Little piece of heaven

Visiting Rustic Mornings by Isabelo is like going to a foreign abode, fully-adorned with lovely pieces taken from both various places across the globe and straight from the owner's house...but still feeling right at home.

Serendipity is the perfect word to describe it, although magic would be a close second. I had just bagged my first official job when my dear friend Elisa recommended this restaurant, telling me she had a feeling I'd fall in love with it as much as she did. (Seriously? The name alone sealed the deal.) So, to celebrate such achievement and as a sort of last hurrah before I drown myself in office work and try to beat the impossible write-up deadlines the magazine publishing industry abundantly has, the sisters and I decided to have after-church brunch there one Sunday in the middle of February.


Forever young

Earlier this year, my twin and I decided to throw a little brunch soiree for our friends in Manila in celebration of our twenty-first birthday. Come to think of it, save for the mini-pizza party at our dorm lobby back in college freshman year, we haven't really got the chance to treat our college friends during our special day. As a form of late thank you for the incredible birthday salubongs we've had these past January sixths especially during our time at the dorm (beautiful and delicious cakes, streamers and banners, birthday songs and more serenades included) and simply an excuse to gather our friends together after the busyness of the holidays, this intimate birthday brunch idea came to life.


All fueled up, with gratitude

Still high on life and looking forward to the bigger and better adventures 2013 brings, I found myself saying yes to the freshest of experiences I have been craving for a very long time. In over a month and a half, I saw things in a new light and gathered a tremendous amount of inspiration from the world around me. It's only unfortunate that I left a lot of good moments unspoken here on my blog. As my writing habits gradually turn into a conglomeration of #throwbackthursdays and #flashbackfridays or a memory game wherein I match a photo to a feeling and a feeling to a story and so on, January and February have come and gone without a trace in my little online space. Now as another new year slowly creeps in, I'll try harder to wring my brains out and share those worthwhile tales before it's too late (or before my hair turns so gray and blogging about these tidbits will be the last thing on my mind).



We're halfway into the Ber months already and coming from the Philippines, that only means one thing: other than the dreadful monsoon season we've been experiencing (and a few other catastrophes, both manmade and natural, that has left the country at a standstill), of course—Christmas is right around the corner. By now families are almost done with redecorating their living rooms with the Christmas tree once again the center of attention, the dancing Christmas lights officially doubles the electricity bill, the Christmas playlist is on repeat all day (Michael Buble's album is my ultimate fave!), and gift-shopping has become a weekly habit.

For me, however, Christmas is beyond the presents and the decors. It's about reunions and being with loved ones I barely get to see and spend time with either because I've decided to make schoolwork the boss of me and/or the special folks were really just thousands of miles away. To wrap up my amazing 2012, I got to catch up with the happiest people on earth and to be honest, I wouldn't have it any other way. Their happiness is infectious and I hope the joyous celebration carries on in years to come.


At the top of the world

Knock, knock...is anybody there? Just checking in to get rid of the dust bunnies and cobwebs collected on my little space in the Internet. I'm sorry I haven't been around lately; I know nothing can beat last year's adventure and blogging spree. Suffice to say, I moved on and have kept my mind and my hands busy typing away...for business matters this time.

Of course I can't deny that I miss every second of my physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual journey that is 2012. No doubt, the letting go process ironically involved sleepless nights spent going through photos and videos and reading every journal entry for the nth time. However, grow up I must...but that doesn't mean I can't have my fair share of throwbacks and flashbacks be it Thursday or Friday or any other day of the week!

On the morning of December 10th, I bid Los Angeles and the relatives goodbye and hopped on my Manila-bound plane. Little did I know that that twenty-hour (more or less) flight home had with it pleasant surprises enough to be swooned over and make me fall in love with life all the more. Basically, here are the three reasons why the ride has been memorable:


A snow story

As a child coming from a tropical country, naturally I have always been curious about snow. The wet and dry season we have back at home is nothing compared to the loveliness of autumn. But the fall season has come and gone and although it has had me feeling tingles on the insides, I was equally as giddy to experience a White Christmas month. So you could imagine my disappointment when I flew out of the East Coast without experiencing the slightest hint of snow. Since then I never stopped wearing the necklace with a tiny snowflake pendant my Tita Jan gave me as remembrance, to remind myself that someday luck would be on my side when it comes to witnessing that kind of winter.

It turns out that I didn't have to wait too long for that happen: on my last day in America we made our way to Big Bear City to play with snow!! Since we barely had enough sleep because of our family get-together the night before, the two-hour drive up the mountains gave us a chance to catch up on some shuteye. We woke up to some lovely views of the lake, tall trees, and log cabins; it tells us how far away we are from the jampacked highways we got so used to in SoCal. The place had a totally chill and cozy vibe, I really wished I have the chance to camp out there next time!


