July 4, 2016

Making good ripples

One of the downsides of living away from home where Catholic church life seemed impossible, is the lack of opportunities to personally share thoughts about spirituality and relationship with God. I was invited by colleagues to join them in their church, one was Christian (they were somewhat affiliated to Hillsong), and the other was a foreign Catholic community. I would have accepted their invites but I wasn't up to meeting a lot of new people at that moment, besides the pros and cons. It was a conscious decision my husband and I had made.

Living here stripped us of the experience to physically belong to a catholic community, though I knew few people who still enjoy their spiritual life amidst the prohibition of religious practices other than Islam. Fortunately, we will always have a community back home where we feel a sense of family and belongingness.

During our holiday in the Philippines, my husband and I tried to squeeze in our schedules some of the activities of Antioch community. A good friend asked me (nicely and pressingly) if I could prepare a talk for the Recollection, so I did. (Thank you JM for asking!) It was a window to meet again the new members of the community and to bid goodbye to good friends since it would be the day before our flight to the kingdom.

Choosing a topic for the youth has always been a challenge. However, during that time, I remember that I have always wanted to talk about the ripple effect. I am fascinated by how one's simple acts could bring up a change in unimaginable ways, like a small rock thrown in a calm pond creating ripples. Thus, I settled in talking about making good ripples.

The ripple effect is a spreading, pervasive, and usually unintentional effect or influence. It's a single act that gets magnified over time affecting a larger group of people. It happens everyday, both in positive and negative ways. This video is a good story of how far and long our ripples can travel, while this one takes on how ripple effect can be damaging.

Most of our actions affect other people, sometimes without our knowledge. A smile or a nod can make someone's day brighter and productive, while an unintentionally hurtful joke can add up to someone's depression. Our ripple effects may go a long way; they are not always abrupt, some take time. Knowing that everyday we have an opportunity to make ripples in the society we are in, wouldn't it be better if we choose to make good ones, instead of undesirable ripples? I listed down six ways to help ourselves in making small waves of goodness, here they are:

June 27, 2016

Wonderfully melancholic

Penny Dreadful Season 3 finale was also the series finale. Sadly, the series won't be returning with a new season, leaving some audience asking for more. The Blessed Dark (the last episode) showed us how the characters who we have followed since Night Work (first episode) embraced, fought for, and claimed their destiny.

There were some ways I would have wanted to change the choices made by the characters but in the end, I understood that the creators of Penny Dreadful would want to show that the characters could not do so much to escape their fate.

The opening scene of the last episode was utterly moving, preparing us for the ending we would not want to come. The lullaby was a warning that it wouldn't be a happy ending. But who was actually expecting for a happy ending when we knew from the start that the characters are doomed and scarred by their own sufferings? Part of the lullaby was from an old bedtime prayer for children.

When I was young
And scared of the world 
My mother would sing me a song 
A tune that I keep in a sacred place
Because I know that my life won't be long
It tells of the place where you go
When your time here on Earth is through 
A beautiful place we call heaven
Is it true? Please God I pray that it's true

'Cause once this land was heaven on Earth 
Green hills were all you could see
But now it's soot and steel and brick 
So it looks more like hell to me
And each day brings more and more suffering 
And each night is silence and fear
And I wake to the sound of your voice 
But you're not here, why aren't you here?

So now I lay me down to sleep
 I pray the Lord my soul to keep
Please let me die before I wake
So the Lord my soul, can take
Then maybe I'll finally find you
'Midst the beauty of paradise
And you'll sing not of dying but living
Wouldn't that be nice?
Wouldn't that be nice?

Some of the scenes that I love from the finale are as follows. Dorian Gray and Lily conversed about the consequences of immortality and losing the passion to live as time wears one out. In the end, Lily chose to leave Dorian and claimed her independence from men.

The team fought against Dracula to save Vanessa Ives.

Ethan and Vanessa finally met after being miles apart for a long time.

 Sir Malcolm asked Ethan if he wishes to stay. Ethan acknowledged his family in London.

June 19, 2016

Weekend trip in Puerto Galera

Summer in the Philippines isn't complete without swimming at the beach or pool. If given with enough time, resources, and preparation, I would want to spend much time taking a dip in some clear waters. Especially in summer time when it can get extremely hot and humid, who would not enjoy a trip to the beach?

