Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Een klein nachtmuziek (A little night music).

Between watching Bridget Jones and playing online chess, came the loud sound of our doorbell. It was Romke and some friends. I've heard a lot about Romke. Romke this and Romke that. Hubby seems to have deep admiration for Romke. I only knew the man for a couple months, whereas he and hubby go as far back as the early nineties during their university days.

Romke is a very animated man. He waves his hands a lot while talking, and laughs hard. If you ask me, he´s not the typical mild-mannered, intellectual elite Dutch guy. In fact, he works as a mechanic....by choice mostly. I said by choice, because he also has a doctoral degree in electronics engineering.

But Romke is just a guy. When he talks, he´s just this lovable person who is full of wit and funny stories. He had never tried to impress me with his knowledge about math or physics, or anything for that matter. Nor did he try to make me feel that he was more clever than I. In fact, Romke was just plain Romke. Funny and adorably sweet. No bragging, no pretentions.

And tonight, Romke impressed me without trying. He played the piano for me. He started with short, abrupt and even careless lines from Mozart's themes and variations. I smiled politely. Then, he played a Louie Armstrong piece. I smiled encouragingly. He shifted to more advance pieces and swept me off my feet. There I was... in my own living room... listening to Bach's Partita no. 2 in Cminor.

For a moment, Romke stopped being the funny Romke. His music filled our room, and I sat there in awe. I was no longer smiling... I was listening intently to every note... every phrase and every section. Oh how his music moved me. My upright piano sounded like a Steinway grand piano, transporting me spiritually to the concert halls of Carnegie Hall. At that moment, the ordinary became extraordinary. And I.... I felt like I was touched by an angel. Romke's interpretation was so divine. Bach would have been so pleased!

Before he left, he invited me to visit his home. I smiled meekly. In my mind, I was thinking... I stopped being a pianist a long time ago. I could teach. I could show my students how to play certain lines. But I no longer have the passion, dedication, and the skill of a real performer. My rendition of that partita won't even come close to his.

I realized that one thing about the Dutch is that, when they learn something, they really give their hundred percent. Playing music is therefore not some hobby that they try to do to kill boredom or pass time. It is not functional either like the gamelan music of Indonesia or the Philippine kulintang music.

This may sound cliche because this is also true in other cultures of the world that I have studied, but music is in fact a part of the common Dutch character formation. It's a discipline... not something that they do in their leisure time but something that they do to find joy. Music is something that they master to achieve perfection..... for their own pleasure.

As for me, I am going to sleep with a wide smile on my face tonight. LOL

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Understanding football.

The Oranje lost. We lost. The desire to win and the determination not to be defeated has made a long journey. The Dutch is defeated and made an outcast, while Spain became the Reyes --- the unico hijo.

It is true that Oranje fought to dominate, control, lead, and protect its territory. Iniesta, Xavi, and even Puyol were, after all, trained by a former Dutch professional football player (said to be one of the greatest, who is known for his signature game, Total Football), Johan Cruijff. Of course, they will protect their territory .... their game against the clones.

What I have learned from this match is, man always wants to defeat the other. It does not matter whether he/she is a friend, a neighbor, classmate, or just a plain acquaintance. Man is bound to lead, control, and defend. It is pretty much like football.

Meanwhile, the fear of defeat and the desire to win made its debut on my facebook's wall. It actually took me by surprise. I thought the present day man is more sophisticated... more logical.

Then it dawned to me. The game was not really about who's the best. Victory meant that the Reyeses were able to withstand pressure longer than the Oranje. Was victory real then? How could it be real when the defeated was merely exhausted. When strength returns again, life will roll again on the field. The defeated will challenge again when the opportunity is presented, and this time they may be victorious and the winner may be defeated.

Believe it or not, this phenomenon happens everyday and everywhere, in the form of an argument or merely showing off. Meantime, there is no question of winning or losing because the real winner is Life itself. Why? Because it never argues. Life doesn't have the need to prove itself. It does not show off. It is merely a bystander.... an observer.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

I love you, Mom.

I was told that hours before my dear friend Amelia passed on to a higher form of existence, she scribbled on a piece of paper `I love you, Mom.´ She was blind, had suffered from myasthenia gravis for more than 2 decades and therefore could barely move... but there was that note. I love you, Mom.

I love you, Mom.

