Sunday, March 31, 2013

Temple and Hill daytrip

Today I went on a daytrip with my roommate, Rikka from Finland. I woke up at 12 noon so I figured we won't push through, but we did! Our target place: Penang Hill and Kek Lok Si temple (I still forget the name!)

First we went to Komtar, where the highest building in Penang is and ate at the food court. What's great about Rikka is that she's really more willing to try local food instead of expensive food. Great for those on a budget like me. My food is a spicy squid concoction. It looks really yummy! But my tolerance for spiciness was challenged. I thought I like spicy food, until the "hot sauce" we have locally pales in comparison to their everyday food. I wasn't able to finish this:

Then we took another bus to the temple. It's weird that I'm the Asian one and yet Rikka was the one touring me around. Conversation was about comparing Malaysia, Philippines, and Finland, what we usually do (she's into indoor hockey, I say Ultimate Frisbee, hihi), the temperature, food, and what's nice was that we are both social science majors.

What welcomed us on the way to the temple were swimming turtles. Piles upon piles of them poking their little heads up the water.

We went around souvenir shops and Chinese charm shops on the way up.

There were plenty of Hindu and Buddhist figures, carvings, and statues. It made me really interested in what they meant! Wish I understood them. Easter Sunday is not much of a fuss here. Penang really has a lot of churches, temples, and mosques. The people are also a mix of Chinese, Malay, and Indians thus the tagline "Truly Asia".

What I liked are the inclined trains! The one in Penang Hill is even more amazing. It's really steep and long (712m above sea level) so it looks like it's straight out of a Final Destination movie.

Last stop at the temple before Penang Hill: my Chinese zodiac 

Penang Hill. Overlooking the whole island of Penang. I wish my cam could capture how amazing it is, but here you go! :)

Dessert on a cold day at Cliff Cafe in Penang Hill: Kiwi ice cream and orange juice. Rika is particularly into fruits because they don't really have tasty fruits in Finland. Made me appreciate our country/food more. Haha. And also, she actually likes my skin color. I can't believe it haha. But well, proudly Filipina. :)

The trip didn't cost me as much as I expected, but now I flop down back to my bed and thank God for an awesome Easter Sunday. On our bus home, I just realized that I haven't even known my travel buddy for more than 24 hours! Amazing. Haha. I wish I could travel also with the people I know aka family and friends.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

At the beginning

What a long first day. Mom and my brothers dropped me off at the airport and we hugged each other. I get the feeling mom and I are fighting back tears because doing something terrifying while crying is even worse. So trudged on to the unknown world of the airport. With a few glitches and long lines here and there, I made it to the waiting area. Gazing at the airplane outside, I wrote: Dear God, here we go again. This time I'm alone .It's so amazing how you prepared me for this. So amazing to have friends to reassure me. Thank you for the birthday gift. I pray that you make the most out of this.

The long flight, however, did not allow for sleep. I wanted so bad to sleep. But I just. can't. I arrived in KL at 1:30 and here goes the greater problem -- how to wait for the morning. I bought a simcard for a whopping price and changed my money. And there at Mcdo with a McChicken too spicy from what I'm used to and soggy fries that I nibbled on like a poor rabbit. I tried to sleep while keeping my things close and trying not to let my skin touch the table. For four hours to no avail. I was so tired and so disoriented and even emotionally unstable. I suddenly felt regret over this whole trip. Back home I didn't have to problematize simple things such as sleeping. And even as I was doing my thesis all night, I didn't have to do it in some greasy fast food! Dear God, I wrote, It's so difficult being alone. A land with no friends, strange language, new people I wish I could just go directly to Penang. I either wanna sleep in a bed or have a friend near right now. But I will have to wait till morning. I felt like if one familiar person was by my side, I could survive. I was almost wishing someone would sit across me and talk to me!

