Sunday, August 30, 2009

just blabbing...

People are still talking about them.... Edward Kennedy, Corazon Aquino, Michael Jackson. Old photographs, old articles, and past events are being dealt preponderantly with the description and analysis of past political and creative activities. The analyses being highly-opinionated and biased.

I am not criticizing anybody. I am merely stating that there seems to be a need for perspective in assessing the importance of events. Such events which often appears questionable. And what about the utter disregard for, you know, like which ones deserves relating, what should be analyzed, and for what purpose?

Media should be careful about what they air and publish because there are ignorant people out there who are open and susceptible to absorbing everything being said on the tube and on paper (that apparently appears to them) as The Truth. The commercial aspects of this media circus along with new means of communication, is leading to something horrible that I can not put my finger on. One of them being hate perhaps?

Enough already! Enough with the funerals, and the so-called documentation of that historic moment. I say, let the dead bury the dead.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

interview (Dutch-style)

When you go to an interview in the Netherlands, always remember that it's not enough that you speak Dutch. You should also speak their language --- their body language. Meaning, get into their minds and think like they do. If you have to, wear a klompen (wooden shoes). lol All right, that was uncalled for.

I went to another job interview. I applied for a teaching position. And I did not get the job because they said that I didn't have the eligibility diploma.

I spoke to Dutch friends and here's what they told me.... mostly, to comfort my wounded pride. lol

Anneke: if they didn't see your potential, they are not worth your time. Look for another school.

Geert: This is Holland. The land of diplomas. It is not enough that you have a masteral degree, or a certificate from Oxford or Yale. It is also important that they validate your diploma and see if it is of any use here.

Ben: Remember that in the Netherlands, people would like to think that we are all equal, although some are more equal than others. So if you go to an interview here, and act like you have more to offer than they asked for, you are automatically disqualified. In effect, you eliminated yourself. Why? Because you are no longer equals.

Irene: Most schools here are old-fashioned. They want to think they're progressive, but they're not. Educators and teachers can't think outside the box.

Sophie: Teachers at my school can be so chaotic. Teaching is just a job for them. They do it, and then they go home. You are too organized ... too good to join the faculty staff there. (don´t you just love Sophie? I do! lol)

At the end of the day, you realize that it's not about what other people have to say. It's about how you feel. Honestly, I felt that I could really make a difference there. But don't we all, think that we can make a difference? LOL

I am trained in both western and non-western music. I was, once upon a time, a faculty member of UP, the state university in my country. I actually belonged to the crème de la crème there, the intellectual elite. Whatever that means. LOL

But they are right in pointing out to me that I don't have the onderwijsbevoegheid (eligibility). Of course. Rules are rules (regels zijn regels).

Oh well.... next please.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Welcome to Holland.

Whenever I feel sad, am whining, or am wallowing up in self-pity because of a job that I didn´t get, or am simply being ungrateful ..... I often turn to a poem by Emily Perl Kingsley. The poem is entitled WELCOME TO HOLLAND. It´s beautiful so I´m sharing it with you.... :)

Welcome To Holland...... by Emily Perl Kingsley

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this......

When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."

"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."

But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It’s just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.

But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

new lingo.

When we were growing up, my siblings and I came up with this language that only the 5 of us can understand. You know, when we want to sneak out of the house and leave grandma in the dark....we speak in that language. Or, that time when we plotted against the maid. Or sometimes, when we just feel like conniving at winning a game.

So when we want to communicate with each other and isolate a playmate, a stranger, or grandma, we speak in our own lingo. The more vocabulary you have, the better it is. Oh yes, we were wicked and naughty then! lol

Years later came another sister. We initiated her of course with our lingo. And so, all 6 of us now speak that lingo with eloquence. My mom joined the ban-wagon and now speaks the language fluently as well. I guess she didn't want to be excluded, especially when we were talking about her. LOL

But this morning, my older sister emailed all of us that her only child came up with her own lingo, and practices on her! HAHAHAHAHAHA I guess, the 8-year-old poor girl got sick and tired listening to us whenever we speak to each other in our secret language. I don't blame her. I feel exactly the same everytime my students talk to each other in Twents. That's the local language in this region.

Anyway, my sister was complaining about it. Not only has she tried cleaning her ears to understand every single word that her child says, but she also must understand the meaning of each word. I pity her. LOL

I tried consoling her and told her that it goes without saying that her daughter has her genes! lol Ach... ya... as we say in my mother language, bilog an kinab-an (the world is round). Meaning, what goes round, comes round.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Minding one's business.

