Monday, June 22, 2015

Indonesia, so far

Apa kabar, bitches!

I'm nearing my fourth month here in Jakarta, and what a ride it has been. I'm primarily talking about my work, perhaps the most intense job I've ever held. But that's as far as I can tell you about work-related stuff. This blog and work just don't mix.

So let's talk about the glitter I've been spreading in this side of the world, shall we? Which is not saying much actually given how terribly hectic work has been.

I've managed to squeeze in a couple of short holidays though. Once in Gili Trawangan (an island off Lombok) last May, and then recently I visited Yogyakarta and Borobudur in Central Java.

In a country of over seventeen thousand islands, one never runs out of places to visit... so I'm taking it one island at at a time (if I have the bloody time!).

Anyway, here are the two obligatory post-holiday videos of my holidays.

Friday, February 06, 2015

Final three weeks

Well, it's time to move out from Bangkok once again, a little over a year after I came back. That's life: you go wherever the wind takes you. I could, of course, resist not uprooting my self from what I regard as my second home, but it's more of a strategic career decision for me to follow where better opportunities are found.

Another three weeks and I'm off to another city in another country. The worst part about it is leaving Bangkok and my friends here.

I've always expressed my love for this city, imperfect as it is. But over the seven years here I've grown intimate with its idiosyncrasies and rhythms. I'm braver to entrust my life on a raging motorsai driver. I don't mind getting a sprinkling of stinking canal water while taking a boat ride on Saen Saeb. Or I can confidently say mai sai cho rot and the cook actually understands it because I have perfect tone now (or so I'd like to believe).

It's definitely tempting to just get cozy with my life here even if it does not give me long-term security (especially job-wise). In Bangkok, one somehow always gets by.

I question the idea of starting all over again in all aspects of my life: career, friends, habits, brand of toothpaste, etc. I am too old for having to go through the trouble, chai mai?

As I'm on the cusp of a major transition I really don't have answer to these questions yet. I have to wrap things up at work and in my apartment in the next three weeks, not to mention the apartment search in a city completely unfamiliar to me. So, there are more important things at hand than wax lyrical about the end of my love affair with Bangkok.

Anyway, in my last few days here I tend to take all experiences in while they last. I seize the noise of the city outside my window, or take a mental photo of this today's sunset, or slurp my noodle soup a bit louder. There's also not missing on every opportunity to spend time with friends.

But I'm not going far away. I'm just going to a neighboring country. I'm sure Bangkok will always be here to welcome me back.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Not a Sex Tape

Well, well, well, it's 2015! The past year went by so fast, which is always good cos that means I've been busy (sort of) to even think of getting bored. No, I'm not doing a stupid look-back cos that's so... last year.

Ooops, I'm actually posting stuff that happened in December and then the early part of January, a kind of look-back. I've been lazy with blogging for the past three years, so it comes as no surprise that I'm late in posting this update.

But really, it seems like I'm shifting careers... from blogger to videographer. Charaught! Videographer, is there such a word?

The point is, I've recently taken an interest in taking videos, starting with my Las Islas Filipinas holiday. I'm well on the path of becoming the Queen of all Media!

So, I'm proud to present two recent, ehem, productions.

First, is my trip with Putney's power couple to Koh Samet. The Londoners (follow them on Instagram through @kinoyblog) dropped by the City of Angels on their way to Manila and Wellington.

We had a week of debauchery and more debauchery (in my mind!), and in between we took a two-night trip to Koh Samet where all this gay-ness happened.

And the second video is of my New Year holiday in Hanoi with the Pinoy Mafia in Bangkok.

We had planned this several months back with the idea of going to somewhere "wintry". Since the North Pole is too expensive, Hanoi is the closest and cheapest place where they have a semblance of winter, and not the "winter" that Bangkokians claim to have at the moment.

Hanoi is perhaps one of my favorite cities in Southeast Asia, but the last time I visited it was in 2008. I was just happy to be back and rediscover its craziness and charm. We even visited Ha Long Bay!

