Posted by: happyduckling | September 23, 2009

Quack! Quack!

I know that we have the most primitive public transportation in the modern world but I find jeepneys really quaint and a good place to be in when you’re people watching. Also, for some reason, it is the place to be for one of those rare & seminal realizations. As I was looking at the passing scenes and most of them are common scenes of poverty (i.e. begging, selling & living on the streets, serenading passengers to make a quick buck), it hit me that not only a lot of people are robbed of having decent lives, they are also being robbed of opportunities to develop their interests, talents and becoming the best persons that they can be. I know that it is Maslow 101 and no matter how lame it may sound, I just begun to recognize it at that single moment.  A delayed reaction but there it is.

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I just finished a book called Choices by Penelope Lively. It is a story of three generation of young women who despite life’s limitations refused to compromise with it and lived their lives in their own terms. It didn’t exactly had the best narrative. In some parts of the book, the author has  more or less have digressed to unnecessary descriptions and lecturing about the state of society. But for some reason, the book has resonated with me and I think it has become a subtle reminder from the universe to plod on and to keep on moving forward despite the odds that I face.

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You see being jobless gives me lots of time in my hands to process my past experiences and adventures. I guess, the search for what I really want to do for the rest of my life has ended. I basically know what I really want to do- Alternative education specifically environmental education. I just find it relevant and at its most fundamental core, highly effective as a medium of learning. Now, my next hurdle is just to continue finding out outlets where I can do it, which is a tad difficult here. Basically,  my life now  is just a long continuity of waiting. I am looking forward to that day when the waiting ends. I just hope soon.

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Posted by: happyduckling | September 8, 2009

I’m back!

Wow! It has been a long time since I’ve written something here.  To put it simply, my muse left me and it came back. To make it complicated, the past year have been a huge  headache on my part.  And I am not exaggerating…not the very least.  If my first year in Thailand was simply a wonderful experience, my second year was the opposite of it. To put it bluntly,  it was f***** awful.  Basically, the root of all that awfulness are my crazy colleagues at the office.  No, they are not Thais, they are farangs. Have you ever tried working with a bipolar and  someone who possibly has a histrionic personality disorder? How about putting them together?  And what do you get? Pandemonium! And that is what I had for the past year. I am just glad that I got over it and I was able to finish my contract in one piece. A little bit emotionally burned but I’m exhaling a big sigh of relief! Yes! I’m done! I survived!

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Now two month have pass and I am back home, jobless but happy. In my world, being jobless equates to being a loser. But I’m a happy loser.  I get to do things that I’ve missed. Teasing my twin nephews who are just learning to talk, cooking (Gawd! I never thought I would say it but I missed my mom’s kitchen), being there to witness my friends’ milestones. I’ve attended a friend’s wedding since I came home and I’m looking forward to the birth of my friend’s baby. I just love being there for things that matter. The only thing that I don’t relish was  giving sex education advice to my 18-year old nephew. In my Catholic universe, premarital sex is a no, n0 but I know my nephew is not a follower of the great doctrine (notice the scathing sarcasm here). It was, what I deemed essential to give some form of advice to him,  for the simple reason that the Philippines cannot really support an increase of its population. To put it bluntly, we are heading to disaster. Our natural resources are not enough to support  such a burgeoning population plus the fact that our government is not establishing measures that will make our country self-sufficient and sustainable. And what is left of what we have  are being plundered by the greediest batch of leeches in this side of the hemisphere. Ok! I’m blabbering I know!

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Since I’m already blabbing about the state of our affairs in the Philippines, I just would like to comment on Roxas’ gamble. I called his stepping down from the presidential race a clever gamble. I think he knew that there is a small likelihood of him winning and he probably foresaw the benefits of stepping down and not look too cowardly. He probably calculated that it was at the very least a gentlemanly move to step down and give way to Noynoy and at best will probably help him in his bid for the vice presidency. He is a clever fellow indeed and a good tactician. In politics, there are always ulterior motives and I’m not discounting him from not having any.

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A funny story: I got locked in in my room and it was the longest hour of my life. I never felt so claustrophobic. That’s when I realized that it could virtually be a prison. My windows have that metal-grilly-thingies and a screen. So I’m like, I will never be able to get out of here unless someone breaks the door. I have a really really strong door knob, no kidding! My mom bought that fancy oldish looking one you know and it’s really hard to take it out. I just got lucky that a neighbor is doing some renovations in his house and there was a carpenter who managed to give me instructions on how to take apart the door knob in my side of the door. Thank goodness, I got out! I guess the lesson here is: you don’t wait for the door to open, you claw your way out of the door if necessary. That I think I can apply to everything in life and not just being locked in.