Longest four hours. But I survived. And walked towards the bus stop to await the bus. It took me to Puduraya two hours later. The language barrier was difficult. How will I know where to stop? Thankfully, I reached the bus stop, but not after being scammed by a barker who sold 30% more of the price of the ticket. How are the innocent tourists supposed to know?

Puduraya was beautiful even though Chienyen (my manager) couldn't believe I said it. If I didn't carry a heavy backpack and a trolley on one hand, I would have merrily marched the street and start taking photos. Alas, a DSLR wielder will be easily victimized.

The 5 hour bus ride to Penang was the best. I haven't even been on a road trip locally alone, so I was pretty scared for this one. I thought I would look at the views so I took the window seat. But about 30 minutes into the ride I was sleeping soundly at the reclining chairs. It's the best part of the trip so far. My excitement was back. "At the Beginning" by Donna Lewis and Richard Marx echoed into my ears. A journey where the only familiar person is God.

Chienyen picked me up at the last stop and dropped me off at the messy boarding house. We later accompanied an intern from Oman to the airport, then we ate some food (hello 3PM lunch, thankful that McChicken made it to lunch!). Then she drove around USM. It made me miss UP more. And I still hate how we can't wear shorts in such humid weather.

I asked Chienyen if she knew of local churches that served in English. She then offered that some of her friends sing at houses every Saturday. So I accompanied her, and it was the highlight of my day. It was a community praising and knowing more about God at houses, just like Aniday. And even though all of them mostly spoke Chinese during that time (someone was translating for me), the Spirit just allowed me to understand and be in awe of what we were discussing.

Now I'm back home and met my Finnish roommate who invited me to tour a little bit tomorrow. I said I'll try if I wake up early. And please, that we may not lose too much money along the way. I still have 6 weeks.

Mom and my brothers otw to the airport

Twas a beautiful afternoon when I left

At Penang airport haven't brushed my hair haven't slept as well

Current state

As we leave

The glistening Manila. Unfortunately haha

Thursday, March 28, 2013

In between birthdays and first days

I had the most awesome birthday celebration. I swear. Most awesome. I am so thankful for all the candles blown, the Haaappy biiiiirthdaaaay toooo youuuuu's, the surprises, the dinners/treats (pasta and pizza  in five straight days! My tummy's protesting already!), the gifts, the greetings, the FAN ARTS my goodness, the text messages and private messages -- the acts of serving. Nothing ever escapes my sight in these. The first hour after March 27 I was crying because I know I didn't deserve them -- the people, the actions, the joys -- let alone expected them. God has really given so much to me and I'm so thankful.

And tomorrow I leave for Malaysia alone. As I said, I am Terrified. And I need to reassure myself that everything will work out well. In about 24 hours I'll be on a plane to a world unknown.

PS I remember my first week in my first year in college. I studied in the province (Laguna). Mom dropped me off at the FX to uni. After she said goodbye, I was crying along the way because I was so scared at the thought of studying far away and being alone. It was embarrassing so I was keeping my head down hoping nobody would notice my childish (but valid) woes. Such vivid emotions of terror and trying to be strong.

I need God's Word in this. So pray for me as I spend the night with God. I pray that he reveals and reassures me of what he wants me to do there. Why he gave me a chance to be there. How I can enjoy and make the most out of my six weeks of missing out on friends and family internship. Pray for the work I'll leave, the people I'll miss, and the people I'll meet.

Thank you!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Why I'm Leaving

Hi. Today is my birthday. At last I'm alone because all I really wanna do today is do my laundry, pack my bags in solitude, quietly ponder about leaving.

Earlier I was at the Malaysian embassy at one point close to crying because they made me wait for two hours (my relationship with waiting. Haha). Good thing two of my sisters worked nearby and I was able to eat breakfast and lunch with them. Finally I got my visa and changed my money.

But now I'm alone. I just slept for an hour, are drying my clothes, and almost dying in silence. I'm leaving. I can't believe it. Why am I even doing this? Part of me wants to back out, but I know I can't after all the preparations I've made. There's a huge part of me scared of change, the unknown, and going out of my comfort zone. There's another part that's afraid of leaving.

