Monday, October 13, 2008

I Found A New Passion


Dialogue from last week’s small group session with Ate Noemi:

Noemi: Ikaw Apple, nakikita q sau ung potential na maging isang missionary.
Me: Ako? Missionary? Nyek! Tlga?
Noemi: Oo. Tandaan mo ‘tong araw na ‘to, this exact time na sinabi q sau yan. Believe me, magiging isang missionary ka.


And a smile was plastered on my face from that time onwards.

To be perfectly frank and honest, never in my 25 years of existence had I imagined or even thought of myself as going to various places all over the world and spreading the good news about God. I mean, of course I love God with all my heart and with all my soul, but I just can’t seem to see myself doing that kind of thing. Not that I’m ashamed of it. It’s more of, “man, I’m apple lopez. Ask those people who know me and let them define what kind of person I am? Do you think those people would believe the things I say?” Wheewww!

I am not a good person. I’m friendly and approachable, but I’m not really good. I have my own dark side. My mom could definitely attest that they’re all frantic in the house every time I lose my temper. I’m never a good daughter or a sister. Not even a great friend. So how, in all sense of the word ‘how’ could someone see me as a future missionary and lecturer of the mighty words of God?

Nevertheless, I must admit that that ‘odd’ statement from my small group leader really did make me smile from the inside out. And then again, I was blessed with another goal in my life; another thing to hope for—and that’s to be a missionary of God.

Most people who’ve known me since time immemorial may find this really funny. Moreover, I might be ridiculed by my beloved friends for this another realization of mine. I could imagine them bursting out their hearts out with laughter once they found out about this new ‘trip’ of mine.

Oh well, whatever! Unimaginable as it is, but I believe that God really planned my life to be as uniquely important as ever. He never wanted it to be simple, in the first place. My love story was created very distinctly wonderful, and ended as distinctly painful as planned.

Looking back, I was just an ordinary young lady who, in a way, already knows what she wants in her life: To be a well-celebrated writer, as simple as that. God, however, didn’t want me to be just any ordinary woman with simple hopes in life. He wants me to live a life full of greatness. So He decided to add some spices to my less-seasoned existence. He sprinkled in a cup-full of pain in my heart, dash it with a gallon of tears, and drop wonderful bits of surprises before shaking it over.

What I am right now is the upshot of that brilliant mixture. I will never know how strong I am without those seemingly happy, sad, and tragic incidents in my life that perfectly defined what I am today. I am not to say I’m happy that I lost a great love to the inexorable slash of death. I’ll be the most stupid and stone-hearted creature on earth if I say so. I will never be relieved of that painful thought. However, now I thankfully know the reason behind that tragedy. It is for me to find God once again and be able to accept a new mission in my life.

Come to think of it, had that tragedy didn’t happen to me, I might not be able to actually experience this great feeling of closeness to God. I may be just like the other people who know in their mind that God is God, but are never really putting Him in their hearts. Everything that I’m doing for my religion may just be an obligation to me had I not experienced that kind of pain. It was through that pain that God pulled me back closer to Him and made me feel His warm embrace. It was through that unwanted pain that I was able to see God as my father and not just a god that I have to worship.

God wants me to serve Him in my own way. He wants both me and Oliver to serve Him in our own special ways. We might not be able to do that if we’re together in this world that God decided to call one from us to be with Him and serve Him in His kingdom in heaven, and He deemed that Oliver is much deserving to be called that time than me since he’d already found his worthy purpose, and he’s such a good man that God didn’t want this sinful world to exploit his mind and character again. As for me, I still have lots of catching ups to do that I had to be left here. It was very excruciating at first, but as I went on with my growing faith in God, I’m slowly understanding the purpose of our meeting, our love story, and its tragic ending.

Now, aside from pursuing my long-time passion of being a well-celebrated writer (a true writer in that sense and not just writer-wannabes who are just wasting that spaces in the newspaper and magazines with their ‘posh’ beauty ideas), God instilled me another passion that I’ve yet to pursue once I’m ripe enough to do it…and that’s to reach out to those people who are still not aware of God’s existence or are too stubborn and moved by worldly things to follow God’s calling.

Yes, I’m claiming it now, I will be a missionary. I will go to various places all over the world to preach about the goodness of God. Never mind if this goal is a bit too complicated and dangerous, especially in Muslim places. I know God will be in this journey. I didn’t ask for this feeling. God was the one who put this realization in my heart, and that’s why I’m confident that I could make it.

I’m still a big-time sinner. I’m never a dutiful Christian. I still have my mood swings and I still can’t control my temper. I still feel I’m not worthy to be called the child of God. People might still say “kala q ba Christian ka, eh bakit ka ganyan?” to me whenever I did something wrong. But what I’m armed with now is that faith that God is working His way in my mind, my heart, and in my life. He’s slowly changing me. In time, my little baby-steps towards changing my negative traits will soon be manifested in my actions and in my words. In time, I will be deserving to be called a ‘Christian’ without people raising their brows after the declaration. In time, I will be able to help in making every nation a nation of God.

But for now, let me just use this little space in the web, my God-given talent, and my heart’s content in spreading the good news about God. I hope that in one way or the other, you may find in this thousand of words a piece of relief to rest your wary mind and heart.

God is forever goodJ



Wednesday, October 1, 2008

White Hat frozen Yogurt



Finally, i got to taste the frozen yogurt offering of White Hat in SM Mall of Asia. I was so curious of this fro-yo brand since i've been reading and hearing a lot about it for the past months.

and off i went to MOA just to have a taste of this fro-yo..

haplessly, white hat's fro-yo was not as yummy as i thought it to be..first of all, the yogurt is not that tangy..yogurt, i believe, must taste light in your tongue..with white hat, however, the fro-yo felt heavy on my tongue..oh well, perhaps it's because it's only 98% fat free..

what i also noticed about this fro-yo is that i felt thirsty after having my small cup, not like when i had my first large cup of California Berry's fro-yo.

Oh well, White Hat is not really as good and as yummy as i thought it to be..the only edge they have is their long choices of toppings..but above all, i stll prefer CaliforniaBerry over it:-)

Oliver's 27th Birthday


The memory of Oliver's birthday in 2003 is still vividly clear in my memory until now.. It was his first birthday with a very special someone..ahem,,that's me:-)




But really, according to him, his 23rd bday was the most memorable and special of all his birthdays since it was the very first time that he celebrated it with a girlfriend by his side. i don't know if he's saying the truth, but i believed him. i could see in his eyes the happiness and contentment he felt when we ended that day with a goodbye kiss..




The night before his birthday (30 sept 2003), he was actually having tantrums..feeling niya kse nde important sken ung bday niya..i was bluffing him kse that i have school on his birthday so im not sure if i could join him in his celebration..he was like 'ganon? nde ka ba pwedeng magabsent? ngaun nga lang aq magbbday na ksama ka eh tapos nde ka pa pala pede.."




I could really sense the 'tampo' in his voice that time, while I, on the other line, was trying very hard not to let out my almost uncontained laugh because of his reaction..




