought a kilo and a half of longganisa, which was still a bit few because I was worried to carry heavy items on our way back to Manila.

Kitty in the market - Laoag, Ilocos NorteI also spotted this little kitty, lurking beneath the table and she immediately reminded us of our Miso. =D We also had to buy a bouquet of flowers and a lanyard for the graduate.

Orchid lanyard for the graduate

We went home around 12:00 noon just to eat some food because we had to go to the graduation party of Mon’s cousin. The party started late, though, because the graduation rites finished almost two hours overdue. Nevertheless, we headed to the third floor of a building somewhere in the city centre, and I was happy to see people arriving one by one. I took lots of photos of their friends and relatives that I had little picture of myself. I even had no picture with Mon and I together. 

With Mon's beautiful cousin

Mon's cousin and siblings

After the party, before dinner time, Mon and I went to the supermarket just to buy snacks for the following day’s activities! Lots and lots of junk food and juice drinks were shoved into our mini-cart, but I was still comforted by the idea that there will be about nine of us eating them. Going home, we did not take the trike but a kalesa instead — it was my first kalesa ride ever!

Looking over the road from the kalesa ride - Laoag, Ilocos Norte

My first ever kalesa ride, blinded by the flash though

After resting for an hour, Mon took me to the the plaza to see the city center at night. When I first saw the place yesterday, I was in awe of how beautifully landscaped it was. But at night, it was amazing! The lights gave it a very dramatic vibe and immediately asked myself: “Am I really in the Philippines?

I especially adore the lighting of Laoag City Capitol - Laoag, Ilocos Norte

Lovely fountain in the plaza, in front of Ilocos Norte's capitol

 

One of the sculptures in Laoag City Capitol - Laoag, Ilocos Norte

 

Hello fountain - Laoag City Capitol, Laoag, Ilocos Norte

 

 

 

As we were still relatively full from the party, we just bought a couple of empanadas from a corner of food stalls near the city capitol. They were nice but not as good as the bunch we bought from Batac the previous day. Tomorrow will be our last day in Ilocos and I cannot wait to finally see the Bangui WIndmills and swim in Pagudpud.