I thought I was used to leaving with all the school transfers and address shifting I've made. But the past year (looking back at my birthday now), I have been quite satisfied with my life. Living in my dream place (QC), not having to commute to work, having awesome officemates, awesome work, having my sisters sleepover at our place too often, the nth dinner in a row, jogging, jamming, GK, and more. I'm leaving some kind of a dream life to be honest. I don't want things to change anymore.

Right now I just realize my fear that people will change. People graduate, go to work in other cities, move out, find new friends. I'm just afraid that friendships will also change -- if not dissolve. Right now I just want things to stay the same. And I know that's wrong and it' not gonna happen. I'm clinging too tightly.

So I try to welcome this threatening thought of leaving. Of facing my fears/bitterness about missing out on people in order to think that it matters, but it's not everything. Maybe it's time to be put myself in some foreign land -- outside my world, where the only familiar person or place is God -- just so I could look from the outside in. Maybe it's time to challenge what kind of friend I am by putting in factors of distance. Maybe it's okay to drop a few responsibilities at work, at relationships, to give a sobering thought that life will go on without you. It almost feels like death. HAHA.

I'm really scared right now and I think I (yuck) want to cry because I'm scared. But just like how my sister prayed for me, I want to be able to feel that childlike wonder. Right now there's so much terror. But I just want to let it go, go with the flow, and enjoy. I want to welcome anything with open arms. To be able to wonder, ponder, and laugh at my trip instead of worrying about the thousand things that could go wrong.

I'm leaving. It's difficult. But I believe it will help me grow, too.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Don't be frightened

I know that it feels fragile and raw
But that is always how it feels like when it's new.
God is creating something wonderful in your heart.
And boy, is change the most frightening part!
But trust that whatever transformation you are going through,
Even if it's awkward and you don't have a clue
God will be there fulfilling his promises for you.
He is with you every step of the way -- hold on to this truth


Friday, March 15, 2013

Point A to B

"Dear Cherry".

I missed that tag. I used to have a diary addressed that way. Cherry for... Cherry blossoms.

Today I was at Alabang covering an event for three-em in which they launched a new microbiology related product. Truly enjoy these seminars, and in fact it made me miss my MBB class. Food manufacturers were there and suddenly I'm into a whole new industry.

It's my first time to go on an event without Owen. She's my "superior" before. Now that she's in Taiwan and about to pursue grad studies I inherited the account. Her three years of experience of responsibilities (which I heard is tears-filled as well) passed down to me. I was afraid I can't measure up, although these are but surface-level fears. Deep inside I think I'll do a pretty good job, but with plenty of bloopers perhaps.

Owen and I

As mentioned I was asked to step up my game. So luckily I forgot my white dress and black blazer that I had to pick a red sheer top, whose color was actually encouraged. So after getting a one-up from a superior, I'm convinced that I nailed that part. Perhaps not the bringing the college backpack part.

I tried to be more talkative as what is expected with the nature of my job (PR). On some days it just feels better to shut up and ignore the world, but this time I made an effort introducing myself to people. Pretty impressed with my own compliance to this thing, that my stubbornness didn't act up. Most of the time I think I'm faking confidence. But fake or real, this confidence thing seems to work. Maybe.

Two weeks before my 6 week leave, which is the longest trip everrr. Most of all, I am alone! Owen is having some fancy time in Taiwan, and seeing her pictures, I don't know what to expect from Malaysia! The language, culture, people, place, experience. There's too much to take in and I don't even know what to expect.

Before so I'll be celebrating my birthday, which is a bit send-off like. 6 weeks is long. I'll be gone for most of the summer and I'll miss some action unfortunately. I wish I could think in advance and send gift to birthday celebrating friends/boss and graduating people. But I'll have to do this. Alone and for the first time. Wonder what God will show me.