Be still my fangirl heart

Just when I needed something to ease my idle state and let me escape from reality for a bit, the comfort and solace found in watching my favorite TV shows has had me lonely as they too decided to take a break from the air. With limited options left, aside from immersing myself in reruns of random series that I chance upon every time I channel-surf (barely), I take myself back to the Friday afternoon my friends and I drove around Los Angeles and neighboring cities, "stalking" shooting locations like it's nobody's business.

We've all had our fair share of fangirl moments; that half-day happened to be the height of mine. Let me tell you this now: obviously there weren't any ongoing shoots nor have I spotted anyone famous on our mini-escapade—I've proven to be quite unlucky in that department. Besides, what was I to expect from a bunch of privately-owned houses and public spaces which were only use for exterior shots anyway? The mere fact, however, of being "there" was enough to throw my heart off the rails.


Land of the free

I apologize that it's taking me forever to catch up on more than half a year of lost photos and updates. Still struggling to get atop that imaginary mountain most people would like to call self-love as I seem to be so hard on myself these days. Really, I could go on and give you a thousand more reasons for my absence but that wouldn't really help now, would it?

Taken during our fourth of July vacation in Canandaigua, New York last year


Stuck in reverse

Sometimes it's just really hard to follow your own advice.

Half a year ago, in between packing, planning, and kissing my cousins goodbye, I devoted my down time scouring the Internet for writing- or publishing-related job openings that I slightly lost track of my remaining days in the US. I traded playtime with browsing Jobstreet and company websites, when I should have prioritized my limited moments with relatives. Eventually my worry for my future turned out to be uncalled for, as I right away snagged a position that suited me.

Fast forward to today, I keep going back to the past year though I pledged to stick with the present. 2013 started out grand but the glory days immediately crippled—I got no choice other than to cling on to what's familiar. It's easier to navigate through memories than to venture into the Great Unknown. It's nothing to be proud of, being scared of trying due to the high risk of failing. However, I'm on that road to recovery; I'm working my way through it. Slow and steady, I'll get to where I'm supposed to be. My heart is filled with so much anticipation despite my guarding every part of it.

I'm once again set to try what's left of my luck in a couple of days. In the meantime, here are the remaining California photos that have been sitting inside my folders, untouched, for too long now. Going through them made me miss my relatives and my American adventure even more. Praying for a repeat!


Golden as we'll ever be

The next day we woke up a little before noon and were surprised to be greeted by glorious sunshine. Sure, pavements still had puddles on them, glass windows were covered by rain droplets, and people carried their umbrellas the way they do handbags—but the morning drizzle had stopped thus sparing us from having a groggy time. I was more than thankful for that. If the lovely weather was any indication of how great the rest of our day would pan out, then I was looking forward to it. Already a step ahead, I had finished packing before I went to bed the night before and got ready as fast as I could the morning of.


Cheerful company, chilly after-hours

That night in San Francisco is mostly a blur now.

Making my way to the Irish pub at the corner of the street, I skipped from one sidewalk to another, trying my best to dodge puddles on the floor and cars passing by. I immediately found our table and gave everyone hugs, besos, and handshakes accordingly. It was nice to see familiar faces again; the last I've seen most of them was the day we threw our "fake" diplomas in the air during graduation last year. After a round or two of drinks and answering questions ranging from the how are yous to what are you doing heres to where are you headed tos, we left the bar, crammed ourselves inside the car, and drove across town in search for a place to eat.


Always my Mama's girl

It's quite unfortunate that I've been stuck in this writing rut for a while now. Bouts of negativity have been piling in front of me these past months and it's frustrating to not be able to rely on words to make it all better. Where writing fails, however, music and my mom (most especially) saves the day, as always.

As much as I hate to admit it, even at the "adult" age of twenty-one, when my life gets sidetracked, I am easily comforted by Mama's voice on the phone, calling me from over six hundred kilometers away. Just her calm tone of telling me that "It will be okay" assures me that it already has. That, with our usual round of videoke sessions whenever I'm at home and insane episodes of crying out to tunes like Since You've Been Gone in the middle of the night while my twin sister giggles in the background.

On a serious note: Mom, thank you for putting up with all my drama; there had been lots in the past year alone. Thank you for being you, for taking care of us five in the way you think is best for us. I may question your parenting style most of the time, but I have always appreciated that you stuck by us in spite of everything.


