Sunday, April 23, 2017

Sun, You're Expensive in this Part of the World!

We recently acquired a new place. The selection process was a bit unusual since it was lottery-based; that is, they put your name on queue and upon your number, you then get to choose the house and lot you prefer. We were number 13, and the lot of our choice was in the middle range, price-wise and area-wise.

During the tenth selection, we were already wondering why that lot hasn't been selected yet. We were really glad we got our area of choice but at the back of our heads came the question, why wasn't it popular?

It's a corner lot. It's a bit bigger compared to the regular lots. It's a bit isolated since it's beside some trees and big rocks.

Why?

Two months later, you then slowly realize why. Originally, I thought it was the amount of leaves that come into the backyard, especially during the autumn season. I guess that's also a factor. But more than anything, I guess it's because there's not enough sun at the back porch!

Growing up in a tropical country, sun is something that we take for granted. There is even an advisory that you're only supposed to stay under the sun between sunrise and 8AM and later than 4PM, otherwise, the sun can be harmful to your skin. Almost everyone has an umbrella when going around, or stays under the shade to avoid the sun. It was hard-wired in my system to evade the sun as much as possible.

Coming here, it looked strange to me when someone basks under the sun during lunch time. But then, living here for almost four years, you get into that habit, as well. You really feel the sun's heat during summer and only some days in spring.

You then realize, the sun brings warmth and light physically, mentally and emotionally. There is a certain brightness in your life, a feeling of being alive.

It's funny how we look for shades and clouds in Philippines, but here, we look for the glare of the sun. And now that summer is coming, I'm just looking forward for the sun and the warmth!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Uncles and Aunties

When I was a kid, I call everyone that is around my parents' age Uncle and Auntie. I'm not sure if this practice is shared among all Filipino cultures, but at least that's how I was brought up.

One normally calls a person Uncle or Auntie, when he is related to your parents - their siblings or cousins. But that address extends to your parents' friends, as well. And for some, they even use that term to address strangers on an informal basis. It's a sign of respect for the elders.

I guess there is always that sense of community among the Filipinos. It's very typical of Filipinos to feel close to someone even if they only met recently. Filipinos use the word "friend" lightly. Acquaintances are friends already.

Ever since I moved to Sweden, I have learned not to treat everyone as friends. It seems here, when you refer someone to as "friend", it means you have shared a lot of private moments and have been through a lot.

But sometimes you just miss that feeling. That feeling of camaraderie, community. The sense of belongingness. I think that's why when Filipinos get together, they tend to be really loud and rowdy, and crazy at times. I just attended that type of get-together so I'm still a little hung up.

Unfortunately, there are always two sides of a coin. There is always that danger of people becoming too familiar, that they tend to intrude on your personal life. And talk about you. And invade your privacy. That "familiarity" sort of gives one the right to do that.

Most of the Swedes are very private. They only talk about safe topic, safe sentiments. They don't openly discuss their relationships or about their emotions. They have that wall that is very hard to penetrate. You'd think you've shared a bond the day before, then the day after, back goes that wall between you.

Seeing those sides of the coin... There is always a good and a bad to each side. It's just a matter of perspective.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Inga mera selfies, för vi ska ta en groupie

For those of you wondering what the title means - no more selfies, for we shall take a groupie. It's a line from one of entries to a Swedish song festival, entitled Groupie by Viktor and Samir.

It was pretty popular among the young kids since it has a dance tune to it. Both my sons love dancing to it.

This song always come to mind whenever I browse through my Facebook feed. Everday, I just don't fail to see selfies taken with faces up close, and all you see in the picture is the face. Why do you want to document your face? Is there something special to it?

I don't mind people taking solo pictures, especially when it comes to showing off places they've been, or that they've got nice new clothes on, or even have a funny story behind it. It's actually fun to look at these photos. I just wondered, when someone takes a picture of JUST the face, what does one really try to show? Makeup? Or how well-maintained your skin is?

I'm not really a selfie person so I can't really relate to what a selfie means. It's just annoying sometimes to see the same face, day by day, despite different angles and expression on the face. I came close to unfollowing people, but I don't want to do that because I still want to see what they're up to. These are still people of interest to me. After all, that's why we are friends in Facebook.

It just annoys the hell out of me to see those selfies *shrugs*

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

A La La Land Review

Storywise, yeah, it's one of those same old love stories all over again. But the movie is more than that. Great production, loving the musical score, superb actors. No wonder it has garnered a lot of nominations and awards.

The movie was artistically created that it went out of the typical Hollywood film. It gave you a feeling of watching an old movie again, where the background were all just still pictures. At the same time, the movie was set on modern times. It blended both old and new, in that sense.

The musical score gets you through a roller-coaster emotion. It makes you happy, then it makes you sad. And there were moments when it made you sad and happy, all at once. With the setting and music together, it brings on that old movie feel.