How often do we have the chance to say that to our mothers? And how often do we refrain ourselves from saying it because we are encumbered with pride and don't want to sound clingy and childish?

I always have a lump in my throat whenever I think of Amelia´s note.

Whereas here in the west, children are eager to cut ties with their parents and especially with their mothers, in the east we tend to cling on to our mothers for comfort, love, and wisdom. We feel elated to be told that we are like our mothers. We are proud when people compare us with our mothers.

When we are happy, we talk to our mothers. When we are deeply bothered by or consumed with something, we go to our mothers. When we are confused and couldn´t make a decision, we turn to our mothers. When we baked a nice pie, we share it with our mothers. When we are ill and suffering, we find comfort on the thought that our mothers are close by. Indeed, our mother is our first trusted, girlfriend.

Is it the Filipino folk Catholicism? You know, the Blessed Virgin Mary and Mother of God, is also our mother. And while others cringe with embarrassment and annoyance at the very thought that in the Philippines, we call the Blessed Virgin, Mamma Mary, we Filipino Catholics actually take comfort in knowing that we have another Mamma .....in heaven, that is.

As for Amelia, her last note said it all. I love you, Mom.

Saturday, June 19, 2010


It was the mid-eighties. We were a bunch of silly college students who all hail from the province, and were all passionate about discovering life in the Big City. Then one lazy weekend, Amy invited us to stay overnight at her place in Espana. We bought pizza and junk food, and we talked until the wee hours of the morning.

I still remember it vividly. It was almost dawn. The store across their house, was selling hot pan de sal already. We were lying on her bed.... still giggling and asking stupid questions about teenage crushes. Then out of nowhere came an announcement that was dropped on us like the twin sister of the Hiroshima bomb.

She sat there. Very composed and firm. She announced having retinitis pigmentosa... that she was going blind. Eden was silent. I was angry. I told her, ´ get second... third.. fourth... fifth opinion. I´m sure you will be cured.´

She smiled. There was no trace of anger or resentment. She said it was a progressive disease and there was no cure. She also said that if we truly were her good friends, we will help her find help to learn braille. I said, what? She smiled again, gently slapped my thigh and said for the second time, braille.

I was too proud to show my ignorance, so I didn't say anything. But the moment I arrived at the dormitory, I looked it up in the dictionary. There it was... braille: a system of writing and printing for blind or visually impaired people, in which varied arrangements of raised dots representing letters and numerals are identified by touch.

For months, years even, I struggled with the idea of Amy going blind. It was hard for me to picture her in my mind´s eye, as helpless, blind person. You see, among the three of us, Amy was the curious one. She always had brilliant ideas. More important, she was the matured one. We knew that she will go places.... that she will be Miss Big Time in no time... because for Amy, nothing is impossible.

Monday, June 7, 2010

stuffin' stuff.

"If everybody had the standard of living of the average European or American, we would probably need five new planets. But we've only got this one." These are the wise words of Jane Goodall, an English scientist who spent years observing the chimpanzees in the forest of Tanzania.

Five new planets. Imagine that! But she's absolutely right. Western people are fond of acquiring new stuff and collecting the old ones. One doesn´t have to look far.... my own garage is a classic example. It is stuffed with practically everything --- 95% of them are hand-me-downs from relatives and friends.

You see, I´m like my Ma. I collect garbage (things that no longer have value for others). Somehow, I find it difficult to throw anything that is still in good, working condition. I don't care if it doesn't look nice for as long as I can use it, I'd like to keep it. So old dressoirs, tables, fauteuils, bookcase, pans, even old electric heaters..... they all have a place in my garage!

I know that it's not about being attached to material wealth, because I'm not ... attached, that is. But when I look at an old dressoir for example, I don't see a furniture with an intricate design. I only see a beautiful piece of rose wood. And for me, it's a sin to throw such a beauty. My husband said that it will be recycled. But still, I don't have the heart to do it. I am hoping that someday, somehow... someone will have a place in her home for the old dressoir. But who am I kidding? This is Europe.

A very wise Ifugao once told me, `as long as man doesn´t realize that he can´t eat money, he will continue chopping down trees to have more money.´

It´s scary, I know. But how do we stop people from buying, acquiring, and collecting? Let's face it. We all work hard to have more money. Because if we have more money, we have more stuff. And if we have more stuff, we think we´ll be happier. We want to live like the average European or American.... surrounded by stuff. Contented and happy. Whatever that means.

