Monday, October 06, 2014

October update

I don't understand how I managed to have not updated this blog for months now. Sometimes I ask my self why I still maintain it rather than shutting it down altogether. 

But I'm sentimental about how this blog has served as a kind of archive or journal of my experiences, so might as well trudge on despite the scant number of entries.

Anyway, here's a short update...

I've finally wrapped up the forum that I had been organizing since about six months ago. The forum could've been better, but it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. 

If anything, my motivation for working hard on the organization of the event is the fear that it would become a big hot mess. I've always been fuelled by insecurities and coordinating the forum was not different. 

Also, I am lucky to have such strong support from my colleagues, to whom I delegated many tasks. The teamwork in my office is astounding and I couldn't be more thankful.

With that forum over, I'm looking forward to my trip to Las Islas Filipinas a month from today. 

I haven't been home for three years! I truly deserve to take a break and visit my family and friends. 

I'll be in the Philippines for three weeks, spending most of my time in my hometown. I don't have plans for the trip other than spending time with my family and then probably spending a couple of nights on Siargao island. 

I hope I'll have more time to update this blog once I'm in Surigao. I don't know what to write about. That city is boring. 

Many of my friends have since left, even my brother and sister are not based there. I can imagine having lots of time with my mom and grandmother, which is not bad at all.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Not a Cover Girl

I'm delighted to report that I landed in two magazines lately. Now that explains why I've been absent from this blog, no? LoL.

No, I'm not on the cover of Time Magazine's '100 Most Influential People' (yet!). Nor was I People Magazine's 'Sexiest Bayot Alive' (yet!).

Last May my piece about summer in London appeared on Mabuhay, the in-flight magazine of Philippine Airlines. Read it here http://issuu.com/mabuhaymagazine/docs/mabuhay_may2014.


Forget the article. The highlight of the exposure is really my photo on the contributors' page. Is that sleazy or what? I didn't expect them to publish the photo; or at least I hoped they'd crop it. But no; I'm right on the page of Mabuhay in my semi-naked (un)glory.


And then for the June issue of Fashion Lab, a Phnom Penh-based magazine, I modelled a few clothes for an editorial entitled Wasting My Young Years. The title is a song by London Grammar, whose album was playing when we were shooting this on the last week April.

Fuchsiaboy took the photos. He's also Creative Director of Fashion Lab.

The sitting session was really simple. Fuchsiaboy draped a black cloth on his bookshelf and, using natural light, he snapped some photos. The outfits were military inspired; many of the garments came from thrift shops in Cambodia.

Fuchsiaboy instructed me just act languid. That was, of course, easy modelling.

I'm glad the photos came out fine.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Phnom Penh Visit

I've just came back to yet another trip to Cambodia. I recently started working again in my old office, so I had to process my work visa in Phnom Penh (I still don't understand why it has to be done abroad).

So on short notice, Fuchsiaboy kindly hosted me for a week in Phnom Penh.


I never actually explored the city as much as I wanted to when I visited PP last March. This time I attempted to discover the city a bit more.

I joined a guided tour of 1960's modern architecture in PP, which included stops at the Institute of Foreign Languages and the Olympic Stadium. Lately I've been interested in tropical architecture and the tour offered me a glimpse of how architects - or Vann Molyvann in the case of the buildings we visited - incorporate cooling systems in buildings.




 I would've wanted to see colonial architecture in PP as well; unfortunately, there were no such tours during my visit. I did a bit of exploration around the Royal Palace instead. I saw the UNESCO Building and the Mansion, the latter having been brought by the Foreign Correspondents' Club of PP.




The rest of the time I was mostly hanging out with Fuchsiaboy and his fierce gang. We went to the pool one time and then we had several dinners hosted by various Pinoys in PP.


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Kembot in Cambodia

I recently came back from a ten-day holiday in Cambodia with some very dear friends. God knows I need a brief break from being unemployed, no? Really, I'm tired of being so utterly useless, so it's nice to take my mind off the mounting sense of helplessness I have been feeling the past few months.

The first stop was Siem Reap, my third time in the popular tourist destination. There I met L, G, and J, who flew in from Ilo-ilo. It was G and J's first time to visit Siem Reap, therefore, a temple run was in order. The thrill of seeing the Angkor Wat complex never ceases despite repeated viewings.


We then traveled to Phnom Penh where we met FuchsiaBoy and R. The Ilonggo mafia only got bigger, di bala? (Fortunately, I understand Ilonggo!)

It's always exciting for me to visit a city for the first time. I didn't read beforehand on its must-sees, confident that FuchsiaBoy would show us around. Indeed, he brought us to some great restaurants in the city.