We ended the conversation that night with him having a sad heart cause he really believed im not gonna be there on his birthday the next day. If only he knows what im planning for his special day:-)




The next day, his birthday, i woke up super early and went straight to my cousin's house in malabon where i will pick up the specially made cake i ordered for oliver.




i was really supposed to surprise him with the cake beside his sleeping area in his room when he wakes up. unfortunately, nalate aq at nang magtext aq sa mama niya, his mom said he's alreay awake na and super anxious kse nde pa daw aq nagttext sa kaniya..adik tlga sken:-)




so since plan A was not feasible na that time, i opted to text him na lang and said that my class was cut short because my prof was absent kya i decided na lang to go to his house. i asked him to pick me up sa may kanto nila kse naman di ba, yoko namang bumaba ng street nila na may dala aqng malaking box ng cake--masyadong pa-sweet:-)




when i arrived in the area where he was supposed to fetch me, he wasn't there yet so i texted him and advised that im already waiting for him sa taas. when i saw him walking towards me with his 'gusot' hair, i immediately gave him the box of cake and sheepishly uttered 'happy birthday honey.'




man! he was really surprised! as in! i could see the astonishment in his eyes when he saw me and he saw the box..he was speechless for a moment, like as if he didn't know what to really say and how to actually react to the situation..




if only he could hug me tight and kiss me passionately that very moment, i know he would. dami lang tlgang taong dumadaan eh...




so we just went to his house. and yes, he was super proud of my gift to him..if only he could announce it to everyone in his neighborhood:-)




he immediately kept the cake in th e reft after showing it to his mom and tita..he took a bath and after few more minutes if dressing up, we left their house to celebrate his birthday in a place where we could enjoy our special moment of privacy:-)




but before we left, he even managed to make bilin to his mom not to eat the cake or never let anyone eat the cake..he wants that when he comes back, he could still see his complete name in the cake:-0




While we were on our way out, i asked him if he wants us to stay in his house na lang so he could also celebrate his birthday with his family..and he answered me with this: 'mas gusto q ikaw ang kasama q ngaung bday q..mas masaya aq kapag ikaw kasama q..."




touching noh? i could only blush.




we literally spent the whole day together--cuddling each other, whispering sweet nothings, and dreaming of our wonderful future together...




before the day breaks, i asked him to go home na since im sure his family would love to spend with him his birthday and i know that they also prepared something for him.,,though he doesn't really want, he still gave in kse nga i requested him to. im not that selfish to just have him all by myself on his day...his family must enjoy his birthday with him, too..




the minute he arrives in his house, he immediately called me up and we again chatted for more than an hour..he just can;t get enough of me..super addicted:-)




Oliver was so thankful of me because as he said, i made his 23rd bday so wonderful, meaningful, and very remarkable. and yes, that was his most happiest birthday ever:-)




His 23rd birthday was his first and last birthday we celebrated together..he wasn't able to celebrate his 24th bday with me, or with us, since few days before that, God called him to join Him again in His kingdom in heaven..




Today is Oliver's 27th birthday. Eventough we're very far apart, im pretty sure he's still celebrating it with me..im sure he's blissfully happy wherever he is now..




To my one and only true love, happy birthday..i'll be loving you for eternity:-) until we meet again...



You First Believed - Dyanne (original by hoku)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

I Am A Feeler

Another Career Quiz. Well enough. I have consistency in my personality and the career that best suits me:-)


http://www.kidzworld.com/quizzes/show/203

What's Your Job Personality?

You're A Feeler!
Although you can work well with others, you really prefer to go it alone. Your idea of a great Sunday afternoon is having the house to yourself so you can work on your latest masterpiece. You're in touch with the world around you and how others are feeling so you are best suited for a job as a social worker, painter, writer or a job that will exhibit all your talents, like a kindergarten or pre-school teacher. Imagine a day of playing house and finger painting while moulding the minds of others. That's a pretty cool opportunity!

Career Personality Quiz: What career best suits me?

**And this is the result:-)

What career will suit your personality?

This description is a generalisation. If it rings true, you've found your career type. If it doesn't, return to the quiz, decide whether you answered truthfully, and not by what you think you should answer. Redo your answers and read your new results.



You would be very happy in a career that utilised your level-headedness, and allowed you to work mainly on your own. You want a career that allows you to be creative, without having to be involved with lots of people. Some careers that would be perfect for you are:

Artist

Historian

Banker

Novelist

University Professor

Photographer

Vet

Paralegal

Graphic Designer

Online Content Developer

Webmaster

Producer

Managing Director

Nutritionist

Advertising

Nursing
You like working and being alone. You like to avoid attention at all costs. You tend to keep to yourself, and not interact much with the people around you. You enjoy spending time with a few a close friends. You like to listen to others, but don't like sharing much about yourself. You are very quiet and private.


You are very practical, and only act after thinking things through. You don't like being forced to answer quickly. You have to evaluate the situation completely. You make decisions based on what you can verify with your senses.



You like to be deeply involved in one or two special projects. You like to be behind the scenes. You are very logical and fair. You feel you should be honest with others and protect their feelings.



You trust your gut instincts. You are easily inspired and trust that inspiration. You are very innovative. You analyse things by looking at the big picture. You are concerned about how what you do affects others. You worry about your actions and the future. You tend to use a lot of metaphors and are very descriptive and colourful in your choice of language.



You are very creative, and get bored easily if you don't get to express yourself. You like to learn new things. You don�t like the same old routine. You like to leave your options open.


True enough!

http://quiz.ivillage.co.uk/cgi-bin/uk_work/tests/career.pl

Apple Took Another Personality Test

***Just thought of answering this personality quiz..and yes, it fits me perfectly right:-)

Your score on this personality test was 67%

Others see you as fresh, lively, charming, amusing, practical, and always interesting; someone who's constantly in the center of attention, but sufficiently well-balanced not to let it go to their head. They also see you as kind, considerate, and understanding; someone who'll always cheer them up and help them out.







Your score on this personality test was 67%
 

Others see you as fresh, lively, charming, amusing, practical, and always interesting; someone who's constantly in the center of attention, but sufficiently well-balanced not to let it go to their head. They also see you as kind, considerate, and understanding; someone who'll always cheer them up and help them out.

Personality Quiz
Take More Quizzes




http://www.gotoquiz.com/results/personality_quiz_1

Kusina Salud: A Secret Haven for Hungry Travelers in Laguna




I’ve always been fond of old stuff and things in the past: childhood memories, black and white flicks, the Maria Clara style garbs of the women, old melancholic songs, long forgotten print and television commercials, old furnishings, and prehistoric houses. Unlike the other yuppies my age who finds talking about history a total bore, with me everything about the things that occurred in the past deserves a good afternoon conversation over cups of coffee or tea. Other than the universe and stellar stars, nothing could ever fascinate me more than history.

When I joined the Kulinarya Tagala tour program of Ms. Tina Decal last November 06, 2007, my initial aim was just to deepen my journey to the past and enrich my knowledge of my Motherland’s history. I didn’t know that aside from filling my mind with information that I’m craving for, I could also get to have a feel of dining inside a humble old Filipino wooden house that was Kusina Salud, and with my stomach filled with sumptuous Pinoy meals the restaurant offers.

Located in Baranggay Sta. Cruz, Putol in San Pablo, Laguna, Kusina Salud is a long two-hour drive from Manila. That long ride, however, is definitely worth it once you get your feet step on the unperturbed ground of Kusina Salud.

A familiar feeling welcomed me when I walked inside the rustic, two-storey wooden house turned into a fine-dining restaurant owned and managed by well-known fashion matriarch Patis Tesoro’s daughter, Nina Tesoro-Poblador and her husband, Chef Paul Poblador. It was that same feeling I used to embrace in my heart whenever I visited my grandparents in Bulacan back when I was just a little girl in pigtail. The ambience inside Kusina Salud was so warm and homey that it never failed to induce in me that familiar feeling of wanting to rush to the kitchen and hug my loving Lola by the back while waiting for her well-prepared menudo.

