April 5, 2016

Morning walk by the lake

Spring has come here in the kingdom, and the winter winds have slowly gone away. It won't feel too cold for picnics in the park or morning walks anymore. My husband and I planned to visit one of the lakes just around Riyadh, since we wanted to go somewhere because we had a stressful week.

The initial plan was to visit Wadi Hanifah on Saturday morning. We saved the route in Google map, followed the directions but we did not find any access going to the lake. We were a little disappointed so we searched again for another lake nearby and found Wadi Namar. With the directions we found and signage along the way, it was easier to find this lake. 

It was still early when we reached Wadi Namar. Few families were already gathering around for picnic. There were children enjoying their bicycles, and groups of women enjoying their walk while chatting. Some men preferred sitting on their picnic mats while enjoying their cups of tea. We looked for a bench where we could eat our sandwiches and coffee before finally walking along the park. Next time, we'll buy a mat that we could bring for times like this.

Palm trees and seating benches are plenty in the park. The sun was up but the wind was still a bit cold that morning. Unfortunately, we did not bring sweater because winter is over, but walking kept us warm. The lake was calm even when some ducks were swimming and looking for food. A man feeding the ducks with leftover bread greeted us "As-salamu alaykum." Indeed, it was a peaceful morning.

A reminder to people visiting the lake.
In between the palm trees.
Michael posing after looking at the ducks and the not-so-clean water
A sunny day!
Namar Lake
My husband and I snapped a quick shot on top of the dam before we left.
A view from the top.
We had fun spending our morning by the lake. The only thing that concerns me is the rubbish that's all over the place. There were trash bins in every side but it seems that some people frequenting the place are not responsible enough with their waste. Yes, there are cleaners assigned to manage the park, but we should not just leave our rubbish behind. This simple practice of cleaning up before we go can help a lot. Anyway, we had a splendid morning in Wadi Namar!

You can check this page for other photos of this place. You can use this location map of Wadi Namar if you're planning to visit. :)

March 17, 2016

Speak again, speak like rain *

Writing poems seemed like an effortless hobby when I was in college. I felt good when I wrote something down, even when no one would have the chance to read them. The poems I write are quite short but enough and are usually inspired by particular situations.

I love reading poetry that speaks to thyself. So when I stumbled upon videos of people reading out their poetry aloud and famous verses read by some people, I began to appreciate the words more, spoken out with proper intonations and emotions. I attended a journalism seminar when I was younger with a session on poetry reading, but it did not strike me more than the videos I have watched. I supposed that spoken word isn't so famous when I first heard about it. Nonetheless, spoken word as an art has been going on for a long time, even before printing presses evolved. When I saw clips of performances by different artists especially Sarah Kay and Phil Kaye, I enjoyed them very much that I would want to personally see and listen to spoken word performances. When Love Arrives is a great piece about savoring each moment we encounter love. I wished I knew them before they came to the Philippines.

I also found about the Anima community, and they are producing clips sending messages and verses from the bible. Their messages are both empowering and inspiring. It's pleasing that their community is able to use this kind of art for their missions. The video below entitled Who You Are: A Message To All Women spoken by Jon Jorgenson is one of my faves. Loads of spoken word artists make pieces with positive messages and advantages of personal relationship with Jesus. These pieces are especially appealing to visual and auditory learners.

Spoken word has become more popular in the Philippines when one television series (which I never saw though) featured a spoken word poet named Juan Miguel Severo. It was a hit and all of sudden, more people have been sharing verses and prose from that particular poet. I have watched one of his performances (through the clips of course) and I found it intense and full of emotions. Words Anonymous artists are also great and they have been sharing clips of different pieces. Recently, I got ahold of Zuela Herrera's Dulo't Simula with a fitting video. I loved the words and the rhymes that she used. It talks about lovers that will always find each other. I've said it before and I'll say it again, love is universal and people will not tire talking about it. You can also check out the other artists out there who are equally amazing.

Some of the poems I have written were collected by my husband. One of those was about happiness and was made into a music piece - my husband recorded himself speaking the words with his original composition playing in the background. That piece entitled Masaya Ang Mundo was apparently included in our wedding songs. I am proud of his work and wished that we can make more projects like this in the future. Take a listen.

Poetry has been undeniably a part of my life and I will go always go back to it, whether as a writer, a listener, or a reader. Maybe soon, I'll write again, and write like rain. :)

* Out of Africa, Isak Dinesen

March 10, 2016

See you soon

Few more weeks and the second term in our school will end. Some of the kids will be leaving next week to spend Easter in their home country. And it means that we have to do their assessments before they leave.

Anyway, my husband and I also planned to spend the holy week in the Philippines. It has been years since my husband missed Semana Santa and the traditions that go with it. But, there was a problem when he filed our vacation leave so we'll have to go to the Philippines at a later time. Still, that's alright! That means we'll be going there when the schools are on break. And, it's summer - best time to go to the beach!

We are already talking about the things that we want to do while in the Philippines, aside from eating at different places. Haha! I just don't want to laze around when we are at home, so better list down sensible things to do with the family. We are going to travel to somewhere with our families, but I don't want to put in a lot of money for our travels. So, we must budget too and mind our savings.