I got up early today... at 6:30 AM. That's early for a night owl like myself, who is restless and constantly moving around the house like a mad man afer midnight. My friends tease me about it, and call me a white witch. hahahahaha

But last night, I decided again (for the nth time) to go back to the morning rhythm and enjoy the sacred, early morning hours.

Hubby was already up by the time I got up. He was busy getting ready for work. I went to the kitchen and decided to boil water for coffee. Oh yes, I can't survive a day without a cup of coffee. It's not that I'm addicted to it. I simply can't go about my usual routine without a cup of good, strong, black coffee.

Years ago when I still used to smoke, breakfast is the best meal of the day for me because I only drink coffee and have cigar. But I stopped smoking 7 years ago, after being addicted to it for 17 years. Oh yes, I started young. lol

Anyway about this morning, after hubby left... I decided to take my laptop to the living room and check my mail from there. Normally, I do it upstairs, in our study room. But I was trying to wake up... and I wanted to hear good news from friends and relatives via e-mails, and NOT the ones you see on TV and make you wish that they have better things to say than those bloody, horrible things they show all the time.

I am getting sidetracked again. lol

As I was saying, I was enjoying the morning, drinking my coffee, reading the post of Grace... when I suddenly heard the sound of an ambulance. I looked outside the window. The ambulance stopped right outside our house. I was apprehensive to check. Who could it be now?

I waited... and then came another car. This time, the GP's car. A doctor in white suit rushed to the house of my neighbor who just moved in April last year, had a baby by July, and a divorce by December. I think the guy has a drinking problem. Anyway...

I looked around. I was happy to see that there were other neighbors looking through their windows too. But surprise, surprise... nobody went outside to check what was going on. Like me, they were simply looking out through their glass window.

This reminds me of a story. About a year or two ago, an elderly woman was found dead, lying in her kitchen, with broken wares around her. She was probably preparing a meal when the angel death came to fetch her. I stood outside her house, said a little prayer... and waited for her other neighbors to come out and say "goodbye" to her. Nobody came out, except for the mortician.. or was it the funeral director? I don't know. They were all wearing black suits. I can't tell who is who. But nobody from the neighborhood came... except for me, who was passing by, for my usual afternoon walk that day.

The thing about living in developed countries is that, in situations like this, people tend to stay indoors. They don't want to "pry" ... to show interest. It is as if, showing interest and being "compassionate" is unacceptable. Oh, and here's another thing. You are not welcome in the wake IF you do not receive a card from the family. How weird is that? Hubby said that it's not that they don't care. They do. It's just that there's really nothing they can do about it. He has a point, of course.

Here's another incident. One time, another neighbor had a baby and I wanted so badly to go there and congratulate the couple (I know the husband, and he had always been friendly to me). But my Dutch friends and acquaintances told me that I am not welcome there since the family did not send me a card, announcing the birth of their child. By neighbor I meant, two houses away from us! Pretty close, isn't it? Yet, no card.

Now, about this neighbor who was fetched by an ambulance just a few hours ago... my prayers and thoughts are with him. I hope that he'll be just fine. I really do. After all, he is only 26.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Return to sender.

I received a phone call from a stranger yesterday afternoon. The call was about a letter addressed to me that was dropped in her mailbox "by accident." She said that she could have thrown it away, but that that was not the right thing to do. So she asked her son to look for my last name in the telephone book, find my phone number, and call me.

Her instructions were simple. She asked me to pick it up at her home address. I was hesitant at first. I told her that she could just drop it at the post office next time she goes there. Then, there was this pregnant pause. She said that she doesn't go out of her house anymore. I felt ashamed at that point.

So I asked her for her home address. She said that she lives in... Vlu blah blah blah. I said, could you please repeat that again? She said, Vlu blah blah blah. I said, could you please say that slowly? I am not a native Dutch speaker. She said slowly, Vlu blah blah blah. For the nth time, I said, what was that again? Patiently, she repeated the street name.

It's not that I'm deaf or stupid. I just couldn't spell it on paper. So I asked her to spell it out for me.
And she said, sure, child. Then she started spelling it out for me. She said: F for Fluweelplein.... L for... ya, Fluweelplein. U for ....

At that point, I stopped her. I said, you know what, I'll just check the map. Luckily, I found it.

The thing is, when she said Fluweelplein, it sounded like: VLU-VIE-PLA-YEN. I couldn't understand her.

So I biked to her place. Expensive flat. Only two apartments for each floor.