More than anything else, it was the actors that brought everything to life. Emma Stone is just amazing. Really charismatic, you just get hooked to her character. Ryan Gosling, on the other hand, depicted very well a guy who has just followed the tides that come his way. Although, I have to admit, this seems a Ryan Gosling typical character for me. Despite me a Ryan Gosling fan, his performance didn't strike me as what can be called awesome. The singing part came as a surprise, though.

Despite the happy tones, the ending scenes emphasized the sense of regret and what-if's. I love the way how they both last looked at each other. It tears your heart apart, but in the end, they let you feel everything's going to be fine. That contrast of emotions put in one scene is what gave the movie the grand finale.

I recommend this movie. It's a 90 for me. I'd say, if you've just broken up, maybe this movie might not be for you.

Thursday, September 01, 2016

The Cold and I

The cold and I
We never really see eye to eye
The cold and I
To meet halfway, we only but try

The cold and I
We struggle to do things right
Oh but this cold!
In the end, it always bites

One of these days...
Still hopeful, your coldness, I'll learn to embrace
But yeah, 'til then
Though struggling, I'll just try to deal things with grace

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Trees and Winter

As much as I don't like the cold, there's something fascinating about winter. You'd actually think that at winter everything dies. Just like the flowers in our backyard, the whole thing disappears. But when it's spring time, you see sprouts and it blooms right into summer then dries up during autumn then goes hiding back again in the winter.

While going home on the bus, I'd often gaze at the window and be fascinated by the trees. Each specie has a different way of reacting to winter. Some are dry and look so barren that it's very ugly and creepy to look at. Depressing, really. Others are beautiful and breaks that dull monotone with their greens.

The maple trees and willows look sad during this time. They look so defeated, with their branches hanging limplessly... a frew dried leaves still hanging on some of the branches which haven't been shaken of by the wind. And I guess this is how most of the trees look like during winter.

The christmas trees, on the other hand, are the complete opposite. They battle the winter without losing their green. Despite the onslaught of snow, it just catches it on its leaves and let it drop when the snow gets too heavy. To me, it seems like they're shaking off the snow when there's too much.

And then, there are the apple trees. For me, they are the epitome of a scary tree. When it's bare, it looks so different. Its small branches jut upward from the main branches which are horizontal. It looks as if it's ready to stab anything that comes in its direction. It looks like it's ready to fight, with its knives sticking out.

And then there are these trees with white trunks. I'm not really sure if they are some sort of pine trees also but the difference is that they shed off their leaves. What's fascinating though, is that even in their barrenness, they are so white that they look like white towers. They turn so white especially when there's snow.

Despite their differences, underneath, they are all alive, just waiting for the winter to pass. They just have a different way of dealing with it but when it's summer, they all bloom like crazy.

That's what makes it exciting. For every season, there's always something to look forward to, or dread for that matter, but at the end of it all, there will always be a moment to bloom.

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

And Just Like That

I read Wace's status... "Very timely. God talked to me agad."

Indeed, God makes all things beautiful in His time! Just when I was wallowing in misery and disappointments and all that frustrations, He sent me angels. Angels who encouraged me and fired me up, who shared their experiences. I heard stories of struggles and victories, of strength and will. Angels who would just listen and let their love fill you up. Thank You for these angels!

As I was reading my daily devotional at the bus, I read this note. And just like that, I heard Him speak. After a long time, I felt His arms around me again and He didn't seem so distant anymore...

When she was a little girl, Corrie Ten Boom (a Dutch Christian who helped Jews escape from the Nazis during the Second World War) went to her father and said, ‘“Daddy, I am afraid that I will never be strong enough… for Jesus Christ.” “Tell me,” said her father, “when you take a train trip to Amsterdam, when do I give you the money for the ticket? Three weeks before?” “No, Daddy, you give me the money for the ticket just before we get on the train.” “That is right,” her father said, “and so it is with God’s strength. Our Father in heaven knows when you will need the strength... He will supply all you need just in time.”’

I have been reading about the book of Job these past few days. I guess we all know what the story was about: how Job was tested and how he came out triumphantly from these trials. I have to admit I had a hard time understanding the flow of conversation. If you are not careful, you may tend to agree with Job's "friends", like when they told him, you must have done something bad for God to inflict this on you. Or that when they said, we know better because we are older and smarter. They were trying to "encourage" him but instead Job wasn't comforted.

It's tough being judged when you're going through something. But, in the end, no matter how much your friends encourage (or discourage) you, it's really up to you to say STOP - I want this to end. After all, whoever in their right mind would want to be in misery forever, right?

Time and time I fell off from the ride with Jesus but He never cease to show me how much He loves me. I will overcome! I will be still and know You're God!