Time flew really fast (I've said this a lot of times already), but I hope that it slows down even for a little bit when we fly to the Philippines. I barely felt January and February, partly because of school works and requirements. I think I'm a little stressed of my work because there were nights that I could not fall asleep easily. This job that I have is truly satisfying especially when I see the kids are happy and learning, but I'm planning to take a break from teaching after our vacation. I'm glad that my husband agrees with and supports my decision.

So yeah, few more weeks and we'll see you soon Pilipinas kong minumutya! Hoping and praying that everything goes well. I'm sharing the song below because it reminds me of the town of Naic - take a listen. :)

February 29, 2016

¡Grandes peliculas!

I think I've said enough that I love watching films during our free time. There were weeks when we watched at least a film every night especially when the TV series that we've been following were on break. But when school works eat up my supposedly free time at home, there's no way that we could watch at least one. I came across films in Spanish language that were actually great. Most of these films fall under either the thriller or horror genre, and sometimes both. I am going to list them down here because someone who's looking for thriller/horror films to watch may stumble upon this post, so I'll share my suggestions. I will list them in no particular order and maybe I'll share some thoughts about them but not to the point of spoiling.

El espinazo del diablo. This film was from one of my favorite directors, Guillermo del Toro. It is about friendship, fitting in, revenge in a Spanish civil war setting. There was ghost haunting within the drama. If you've watched at least one film directed by Guillermo del Toro, this film feels familiar when you watch it.
El Cuerpo. This one is a thriller full of twists, you may or may not figure out until the end. I usually like guessing about motives of the characters in the film (in real life too, at times) and I may say that a lot of times my guess seems right. I did not fully guess the ending of this one because as I've said, it's twisted but engaging.
El laberinto del fauno. I think there was a version of this released in English language but I remember seeing this in Spanish which I appreciated more. The kid who played Ofelia acted very well in this. That kid has grown up already and still acting, you can watch her in MTV's The Shannara Chronicles. There were a lot of interpretations of this film, since it's fantasy with a dark feel. 
La Cara Oculta. I enjoyed this film when we watched it. It's also engaging and I actually felt good when the characters got what they deserved. There's a love story in here and of course, thrills.
Cronos. Another film by Guillermo del Toro. The poster and the description of this one do not suggest a lot that's why I withheld watching this. But when I saw it, it was actually intriguing and fun to watch.
El secreto de sus ojos. Recently, a film featuring Chiwetel Ejiofor and Julia Roberts was released, and it was actually based on this one. The first part of this film was dramatic but enough to keep you interested. Again, there was a twist towards the end that you would not want to miss. I appreciated the actors and their moving performances. It's also calming to hear them talking in Spanish even when I was trying to read the subtitles quickly.
La casa del fin de los tiempos. There were parts in this film that could give you jump scares, but what's more fascinating was the story itself. If you also like guessing about what will happen next when watching a movie, this can give you a little headache because it's not so predictable (at least for me.)
Mientras duermes. If you are looking for a horror film that will give a lot of scares, this is not the film that will satisfy you. But I'm quite sure, that this will scare you in a different way. It made me think what if there are a lot of people who think like the antagonist in this film (which is not impossible), the world may be a scarier place to live in.

I like how Spanish films play out the horror and thrill in the stories. Gore is not necessary, and dark themes are common but not hard to watch. And most importantly, the essence is there. Maybe next time, I'll share more foreign-language films with different genres.

January 26, 2016

Clever ways

Something funny happened today in our class. Actually, funny things just come and go when you are working with kids.

We were talking about family this morning and I was asking each one of the kids the members of their family. I also asked them about what their mommy and daddy usually do. Some said that "Daddy works in the office" and "Mommy stays at home." I also asked them to draw their family's faces and we made family finger puppets. They also had a chance to draw their family and their house using colored markers and pencils.

There's this youngest kid in my class who's still in scribbling stage when it comes to drawing. He was drawing a lot of circles and I encouraged him to draw his family's faces, still he went on doodling and scribbling. When all of them were done, I asked each of them to tell me what they have created. One of them drew a lot of houses for each of his friends, he said 'Muchos house!' and one of them drew a door and windows on her house. The youngest kid told me that he drew a house while I was making sense of the doodles and circles, and then I asked him where are his family and he answered proudly "My mommy is inside (the house)"

I kind of laughed a little with his answer, it was actually clever. Who knows who else is inside the house that he has drawn, maybe his whole family is there! It reminded of a particular scene in Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's The Little Prince, when the prince asked for a sheep and the pilot drew a box, pointing out that the sheep is inside.
There's a small sheep inside this box.
I am writing down these things here because soon I will forget and I want to be always reminded that kids are clever. It just takes some understanding from parents and teachers to help them realize it. For sure, there were a lot of situations like this that I have dealt with in my class and I may have forgotten them - some were even funnier. I hope that when I become a parent someday, I'll have the time to write anecdotes about my child to keep the memories alive, because in this fast-paced life, we tend to forget the little things that matter. This will be all for now - have a great first month of the year! :)
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