So in 2015, expect more videos from me. I might drop one or two sex "tapes"!

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Video Queen

Oh well, I'm now back in Bangkok after a long holiday in Las Islas Filipinas.

I should really make my next visit shorter. I love visiting my family and friends, but not having my own space and getting out of my routine (whatever that is) is a bit exhausting.

For instance, cos I spent two or three nights in Manila and Cebu I was moving around a lot (my gratitude to my kind and welcoming hosts!). And then when I reached Surigao my clothes were just piled in my suitcase. I also missed eating my share of fruits daily, which Surigao sorely lacks (or maybe I just didn't bother searching for them).

This is so typical of me after I go home. I whine and whine like it's nobody's business.

Maybe I should shut up already. LOL.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed my visit very much. I was particularly happy to have met my family after seeing them last in 2011. And then I also spent a lot of time with my cousins and the few friends who have stayed in Surigao.

To prove that I had a good time at home, I compiled some video clips of my trip. I was inspired by my cousin's video of her summer holiday in the Philippines. So right from the onset of my trip I was already taking five-second clips of my journey.

I was daunted by the editing because it was my first time to do so. Thank god for iMovie I managed to pull it off through a slow trial-and-error process.

So, amigas, here is the final product.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Caridad Once Again!

I'm on my second week of a three-week holiday in Las Islas Filipinas. While I have quite a bit of things to share on this blog, I'll first tell you about my short trip to Siargao Island (Tuesday to Thursday this week).

My mom's home barrio of Caridad is on Siargao Island, east of Surigao City. My cousins, sister, brother, and I used to spend our summer holidays there, getting sun burned all the time from playing too much on the beach, which faces the Pacific Ocean. We ran around in the rice fields and coconut groves and loved riding on water buffaloes.

Those summer trips in Siargao always meant so much fun although it was far from unbridled because my grandmother always compelled us to take afternoon naps or to go home as soon as the sun set. When I think of my fondest memories of my childhood I think of those summers in Caridad.

For this trip, I wanted to get a slice of the place once again, after all I haven't visited Caridad for maybe 14 years. My grandmother does not live there anymore though and my cousins could hardly fit a trip there.

It's quite amazing how little of my grandmother's house has changed. It has the same old cabinets, although they've been ravaged by termites. They are all beaten too by the harsh ocean breeze. But they have somehow managed to stay intact after few repairs.

I was fascinated to find that they have kept some old kerosene lamps, which have been rendered useless since electricity arrived on the island. I couldn't help my self from taking photos of these various old stuff.

On my first morning there I made it a point to wake up early to catch the sun rise on Caridad's beach. Oh the place of wonder when we were young!

We spent so much time taking a dip in its many pools that are revealed when the tide is low while huge waves crash in the distance. I could still easily find where they are and the rocks from which we dove. In fact, I first learned how to swim in one of the deep tidal pools when I was about 7 years old. I also remember catching tiny, flat, and transparent fish and those spindly and soft starfishes that used to scare the shit out of one of my cousins.

A few kilometres from Caridad is Magpupungko Beach, perhaps the area's main tourist landmark of a huge rock perching on top of what looks like a pedestal.

And then I stumbled into a few relatives who have stayed in the barrio. They told me of their memories of my cousins and me when we used to stage dance programs on boring, electricity-less nights and how we used torches as stand-in for spotlights. It's fascinating how many of them recognised me simply because of my supposed strong resemblance to my mom.

The trip certainly made me feel nostalgic of those carefree days, well, under the careful and loving watch of our grandmother.

While there are many familiar aspects of the island that remain unchanged, I've noticed several improvements. For one, now the barrio has a high school instead of the kids walking 6 kilometres to the nearest one. Also, the highway has been just recently paved with concrete. There are also more water pumps to serve the residents, which it appears is growing like mad!

Needless to say I had an amazing time in Caridad. It was great to reconnect with my childhood memories. And I'm also happy to see that it is moving forward in the right direction (if only they could stop making too many babies though).

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

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).


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