So Dr. Goodall is an inspiration to me because her work helps us understand how to take better care of our Earth. Her passion and empathy is a proof that it is possible to make a positive difference for others. For indeed, "you can't live through a day without making an impact on the world. And we all have a choice about what sort of impact we will make."

Like her, I also want to make an impact.... a difference. Perhaps my approach is not really helping because right now, I am merely stuffing stuff! But....we´ll see.

I'm re-posting this... if only to remind myself not to buy more stuff!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

certified Dutch.

My townmate Jesusa posted a blog about a pink hat and cacti. When I saw the innocent picture, all I could think about were pretty phalluses... Oh yeah, you got that right. PHALLUSES. lol

This really bothered me. It made me think... and wonder. I wondered if I've seen too many 0900 evening shows. I wondered if I´ve frequented the De Wallen and the Sex Museum too many times! I wondered if I FINALLY am a certified Dutch now! HAHAHAHAHA

Before you judge me... please understand that I´m not generalizing and am not saying that Dutch and sex are synonymous. In my very first blog back in 2007, I said and let me quote myself on that:

`This country allows its citizens to be responsible individuals in every conceivable way. So you can buy soft drugs like marijuana over the counter in coffee shops, without running the risk of being arrested. You can buy and sell sex. The word we’re looking for here, is accountability. You are accountable for your behaviour, at all times.

So there.... :)

Friday, May 28, 2010

Third world.

An acquaintance shocked me the other day with his statement. He said, Moroccans are thieves and criminals. He continued and said that, they only cause trouble in this country and that they should be sent back to their third world country.

As I have said, I was shocked. So it took me awhile to recover. I really didn´t know what to say.

When I finally found the nerve to talk again, I asked him what made him say that. He said that that´s the reputation they (Moroccans) have here in the Netherlands and in Europe.

I asked him what he meant by Third world.

He laughed and said, "I can´t believe you don´t know what it means." He said, it means that people are poor.... and so they steal. It also means, according to him, that they are still in their beastly state. That men are tolerated to take two or more wives and could have sex in the bush, and that women still wear veils and are treated as possessions. Hence, the arranged marriage.

I asked him politely to quit generalizing. But he continued with his ramblings.

Somewhat annoyed and offended now, I cut him short and asked him what he thinks about the reputation of the Dutch abroad for being horny, drug addicts.

His reply was direct and snappy. He said, well, at least we are not Third World.

Imagine that! tsk.... tsk..... tsk.....

Saturday, April 10, 2010


We had been blessed with two beautiful weeks now. The temperature is high, and there's beauty anywhere you gaze. Yeah! This is how Spring should be like: refreshing... captivating... ethereal. Just like this song. Truly a joy in your heart.

A stick, a stone, it's the end of the road
It's the rest of a stump, it's a little alone

It's a sliver of glass, it is life, it's the sun
It is night, it is death, it's a trap, it's a gun

The oak when it blooms, a fox in the brush
The knot in the wood, the song of a thrush

The wood of the wind, a cliff, a fall
A scratch, a lump, it is nothing at all

It's the wind blowing free, it's the end of the slope
It's a beam, it's a void, it's a hunch, it's a hope

And the river bank talks of the waters of March
It's the end of the strain, It's the joy in your heart

The foot, the ground, the flesh and the bone
The beat of the road, a slingshot's stone

A truckload of bricks in the soft morning light
A shot of a gun in the dead of the night

A mile, a must, a thrust, a bump,
It's a girl, it's a rhyme, it's a cold, it's the mumps
The plan of the house, the body in bed
And the car that got stuck, it's the mud, it's the mud

A float, a drift, a flight, a wing
A hawk, a quail, oh, the promise of spring

And the river bank talks of the waters of March
It's the promise of life, it's the joy in your heart (repeat)

A point, a grain, a bee, a bite
A blink, a buzzard, a sudden stroke of night

A pin, a needle, a sting, a pain
A snail, a riddle, a wasp, a stain

A snake, a stick, it is John, it is Joe
A fish, a flash, a silvery glow

The bed of the well, the end of the line
The dismay on the face, it's a loss, it's a find

A spear, a spike, a point, a nail
A drip, drip, drip, drop, the end of the day

And the river bank talks of the waters of March
It's the promise of life in your heart, in your heart (repeat)

…the end of the road…a little alone

A sliver of glass, a life, the sun
A knife, a death, the end of the run

And the river bank talks of the waters of March
It's the promise of life, it's the joy in your heart

And the river bank talks of the waters of March
It's the promise of life, it's the joy in your heart

The waters of March…

And the river bank talks of the waters of March
It's the promise of life, it's the joy in your heart

The waters of March


And the original version...