As for sight-seeing, I was gobsmacked by the scale of the Central Market. I especially love its grand curves and sharp angles.


For a bit of history, we paid a visit to the Choeung Ek Killing Fields and Tuol Sleng Prison. Both places left lasting traumas to Khmer society no thanks to the horrific rule of the Khmer Rouge. There was a heavy energy in these sites, of course; but still they are worth a visit.


The pack then went to Koh Rong, an island off the coast of Sihanoukville.


I've seen quite a few beaches in my life but nothing is as stunning as Koh Rong. From our guest house, we had to trek through a hill (or what felt like a mountain to me) for an hour. All my exhaustion went away when I first laid eyes on the clear blue water of Long Beach. Its sand was perfectly powdery white, almost blinding in the midday sun.

Long Beach has yet to see its share of infrastructure for tourists, and I hope it stays that way. It was simply kilometers of empty beach. Perfection, isn't it?

We lay on the grass, under the shade of a pine tree and did nothing but soak in the serenity of the beach. We also swam in the warm water, blissfully rocked by the gentle waves. Watching the sun set was the perfect ending to our day.


The following day we hired a boat to take us snorkelling and fishing, both of which did not go very well. I mean, fishing for bayots? I don't think so.


We ended up going back Long Beach to do more lounging on the beach and swimming. We simply couldn't get enough of the place.


On the side of the island where the accommodations are located, we stayed in huts just a few steps from the beach. Electricity was cut off at midnight. We were lulled by the sound of the waves lapping on the shore. And then we woke up to the cool sea breeze.

Here's hoping that Koh Rong is left undisturbed for years to come.

Guysh, guysh, thanks for the lovely time in Cambodia. Special thanks to L and R for making the trip possible. I had a blast and will treasure the memories from that trip. Until the next reunion...

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Back to the (Shutdown) City of Angels

So I've been in Bangkok for over a month now. There's really nothing else to say but that I'm happy to be back in what I feel is really my home for now.

There were so many things I missed about Bangkok that I immediately went around eating chicken rice and kapao gai and getting a Thai massage on my first day here. There were also endless meetings with Bangkok-based friends during the first two weeks of my return.





I wouldn't pretend I needed to adjust in Bangkok, after all I was gone for only a year. Everything felt the same (except that we had a cool first weeks of 2014). Returning has been just like effortlessly sliding back into the good old things: the food, the people, the city, and avoiding to get run over by a motorbike - an essential survival skill here.

But what's with this this #BangkokShutdown business? Ooops, I'm sorry. I don't do politics on this blog.


Oh, there are major changes in my Bangkok experience that I have to mention though. A few of my very close friends have left the city to seek greener pastures. Bubbles is now in the land down under. La Viviana and Genesis have also returned to the Philippines.


While some people are leaving some are also coming to stay in Bangkok... although I have to keep the identity of those people relocating to Bangkok under wraps lest I be sued. Needless to say, I'm thrilled to welcome more fairies into the fold (you know who you are!).

So what have I been up to the fast few weeks?

Well, for a start, I've managed to find an affordable place of my own. After living in the posh side of Ratchada in Rexona Gomorrah's mansion for three weeks, I moved to the poorer side and settled in a small room with a view of my neighbor's balcony. Since then I've attempted to make the room habitable and functional and somehow I'm developing a love for it despite the sorry state of the bathroom and the stink of cat's piss in the lift. But hey, I'm not complaining; I'm just being my usual bitchy self.


I do miss my old neighborhood in Thewet though as my current one is not as charming. On the other hand, I have a better appreciation of being just a few meters away from the underground, which makes going to the center of town a breeze... well unless you're caught in the frenzy of rush hour.


On the job-hunting front... nothing depresses me more. I don't even want to write about it here. Suffice to say, I'm as useless as I've ever been while the money in my bank account is quickly being depleted.

And then I have to face the life of being on a tourist visa, which required me going on a visa run to Vientiane last week. I never had to think about my visa when I used to work here. But now it feels like I have a terminal illness and the doctor just told me I have 60 days to live, but with the possibility of a 30 day extension.

So here I am back in Bangkok in the most imperfect circumstances. But at least I'm here and I'm here to say (if I get a job).

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The End of My Affair with London

I realized I'm spending my final week in London. I am a bit relieved to leave this city, in as much as I had a wonderful time here. First, allow me to explain why I seem to have a love-hate relationship with London.

The best bits... London is never boring. You have to be intrinsically super boring to get bored in London where a million things are happening all at the same time. I most enjoyed the city's landscape: its parks, museums, theaters, canals, and bridges.