Last April 29, we arranged a trip to White Beach, Puerto Galera (PG) with the TPWNs (read as Tapawan: my husband's family). Unfortunately, Tatie, my father-in-law did not come with us because it was far. Travel from Naic to PG could take at least five hours so we opted to leave early. There were a lot of tourists waiting for their scheduled trip, both locals and Koreans! We would have chosen to go to PG on weekdays to avoid the crowd but unfortunately, Michael's siblings could go during weekends only.
An hour and a half boat ride - Father & Sons Shipping Line
Upon arrival in White Beach and after paying the environmental fee, we started looking for an affordable accommodation for two days and two nights. We did not book in advance because we were quite confident that we could find one when we were there already. After half an hour of search, we chose a non-beachfront AC cottage with a kitchen for Php 2 500/night. It wasn't a bad deal at all but it was surprisingly more pricey than our accommodation in El Nido, Palawan! Anyway, it was nice that they didn't charge us with a per-head fee.
Welcome to White Beach!
We put our bags in the cottage and took a rest for a while before we went out for a late lunch. We ate at Foodtrip sa Galera and strolled at the shore after. We decided to buy at the talipapa and cook for dinner instead. Late that afternoon, we had a swim and there were a lot of people! I could say that the water was not as clear as before. When I went there for the first time, I was actually amazed at the blue waters!

Lunch at Foodtrp sa Galera. Ryan and Ruth weren't here yet.
The next day, we woke up early and headed to the town church to listen to the mass. The ride from our accommodation to the church took 20 minutes; it was far! Only a few people were waiting for the mass to start. After the mass, we asked around to find the market and buy food for our meals. We wanted to save as much and the kitchen in our cottage was a big help. I think we spent around Php 1 500, good for three meals for seven persons.

Around ten in the morning, Ryan and Ruth (Michael's siblings) arrived in PG. We called Ate Jenny to set an island hopping tour for us. We got to know her when we were looking for a cottage. Island hopping tour costs Php 1 500 for our whole group. Snorkeling gears were also included, but we had to go to another port where the boats were docked and were waiting for the tourists. We listed our names in the logbook, paid some fees (which I already forgot how much), and waited for the boat.
At the port, waiting for the boat.
The first activity in the tour was snorkeling. The water was clear and blue and we saw corals and some fish. The tour guide told us that we could rent small boats to get us to prettier snorkeling sites where we could do other activities such as fish feeding. We did not take the offer and we went off to another place with a lot of sea stars.
Snorkeling and looking for schools of fish!

May 31, 2016

Short and sweet

Vacation is a necessity when you are working or studying. Whether it is long or short, it helps give balance to tired mind and body, particularly when one is nearly burning out. Sometimes, weekends and regular days off from work are not enough to re-energize and motivate someone who's too fed up with the cycle of work, especially the people who works in a different country, far from families and loved ones.

Fortunately, my husband is entitled to an annual vacation to our home country and we decided to use it last April and May. We counted the days and weeks until our vacation and planned trips with families and few friends. We chose to spend a great amount of our time with families simply because, family first. We thought that being with our family and bringing them to great places especially our parents, were a way of giving back, and an expression of gratitude for the love (and time and money) they spent in our early years. Maybe next time, we'll do more meet-ups with friends and acquaintances.

Our hometown in Cavite, Naic, did not quite change at all. Yes, there were new places and cafés to hangout in, which we did not get a chance to try, and there was a rise in population brought by relocation, but the ambiance of the town is quite the same. That is actually one of the things I like in Naic, it gives you a warm feeling and a sense of home.
Waiting for boarding
Our flight to Manila was actually delayed for two hours. But hey, we're still happy.
We were really glad and grateful upon our arrival in Manila. The 9-hour flight from Riyadh to Manila only added up to the excitement of seeing our family after many months. When we saw some friends who seemed genuinely happy upon seeing us, we felt happier. Though we have missed a lot of happenings with them, it doesn't seem to matter.

We traveled to different pretty places in the Philippines; some were really far. We went to Baler, El Nido, Puerto Galera, and not so far places such as Tagaytay and Batangas. Summer in the Philippines is really fun and great. I hope to write about our adventures in those beautiful places!

Aside from traveling and visiting some places, we also made sure to attend the Sunday mass because it's definitely one of the things that we missed while staying in Riyadh. It felt new and refreshing to see and hear the gospel with other people in the church.

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
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