Simply beautiful!

Saturday, April 3, 2010


For quite sometime now, I am convinced that the word LENT is of Dutch origin. Maybe it's not. But here's why I think it's Dutch. Lent (lente) means spring in Dutch. Spring means rebirth.

In Catholic tradition, Lent begins on Ash Wednesday which is normally sometime in February, and culminates in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, which is Easter of course, mostly sometime in late March or early April.

Among Christians, Lent is observed through penitence and self-denial by fasting (less drinking and smoking, no overeating) and abstinence (no impure thoughts, no fighting and arguing). People also try not to eat meat on Wednesdays and Fridays. So during Lent, there's an attempt to try to purify one's soul, one's spirit.... which leads to rebirth.

Anyway, here´s an exerpt of penitence and self-denial Philippine-style. This footage is a bit offensive to some. So please be warned.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Jungle life.

Aunt sent us (Ma included) an email about this 15-foot Eastern Diamondback rattle snake found just south of Jacksonville. Ma sent Aunt this naughty reply:

"In several parts of the Philippines last year, reports were made about large pythons being found on places thickly inhabited by people. This appeared abnormal since these animals are usually found in forests, near creeks, or in areas where their habitat is not disturbed.

In fact there was one big snake about two meters long just outside the halls of congress. So, a joke even went circulating around that probably the snake was looking for his relatives. And then someone remarked, " is it not that the tenants there are not snakes but crocodiles?"

opssss... lol

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Ik hou van jou.

One of the things that never impressed me about the Dutch is their music. Make that pop music. Reason: I find the language too direct and very unmusical. You see, whenever I listen to a Dutch song, I have the feeling that there is absolutely no feeling in it. The song sounds like a cacophony of words. No heart. No soul. As I've said, no feeling. Sorry for my bluntness but that's how I really felt about it before.

Until one day, a friend asked me to listen to this song to me. And just like that ..... I turned 180 degrees on my stand about their music. I acquired understanding about the people. I realized that the Dutch are not as direct and unmusical as I thought they were. They are just as romantic and eloquent (when it comes to love) as their French and Italian neighbours.

So here goes the song.... (there's an English and German translation, so you can understand what the song is all about.) Ik hou van jou is Dutch for I love you.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

More funny Dutch TV ads

I just saw this on TV a few minutes ago... It definitely belongs to the top 5! hahahahaha

Funny Dutch commercials.

Going on a date with a Dutch guy? Here's the most recent Mcdonalds ad. Watch the lady almost choke when her date told her "ik krijg nog geld van je... voor de burger" (you still owe me some money for the hamburger). LOL

This one is about "men hamburger" .... after a trip to McDonalds, the husband puts on that tight jeans and asked wife if his behind is dik (fat). Wife said "not really", which offended husband so he got upset and wished her a "happy weekend" on his way out. HAHAHAHAHA

This is what happens when you don't know the English language! HAHAHAHAHA

And my favorite .... a wholesome, family IKEA advertisement. Mommy forgot about the most important "toy". HAHAHAHAHAHA (I think this is Swedish, it's funny anyway... lol)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

just blogging.

Some people refuse to read newspapers. They say it only makes them feel miserable. Others become upset whenever they watch action films. They say, there's too much violence. Then there are those people who pretend and assume they read and understand you.

It's annoying.

People telling you what they think of you ... and people assuming that their way is the better way.

I've always maintained that life is both a duality and ambiguity. That what we perceive as truth should not be expressed by simple labels because it requires deep awareness of the duality that exist in terms of polarities. You know, good-evil; day-night; Fairy tales- action films; comic-tragic.

A deeper understanding of these labels therefore requires covering many layers of meaning. Not just one, but MANY.... including grasping the superficiality of ambuity. Of course, they both reflect mirror images of how we look at the world.

