Keep moving forward

C.S. Lewis wrote in his Collected Letters that “There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.” These words have been on repeat in my head at the start of this new year. But to be fair to 2014, even with its challenges and upheavals (which partly account for my absence in this blog), it also brought joy and new experiences that I’m grateful for.

View from Top of the Rock

View from Top of the Rock last May 2014. Thank you, New York City

When it came to travel, getting to see New York City for the first time was one of the more incredible things that happened last year. I’ve always wanted to see it (I even committed to memory the map of Manhattan when I was in high school for some reason), but in the past few years, I’ve started to think it impractical for both me and my husband to go there for vacation. Then when a work opportunity for a trip to go there materialized, my former boss, who knew of my fascination for New York City, asked me if I wanted to go for the team. Of course my immediate response was a big YESTHANKYOUVERYMUCHWHENDOYOUNEEDMETOFLY?!

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A return to Escolta

Almost two months ago I got an email from an old editor asking if I wanted to write about Escolta. And it took me all of two seconds to say yes.

I spent some parts of my childhood walking the stretch of Escolta street when my mom used to work in one of the banks there. Then when the bank transferred offices and eventually we moved out of Manila, we hardly had any more reason to go back. The occasional trips to Binondo or Divisoria later on for some food tripping or bargain shopping hardly warranted any quick side trip to this almost-forgotten street.

The street is one of the oldest in Manila–it’s been around since the Spanish times, a sort of riverside commercial district. But it reached its glory days during the American rule when it became the country’s trendiest street, when the most fashionable store and glitziest restaurants set up shop. By the 1960s, it had begun to lose its lustre, when other commercial districts like Makati charmed business their way.

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It was in the 1980s when my siblings and I used to walk around the street dotted with old buildings, duck inside old bookstores, watch cartoons (no adult supervision!) in one of the crumbling movie theaters (can’t remember whether it was Lyric or Capitol), and look through the clearance sales of several stores that constantly looked on the brink of closing. Escolta then was no longer the high street that it was before and when more offices left (including the bank where my mom worked), a lot of those businesses did close shop.

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Gratitude, a lesson from my dad

My mom is cleaning her room, which has cabinets and boxes of things, most of which she’s forgotten about. She found a drawer of some of my dad’s old things, which she thought she’s donated all to charity since he passed away.

There’s the cervical collar my mom bought to help him keep his head up. He hated it. My brother used to put it around my dad’s neck and they would fight. He still had a lot of fight in him. He also hated oatmeal. Whenever we’d feed him, he’d spit it out back into the bowl like a child.

He liked peanut butter sandwiches with milk for breakfast and merienda. Rice and sinigang na bangus with lots of vegetables for lunch and dinner. That was mostly what he ate the three years he was bedridden after his stroke. Every time he ate them it was like he was having them for the first time. He would beam at us. He was always grateful. He never complained. Except for the oatmeal.

This post was from my Tumblr blog back in January 2009, two and a half years after my dad died. It’s going to be seven years since he passed away on July 31.

How to write a postcard

Over the weekend, I found myself unearthing an old box of postcards. I didn’t really get to travel that much until I began working in a magazine, so the years prior to that, while I would be stuck at home and my friends were going off on their adventures, I started asking them to send me postcards. Most of them would be happy to and it was always such a joy to get something from thousands of miles away, in another part of the world. In some way, it made me feel like I was part of their travels; it certainly fed my wanderlust and I was grateful.

Below are some of the more memorable postcards I’ve received from old college friends, classmates, office mates, and my sister from 1998 to 2007. The postcards they picked and the words they wrote always made me want to pack my bags and go. Some make me smile to this day. A couple of postcards are from a friend who’s no longer in my life that makes me feel a bit nostalgic.

Anyway, if you’re thinking of sending a postcard to anyone, here are a couple of things to keep in mind. Or not. It’s your postcard, you can do whatever you want with it! 🙂

First, pick a postcard. Pick one that’s unexpected–from the shape to the image. Love the Berlin wall graffiti below and the Stonehenge-shaped postcard. You can also choose postcards with people in them. Cute little people.

The postcard above was from a friend who was in Los Angeles and she wrote that it was how she imagined my bonboncitas would be. How can that not make you smile.

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