Christmas house in the Philippines// Blogmas #14

Yesterday, I posted about a vlog I discovered about a couple of foreigners who were celebrating Christmas in the Philippines. That post got me thinking about Christmases I spent in the Philippines. Thankfully, after my family moved from the Philippines to the United States, we visited as often as we could. My most recent visit was in 2016- for my wedding, but before that was 2014- for Christmas.

It was a wild memory! My parents had just built their house and the furniture that was supposed to be delivered hadn’t arrived yet. According to the shipping company, my parents’ delivery was still at the port. Because there was a backup, there would be no way for them to unload the container until next year. In the meantime, my husband and I were sleeping on an air mattress and the entire family ate in the “dirty kitchen” a term in the Philippines that described the outdoor or separate kitchen where most of the cooking occured because of the smoke and smell. As we approached Christmas Eve my mom was devastated because we were supposed to have a family party, but we had no furniture for the guests.

Then a Christmas miracle happened. As we were eating at a restaurant in Tagaytay, we received a call that the shipping container was on the way. It would arrive in a few hours– about 9:00 PM, on Christmas Eve.

We worked collectively to unload, unpack and move in the furniture for a 5 bedroom house. We unpacked and installed TVs, patio furniture, beds and dressers. I don’t know how we all pulled it off; it was definitely a group effort, and it will be a memory we’ll all share together.

Check out the video here.. the video moving part starts on 5:11

October: I did my best!

October was a busy month for me; it was evident in the decline of posts on my blog. In the previous months, I went from 4-5 posts a week, yet this past October, I was lucky if I had at least 1-2 posts a week. Things probably will remain busy for me because I am taking on-line classes to fulfill a TESOL certificate. It’s something I have always wanted to earn and leverage a position as a ESL instructor for community college. I have always wanted to teach at the post-secondary level, and having a TESOL and a Master’s Degree will help me accomplish this goal.

When I think back at all the tasks I wanted to accomplish in October, I immediately feel a sense of disappointment. My biggest goals were to PR my 3 mile run and to be more active on my blog. I did not accomplish either one. I went for a 3 mile run yesterday and added 5 minutes to my PR time and I only posted nine times last month.

Yet, October was also a milestone month for me, even though I didn’t accomplish what I had originally intended. My biggest take-away for the month was realizing that it was Filipino American History month and to be honest, I had never really celebrated it in the past, but this year the experience was very different for me. I started off the month by attending Pinayista– a weekend gathering of pinays in the hustle filled with speakers, panels, lightning talks, interactive workshops, music, sporadic dancing, and meaningful connections. Then the next weekend I attended UndiscoveredX, an online exposition of artists, change-makers, and entrepreneurs accelerating Filipino culture. I learned so much about OPM (original Pilipino music), authors and book talks. And to top it all off, I read for PAWA for their emerging Filipinx writers’ panel. Also, I accomplished many work related tasks like giving two presentations and finishing all the state-mandated tests. All the while, I learned to cook new vegan recipes and spend quality time with my niece Aiza.

Sure I didn’t accomplish my fitness and writing goals, but I learned so much about my culture and was able to read a couple stories about my life to a digital audience comprised of family and friends. All is not lost for October. I may have not run the fastest this month. Nor did I write the most this month. But I became closer to my roots, my craft and my family and friends while eating well and helping teachers. In this turbulent time in life, we have to appreciate the our goals, even if we never meant to accomplish them.

Enjoy some pictures from October…

notes from a session in Pinayista
notes from a session in Pinayista

List to 50

This past Monday, September 14, 2020 was my 6 year wedding engagement party. While this date is not as momentous as a wedding anniversary, when I saw my timeline and pictures of my engagement party, I was pulled back to that time in my life–2014, when I was newly engaged, a budding writer, and imagined my life – five years later a little differently. I remember, during our party, I was sitting on a chair with my then fiance, now hubby by my side and taking in the scene in front of me- family and friends clamoring for the photographer to take their picture on the stage. I recalled embracing this moment because in a few years I predicted that I’d have a novel, house and kids in my life.

Well, that was six years ago and nothing I had imagined came to fruition. My hubby and I still rent; God hasn’t blessed us with kids yet; and the draft of my novel is still in the drive of my computer. Yes, I can sulk and criticize myself for not obtaining my “life goals,” but guess what? I have achieved more that I can imagine.

In Julia Cameron’s book, The Right to Wright, she offers a writing exercise where she asks the writer to write down 50 things you are proud of- small or large. She explains:

“We do not see our size. We do not view ourselves with accuracy. We are far larger, far more marvelous, far more deeply and consistently creative than we recognize or know. We do not credit ourselves with what it is we can- and often do- accomplish. We are blind to our gifts; we are deaf to our voice. We do not see or hear our magnitude. Why is this? 

When people cannot see the larger picture of what it is we are trying to do, they will pick out some detail and pick at that. We have, many of us, had the experience of being all dressed up, ready to go somewhere and feeling pretty marvelous, when someone –a parent, a friend, even the babysitter — picks a small piece of lint off our outfit. Lint picking is focusing on the small imperfection rather than seeing the greater glory of the whole.

We must be small enough, humble enough, to always be a beginner, an observer. We must be open to experience, new experiences, new sources of knowledge and insight while still staying grounded in the fact that what we already know and have done is also estimable and also important. In other words, how do we stay vulnerable enough to and tough enough to survive. 

Valuing our experience is not narcissism. It it not endless self- involvement. It is rather the act of paying active witness to ourselves and the world. Such witness is an act of dignity, an act that recognizes that life is essentially a sacred transaction of which we know only the shadow, not the shape. As we attune ourselves more and more closely to the value of passing moments, we learn that we are something of moment ourselves.”    

Julia Cameron, in her eloquent prose, reminds me that we have to celebrate the accomplishments, however trite and minuscule. Small or not, they carry a significance. So while I may not be where I had envisioned, another writer has gently reminded me I’m where I need to be, and that is worthy of celebrating.

Below is my list towards 50 things I’m proud of. What would you include in your list?

  1. Selected as a fellow for the Squaw Valley Community of Writers
  2. Writing 10 short stories
  3. Jogging 3 miles (although I am currently taking a break)
  4. Making vegetarian pancit for the first time
  5. Google hangout with my parents in the Philippines once a week for the last 6 months
  6. Offering a virtual writing class with 40 attendants
  7. 1000 piece puzzle
  8. Meditating for 5 minutes a day
  9. Webinar for Wonders ELD and EL resources
  10. Making a gluten free coconut cake  
  11. Running a half marathon with my sis and friends
  12. Moving during COVID
  13. Keeping some indoor plants alive
  14. Learning how to apologize and really meaning it
  15. Getting better with keeping in touch
  16. Supporting local artists by buying their paintings
  17. Eating mostly plant based since January 2020
  18. Paying off credit card bills
  19. Achieving and maintaining a credit score of 800
  20. Traveling to South Africa and Iceland
  21. Resurrecting this blog
  22. Singing the Itsy Bitsy Spider to my niece
  23. Parallel parking uphill in SF
  24. Getting accepted in an MFA program and graduating
  25. My job for SSFUSD
  26. Opportunities to read my work for literary events such as PAWA and Napa Valley Writers Conference
  27. Publishing my work in various publications
  28. Accepting my body in any shape and size
  29. Perfecting my skin and teeth regimen (because you know I have an obsession with teeth)
  30. Owning 300 books but reading more than 300

Here are some pictures from our “Books and Beats” theme engagement part. I’m “books” and hubby is “beats”, obviously because I’m a writer and he’s a DJ.

More pictures here