Therefore, my blog is just a blog. I write here about the things that call my attention. It doesn't bear a simple label. This is simply what it is. A blog that reflects mirror images of my life in Holland. Consider it as an art in a blank canvass. You decide how you´re going to make sense out of it.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Why birthdays make me nervous.

Everyday at around 11 AM, the woman in red would religiously pass by. Some days, she would drop few mails into our box. Mostly bills and invitations to buy stuff. Junk stuff. Other times, she would just walk passed our house.

Last Friday was a special day. I received a small envelop, with my name neatly written on it. I recognized the penmanship but I was not quite sure. I eagerly ripped it open like I normally do, and voila... a nice invitation. I was right after all. It was from my mother-in-law.

That's one thing about my in-laws. When they invite you, it doesn't matter what the occasion is, they always send invitations with all the details. Sometimes, it includes a road map, the parking arrangement, and our hotel room number (if the celebration is taking place out of town). You see, my father-in-law insists on paying close attention to details. He therefore gives you no room for mistakes or excuses either! HAHAHAHA

A few years back, this sort of formality made me nervous. I mean, it's not as if we haven't discussed the matter over the phone because believe me, we did! But as I've said, my father-in-law is very particular about these things.

I looked at the invitation. Oh yes, my dearest Pappa-in-law is turning 75 this year. It´s his Diamond Year. An ideal present would be a pair of diamond cufflings. But I am just a poor girl. I can't afford such expensive presents.

Whereas in the Philippines the most important day is Christmas Day, here in the Netherlands, it's your birthday. Kiddie parties are nice. The birthday celebrator wears a paper crown. The dining table is adorned with fresh flowers, and the celebrator´s chair is decorated with paper flowers or paper balloons. They also hang banderetas all over the living room and the dining table. It´s actually fun. The entire house looks very colorful.

Adult birthday on the other hand, is an entirely different story.

When I was single and was still living in the Philippines, I always looked forward to my birthdays. We even have a birthday leave in the Philippines. Meaning, you don´t have to report to work on your birthday and the best part about it is that you are entitled to it, and they pay you. HUH! Only in the Philippines!! HAHAHAHA

My collegues at work would take me out for dinner then, would split the bill among themselves. I can eat what I want --- I always choose the most expensive meal on the menu, drink as much wine as I want, and go dancing all night long. But only because they insist on it, plus the fact that they pay for everything.

There were also those birthdays I spent with my best friend. Just the two of us doing silly things like that one time that we ate pizza the whole night! :)

Whenever my birthday falls on a weekend, my siblings would then take me out. Same thing. They pay the bill. When my lawyer sisters have established good names for themselves, they started taking me to five star hotels where we dined and stayed for a weekend. My only task is to have fun and more fun. Don´t you just love my life then? I DO!!! HAHAHAHA

When I was a kid, having my birthday meant that I didn´t have to do my chores for a day. If we had fried chicken (in those days, we don´t eat chicken very often even though we have a poultry, and especially not my Ma´s mouth watering fried chicken!), I got the best and biggest part of the chicken. The leg! hehehe

In the beginning, Ma baked the cake. Later on, she didn´t have time anymore to bake, so we had pineapple pie, pianono and sometimes, egg pie from Legaspi (the neighboring province). Since it was my birthday, I had the liberty to have the biggest slice. No question asked from my other siblings.

The nicest part of my birthday, was the social telegram I got from my Pa annually. It was a big thing to me then .... still is, except that Pa passed away 7 years ago so the cards stopped coming.

Ahhhh... birthdays! How I love them...

Until I moved to the Netherlands. Birthdays became my most dreaded day of the year. Here's why....

Before my birthday, I spend two weekends scrubbing every nook and cranny of my house. My mother-in-law is coming, you see. Although she is a very nice lady and doesn't criticise my cleaning skills, she still is a Dutch woman.

She washes her glass window (come high and low... winter or summer) every 2 weeks. Her kitchen is like a page from a magazine. Everything shiny and smelling clean. The linens in her linen cabinet have cross-stitch and laces, and are labeled by months. The wine in their cellar is alphabetically arranged. The crytals and silver ware are sparkling clean. I could go on and on. Bottom line, she's a typical Dutch wife. She cleans, cooks, bakes, sews and makes clothes, does quilt, paints, has her ornamental and herbal plants in their gardens, drives a car and owns a bicycle. In other words, a general in her own kingdom!