According to Ms. Tina, Kusina Salud used to be the vacation house and comfort zone of Patis Tesoro. She bought it from a friend some years ago and decided to design the whole interior herself. No wonder the place was really like a reflection of Patis’ artistic yet eclectic side. When the family decided to turn the house into a fine-dining restaurant in October 2004, Patis let Chef Paul get a hand on some of the renovations for the house. Nonetheless, it seemed like the mother and the son-in-law have similar taste when it comes to interior designs as the old house-turned-into-a-restaurant still got to retain its rustic charm after few renovations made by Chef Paul. The walls are made of old callado beams and dividers salvaged from capiz windows. Several changes have also been made to accommodate its newfound function, which include the renovation of the silong, the extension of the receiving area to serve as a waiting lounge for guests, and the expansion of a hot kitchen just beyond the open kitchen adjoining the ground floor dining area.

The laid-back ambience inside Kusina Salud could really make any guests feel like they are actually dining inside their own abode by the countryside. The breezy interiors are laden with wooden tables and chairs, purposely mismatched, and antique décor. Plus, the sound of rolling brooks, chirping of birds, and the swaying of bamboos put off that relaxing feeling even more.

But wait, the food is yet to be served.

Since Kusina Salud was our first stop during that Kulinarya Tagala day tour, Chef Paul prepared for us a really mouth-watering set of Pinoy breakfast meals. Actually, the foods that were served were just your typical Filipino breakfast goodies we used to eat at home, only that, Chef Paul made them a lot better and tastier. Me and my co-travelers feasted our taste buds and tummies on delectable fried Adobo flakes, bangus belly with salted egg, longganisang Laguna with achara, which were all served with garlic rice, and with Laguna cheese omelet with bread. Being the natural coffee-lover that I am, I ordered for Pandan coffee instead of the hot chocolate so I could get to taste the other variant of my most-loved hot drink. The taste of Pandan coffee, however, was not as enticing as the usual 3-in-1 coffee I used to have at home.

Aside from its unique setting, Kusina Salud also prides itself with the scrumptious foods it offers the diners at very affordable prices. Though the dish may not look and sound like new for the locals, Chef Paul said that Kusina Salud is into reintroducing the classics but in a contemporary way. “It is the food that we all grew up eating, only better.” The reason for this is that Kusina Salud also hopes to instill appreciation of local cuisine to the young generation, whose palates are being increasingly shaped by fast foods and foreign dishes.

Some of the well-loved and best-selling dishes at Kusina Salud are Tinola sa Tanglad which is a native chicken in a lemongrass broth infused with baby papaya and young sili leaves, the Sinuglaw which is a salad of tossed fire-grilled pork belly and fish ceviche topped with fresh fettlehead fern and pickled radish, the Kalderetang Kalabaw--a traditional carabao-meat stew with organic tomatoes and bell peppers infused with spicy hot chilis, and the Sinugno which are farmed tilapia fillets wrapped in mustard leaves, stewed in rich coconut cream with fragrant local-ginger and green chilis. For the dessert, the Halo-halo ng Laguna is really a must-try with its tasty ingredients such as the kaong, nata de coco, sago, ube, langka, macapuno, and saba, pinipig, red mungo beans, topped with several scoops of mango ice cream and served creamy leche flan.

We finished off our breakfast with so much gusto—for the yummy foods that were served, for the warmth and homey ambiance surrounding us, and for the new friendship found among each one of us who shared the wonderful meal. Perhaps it was the homey setting and atmosphere at Kusina Salud that made each one of us comfortable with each other. The place certainly gave us a feel of the traditional Filipino dining experience—nonstop conversation on diverse topics, laughing over funny remarks, enjoying the taste of the food, and savoring each and every bit of the moment.

Indeed, Kusina Salud is really a silent haven for those who would want to leave the hustles and bustles of the busy world in the metropolis for a while. It is a sanctuary for people who yearn so much for the past that can never be brought back to the present. It is a home for anyone who loves everything about the Philippines and the people living there.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Four Years

Tomorrow will mark the fourth year that I accidentally welcomed this perpetual pain in my heart and in my life. It was around 1am of September 16, 2004, when the door of happiness shut itself from me. My world was crushed into tiny pieces. To be honest, I really didn’t know then how to still go on with my life. I felt like gasping every moment of my waking days.

Four years ago, the only love I know my life bid me goodbye to join the Mighty Creator in Heaven. Life was never the same for me since then. Four years and I had to live a life of pretensions and fantasies. I had to fake my strength, hoping eventually that I could be able to make it. I didn’t know that such tragic incident could really happen to me.

All my life, I only wished for one man to fill in the empty space in my heart and the one whom I’ll gladly spend the rest of my breathing days with. Indeed, I found that man. I found that single soul who really changed the way I looked at love and the world. I found that man who I could consider the sole person who was able to see me beyond my happy façade. He saw me through my glorious days and my downtrodden nights and he never showed a single hint of losing faith in me. He saw me through my ugly days, yet still found me charming and adorable.

We were so in love. We had lots of wonderful dreams for our future. We had our plan carefully mapped out. We were one. Until that day that God decided to call him back to His kingdom. As much as I want to contest, there’s really no contesting the Creator. And so I had to give up.

I gave up. I surrendered. I’m hurting. Never had I imagined that I would experience and feel this piercing pain in my heart.

May God, who’d been my GREAT REFUGE and my WONDERFUL REASON FOR SURVIVAL through all those four years of struggle, bless me with a brand new heart who can now hope for better days to come.

Four years…how many more years must I wait before I could finally say ‘I’m sincerely okay’?

video

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Sagada: A Silent Sanctuary on top of the Mountains

Every now and then, there is a need for us to getaway from the hullabaloos of this life. The need to suddenly escape from the noise and troubles of the city life is inevitable for us to keep our sanity intact. Once in a while, we have to leave our comfort zones and break away from the confines that surround our everyday existence.

And what better way to have this so-called ‘great escape’ than to travel and uncover the beauty of the rest of the world? But of course, traveling here does not only mean going to the famous beaches or shopping hubs in and out of the country. It actually goes beyond that. Traveling as a way of retreating from the pandemonium of normal waking days means heading off to a strange place and finding your own silent sanctuary amidst the unfamiliarity of that place to you.

And for this great escape, let’s pack our bags and head on to Sagada.



Nestled at the upper end of the Malitep tributary of the Chico River, about 1,500 meters above sea level in the central Cordillera, there lay a haven that’s still kept untouched until now--Sagada. Despite the popularity of the place among tourists and local travelers, Sagada is still able to preserve its traditional cultures and natural charm. Its lofty little town, dirt-free air, and sights of towering pine trees, for every visitor, represents an ambiance of tranquility and peaceful life. Though a bit of modern technology had already reached this small village, the conservative values and customs of this small town’s inhabitants are still apparent. A curfew is carefully carried out by local authorities, thus, as early as 9:00 in the evening, people are already sent home. The people gladly follow the ordinance since for them, it’s one of the ways to help them preserve their town’s organized life and to avoid strangers to go beyond their traditional culture.

Sagada locals are inherently friendly as long as one knows how to stay in his/her place. If you are taking a photograph with a particular person as a subject, ALWAYS ask permission first. If it’s a local holiday (obaya) wherein one is not allowed to go to particular places, RESPECT it. Otherwise, something unpleasant may happen which has occurred many times in the past. Respect Sagada traditions and the gesture will be returned back.
Because of its temperate weather, undisturbed environment and the presence of towering pine trees, foreign visitors simply describe Sagada as their home in the Philippines.