Returning to this hearty, coastal city

I have the faintest memory of San Francisco. From our family vacation to California a little over a decade ago, I could vaguely recall staying in the City by the Bay for more than twenty-four hours and what a bummer that had been for the future Charmed and Princess Diaries fanatic in me. Sure I remember passing by gorgeous Victorian houses lined up on one side of the road and the glorious Golden Gate Bridge on another. I owned and overused an Alcatraz shirt, drove through and had a picture taken with "the crookedest road," that section on Lombard Street, and got lost exploring Pier 39 with my siblings.

But aside from these ten-year-old tidbits, I don't have anything else to be able to keep this chilly Californian city etched in my memory for long. Goes without saying that for quite some time now I have been wanting to go back and reintroduce myself to this city I was once lucky enough to step foot on yet unfortunate to be slowly forgetting. And thankfully, on the cusp of Christmas month, return and create new, fond memories is exactly what I did.

At first it was really just about meeting and spending time with relatives and friends in the northern California area. But finding out that San Fo was America's Best City in 2012 really sparked my curiosity, making me want to teleport there right away. Understanding, however, that I don't have the superpowers of my much-adorned Charmed witches—Prue Halliwell's astral projection and Paige Matthews' orbing—and that these things take time and planning, I had to wait it out and weigh my options. Good thing that during my SoCal visit in September, my Tita Lalee invited me to hang out with her in San Jose for a weekend, even offering to tour me around forty-five-minutes-away San Francisco.


Challenge accepted

From the phone: Last night's pizza party at home, sponsored by the twentysomethings to kickstart an adventure-filled week · K, gotta go. Wish me luck!!! :) · Interesting photo from work of the day: the corkboard at our pantry. Around the world map are post-its of did-you-knows. So far, my favorite: "Walt Disney was actually afraid of mice."

Today marks my first day at work and because I'm still at a high from it, here's something I've grown to love over the years, and especially now at my job—a list:
  1. Waking up to my alarm at 5:30am, leaving the house by 7am, being at the office by 9am, leaving work at 6pm, arriving home a little past 8pm, and then having trouble sleeping... They told me wrong. This isn't like high school nor college. This is high school and college combined. And I love it!
  2. In connection to #1, the long, gruesome commute from Las PiƱas to Ortigas (tricycle, two jeepneys, train, and a fifteen-minute brisk walk) and back (said brisk walk, train, bus, jeepney, and tricycle).


Until next time, my kind of town

You probably know by now how in love I am with the US state capital: enough that a few minutes into my first visit I made a decision to live there one of these days (I now understand what people meant by love at first sight!); too much that I can't help but swoon at the mundane sight of the letters D and C being strung together (And it doesn't help that they follow each other in the alphabet!). So I guess it did not come as a surprise to Tita Inds and Tito Chris when they asked me what I wanted to do on my last weekend in the East Coast and all I could do was chant these two letters repeatedly.

Our other options seemed either less interesting (Baltimore area) or too far away (towns in Virginia) that District of Columbia ended up being the best destination for that Saturday. The night before our drive, they gave me the task of making an itinerary and I was caught in a momentary panic as the organization freak in me goes. Aware that there still were dozens of amusing places to see, I eventually got my cool and settled with the pocket-friendly yet worthy ones.


Hearts all over the world

Happy Valentine's Day to my lovely readers! How's your heart today? As for me, same old same old. Nothing special, really. Well, except for two things. First, I'm a song away from completing I love love: a 30-day Valentine playlist, a personal project I put up on Tumblr about a month ago to celebrate the season. Although I must admit I got sidetracked for a bit and had trouble choosing the songs to place there, I still found my efforts worth the trouble. Anything for music and for romance!

And second, I learned how to be in good terms with time and timing. What difference can a year make! Without having gone through a complete turn from last February 14th, I wouldn't have discovered one of my greatest passions: to travel. But being able to see the Philippines (and eventually, the world) then write all about those experiences—now that's the perfect gift I could ever receive at this stage in my life.

Forget the flowers, stuffed toys, and chocolates. 2013, you're doing a pretty good job. Keep it up. As for me, I know I've been failing at this blogging thing, but let me make up for all the lost updates by sharing phone photos I gathered since the end of November 2012:



Would you believe that it's been a year since I last wrote here? I can't either! Hah!

Kidding aside, I apologize for being MIA for the whole of January. I'd love to say that I've been busy with the strenuous tasks the big bosses throw at me at my first official job...but I can't lie. Instead, though I'm not as aggressive as the ones before me, I admit I'm handling this job hunting thing pretty well. Slowly but surely is my strategy. I'm not one to rush things and regret the snap decisions I make. I'm lucky my time away has helped me discern which career path I choose, and although it's frustrating that there's not a lot of opportunities in the market for such, I'm just trusting it all to fate and to God, that He would bless me with the perfect position at the right time.