Category: Friends

Meet Ms. D

Today, I am extremely grateful for my new friend, Danielle.

I’ve only known her for three days but it sure feels like I’ve known her for three decades.

I have so many things to say and write about this young, beautiful, South African hipster but I will hold off for now for reasons only known to me.

Let’s just say the stories we have already shared involve a flight, chocolate covered almonds, an airport snafu, a Frenchman who needed our help, a baked doctor, a smashed camera, a kind Italian man who could speak French, an ambulance, her awesome project, the stories we create in our heads, a fantastic meal, an enlightening conversation, Oprah and surrendering.

The past three days have been eventful, that’s for sure, and this week would not have ended as phenomenally if I had not met her.

meet my soul sis, Ms. D Lauren, one of my favorite people on the planet

In the meantime, the one important thing you must know about her is that she is the CEO and creative director of the 11 eleven project; a project committed to making the world a better place.    Please take some time to check it out and register.

Thanks for making us meet, G.

We were exactly where we needed to be and it makes complete sense to me why you made it happen.

Thank you.

grateful slice:  connections that change our lives forever

Weekly Photo Challenge: Shadow

In the binary opposition of dark and light, darkness doesn’t always mean hopelessness, debauchery, or evil. On the contrary, there’s a lot of beauty to be found in shadows.

Shadow in Lowering Light

Beauty Behind Bamboo Blinds

grateful slice:  good timing and G’s gorgeous creations

first photo taken in Boracay, 2008 with a Canon Digital Ixus 750

second photo taken in Dumaguete, 2010 with a Nikon D90 and a polarized lens

On Seeing the 100% Perfect Girl One Beautiful April Morning: To Cat and Carlo

Pulled from both directions

Two months ago, I had to make a clear-cut but very difficult decision.

Two very special people (actually, special is an understatement) were getting married off shore (Coron, Palawan) and I had already RSVPed that I would be there, booked a flight and confirmed accommodations.  I knew, because I have the DNA of a hopeless romantic, that it would be a once in a lifetime wedding for the books (insert: all cliches on love) and I did not want to miss it for the world.  These two people, on their own were stellar but together, and finding each other — what a truly heaven inspired union.

with Cat and Carlo at Chelsea (Serendra, 2009)

Carlo and I go way back.  Back to times we are now mature enough to want to remember (Antioch, Literature classes in La Salle, exes Drama, bad poetry,  et al) and laugh about.  I am really proud of him.  Check out the latest information on his first feature length film here and other work here.  I like this one a lot.

Cat is like my other younger sister.  I spent a good part of the first ten years of my working life with her family.  Her mom was my very first mentor (she taught me everything I know about fitness) and her dad was my very first boss (joined the business side of fitness after being an instructor and graduating from university).  I even spent a year being the Head Writer for her mom’s daily morning fitness show before I finally left the fitness industry for good to pursue teaching and writing full time.  We traveled together often and I consider them a surrogate family (dysfunction included).  I remember helping Cat move to the US (for university) and feeling like an older sister, helping her un-pack and making her feel more at ease with the fact that she would be so far away from her family.  I also remember her wanting a tattoo years ago and asking for my advice before she got one and how I in turn,  asked for her advice when I got my first piercing.  Sheesh. Those were the days.  LOL.  Here is a related post about a weekend I spent in Caliraya with her parents after years of not having seen each other.  It was a pre-wedding reunion and I was convinced that I would be taking pictures of beautiful Coron and their gorgeous wedding come mid February, 2011.


something else was at work in the universe and to make a short story even shorter, the yearly trip to Sagada with the kids from school was scheduled and confirmed to push through for the exact same week.  Doh.

Like I said, it was a very difficult decision.

I prayed for days and consulted a good friend and what G plunked in my heart was crystal clear.  The kids came first; there was no question about it, even if my stomach felt a little queasy the afternoon I tweeted and emailed Cat and Carlo that I wouldn’t be able to make it after all.  In the end, they totally understood and my heart was at peace and my stomach calm.  I canceled my flight and off to Sagada we went.  From the moment we set foot on the bus all the way to my schizophrenic weeping (from stress-slash-joy) when we got back to Manila a week later, I had absolutely no regrets.  I knew I made the good, perfect, pleasing decision.

This morning though, when I came across their beautiful wedding video and teared a little, I allowed myself to feel a little bad for not being there on their perfect day.

Carlo and Cat from Bob Nicolas on Vimeo.

But only for a very brief moment.

Because hello, it’s not about me.  But about them.  Their radiant smiles were so much more compelling to me, than my sadness for wishing I was there to see it first-hand.  Their creamy and sandy bliss caught on cinematic cameras washed away the ennui and made soft waves of happiness rush back to shore.  It’s really about seeing two people, who are perfect for each other, find each other and have the gumption and the zeal to seal the deal.  That’s what’s important.  I mean, the alternative is way more tragic.  Haruki Murakami agrees.  (You can read his story here. Used this one for my unit on minimalism with the kids.)  Sigh.

I may have missed the wedding of their dreams, as missed opportunities go, but “it was the price I had to pay to be in a magical place” (one of EVP’s quotable quotes, edited a little) with these hams for an entire week.