The Magic of Sagada

For those who love adventures and likes vigorous activities such as spelunking, trekking, and mountain climbing, Sagada is the perfect place for you. Nature-lovers, however, would also love walking down the trail with wonderful natural sights to behold.

Upon arriving in the town proper of Sagada, tourists are asked to register their names in the tourism office located few steps away from the bus drop-off point. This way, the local officials would know who the visitors of that day are so it won’t be hard to identify them should there be any problem or accident that may occur. At the tourism office, every tourist will be asked to pay a registration fee of P10.00, a small amount that could help maintain the cleanliness of Sagada. An instruction/special guide on how to go along the town safe and sound will be provided, as well as a map the places of interests.

Since time immemorial, Sagada is popularly known for its subterranean caves used as burial grounds by the natives, eminent limestone cliffs and nearby scenic falls. Some caves like Sumaging, the deepest and the biggest, requires strong endurance and enthusiasm.

Other stunning destinations are Bomod-ok and Bokong Falls, Danom Lake and Weaving Shops. Trekking the nearby mountains is an ultimate experience although it must be done with local guides. There are simple trails for short hikes which are leading to some picturesque summits, and can be easily done in one day, or longer for those who may want to camp out. Those who came with motorbikes and mountainbikes, all trails inside Sagada are excellent courses for hi-adrenalin trips. Sagada may not have the luxury of hi-tech society but it has the abundance not even a well traveled man have ever experienced anywhere in the Philippines.

Other places and spots that should not be missed when in Sagada are the Echo Valley—where you can actually hear your name being called back by the mountains three times; the Underground River—a tough challenge in itself since the trail is very steep and slippery and is covered with vegetation; Sagada Rice Terraces—the town’s version of the famous Banaue Rice Terraces; St. Mary’s Episcopal Church; the creepy cemetery; and the Calvary.
Aside from these marvelous sights, travelers also flock in Sagada to try the famo
us restaurants there such as the Elena’s Lemon Pie House, The Shamrock Restaurant, Alfredo’s, Masfere’s Inn, Bana’s Café—which serves the best buttered chicken in town, and the prominent Yoghurt House which is known for its homemade yoghurts covered with granola and a choice of fresh strawberries, bananas, and mangoes.




Where to Stay

Before packing your stuff and head on to Sagada, remember to check on the Internet the places to stay when in Sagada. It’s best to get their contact numbers and accommodation rates for reservation to ensure that you will have a place to stay when you get there.

There are a number of transient houses in Sagada that you can choose. The accommodation rate ranges from 150-300 per head per night. Some of the well-known lodging and pension houses are the Sagada Igorot Inn, Alfredo’s Inn, St. Joseph’s Rest house, Ganduyan Rest house, the Green House, Olahbinan Rest house, Traveler’s Inn, Mapiya-aw Pension House, Pines View Inn, Rock Valley Inn, A-Seven House, Residential Lodge, and George Guest House. All these pension houses offer a cozy cabin-like accommodations and breathtaking views. Some guesthouses have their own dining rooms, while some don’t. There are also some houses that you can rent in full so you could have the privacy and comfortability that you need. These houses are not advertised or promoted in town, so it’s best to ask the locals when you get to Sagada and they could refer you to the owner of that house.

If you want to have a feel of what it’s like to live and spend a couple of days with the locals, you have an option of renting a room in one of the residential houses in the village since there are some locals who make a room in their house available for the travelers and tourists, especially during the peak season when almost all the pension houses are fully-booked.




How to get there

There are two ways to get to Sagada from Manila: either you ride a bus going to Baguio or a bus going to Banaue.

If you opt to pass by Baguio first before going to Sagada, there are available buses in Cubao, Avenida, and Pasay. The fare is around P300-P370. The best time to leave from Manila to Baguio is 10:00 in the evening so you can get to the terminal of Lizardo Transit (the bus going to Sagada) by 4:00-5:00 in the morning of the next day—just in time for the first trip of the bus going to Sagada. The bus fare is P220.00 and the approximate length of travel time from Baguio to Sagada is 6 hours.

The Banaue route is also recommendable if you want to take a side-trip to Banaue and see the famous Banaue Rice Terraces. To get there, you may take the Autobus transport with terminal in Cubao, which leaves around 10pm. The fare is approximately P400-470 and the travel time is 12 hours maximum. From Banaue, you take a tricycle from the terminal going to the town proper of Banaue, and from there, you can take a jeepney bound for Bontoc. The fare is P35 and travel time is 2 hours. From Bontoc, take a jeepney going to Sagada which is another 1/1/2 hour ride.

The road to Sagada may quite be an ordeal, especially for people who are not used to traveling long hours. Nonetheless, the long ride is definitely worth it once you set your feet on Sagada. The marvelous sights of endless rows of mountains, vegetable plantations, and crop terraces certainly add up to the excitement of the journey.

Going back to Manila, the two options are still available. A cable car, however, is available in Bontoc which is already directly bound to Manila so you won’t have to stop-over at Banaue anymore. The cable car has only a single trip everyday, which is only every 3pm. The fare is P500 and the travel time is roughly 12-13 hours. If you don’t prefer this way, you may take the route going back to Baguio through the Lizardo transit.

Why is it a perfect sanctuary for writers?

Writers, most often need a time for themselves to recharge their minds with awe-inspiring thoughts and ideas again. And for that, traveling could perhaps be considered a perfect pill. When a writer left his/her comfort zone and head on to an unfamiliar place and went back home filled with heartfelt inspiration to write about the place he/she had been, then perhaps, that writer gladly found a silent sanctuary in that unfamiliar place.

As for this writer, her silent sanctuary was found in the little town of Sagada, Mountain Province, where life is simple, blissful, and the people know how to care for the environment.





Friday, September 12, 2008

Things I Will Tell To My 1998-Self



If you will tell something to your 1998 self, what would it be?"


Just heard this forum question from 99.5 Rt last Friday on my way to the office. And yes, I'm super strucked by this. It was like suddenyl, I caught myself into thinking how my life was back in 1998. I caught myself reminiscing the good old wonderful 1998 days of my existence. A yearning to go back in time once again stunned me that the moment I opened my pc in the office, I immediately searched for the 1998 playlist in Imeem.

Hah! Life was pretty better in my past.


1998? February 1998 to be exact--I was in second year highschool. The 50th Anniversary of my dear Alma Mater had just transpired (we had a Folk Arts Tableau performance for this celebration in 12 December 1997). I believe during this time, I was so addicted to the juniors and seniors and I had an auditorium collection of all my crushes from the freshmen to the seniors (boys and girls alike!). I was so laid-back and jovial during these days. Laugh-laugh-laugh was all that me and my barkada loved to do most of the time (aside of course from running after our crushes!). Life was so easy and manageable then.


Now, if i had to say something to my 1998 self, i will tell her a lot of things. I will tell her the things she needs to know so she would be prepared. And the list goes...


*Stop going gagah over Fritz Silvala. He's not worth it! (though I must admit he really did add a lot of spices to my highschool days:-)


*Never wear a school skirt which length could reach your ankle. It's not cool. Especially if the fabric is "katya-like!" Eww!


*Pose your sweetest smile when being photographed for an ID picture. It would even be great if you will pose your awesome "korean pose"


*Don't cry just because the seniors (batch 1998) will be leaving the portals of ESPS in March 1998. Stop being emotional. Life is just a matter of saying hi and goodbye.


*You should have gathered all the books you can get inside the lockers of the seniors and the juniors. Be smart and practical. Either you sell those books in recto or keep them for your use the next school year:-)


*Never wear a "pang-Ninang" dress on your JS Prom. it's soo so baduy!


