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!