So yes, I make an effort whenever they are coming for a visit. I don't want her to think that I am dirty or that I have a dirty household because I don't. I just think that it's a waste of time to scrub and wash my glass windows in Fall or during Winter. But I'm a naturalized Dutch citizen. I was not born and raised here. I only do glasses in Springtime and Summertime. hehehehe

I am getting side tracked. Going back to birthdays....

A week before my birthday, I spend at least 4 or 5 afternoons at supermarkets. I always forget something even though I have a list in my hand! And since I want to impress my guests, I only buy ingredients that I find or think are fresh and reputable (meaning, I know the brand and have used it before).

The day before my birthday, I am in the kitchen preparing and cooking. The whole day! I go to sleep late and get up early to do more cleaning... last minute vacuuming and dusting of furniture. The guests start arriving at 2 PM. Then the fun begins. It will be hours of waiting on people. You will hear me talk like an android until the last guest leaves. My lines would include: Would you like to have a cup of coffee or tea? How about a glass of orange juice? Apple juice maybe? Cola? Port wine? Oh, do you need an extra fork? I'll be right back. Petit four or a slice of cake? Apple pie with or without whipped cream?

Around 6 PM, dinner is served. Since we have a small table, buffet it is. The waiting on people goes on and on and on... By the time they have gone home, I am on the brink of a nervous breakdown, suffering from over-fatigue and am about to cry because I still have to clean my kitchen which looks pretty much like a war zone. HAHAHAHAHAHA

If you want to read more about Dutch birthdays, visit this website: http://everything2.com/title/Dutch+birthday+party+protocol

As for my father-in-law, he will be celebrating his 75th birthday in a castle. That's another thing about the Netherlands. You can rent a castle for one afternoon. Nice, isn't it?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


When I moved to this country 8 years ago, I was happy about my anonymity... not that I was famous ever. But the feeling that nobody knew who I was, made me feel good about myself.

There were times when I was treated like an elevator music. You know, they know that you are there but nobody really pays close attention to you because you stay in the background. I actually liked it. I was invisible and I felt invincible.

Until recently, I noticed that the owner of the Turkish bakeshop where I normally go for freshly baked bread, talks to me like we were long lost friends. Sometimes, he would offer Hubby and I to have real Turkish coffee with him. Whenever I am with friends, my friends get a small box of baklava for free. He said, he likes having me around because my laughter makes him happy. lol

The cashiers at the supermarket are quite friendly to me too. Before, they treated me like a moron... instructing me not to take the shopping basket home. Yes, home! Why would I do that? HAHAHAHA But now, they always greet me with a big smile (yes, even the grumpy ones) and there are times when I would get extra stamps for my free 4 euro savings booklet.

One time, the butcher gave me an extra drumstick. No occasion. He said, he was not charging me for it. When I asked why. He said, gewoon (just because.)

I also noticed that some of my neighbors are now waving at me. Before, they would rush to their houses and lock their doors behind them whenever they see me approaching. lol All right... I exaggerated. LOL But some of them did.

And here´s the best one so far. A few weeks back, I received this postcard (left) from our postman (postlady for female?) wherein she scribbled best wishes for the New Year. I was so moved by the gesture; the card is still on display on top of my piano like a trophy.

I actually don't remember doing anything special for her except that I always smile and wave at her whenever I see her. But I guess, the little things that we do for people that we often think are nothing special, do make them feel special because at the end of the day, people still want to be acknowledged... to be seen..... to be appreciated. As my Pa put it, there is nothing wrong with being courteous..... nothing wrong about smiling at people more often.

So there, SMILE .... it's a nice way to start your day anyway! :-)

Friday, January 22, 2010


Some people don't believe in karma, but I do. I believe that what goes round, comes round. I believe that you reap what you sow. I believe that when a person treats you badly, someone out there is going to get him/her too. BUT I don´t share the Mafia´s blood oath that if you take a life, you also have to pay it with (preferably) your own life. lol

My Mongolian friend does not share my view. One would think that Mongolia being close to Tibet, would have more Buddhist influences in their way of life. But my friend is obviously not one of them. She said that you have to fully understand the teachings of Buddha to understand karma. She also told me that you can not just choose the choice cuts of the meat, and forget about the rest.