*Dance to your heart's desire on your JS Prom. So what if Fritz is not your partner? Your friends are enough to make that day a truly remarkable one.


*Don't be super "into" Moffats. The whole batch will laugh at you when they see you crying over the news of Moffats' sudden death:-)


*Don't let JERIC UMALI stain your friendship with SP and Paolo. He's also not worth it.


*Study and study trigonometry for you will have your first taste of "line of 7" grade during the first quarter of your senior year if you don't.


*Enjoy your retreat with your new-found friends in St. Martin. However, never let Pearlen Mananquil sexually harrassed you in front of the priest or you will be ridiculed.


*Don't laugh at MYRA Torio when she'll slip on the floor of the stairs or you will bout with her friends (Hazel and co)


*Congratulate yourself for you were able to bout with Hazel and co in front of the school after class.


*Don't let Karl Venedict Del Rosario influence you.


*Join the 69ow or the Hanky Boys so you will know how it feels like to dance at the center while everyone else is watching you.


*Take a camera with you when you go swimming at BonBon with III-St Ignatius. That moment will never happen again.


*order lots of copies of your pictures during the III-St. Ignatius retreat at Tagaytay. That's worth keeping.


*Never play like MTV or Channel V vjs during your computer class or you will be busted by MAHAL.


*Enjoy each and every moment you spent attending First Friday Masses or church practices and all. You will miss all those moments and especially the wonderful praise songs.


*You will win an essay writing contest during your senior year so don't underrate yourself.


*Never ever feel insecure. you will be blessed more after graduation.


*You will meet "the one" and "your only true love" in october 2002. He will love you more than his own life and would even give it up just to show how much he loves you.


*Your heart will be totally crushed in 2004 so better be prepared.


*You will meet a lot of bitches and assholes in the real world but as long as you have God, you believe in your wonderful self, and you have great and wonderful family and friends around, life is always a bliss:-)


To be honest, I believe I still have lots of things to tell to my 1998 self. I might have missed out on somethings. Nevertheless, i know these things could have prepared me for my 2008 self had I known what will happen to me ten years after. But that's how life is. Full of surprises.


Chill:-)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

California Berry: Your Cup of Goodness!





Ice cream or yogurt?
Two options. One critical decision you’d have to think of before indulging yourself to yumminess. For those natural dessert lovers, the former would definitely be their major choice. Health-conscious dessert-lovers, however, would probably opt for the latter as it has been well known to be healthy and good for the body.


How about mixing the great qualities of these two equally delicious desserts into one product that is sure to melt your heart of cravings?


People nowadays are getting more health-conscious; the growing popularity of healthy foods being offered in the market is really inevitable. Yogurt, for one, has been experiencing warm and favorable reception since it’s been introduced in the market. In the Philippines, yogurt is being enjoyed more when it’s frozen or ice cream-like, thus, the bloom of the frozen yogurt business in the country.


Yogurt’s rich, creamy texture is the result of milk fermentation and coagulation—adding a tangy, slightly astringent characteristic with unique zest in its flavor. Aside from its undeniable addicting taste, yogurt is loaded with calcium, phosphorus, Vitamin B, riboflavin, protein, lactic acid and at the same time, helping you to lose weight.


The presence of live cultures or bacteria in yogurt helps to restore the intestinal tract to normal after antibiotic intake, at the same time help reduce the growth of harmful bacteria in the intestines. Also known as probiotics, it also helps in prevention of constipation and eases diarrhea.



As the rise in healthy dessert options come into picture, more and more frozen yogurt companies are competing in the market. There is only one brand that can be truly called the leader since it is the only company to bring in the original ingredients from one of the biggest chain stores in Los Angeles, California – CaliforniaBerry.


Located in the upscale spot of Silver City Mall, Frontera Verde, Julia Vargas, Ortigas Center, CaliforniaBerry just opened its doors to the public through a soft opening last July 26, 2008. An established and popular yogurt brand in the US, CaliforniaBerry is surely a thrilling dessert sensation that will satisfy every Filipinos big sweet tooth—without the saccharine overdose!
The name CaliforniaBerry was derived from a simple reason that it originated in California with assorted berries as a favorite pair of most consumers of the product. Undeniably, the brand has established a real asset of its own and has gained product patronage many years ago, reflecting the amazing benefits and cutting edge features of authentic yogurt in each cup.


CaliforniaBerry’s frozen yogurt has distinctive similar physical properties of an ice cream, but surely a better dessert option since it is 100% fat-free, unlike other competing brands that still have remaining 2% fat content. It’s also good to know that it only has a meager 25 calories per ounce, compared to two scoops of vanilla ice cream which has about 145 calories per serving--not including the cone. Thus, a healthier option but still truly satisfying finale to your meal.



With CaliforniaBerry’s yogurt, you can simply enjoy the real, delicious goodness of milk and experience the right way a yogurt should be made: complete with live active cultures from a dairy plant which has passed the sanitation and federal state rules. Consumers are also assured that they enjoy a fresh and spotless product since all ingredients are being prepared same day they serve it.


Enjoy the plain, fat-free CaliforniaBerry yogurt starting at an affordable price of Php60 for small, Php85 for medium, and Php115 for large. Order a medium or large size and add pizzazz to its unique flavor by adding your favorite three topping combinations for a price of only Php30. Toppings available are from candies, cereal, chocolates, to syrup—with fresh fruits and nuts as constant favorite varieties. Chocoholics and candy lovers will surely go crazy with chocolate chip, white chocolate chip, M&M’s, cookies and cream, rainbow sprinkles, and marshmallow. While rice crispies, almond clusters, blueberry, cherry, strawberry, green apple, peach, pineapple,
mango, kiwi, and banana double up the health benefits and taste of CaliforniaBerry’s silky
smooth, natural yogurt. Customers can also try CaliforniaBerry’s Signature® Flavors.
The company’s thrust to push yogurt as a part of everyone’s hip lifestyle statement is an evident truth to media-centric go-getters who constantly want to be in their pink of health and shape. CaliforniaBerry Yogurt Company Inc. Philippines marketing director Kirkland Whang adds, “Initial target market was the yuppies, but eventually we noticed the quick attraction of a much wider range of customers including kids and people of different ages. We believe that it is also because our store offers a gracious appeal, hip ambience, and good service—other factors that sum up a delightful “CaliforniaBerry experience”.



CaliforniaBerry Yogurt Company Inc. Philippines is also keen to have at least 3 branches by the end of 2008 for a greater reach of families, as one of its primary target markets.
So, the next time you feel like satiating for a cold ice cream but wary of its horrifying calorific contents, switch to CaliforniaBerry and indulge your senses in their nutritious yogurt selections. After all, enjoying a dessert doesn’t always have to be guilt-ridden.


CaliforniaBerry is in the ground floor of Silver City Mall, Julia Vargas Ave. Ortigas City. Parking is free for the first 10 mins. For more information, please check out www.californiaberry.net or www.californiaberry.multiply.com

YTRIP: The Young Filipinos’ Journey Towards Discovering Their Own Heritage and Culture


How can you love something you don’t wholeheartedly know?

Thus is the question being asked by YTRIP volunteers to the Filipino people—and to themselves.

Truly, how can you say you love the Philippines and you love being a Filipino if you are oblivious of our nation’s history? Of our culture and heritage? How dare you say you love this country if you first dreamed of touring the scenic spots of other countries than to set-your-sights to the picturesque places in our homeland?