I rang the bell. A fragile, old lady came out. She's 81 years old. She invited me in. She has a wonderful view of the entire city. Very nice... Her furniture were old, and expensive. The old lady did have an exquisite taste, I must add.

I thanked her for everything. But I felt like she wanted me to stay. So I stayed for a little longer. She told me that she just lost her husband. He had cancer of the brain. He was 81. I tried to console her by telling her that 81 is old, and that a lot of people die younger. My father passed away when he was 67. So for me, 81 is quite something.

Then, I realized how tactless I was when I saw the elderly woman's face froze. How could I be so clumsy! But of course, she is also 81. I might as well have said, you are old and may die now.

But I guess the thing about being old is that, you tend to let those small things... petty things really,... go unnoticed. I'm sure she was offended, but I didn't see her dwell on that nasty remark I made. Instead, she told me stories about how she and her husband spent summer last year. They went on a camping holiday in Giethoorn. Giethoorn is known for its beautiful canals. It's also called the Venice of the north.

I listened to her intently. She is talking about the past in present tense. I'm sure she wasn't stupid. But I know how it feels to lose a loved one. When my grandma passed away, it took me years to learn to talk about her in the past tense.

Later on, I went home with a smile on my face and a story that I will probably tell for the rest of my life. I've learned three things from that old woman.

One, you should always do the right thing.

Second, if you receive a letter that is not addressed to you, don't throw it away. Check out the telephone book for the person, contact him/her. Give that person the chance to read his/her letter.

And lastly, don't focus too much on people's shortcomings. Life is short. Forgive, forget.. and move on.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

almost over.

It's almost 3 AM. I'm tired but not sleepy. I was sitting outside in our backyard the whole evening, contemplating on what I've been doing the past few months. Every now and then, I would gaze at the sunflowers, corns and pumpkins I got from the market. I still have to put the flowers in a vase... and the corns and pumpkins have to be stored in the basement.

Then, I had a horrible realization that almost made me cry. Winter is coming!!! And yes, I'm not very fond of winter.

I know, the temperature is still high and I could still walk around in t-shirts and shorts. But the signs are there. The temperature is dropping by 1-2 degrees everyday. It slowly gets dark after 8 PM. The nights are somewhat darker. The birds no longer bother me at 4:30 AM. Besides, my student just told me this afternoon that school starts in less than 2 weeks. That is not so far away.

Yup,... summer 2009 is almost over.

I'm sad but am also looking forward to seeing my students again. Most of them went away for the summer holiday, and I actually miss them a lot. I figure that when school starts again, I won't be so lonely anymore. I will be busy with work, and my students will surely have lots of stories to tell. Also, I'll stop eating barbecue, drinking coke, and eating ice cream!

Can't believe I'm saying this. But yup, I'm actually happy that summer is almost over!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


I don't know if you've heard of naturist camps, or naturism for that matter. Well, I have. Or at least, that's what I thought.

Anyway, we were on our way back home. The sun was already setting, and we were becoming quite desperate looking for a campsite where we could stay for the night.

After driving through villages, and up & downhill, we finally saw a sign pointing to a campsite. We followed it. It led us to a forest in the middle of nowhere. We were quite happy about it because after driving the busy highways of Macon and Lyon, the stillness and serenity of the forest was definitely what we needed to calm our nerves and enjoy the evening.

I was already picturing in my mind's eye. We are going to have some salad, sausages, cheese, and lots of wine.

We saw a few cows on the meadow. Two cars with very friendly people riding it, I might add. They smiled and waved at us, as if we were old pals. We smiled and waved back. A waterfalls and a lake. We love the place already, although we haven't seen it yet. Hubby was already convincing me to consider staying for a few more days.

Well, after our trip around Auvergne, Rhone Alpes, Alpes de haute Provence, Alpes Maritime, Bouches de Rhone, and Monacco, I was really longing for home already. I gave hubby an encouraging smile, but didn't say anything. But I was impressed by the location.

As we entered the campsite, we were thrilled about the whole idea all the more because there were only few cars. Surprisingly, our car was the only Dutch car! (All the camps we've been to were occupied by Dutch campers mostly. Not only the camps, but the highways too.) So being the only Dutch campers in this particular camp now, made us gloat with pride. Imagine, the other Dutch campers did not discover this paradise camp! We were very proud of ourselves!

We went inside a quaint, charming cabin to inquire if they could accommodate us. An elderly guy greeted us with a friendly smile. He took one quick look at me, and said something in French. My husband translated it for me. At the same time, the French guy said in broken English "you been naturist camp before?" I smiled and said, no.