While she was saying these things, I was imagining a Zen monk in white robe, meditating under a bodhi tree. I was being naughty of course, but I can not deny the fact that she does have a point.

The other week my 12-year-old neighbor was bullied, just a few meters away from her house. The boy who bullied her, biked behind her, called her names, and grabbed her eyeglasses. Her glasses fell on the ground and were broken into little pieces. Sophie chased the boy, and demanded for an explanation. The boy said that she has four eyes, and poked her.

Around the corner, came the brother of Sophie. He didn´t see the whole thing but he saw the boy poking his sister. So he came to the rescue of his little sister. He pushed the boy and kicked him.

What started as an innocent, kiddie fight, turned into a neighborhood event. Yes, at the height of winter... with the icy pavement and a freezing temperature, people came out of their houses to scold Tommy, the brother of Sophie. They started calling him names, and in less than 10 minutes, 4 police cars pulled over and started investigating. Yes, four!

The sobbing 12-year-old bully narrated an entirely different story, editing the part where he grabbed the eyeglasses. One of the neighbors gave him a nice hot milk-chocolate drink.

To make a long story short, the police had convinced the boy´s parents to file a a case against Tommy. At the same time, the boy´s parents were cursing Sophie and Tommy, leaving them totally demoralized.

What is wrong with this picture?

My point exactly. Why did the boy who started the fight go scot-free? He bullied Sophie and he grabbed her eyeglasses. There was obviously an attempt to harm her. Does that not count anymore?

It´s like, a burglar enters your home with every intention to steal. Are you just going to sit there and wait for him to take everything? Or are you going to fight for your honor? After all, he is in your territory?

Here´s what the police has to say to Sophie. If somebody attacks you, walk away. Don´t fight back. It´s against the law.

I felt bad for Sophie and Tommy, and their parents. In situations like those, I wish Superman or Spiderman would appear out of nowhere and grab that bully and toss him into the air!

But like I said, there is such thing as karma! I know that someone or something is going to teach that boy a good lesson somewhere, someday.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Ice Age.

Snow continues to fall, and the freezing condition continues.

In the years that I have lived here, I have never seen such severe winter like we have now. Everyday, I look out and feel the desolation. Newscasters emphasize that this is perhaps the coldest winter in more than 30 years.

Actually, I was hoping that the cold weather will only last for a week or so. But we have ice practically all around us, since the second week of December.

Last week, Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende said half in jest on national television that it would be nice if house owners will shovel snow and clear the sidewalks on all sides of their properties. He said that it is not compulsory but rather a desired behaviour of every responsible citizen of this country.

Meanwhile, my 7-year-old piano student Ramon, a gold medalist in ice skating and snow boarding, is extremely happy. He is enjoying every moment of this ice age... i mean, ice season. lol

As for me, I have noticed an abnormality in my shopping behaviour. I am hording whenever I go to the supermarket. Like there will be a food shortage or something. Hubby said that it's normal.

Let's just hope that this somber mood will be over soon, and I could go back to my afternoon walks again. :)

Monday, January 11, 2010

best of two worlds?

When you only see snow for more than a month, you tend to dream about the days in the sun. I did just that. I travelled back in time.... to June 2009. Not so long ago....

I was in my hometown. It was Pa's death anniversary. I wanted to prepare beef stew. So I got up early that morning, and went to the market. Well, after living in the Netherlands (meat land hahahahahaha) for quite some time now, I was in for a big surprise.

They weren't selling beef that day. It was Monday, and they only butcher cows on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. I was disappointed of course. But I remembered why.

You see, while we (because this is also home to me now) herald ourselves here in the west of living a healthy lifestyle for eating biologically grown vegetables, biological meat, etc...., there are actually people in some parts of the world who live healthier lives.

I am talking about those people who grow vegetables in their own backyard. People who don't know how to eat seafood spiced and marinated in exotic herbs & expensive wine. People who don't know the taste of genetically engineered meat injected with oil and margarine. These are the same people who only eat freshly butchered meat.... no refrigeration, no injections. That part of the world where children don´t know what Mcdonalds is, and fastfood means street food. They are the lucky ones, I think.

I remember when I was living in the Philippines.... when my diet was composed of rice, vegetable, and fish. When eating chocolate was a treat, and not a substitute for the emptiness I sometimes feel. When eating processed food meant scarce in food (due to natural calamities). When I didn't need to buy grapefruit to detoxify my body... When my life was complicated and I was healthier.