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Despite the glitches and the stupid moments, I am happy to be home. The happy and  noisy moments at home just outweighs the bad stuff. I am mighty glad I’m back.

Posted by: happyduckling | December 21, 2008

Faint Glimmer

I thought you were a better man than the rest.
I guess I expected too much.
I didn’t realize that they were just glimpses of what you could be.
I wish I was strong enough to wait for that eventual metamorphosis.
But I can’t.
I’m too afraid that I might not have any of myself left by the end of it.
I also need to become what I need to be.
I’m sorry.
Goodbye.

Posted by: happyduckling | October 23, 2008

Rugrats Escapade

I am usually in the presence of eight to ten year-olds. Around those ages they are more or less are in the in-between phase of being composed little young people whilst still retaining that sense of being joyful and imaginative.

On rare occasions though I get to play with the early learners, who more or less live in the world of imagination and where everything is just magical and well let’s face it, chaos and widespread destruction. I have never really appreciated how preschool teachers must have work doubly hard to facilitate learning and to keep things in the semblance of calm in their classrooms. To my surprise, I found it quite challenging to teach the little ones the simple concept of oxygen and its relationship to water quality. Good thing there is Tissue, the class pet-turtle who needs air to breath. Thank God for turtles! I never realize that they can be life savers. It suddenly just got simpler when explained from Tissue’s perspective.

I thought that it would be an uphill battle but learning with them got easier when we did story-telling. I am mightily glad that stories never fail to fascinate everyone across ages. Judging from the rare stillness and hushed atmosphere in the room, I successfully managed to get their complete attention even for that single moment in time. That was already one heck of an achievement for me, but what caught my heart was that one plucky little boy who put his forehead against mine who looked deeply into my eyes with a look of mixed thoughtfulness and surprise. As if saying tacitly “You are fun despite being old”.

And that’s how I ended my pretty special day with the little ones.

Posted by: happyduckling | October 9, 2008

The Red Poppy by Louise Glück

The great thing
is not having
a mind. Feelings:
oh, I have those; they
govern me. I have
a lord in heaven
called the sun, and open
for him, showing him
the fire of my own heart, fire
like his presence.
What could such glory be
if not a heart? Oh my brothers and sisters,
were you like me once, long ago,
before you were human? Did you
permit yourselves
to open once, who would never
open again? Because in truth
I am speaking now
the way you do. I speak
because I am shattered.

_____

Ever since a friend introduced me to Louise Gluck, I have fallen deeper in love with poetry.

Posted by: happyduckling | October 5, 2008

Of bumps and bruises

If psychologists ever manage to find a way to measure psychomotor intelligence, I will probably fail miserably. I have never really been good at anything that has to do with body movements. I have never been a sporty kid and the only sport that I really excelled at was fencing, which was relatively easy to master. Think of chess on your feet and that is what it is.

Now as a big kid (I still refer meself as such because in terms of maturity, I don’t think I have really made progress), I have been making up for those deprived years of inactive sports life (I don’t really want to say a deprived childhood because despite not being in sports, I have had a really great one). I have been learning to swim well and to cycle.

Swimming for me was relatively easy to learn because I was taught of the basics when I was small but I never really pursued it. Now as an adult, I found myself wanting to at least swim laps without feeling winded and dying at the end of pool session. So I found myself a great swim teacher who’s doing the total immersion technique. The essential goal behind it is to learn how to move through the water with less effort. I would like to say that I have made good progress with him since at the end of three sessions I was already doing laps without tiring. I’m actually enjoying swimming now whereas before a lap makes me wish I was dead.

Cycling on the other hand is a different story altogether. It took me a long time to learn how to balance on a bike. I’m not very good at that balancing thing. Think of a person who falls flat in every conceivable way and I guarantee you that I have done all of those. I was finally able to do it after countless bumps and bruises and constant pushing from a friend (both literally and emotionally). I really, really thought that that was the end of the struggle and it would just go beautifully from there.