And what I've been trying to pray for is direction. I'm really enjoying my job now despite the fact that I know it's not forever I have promised myself I'll stay for a year to implement the PR plans of three-em. Then Rai challenged me to become a staff for a year and everything crumbled. Haha. Just kidding. But it lead me to really question things, as evidenced from my previous blog.

I've always known that's what I wanted to do. And there is no mistake that I will reach out to communities. Just didn't know it would come this soon. There have been a lot of concerns just thinking about it, but not pursuing it is close to impossible. I have such an irrevocable fate, it seems. I will be a staff someday. And it's so challenging. How could I even explain it to people?

Aside from challenging, I find that it's also exciting and there's a part of me who can't wait to get down to it. But how? When? He's kept mum about it. So far, it's next year. Although I know that the timing is crucial and this summer was the best time. But I'll be following His lead. And I wonder where this goes, but... I guess I'll live my life blindly but in faith.

How exciting for God to ask me to be a missionary. I was reading True Grit. The first time I read the book I cried and prayed that I would live life like them... really pursuing something once in a lifetime. I longed for that adventure. Now that God asked me to (I picture him saying, "You asked for it"), I'm reading True Grit trying to let the realities of that life sink in. Under the covers of my warm bed, it seemed so difficult! Yet we live in such a finite span that this is something I can't say "no" to...

So, yeah.

Lots of things on my mind. And I'm thankful to God for all these -- in confusion, anxiety, fear, difficulty, excitement. Life is never ordinary with God.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


I've always kept too many memories. A decade-worth of letters. And some photos saved on my computer.


Monday, March 11, 2013

Unreasonable doubt

God: Well? You asked for it.
Me: I know, I just didn't know it would come sooner...
God: Don't you think I've prepared you for this already? 21 years of preparation and you say you're not prepared. All those books I gave you to read, all those stories you have heard in your childhood, the very way you grew up -- everything has been leading up to this point.
Me: Maybe. But what if I have other plans?
God: Like what?
Me: You know, get experience, stay for a while, learn something I could apply before and after?
God: Won't you learn those things during the mission too? Why must you isolate learning in a box? Certainly I'm not hearing this from the one who posts these kinds of photos:

Me: Yeah... but. I'm scared.
God: I know. But you can't run away from this. It's at your very core.
Me: I'm not running away. Just. Stalling, maybe. Waiting. I will do that at the right time. Maybe I can stay here for a while and see what will happen before jumping aboard.
God: That's not the way to go.
Me: But what's gonna happen? That's a whole year we're talking about. Every year counts.
God: That's the point. It's just one year. Can't you give me one year to take you into the wilderness so you can learn from me? You should know that. You've just finished Numbers.
Me: Yeah... And I know I could better use of your talents there...
God: Exactly. You are bound to leave that place anywhere, and you know you're not a short-term kind of person. So why not start now? You have asked for this too often, claiming this to your friends every time, and even prayed for it in tears, and now that I'm giving you the opportunity, there you are afraid to leave the place you are leaving anyway. A place you don't even want to stay at. Your fear is irrational.
Me: What about my parents? For sure they will say something. They will be really concerned about what to say to other people, or how I will be doing, or the supposed waste of what I will let go.
God: You could always go back. Don't be too proud of yourself. It's not like I'm shortchanging you. You should know the value of this calling. This is the best experience you could ever have. You cannot trade it or get it from anything else. This is like finding a pearl in the vast ocean. Don't think of this as sacrifice, for this is treasure.
Me: Yeah... And I know this is the clearest and best step to what I want anyway. But there is just no assurance of success. Of anything. Now I can relate to the Israelites! Camping from place to place seemed discouraging.
God: What will happen if you fail that year?
Me: Well, for one, it would be a learning experience. And it is good to fail early.
God: Most of all, the seeds you plant are eternal. It could change lives. Don't ever forget that. Whatever you toil at your current schedule will never amount to that worth.
Me: I can't believe you are asking me to do this. What great power you are giving me. And yet here I am...
God: Don't focus on yourself. We will have this conversation again, do you understand? But I want you to process all your excuses rooting from doubt and fear. Really, you should listen to what you're saying because, ha! You will probably laugh at yourself. You already know this by heart and yet you are still finding it difficult to obey. I know because I'm the one who created your heart. I'm the one who will write your future, and there will be no waste to invest in my kingdom. The experience you are trying to get will be as good as your next employment. But not your whole life. Think about it, Sam.
Me: Wow, you sure are not kidding when you say, "Reason with me". 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Woes of dress codes