These questions and such thoughts were what prompted the founders of YTRIP to put up an organization that could help educate the Filipino people—especially the new generation—of the importance of knowing our own history and discovering the heritage and memoirs enveloped in every place in the Philippines.

YTRIP or Youth Tourism Response-Philippines is a group effort of young Filipinos who want to spread the good news about the Philippines and its wonderful places. Clare Amador, however, is said to be the fire that burned the flame. “YTRIP is actually a barkada effort of me and my friends and with some help from our families, too,” shared Clare who is a freelance Researcher by profession. “Since I’m a passionate traveler and I love discovering historical stuff, I told myself ‘why not help the country through my passion?’ if I can’t take care of the orphans, at least I can do something.”

Clare then shared the idea with her friends, Lesly Umali, Anne Elicano, Olive Castillo, May Anne Umaly, Pam Sevidal who all supported the idea of YTRiP because they all shared the same passion. And together, they led the way into the realization of a once unpromising dream.

“We had fun since we feel that YTRIP is our response to the problems we see in our country,” added Clare. “It is our way of responding to the needs of our community. And whenever we have trips or advocacy campaigns, we are also asking people to respond to those problems.”


Clare further shared that she didn’t really see herself leading an organization such as this at a young age. She said that she was supposed to pursue with the idea in her mind when she reach age 35. The thought of waiting for 10 years more to make a move, however, changed her mind. “If I had to wait for 10 years more, baka buwag na ang Intramuros by then.”

Thus, in November of 2006, Clare and the rest of the group launched YTRIP. And since then, the response of the concerned Filipino people never fails to overwhelm the group. They’ve been receiving emails from different people of all ages and status who sincerely showed their gratitude and happiness that at least, somebody is taking a stand and making a brave move to change the course of the wind by promoting the country’s culture and heritage. And yes, this writer is also a proud member of this organization.

Her being a passionate traveler is just one of the reasons why of all the possible dogma for an advocacy campaign, Clare chose traveling as her channel of reaching out to her fellow Filipinos and her way to create a difference and show her love for her motherland. Furthermore, Clare clearly pointed up the importance of traveling in discerning and understanding one’s culture and heritage.

“Through traveling, the younger generation could meet and talk with the old ones and learn from them the stories of our past,” Clare shared. “The Tagalogs could meet the Maranaos, and both of them could discover what is beautiful and realize what is wrong. When one is able to bear a sense of national identity, it not only accepts the existence and interest in others but also enables one to go around other places, see other cultures and appreciate their significance.”
Since its induction in 2006, YTRIP had already coined various projects, which all aimed at promoting the Philippines tourism and culture. The projects include Photography for Non-photographers Session, the various Museums Walk, the Bahay Nakpil Walk, Afternoon with F. Sionil Jose, and the latest was the Food Trip sa Kape Isla in cooperation with the Phil. Coffee Board. The group also organized some historical tours projects in cooperation with the Filipinas Stamp Collectors Club and Old Manila Walks such as the Postal History Walking Tour and the Chinese Cemetery Walk. Moreover, the group is also doing trips in various public schools in the country to help educate the students more on the value of our history and why it’s important to know and understand them. The group also plans to provide field trips for public school students for free for they believe that if you give these young people access to travel opportunities, they would be able to decipher better and know better, and eventually be able to help the country.

YTRIP do organize domestic tours and special trips, too which are centered on cultural and natural heritage for any group, family, or barkada whether based in the Philippines or abroad. This is sort of a fundraising program to provide the field trips for public school students.

Clare finished off the talk with an inspiring note: “YTIP is basically giving people the chance to get to know the Philippines and its wonders without having to sacrifice their money a lot. If you’ll open their eyes to it, they’ll be more inspired.”




*****SIDEBAR*****

Are you interested in joining this group? Simply send Clare Amador an e-mail at
cattleya.amador@gmail.com or at youthtrip@gmail.com. Tell her why you want to be part of the group and what you can contribute for the promotion of tourism in our country. You can also visit their site at www.youthtrip.org or at ytrip.multiply.com.

Kapag May Ginugulo, May Binubuong Maganda


“When you feel that your life is
troubled now, believe that He is working things out to make everything a lot better for you…”



Thus uttered by our Pastor this Sunday’s church service—and that which really touched the very deep part of my mom’s heart. When I invited my mom to join me in the service last Saturday night, I was actually expecting to get a “tsaka na lang” answer from her. But no, I didn’t get that answer from her. Instead, she readily agreed to join me in the service.
The next day, while on our way to St. Thomas Square to attend the service, I was praying to God that He may touch my Mom through the day’s service and sharing and that she may find peace of mind and calmness of soul in whatever God’s message will be send out for the day.


And yes, God did hear my prayer. Not only did His words touch my Mom’s heart, but He even gave an answer to the questions that’s been running in her mind at present and even comforted her grief-stricken heart. Oh well, He also manifested His love and power to me that day.


For a couple of weeks now, our family’s been experiencing total sadness for the passing of my Tita Malu. It was the early dawn of June 21, 2008 when God peacefully carried on her tired physical body, which was long been battling with cancer, and welcomed her into His wonderful home in heaven. No, it wasn’t sudden. We were actually almost expecting that to occur—only that, we were still earnestly praying that what we’re expecting may not happen very soon. But it did, and it was very painful.


Nearly four year after the death of Oliver, I felt that familiar pain again—that pain which if only I could, I would really try to run away from my entire life. But I can’t, and we can’t. Seeing the gaunt, lifeless body of my once prettiest and cheerful Tita inside the coffin made me welcome that “most unwanted pain” again in my heart. That episode when we saw from a distance my tita’s coffin being brought near my lola’s house and seeing her lifeless body inside that metallic green box for the first time, was indeed one of the most painful part. Until now, I still can’t believe Tita Malu’s already gone for good.


Everyone in the family were totally devastated for this sad episode of our family’s drama—most especially my Tita’s husband and two little kids. We fought together as one united family in my Tita’s battle for cancer. We never stop praying for miracles. We never stop trusting God that everything will be well again with Tita Malu.


But that miracle we were all praying for didn’t happen. No matter how many pray-overs and healing masses/ceremonies, still Tita Malu didn’t survive that painful streak of cancer.
With this sad occurrence, can we say God is unjust and unfaithful to His people? Was he deaf with our prayers and blind and insensitive with our pains and sufferings?


NO. God is never unjust. Good thing that before Tita Malu left us, she was able to encourage the whole family to attend spiritual services at Loved Flock—the Catholic Community she was actively involved in with her husband. Through those spiritual seminars, my family got to know God more and feel Him much intimately in their hearts. True, they were always attending mass every Sundays, Fridays, and even Wednesdays, but their relationship to God is never different from that of an employee to his employer—distant and one-dimensional.


Perhaps, there were still questioning God at one point or the other. There may be some of us who, while badly missing Tita Malu, would think of turning his/her back away from God for he/she thinks that God is unjust and unfaithful for what He’d allow to occur in our family. But the good news is, God is very patient and understanding to us. He never carries grudges against His people for always exchanging Him for worldly pleasures and few moments of fun. Instead, He is always patiently waiting for us to realize His worth in our lives and make known to us of His great love for all His creations.


We may be in torturing pain right now, but just as what the Pastor this Sunday morning said, “When God is allowing this confusion and sorrow occur in your life, believe that He is cooking up something much greater for your own good…” And yes, these words from the Pastor made my mother cry. She told me that she felt that God was really talking to her this morning through those words from the Pastor. And yes, she never felt more relieved till now ever since Tita Malu left us. And glad I was more for I know that progressively, my Mom’s starting to have a more intimate relationship with God. He is indeed working His ways in my mother's life now.