Hubby asked me if I were okay with it. I look at him, somewhat annoyed, and told him that it was okay. Meanwhile the French guy walked to his table and took out a brochure. He specifically pointed at the naked people. I laughed at him and reassured him that I've seen naked people before.

He said, ok. He then checked the computer. Meanwhile, hubby put his hand around my shoulder and said (this time in Dutch), are you sure you can walk around this camp in all your glory? I looked at him and said, what do you mean "all my glory?" I said, I don't mind if they walk around naked, for as long as I'm not naked.

Hubby then explained to me what naturist camps are all about. Truly, ignorance is not innocence but sin! Well the rest of the story,... I guess, you already know! hahahahaha

Saturday, August 8, 2009


I haven't seen him for years. There were times in my life when I thought he was dead. Maybe he was too, in my head... in my heart.

He resurfaces, like a ghost from the past. And just like that, my life begins to feel like a kite, spinning in mid-air, aimlessly flying, at the mercy of the wind.

Many times, I thought of him..... of what ifs and could have beens. The joyride. The happy days. The hole he bore. The sad melodies he sang. The malaise. The loss. The grief. The anguish.

We all have loved, and lost. I did too.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

knotting the knot.

My friend Candy is married to an English bloke. She had been married twice, and is now contemplating on getting another divorce. She claims being verbally and emotionally abused. And just last night, we spent hours talking about her problem.

I've been married for almost 8 years. Like any other marriage, ours is not perfect. We run into problems. Lots of them. Issues and disagreements mostly because of our cultural differences. Stresses and tempers. And many times, I thought it was over. Maybe, he did too.

However, we somehow manage to settle our differences. I realized that it's how we handle those inevitable things that defines us and our marriage. It determines how we grow as a couple. Learning and growing together is not always easy, as we all know. But it helps knot the knot, and build the foundation of our relationship.

Of course, I still get pretty upset everytime he pretends to be doctor when I'm ill, and would hush me for nagging him that I need a real doctor. I still get irked whenever he teases me about selling the house and moving to Rwanda. He still gets provoked everytime I badger him about his obsession, his experiments and projects; and how little time he spends on us.

Tja.... what can I say? It's our marriage, and it's imperfect.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

A Beautiful Life.

My 14-year-old niece wrote an essay on life. I was amazed. How could a girl of such tender age capture in words the very essence of life? Here it goes:

A Beautiful Life .......... by Chess C. Fajardo

For every smile that the sunrise brings, for every giggle that I hear them sing, for every hope that a new day gives, I wonder, how beautiful life truly is…

As I thought of this line, I slowly laid down the soft grass and breathed in its fresh aroma; I ran my fingers across the tender leaves of the grass and felt it at the tips of my hand. I fixed myself to the ground and never felt so relaxed before. As I enjoyed the early morning dew somehow invigorate my tired, exhausted body, I felt a slight shiver run through my spine. I was surprised to realize, that it made me blurt out a giggle than a shriek. Then, I smiled for, for the first time for quite sometime, I felt relaxed.

I gazed at the great blue horizon, realizing how terribly lucky I am to have laid eyes on the things that made each day of my life worth looking forward to. But its not really how things appear to be but the way you look at them. Some may look at a flower as just a part of a plant, that will eventually wilt and loose its beauty, but to me, it’s the most wonderful gift nature can ever offer. It may be the only reward that we get for all the efforts that we’ve given to take care of the plant but, if you really look deeper to the thought, it’s actually not the flower that counts but the happiness that it brings to our lives and the thought that with every hard work made by heart is a reward even the richest of the rich can’t ever buy.

I was staring blankly at the skies for quite some time there, until I was conscious again. I looked closely at the floating clouds and recalled such great memories which I daydreamt for what appeared to me as a minute or so. Then it made me think about life. Like a cloud, it can be like how you look at it or how you want it to be. Like a cloud, life can appear differently to different people.

Life is as one experience it. One has to drink deep of every moment… One has to learn how to enjoy and make the most out of every second…One has to learn to live…for, living is like the tip-toe between the fine line of life and death. Knowing life’s fragility as well as transcendence is what makes a glimpse of life worth an eternity.

So, like what one of the remarkable poets has stated, “Laugh and be merry better the world with a song, better the world with a blow in the teeth of a wrong….” That’s how we should spend every spilt second of our lives for you’ll never know when you’ll ever breathe your last. And so that, when time comes and death cradles your memoirs, these will remain as great treasures and everyone will remember it for what it was… “A beautiful life!”