Shopping usually is a breeze. But with a different mission this time, rooting from my boss' call to look ~*corporate*~ for the company I'll be handling, clothes hunting at MOA seemed like a chore.

What exactly is corporate anyway? Sometimes I would love to revert to immaturity and insist on my taste. I'm not a ~*fashionista*~, but I do like picking my own clothes thank you very much. The call to look older than your age never was fanciful. From the beginning I have vowed not to buy any pair of slacks and almost 9 months later, it still holds!

Then, I was asked to handle a corporate company. Don't get me wrong, I love the company and even prayed that I handle at least one brand from it. Now I handle the corporate PR and I'm ecstatic. But I have to step up my game completely.

"Your spiderweb leggings won't do anymore," my boss told me, referring to the faux torn stockings they once reveled at. "And you need to stop bringing that backpack to meetings" -- referring to my college Jansport bag given two Christmases ago. The purple punky design (bleeding hearts, paint spills) raises corporate eyebrows I guess. The were great for university but tactless for corporate.

So?? What if I want to break stereotypes? *mono-debate ongoing*

And many other things I start to notice -- my college hair, my penchant for anything too casual/loose/short, the abhorrence for preppy and tailored looks. I also have to bid goodbye to ombre hair dreams! So am I even fit to handle this?! And what does appearance have to do with my capacity to do the job? Well, my wise self answers, A lot, actually.

Image does matter. And unless you admit to yourself that it's true, you won't be able to leverage it for your own good.

I have two choices: to insist on my ~*fashion sense*~ and fight for the fact that creativity and competence is not measured by appearances -- or adapt to change and take the advice as a way to help me grow and mature, and perhaps to take on new risks and images that I have delayed for the last 9 months.

I chose the latter. With a little bit of the former: Welcome the change but stay true to myself. How do you even reconcile that?

The choice didn't escape annoyance. At MOA in solitude, I raided the racks of Forever 21, Cotton On, Topshop, etc. hoping for something that could pass as corporate (my mecca are thrift shops by the way, coz again, this is an attempt). Then pulling myself away realizing that it's still college wear I searching for, deep inside. Then on to partly blaming my parents for pushing me to graduate early (haha). Cynical and a bit angsty, I wished I could be permitted to be... juvenile.

I'm about to turn 21 this month, whew, coz I've been feeling so underaged for the past year. A lot of firsts within the past several months. Like in the world of twentysomethings, I don't have that "something" -- just the twenty and even barely. Sometimes I just want to "act my age" but no can-do. I have expectations challenges to meet you see.

Sometimes I also try to hide my age since looking young seemed detrimental in the corporate world. It seemed to signify inexperience and immaturity instead of freshness of perspective, idealism, creativity, and passion -- that feeling you get that you could change the world once you graduate from UP. Haha.

I still am fighting to prove that. That you don't have to fit into a certain mould of what "corporate" people should look like in order to be as good as they are, or even better. That you can do away with cliches and you should retain a little bit of your stubbornness instead of being like a sponge that absorbs anything without question. That blending in is never half as good as standing out.

And that I'll be a rebel in corporate wear.


The twenty-something brain is especially sensitive to criticism and correction. That doesn't mean they shouldn't hear it, but it means managers may not understand how often that person is crying in the bathroom or coming into my office and saying, 'Oh my gosh, my manager sent me a not-nice email; I think he's going to fire me.' ... People forget that twenty-somethings are new in the work world and that that's an overwhelming experience.

Ahaha. No