God is never unfair. He is never deaf nor blind. Whatever circumstance we may be having right now, hard as it is, just believe that everything is with a wonderful purpose from God. I should know. I’ve been through hell and back when Oliver died, but now I’m glad to say that the God’s message for me through that painful event is slowly being uncovered to me. And yes, with God’s love, I am slowly getting by. I know that with this another painful event, God is again working His powerful ways to shower us with bountiful of love and blessings.
And whenever I feel down and out, missing Tita super bad, I just listen to this praise song that which never fails to comfort my grief-stricken heart now...


When the oceans rise and thunders roar
I will soar with you above the storm
Father you are king over the flood
I will be still and know you are God”

This Race Called 'Life'



“Don’t just start the race, finish it…”


That adage kept me contemplating for the past two Sundays that I attended the Fight and Be Better series of Victory Christian Fellowship in U-Belt. The series is focused on giving the people the will to fight and continue the journey of life whatever circumstance is and no matter how tough the struggles are. Angled on the Olympic games and the various inspirational stories of different Olympic players, the series aims to inspire and touch the hearts of those people—Christians or not—to put their trust in God alone and follow His will as we journey through this race called ‘life.’


One of the most remarkable Olympic videos shown to us during this Sunday’s service was that of John Stephen Akhwari from Tanzania. He completed the race last (3:25:17) with a bandaged right leg from a bad fall. What greatly moved me was Akhwari’s words:



“My country didn’t send me 5,000 miles to start the race; They sent me 5,000 miles to finish the race…”

Undoubtedly inspiring and very moving words from someone who’d already been slapped with reality that it is already super impossible for him to win the race that time. By the time Akhwari reached the finish line, the awarding for the said game was already done and the winner was already proclaimed. However, he didn’t give up. It didn’t matter whether the game’s already done, the audience was already living. What mattered to him that time was to get to the finish line, because that was his promise to his countrymen when they sent him to the Olympics. And finished the race he did—despite the odds, despite the bandage, the bruise, and despite being the last. At least, he was able to fulfill his promise to get to the finish line.

I wish I am Akhwari--persistent; true to his words; unmoved by the odds and difficult circumstances.


In our lives surrounded by various obstacles from day-to-day, it’s indeed quite tough to be still. There were times when at the pit of your sorrows, you almost want to take your own life. Depression is one great thing that hinders an individual from finishing the race of life victoriously.

I, for one, had experienced numerous miseries in my life of 25 summers. Some almost made me want to give up and immediately cut on the race before I get to the finish line. There were some which made me want to stop at the middle and go back to the starting line and never run the race at all.

I must admit, I’ve been a coward at some points in my life. When I’m being sent glitches, I often contemplate a lot whether to accept it and get on with my journey. Oftentimes than not, I would just stand on the starting line, anxiety-driven, and I would just withdraw from the game and turn my back on what could have been wonderful possibilities had I only choose to get on with the fight. I’ve been a loser in various episodes of my life’s drama.
Thankfully, I found Him. Since the day I embraced Him fully in my life, in my heart I could feel the assurance that life will be better again. The dark nights were over and done. And yes, I’m ready to welcome the sunny days again.

I’ve been through the worst pain a young woman in her early 20s could have experienced. I lost a great love through a glum reason of death. In all those years since the day I kissed him goodbye in that cold room, my life had been a hodge-podge of grief, guilt, half-hearted smiles, and hopelessness. Somewhere along the way, however, God might have felt that I can no longer bear the misery and emptiness in my heart, that he opted to get a firm grip of my hand so I could feel Him. And yes, I’ve never felt even better since then.
It was my growing faith in God that made me stay and continue this journey. It was my faith in Him that gave me strength and hope that life will be better again for me. It was God who silently and invisibly prompted me to continue the race until I get to the finish line.

Just last year, I lost a dear cousin. A couple of months ago, a Tita I so love and hold dearly in my heart passed away, too because of cancer. I could have hated God. I could have loathed His power and His presence in my life. I could have asked Him why He keeps on letting the sad things in my life happen. But I didn’t. I remained firm with my faith. I remained still.

No amount of sadness or destruction or depression could make me turn my back on God anymore. He is my only Savior. With Him I found the serenity of life. I am not a totally good person, but I know in time, my faith and love for God would eventually manifest in my actions and attitudes. I will not rush things.


Living a life of Christianity is never an easy thing. It takes courage, perseverance, patience, and persistence to be a good one. I’m still in the process of developing my new self towards the goodness of God.



I hope that all people in this world could realize as early as now that God is love. He is not just there commanding and demanding. He is our ‘father.’ Let us all be still with our faith in Him no matter what, for He is forever still in His love for us no matter how bad we always are.


Let us all finish this race of life glorifying and praising the mighty Creator who breathe life in all of us.



The Sunscreen Song

By Baz Luhrmann

One of my favorite songs, is commonly referred to as "The Sunscreen Song". It is what sounds like a commencement speech, set to music. In fact it is not a real commencement speech (though it should be!), but rather a column that appeared in the Chicago Tribune on June 1, 1997 entitled "ADVICE, LIKE YOUTH, PROBABLY JUST WASTED ON THE YOUNG" by staff writer Mary Schmich.

Sometime around Thursday, July 31, 1997, Mary's article found it's way onto the internet in the form of an email hoax, claiming to be the 1997 commencement address of Kurt Vonnegut to MIT grads. The real address that year was actually delivered by U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan on June 5. You can find it posted on MIT's website.

A year later, the email re-circulated claiming to be Kurt's commencement address to the Class of 1998!

The email caught the attention of Australian film director Baz Luhrmann, who is best known for two films — "Strictly Ballroom," about competitive dancing, and a 1996 remake of "Romeo and Juliet," starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes.

Luhrmann eventually tracked the source of the speech to Schmich, and contacted Chicago Tribune management to buy the rights to the words to turn it into a song. He took Quindon Tarver's "Everybody's Free (to Feel Good)" song, remixed it, and hired Sydney actor Lee Perry to read Schmich's "speech". The end result became the seven-minute long "Sunscreen Song".

The song received heavy airplay from American radio stations nationwide after KNRK in Portland aired an edited (about 4 1/2 minute) version in the spring of 1999 -- about the time of graduation that year. According to Luhrmann's label, Capitol Records, it became the most requested song on radio morning shows in Atlanta and PhiladelphiaThe lyrics to Everybody's Free to Wear Sunscreen, by Mary Schmich:

Wear sunscreen.

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they've faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you'll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can't grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine.

Don't worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4 p.m. on some idle Tuesday.

Do one thing every day that scares you.

Sing.

Don't be reckless with other people's hearts. Don't put up with people who are reckless with yours.

Floss.

Don't waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you're ahead, sometimes you're behind. The race is long and, in the end, it's only with yourself.

Remember compliments you receive. Forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Keep your old love letters. Throw away your old bank statements.

Stretch.

Don't feel guilty if you don't know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn't know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don't.

Get plenty of calcium.

Be kind to your knees. You'll miss them when they're gone.Maybe you'll marry, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll have children, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll divorce at 40, maybe you'll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary. Whatever you do, don't congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else's.

Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Don't be afraid of it or of what other people think of it. It's the greatest instrument you'll ever own.

Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room.

Read the directions, even if you don't follow them.

Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly.

Get to know your parents. You never know when they'll be gone for good.

Be nice to your siblings. They're your best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.

Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on.

Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young.

Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard.

Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft.

Travel.