For instance, I'm often entranced by the old buildings made of bricks or marble. There's something organic about how they are crammed together, often with diverging styles. London's buildings escape a sense of uniformity because (at least to my untrained eye) they seem to come from different periods. Because there are so many of these remarkable edifices vying for one's attention, they are often overlooked or just simply overshadowed by relatively grander buildings.

I'm just taking the buildings of the city as an example of its charm. There are of course the numerous parks and squares that are full of their own character. I like Regent Park and Primrose Hill for instance. And then having lived mostly in Bloomsbury, I enjoyed hanging out in its many squares in the summer.

If it's too cold to be outdoors, one heads to the free and well-heated museums. My favorites are the National Gallery (where I always discover new masterpieces in every visit) and the Tate Modern. The Courtauld Gallery and Saatchi Gallery also have their gems. And if one is patient enough to queue for a day ticket, watching a great play or musical in the West End is not always beyond reach.



While I have written more about London as a space so far, there is also something to be said about the Londoners themselves. It's remarkable how multi-cultural London is. Oftentimes I find my self not hearing a word of English on the bus whereas the melange of Spanish, Russian, Arabic, Chinese, and, yes, Tagalog always make me feel like I'm in a UN convention.

And even if London is a very busy city, the people are surprisingly polite to each other. The endless exchanges of 'thank you', 'you're welcome', and 'I'm sorry' is admirable for such a densely packed and fast paced city. And far from the stereotype of the dour British character, on the contrary I find them very approachable and welcoming.

So let's get to the things I don't like about this city. Mainly, I still can't get over the fact that everything costs a gazillion pounds here. Thank god for the 3-pound meals at Tesco. Even going to a fastfood such as McDonalds or Burger King costs like a decent meal in a good restaurant in Bangkok or Manila. Even public transport is outrageously expensive, thus, I'm at the mercy of buses.

Also, I imagine most young people here living on an average wage spending a significant amount of that on rent alone. And then you add the council taxes, TV license, and other shit. I don't see that as ever justifiable.

But hey, that's the cost of living in one of the most exciting places in the world. So in as much as London never runs out of things to experience, you need quite a lot of money to do just that.

I understand that the wages here would somehow make up for the cost of living, but I still hear people complaining about rising prices, especially rent. And with an increasingly competitive job market, finding a good job that would match one's lifestyle remains a challenge. I'd only be constantly frustrated living here if I could not afford much of what I want to do, say, regular visits to the theater.


So saying good bye to London is bittersweet in that I'm passionately in love with it but I know it's a relationship that's not sustainable.

I have to say though that just like a good love affair, I have great memories of the city. It embraced me warmly and nurtured my senses, even giving me orgasms I'd remember for the rest of my life.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Double or single?

The days of aimlessness are finally over. A little more than a week ago I finally found a part-time job as a bartender at an event venue in the posh side of the city. The job was a long time coming as I was practically not doing anything a month a half after I submitted my dissertation. Just when I thought it was a bad decision to stay longer in London, I found this job.

Gurrrl, it's not easy. The hours are long; often times I work for twelve hours with only a twenty-minute break on the sixth hour (although I work only about three days a week). And not that I'm just serving drinks but I also lug around ice bags, crates of drinks and glasses, and even physically dismantle the bar (because the set-up changes every event).


I was in a complete daze on my first night because everything had to be fast. Besides, I didn't even know how to mix the most basic of mixers. Also, I had to learn how to use a cash register, which until now I still dread touching. I learned on the job by pestering my workmates with endless questions. One of my weaknesses is remembering what people order. I didn't know I have such horrible short-term memory. A lot of times I threw away a mix or glass of wine because I got them wrong. I am a constant embarrassment and I wouldn't be surprised if I get fired any day soon.

I hope that does not happen because I badly need the money. I'm earning just a few cents above the minimum wage, but what's encouraging me is that when I convert what I earn to baht it's not bad at all. I intend to save all the money I earn now for my jobless days in Bangkok, which could last for months if I'm not lucky.

My mom is still trying to convince me to find a more stable job in London and hopefully stay here longer. But I just don't have the inclination to live here mainly because it's such a bloody expensive city on top of the fact that finding a job here is difficult these days. Besides, I like the laid back life in Bangkok and that one doesn't need to be a gazillionaire to get by there.