I'm not complaining. You see, the Netherlands has so many nice things to offer too. By the way, they also have lots of healthy food here. For one, the dairy products. There's cheese. When I was in the Philippines for 10 weeks last year, I started to crave for the caracter, brie, komijn, and gouda jong belegen cheeses that I eat on a regular basis here. I`m a certified cheese addict. lol

Aside from cheese, there's muesli and yoghurt. And meat. All sorts of meat, and especially after hunting season. My favorite is the beautiful, tasty fazant (pheasant) prepared in Burgundian wine and wild mushrooms.

In summer, there are too many varieties of fruits and vegetables available in the market. I remember seeing an artichoke for the first time. I thought it was one of those succulent ornamental plants! Imagine my surprise when my American cousin taught me how to prepare and eat it.... and yes, with hollandaise sauce! YUM! Ach... my ignorance. lol

I guess, I should be happy. After all, how many people are there in the world who have this luxury of living (experiencing life) in two different cultures? Yeah, I should be happy.. and grateful.

Friday, January 8, 2010


It's past midnight. I have a deadline, and as usual, I am cramming. lol Some things never change.

I am working on a project for a local museum. It's about the resistance during the Second World War. Yeah, it´s interesting for some, boring for others, and maybe too boring for those who can't & don´t want to relate. lol

Well, I actually like the topic. I learned a lot about my adopted hometown and the Netherlands in general. But most of all, I chose the topic because I, myself, like resisting --- whether it is for my innate desire for freedom, or just to play the role of a devil´s advocate.

I think we all love freedom, and to a certain degree, there is a resister in all of us.

This brought me to an unresolved dilemma which I can´t publicly discuss here. So I wandered far and away ... I was thinking, what is the role of resistance in our daily lives now? Do we still resist? Or do we just act unaffected and ignore what is going on? Has age and time cooled us down? ............... just wondering.....

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The big C.

Just before New Year, my cousin sent me a disturbing email about her stepfather who has colon cancer and is terminally ill. He is on his last stage, and has probably a month to live.

Today, I received a sad email from an old friend and classmate. She told me that her husband is suffering from cancer. Ronny is a good and loving husband, caring father, and a funny friend. He's a very jolly person. So you can understand why I am in deep shock. The world needs more people like him!

Mid last year, my uncle was diagnosed of cancer as well. He has been in and out of the hospital since then. Last December 30, he was released from the hospital to spend New Year with his family. I chatted with him right after his cell transplant just before Christmas. I actually didn´t want to talk with him but I thought that it´s high time I conquer my own fears.

You see, a few years ago, a good friend of Hubby also succumb to cancer. I was so freaked out when I found that he had cancer that I begged off to see him while he was being treated. He had brain cancer so it went very fast.

When we went to his burial, I had to literally drag myself to his coffin. I didn´t want to see him there. I wanted to have good memories of him... the times when we had barbecue parties and were simply hanging around and making music together. But at the wake, I had to see him and say goodbye to him.

Needless to say, it cost me sleepless night. I couldn´t believe that our tall, muscular, and tough friend was shrunk to skin and bones. I barely recognized him. And although there was this tiny smile on his lips, all I could see was his pain and suffering etched on his forhead.

Tonight, I pray for all those people suffering from the big C. I pray for their families and friends. I pray for Mel, Ronny and their two adorable daughters. And I pray for all my friends...... especially the ones that I have hurt, and who have hurt me....

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The street where I live.

This is how our otherwise empty street looked like last night. There were lots of beautiful fireworks that blanketed the pitch dark winter night skies. Everyone was eager to meet the NEW YEAR with a BIG BANG....!

People were outside their cozy homes, holding a glass of champagne on one hand while eating oliebollen on the other... and in between, shaking hands with their neighbors. I thought it was rather gezellig.

Today, 1st January 2010.... the heavens looked promising and somewhat enigmatic, but the air was bitter cold. I went for my usual walk, and followed the same old routine. This is Twente canal, traversing our street.

HAPPY NEW YEAR to all of you!!! Here's to the next 12 months of blogging. I have really learned a lot about (and from) all of you and I hope to read more of your heartwarming and sometimes funny stories. :)
Let the blogging begin!