Accept certain inalienable truths: Prices will rise. Politicians will philander. You, too, will get old. And when you do, you'll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble and children respected their elders.

Respect your elders.

Don't expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund. Maybe you'll have a wealthy spouse. But you never know when either one might run out.

Don't mess too much with your hair or by the time you're 40 it will look 85.

Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it's worth.

But trust me on the sunscreen.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Eraserheads Reunion Concert: Sa Wakas!

It took everyone six long years of waiting for this remarkable and seemingly impossible reunion to happen. And it did. And perhaps, that was the best reunion to ever happen in our generation. If there’s one common thing that could be observed during the Eraserheads Reunion concert last night, that would be the magical spark of excitement shown in the eyes of 20,000-40,000 people who graced the event. Never mind if we have to come as early as 3pm to the concert venue (the concert started 8:15pm) just so we’ll be ensured of a good spot inside, or if we have to stay under the scorching heat of the sun and seat on the grass and most often, big bits of stones, while waiting for the much-awaited to commence. All for the glory of the Eraserheads!

Ten minutes before the concert starts, a timer was shown on the large video walls. Just the timer alone already made everyone in the venue scream in super excitement. Nine (9) minutes and everyone was counting their hearts. And finally, the timer showed 00:00. And yes, no other band or performer had ever made my heart beat that fast because of overflowing excitement, than the Eraserheads. I’m pretty sure, 99% of the audience last night did feel the same way, too.

Sa Wakas…

The first two words shown in the main video wall after the timer stopped to zero. Those two powerful words seemed like the entire definition of all the fans’ feelings that night. Then old pictures of the Eraserheads were shown on-screen. That was the first time that night that I felt super nostalgic that I just let tears fall from my eyes. And finally, the much awaited opening number.

“May isang umaga, na tayo’y magsasama..
Hayaan at halina sa Alapaap
O ano’ng sarap, haaa…

Hanggang sa dulo ng mundo
Hanggang maubos ang ubo
Hanggang maubos ang luha
Hanggang mahulog ang tala…..”


Cliché as it seems, but really, words aren’t enough to explain my exact emotions that very moment Eraserheads showed on-stage and Ely Buendia started singing his most favorite E’heads song—Alapaap. Everyone was in high spirits and you could feel the sudden rush of energy in every soul inside that big concert venue. We all jumped for joy and gladly and fufillingly sang our hearts out and join E’heads in the singing.

No single moment could see the crowd passive or subdued during the Eraserheads performance last night. Even if we don’t exactly know the lyrics of some of the songs, everyone still joined in the singing. The feeling was so wonderful and intense.

Hearing the Eraserheads song again, not to mention being performed lively by no other than the icons themselves, I was like thrown immediately into the nostalgic field. I was like brought back to my good old elementary and highschool days when even at a young age, everyone was already singing to the tunes of the E’heads songs. For that very moment, I felt like a free-spirited highschool girl again. Add that to the fact that I saw some of my highschool schoolmates in the venue that night. That made me ratify that indeed, Eraserheads was really the most favorite band of Generation X and Y—the children of the Baby Boomers. In fact, most of the attendees last night were yuppies—those ranging from ages 20 to mid 30s. Only few teenagers were spotted during the night. It was like putting a big banner outside saying, NO TEENS ALLOWED INSIDE.

The Eraserheads belongs to our generation—and this I strongly claim. When our generation would think of the sunny summers of the 90s, the music of the Eraserheads will definitely be a part of our every trip. Their cut-throat music accompanied us in all our barkada outings, our class get-togethers, our after school practice for a certain project, our open forum moments, etc. Their songs comforted us during our ‘feeling down and out’ times in our teenage years. And yes, when we think of our generation, we think of the glorious days of the Eraserheads.

And then the band broke up in 2002. And all of us fans were like crashed in shock and desperation.

Six years after, we, unmoved fans of the Eraserheads, saw ourselves browsing in the net for news or update on whether the so-called Reunion Concert of the Eraserheads will push through. And when it was confirmed true, we searched and searched and waited for the final news on where to get the tickets when it was told that the concert will no longer be free. Three days before the concert, the news was published in various broadsheets and tabloids and even the net, stating the final venue of the concert and the ticket prices and where to get it. Thanks to my friend, Em, who didn’t bother asking me what ticket type do I like to purchase—Gen Admission or Patron. She just told me that she’d already brought a ticket for us for the Patron seat worth P1371.50. Oh well, I was just supposed to get the P800 + one since I was really on a very tight budget this month. However, it’s E’heads and there’s no way I should not have a budget for thisJ

Imagine, three days before the actual concert date for the announcing of the ticket prices and where to get it, and yet, the whole Fort Bonifacio Open Field was fully-loaded with solid E’heads fans. Indeed, the Eraserheads had never really lost their charm after all these years. They remain and will always be the ‘band that started it all.’

After performing their 15th song, we noticed Ely Buendia sat in slow motion. We thought then that it was just part of their performance or he’s just making some ‘moments.’ Then the timer was shown again—20:00.

The crowd patiently waited, still in super high spirits. Just then, the lights on the stage turned on. Raymund Marasigan, Marcus Adoro, and Buddy Zabala came in with some other people. Buddy introduced his name again and so were his other former bandmates on the stage. He then introduced the lady beside him who was actually Ely’s younger sister, Lally. Raymond asked for complete silence and uttered ‘we know you will understand.’ That made me nervous already. That somehow answered my uncanny thought on why was Ely not with them on stage. And then Lally read the short note, breaking the news that the concert will be cut-short because Ely was rushed into the hospital for chest pains. If I could just record in video the reaction of the thousands of people in the venue, you could see, like a flash, the smiles were like shut off our faces. Me, I felt like nailed into my position. I didn’t know what to think of. I was afraid that something bad may happen to Ely—that which I could not bear. I just prayed hard that Ely will be well again and that nothing serious happened to him.

Then, one of the executives from Radiohead (the events organizer/producer of the concert) stepped in and apologized for what happened and humbly asked everybody to pray in silence for a few minutes for Ely’s recovery.

Ten years ago, that scene could have resulted in to throwing of plastic mineral water bottles, boohs and waaahs. But that moment, like a Divine intervention, the whole place who was a couple of minutes roaring with excitement, was suddenly shut in great silence as everybody bowed their heads and prayed sincerely for Ely’s health. After that complete silence, those thousands of people slowly filled out the concert venue. The feeling was indeed weird as here we are, walking out of this concert venue, down-hearted for the sudden conclusion of our much-awaited reunion concert, while just a few minutes ago, we were all in ultra-electro-magnetic energy. But I know for sure, that even if we were partly disappointed with the conclusion, we were more of hoping and praying for the good health of Ely Buendia.

Walking along the street in Fort Bonifacio, my friend and I heard the song Alapaap playing in one of the cars parked along on the sidewalk. We can only sigh. *Sigh*

True, our generation might be the cohort of people, whom most old folks think as those who don’t really know what they want and what to do with their lives. We may be the worst for them. But really, while we were in complete silence last night, praying for one of our favorite vocalists health, I could feel from my very heart, that indeed, we are the generation who’s compassionate and who knows how to give due respect when needed.

As of this writing, reports have already circulated all over that Ely is already in a stable condition. I hope he will be in good condition for a long, long time. I could not bear losing Ely Buendia and the rest of the Eraserheads for good. Truly, there will always be one and only ‘Eraserheads.’ And I feel so grateful that I belong to the generation who put the E’heads into where they are now—silently residing into the very deep part of our hearts.

Rock on E’heads!