So now I'm counting my last two months in London, full of hard work while braving yet another gloomy and freezing winter. I just can't wait to lie on the sands of Koh Samet in January!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Post-MA blues

It's finally over. The thing I'm here for has come to a conclusion. It's been a year of studying, of my attempts at being a masters student. Last week, I submitted what feels like the ultimate stamp that I achieved something, the much vaunted dissertation. Writing it took me about three and a half months. It sounds like a long time to write some kind of opus but all that effort amounted to only 10,000 words, which is not much actually. The printed copy felt puny in my hands, seemingly betraying all the hard work I put into it. There are days when I felt like my dissertation was a masterpiece and then most days I feel like it was crap.


Anyway, I'm glad I'm finished with the dissertation and the whole masters business. It's a great experience of course - and I don't know where to start - but it also helped me realized I'm not exactly the academic I wish I am. I find academia too tedious for me. Basically, I'm too lazy to still continue studying after this.

Having finished my education, I'm nothing but an unemployed bastard. Mind you, I don't have grand delusions of having a wonderful career after this. I don't feel a sense of entitlement the way I used to when I finished my BA. It's really up to me to make the most of my qualification.

For now though I'm maximizing my student visa, which means I'd have to brave another winter.  I'm just looking for odd jobs here and there. It's unbearable being so unproductive after such a hectic one year. The day after I submitted my dissertation I woke up with no plans in my head for the first time in months. It was (still is) indeed a weird feeling of aimlessness. Since then I've just been staying home, avoiding making unnecessary spending because god knows how pricey London is. And oh, I've moved in with my aunts (as I can't afford rent AT ALL) and had been sleeping on the floor (god bless me in winter).

I've been desperately looking for a job; just about anything would do from waitering to being a shopping attendant. In an ideal world I should be a money boy to a Russian gazillionaire who has a flat in Mayfair or Chelsea, but I'm too old for that. LOL.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

I'm still here...

Hi girls! I just decided to drop a few words in this long-neglected blog. I don't need to give you stupid excuses on my lack of updates, if ever you cared to begin with. But hey, here I am, finally having the time and energy to write something. I'm using 'write' very loosely here as I don't have a proper plan on what to write about. So, this is mainly a free-flowing post, and you may stop reading right now if the prospect of my rambling bores the shit out of you.



Okay, so what has been going on with my life in London over the past few months? My last post was December and in the past six months I've been mainly focused on school. What else, aber? I don't want to make it appear that I suddenly became a dedicated academic, which is not likely to happen anytime soon. It's just that I really don't have anything else to do but study and write papers and more study. That's what I'm meant to do here anyway.

April and May were particularly very tensed because I was writing the last of my school essays and then soon after it was one month of exams. I dreaded the exam season most of all and I'm glad my daily trip to the library to study is finally over. It felt like I was a prisoner of the library, eating peanut butter sandwich for lunch everyday. All the tedious studying somehow paid off though. Not that I excelled in all of my exams. But suffice to say I passed all of them, which is just exactly my goal. I used to be ambitious, you know?



So what else?

Well, I'm still enjoying London, even if the sheer expense of living in this city still drives me insane. With that out of the way, it truly is a great city. I feel like I'm in the center of the action when it comes to culture, fashion, and art. I've been enjoying some of the more affordable theater shows, for instance. I've managed to watch 'War Horse', 'Once', and 'Book of Mormon', the latter being the hottest ticket in town at the moment. But somehow my favorite show so far has been 'A Chorus Line' revival. The music and dancing are both top-notch, but it excels best in its heartfelt story about a group of aspiring professional dancers.

And then of course there are the museums and galleries. I've visited the main ones (National Gallery and the Tate Modern) several times and I know I'd go back there to relish the experience of being surrounded by the greatest art works of our time.





When spring came, which was rather late, I learned to enjoy London's parks and gardens. Oh god, the fully bloomed flowers were a sight to behold, a sharp contrast to the usual greyness of the London skies. I have to point out though that there had been sunny spells the past many weeks and the city denizens always use it as a good excuse to lie on the park. Oh, I also welcome the long days of the summer months!




In terms of travel, it's something I obviously could not do at will because I'm focused on school and I couldn't afford it. But I've done a bit of travelling nonetheless. Last December was of course Heidiland. And then also in December I had a road trip with Tyty and Fatima throughout some cities of the UK. Last March I visited family in Belgium and from there I had a day trip in Paris (an absolute dream come true!). I'm afraid that's all the travelling I've been able to afford, unfortunately.

So now it's the summer term, meaning it's dissertation writing time. It's a completely daunting task for me. It's always tempting to take it easy because we have loads of time in our hands, or an illusion of it. At least that's what I tell my self, so, I'm trying to build on the momentum of my discipline of studying for my exams into my dissertation writing. Only God knows where this is heading. As it is, I'm tempted to just be lazy, lazy, lazy... it's a surprise I've even managed to write a blog post today.


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