But no! Someone up there has a pretty strange sense of humor because for some reason or the other, I still don’t know how to cycle in a straight line. And as a result, whilst cycling in one of those quiet villages in Chiang Mai, I fell flat on my face AGAIN when a motorcycle made an unexpected appearance. I was so startled when I saw it that rather than hitting the breaks, idiotic me decided to jump out of my bike and pretty much fell flat on a ditch. Thankfully, I got away with a small gash and a minor scrape. I am still going back on that damn bike though and by God, I’m going to learn how to cycle in a straight line!

Posted by: happyduckling | April 25, 2008

Jakarta visit

Over the Songkhran festival I had the chance to see my beloved sister and my adorable niece. I was able to see what their typical life was like and got to play with them. We also got the chance to explore Jakarta, which I thought was just another quintessential city, all concrete, steel and glass but surprisingly there were little gems to be found.


For example: Lara Djonggram, an artsy restaurtant inspired by an Indonesian Buddhist deco that serves the best gado gado and sate in town.

The Historical museum in Jakarta: Although their exhibits were badly done, there were a lot of wonderful artefacts of the bygone era that gives you a little bit of insight to the complicated colonial past of Indonesia.

Cafe Batavia: Little has changed in this quaint and classy cafe since the 1920s. Being here is like being transported back in time.

Taman Mini: A showcase of the architectural distinctiveness and diversity of Indonesia and reflects the beauty of their culture and people.

And the most beautiful gem of them all was my little niece, with whom I got the chance to play and have fun with.

Posted by: happyduckling | April 7, 2008

Little Jaunts

Things have been crazy for the past two months. After my family left Bangkok, I have been on trips with the students non-stop. The last week of February was spent in the province of Ayutthaya, the setting of the magnificent bygone kingdom of Ayutthaya (circa 1350-1767), which managed to subdue the rival Khmer kingdom (who built the glorious Angkor Wat) and established robust trading relationships with Persia, China as well as some western European countries who ruled the seas back then. The kingdom was finally destroyed by the invading Burmese army in 1767.

Wat Sri Samphet – the old royal temple of Ayutthaya destroyed during the Burmese invasion.

Wat Chai Wattanaram – The Burmese used the highest point of this temple to spy within the city gates of Ayutthaya and managed to get information on troop movements & strategic battle plans that gave them the edge they need to defeat the mighty Ayutthaya.

After our history lesson, we went to Khao Yai, one of the largest tropical rainforests in Southeast Asia, where we got to see a lot of interesting plant adaptations, looked at plant successions and tried to spot bigger mammals but to no avail. At least we got to see porcupines and deer.

Just a patch of the magnificent rainforest. Spot the emergent:)

End of the grassland hike-a little lake. If you walk by the shore, you get to see animal footprints as well as some animal carcass.

Meanwhile, the remaining month of March was spent in Chiang Mai studying culture, northern lifestyle and livelihoods. The kids got to experience planting rice, staying at a Karen village as well as looking into the different local cottage industries.

A traditional Karen house.

One of the survival components of the programme: Building shelters

Little Mungo: taking an instant affinity with the mud:)

The water buffalo goes for a swim: trying to escape the oppressive heat.

That’s it, the past five weeks in a nutshell. I will be off to Jakarta to visit my dearest sister and best friend this coming Songkhran festival, which is making me really excited. It’s a long awaited break, an opportunity to finally change my pace and environment, albeit temporarily.

Posted by: happyduckling | February 20, 2008

Chinese Poem by J.D. McClatchy

Whatever change you were considering,

Do not plant another tree in the garden.

One tree means four seasons of sadness:

What is going,

What is coming,

What will not come,

What cannot go.

Here in bed, through the south window

I can see the moon watching us both,

Someone’s hand around its clump of light.

Yours? I know you are sitting out there,

Looking at silver bloom against black.

That drop from your cup on the night sky’s

Lacquer you wipe away with your sleeve

As if its pleated thickets were the wide space

Between us, though you know as well as I do

This autumn is no different from the last.

Posted by: happyduckling | February 20, 2008

Images of Bangkok…

It’s been so long since I’ve actually posted something on my blog. Quite strange to be back. I’ve been debating whether to delete this altogether or not, but then again it serves its purpose as a little diary so I guess it will have to stay as it is although my writing has been quite sporadic lately. But anyway, my family came for a visit and here are some pictures to share. For a little while, I was able to play tourist with them in the enchanting little world of Bangkok and the surrounding areas. 🙂

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