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Living with a decision never felt this bittersweet but this beautiful couple and my amazing students make it a heck of a lot easier.

grateful slice:  the choices presented to us and the decisions we make, Cat and Carlo, love love love and yes, my grade 8 students.


Silly, I know.

After posting about not posting, promising to post more often, I don’t.  For a month.  How silly is that?  Anyway, I am a taking a break from work right now.  Well, I already tweeted that my break was done but am now taking another break…from my break?  Yikes. One more set of report card narratives to write.  Fun.  In the meantime, as this break from a break dwindles away, here are some shots from my recent Caliraya trip.  Just wanted to post those and quit the no-recent post sludge already.  Plus, I guess you can say, post- german measles (no pun intended), I have been inspired these days. Win.  So yeah, Lau and I went to Caliraya with Tina and Ming a couple of weeks ago.  It was so great to be with them and to re-visit such a familiar place.   And to witness change in a space and in the people I care about was a truly profound experience.   Am seriously thinking about picking up kiteboarding.  Still seriously thinking about it….while I do that…enjoy the pictures.  🙂


Ming’s kite

up close and personal

should I or shouldn’t I? something tells me I should

our hosts with the mostest

Caliraya dreaming

Caliraya sunset

home away from home

green lamp-ern


feet on wooden planks

a deck with a view

from the outside



paddles & oars



the unforgettable sky

Here’s to getting away from the city we love and to strengthening bridges that continue to connect.

gratefulslice:  relationships and beautiful places

all photos taken with Nikon D90

I heart Christmas Break 2009

The other day, someone from work asked me how my break was. I wasn’t sure what to say because I didn’t go anywhere or do anything super mind blowing. So after thinking for a second, I just said that it was probably one of the best vacations I have had in a while. Why? Because I got to stay in the city and make peace with it. Also because, (and this might sound just a little sad), I was able to do all the things I love to do, but can’t or choose not to because of over- workaholic-ism. Yup. Am not just a workaholic. I am an exag-workaholic. Things like run at 6:45 am to catch the crisp morning. Then, hit the steam room after slathering facial masks and exfoliating grains post a hard Pilates workout. Then a good book at a cafe right before a light lunch. Shop. And yes, clean house. Moisturize, hydrate, pray and write everyday! I also got to see my Cancer doctor (long overdue), see friends (both old and new), spend time alone, spend quiet time with G, and really spend quality time with family. Without distractions. Without baggage. Without heartbreak. Without guilt. This I didn’t tell my colleague though, of course. That I learned to love Manila again and not resent it for driving people I loved far far away. I peacefully took accountability too and just forgave both of us. Not just because it was time but because I had time. Staring time in the face has taught me a lot though. How to tame it. How to make it work for me. How to make friends with it. But that is for my next entry. Time has been such a huge menacing mystery to me and I had been resigned to be its slave for so long. During this break though, I have been able to understand it a little more. And understand how I work. And how I avoid work. But yes, that’s for another entry.

So, sure to many my Christmas might look mundane and somewhat average, but I found so much beauty in the ordinary and everyday during this break that I really don’t see it that way at all, mundane I mean. It is like I opened my eyes to so many treasures I had been ignoring, postponing or taking for granted. Never again. I was happy every minute and really, we can have this joy like all the time. If only we choose it more often. 🙂

Anyway, here’s to being able to do all of this even when am not on break. 🙂 That is the goal of Project Balanced.

Went Bike shopping with Sabine and her parents.

Taking Bikini the Bike out for a spin. That's Basti pointing at the moon.

Ninang with Sabine and Bikini the Bike

Ina's Christmas creativity


Feeling photographer shot

The turkey looked even better


Inspiration: Wish I had the same grace and elegance when I had it

My Ultimate 2010 goal is to seriously get into this. Fooling around with Chiqui's camera

Infinite Pag-Ibig Fund: On some other late night with two of my closest friends in Nuvo post New Year's. Bliss.

Yes, Sabine named her bike, Bikini and no, I do not have pictures of S and I running or exfoliating in the steam room. But yes, best of times. I am very grateful for these moments today. Thank you.

grateful slice: the moments that count

I heart the IB MYP: photo prologue

I want to write about this …

me love you long time

guess what this is made of

and this …

the quintessential IB burning questions wall

the quintessential MYP burning questions wall

and of course, this …

sent from participants heaven

sent from participants' heaven

and this ….

Queen Bee

Queen Bee in Bed

and there’s this …

Bangkok late at night

Bangkok late at night

I am especially stoked to write about them …

R, S, Guy and I

R, S, Guy and I

Goofing around in a Thai resto

Goofing around in a Thai resto

our view of seven

our view of seven


I need some distance

Or I will gush to death.

Patay. Bog.

Words will fail, I think.

To capture what I remember.

When I begin to forget, then I will need to write.

But here’s to honoring peak experiences while they are fresh


not missing a minute of it.

In the meantime, am again  off to do something quite special this coming weekend.


I get the message.

okay, i get it.  the message is clear

okay, i get it. loud and clear

It’s been crystal for awhile actually.

grateful slice: paying attention,  taking our time and enjoying the ride.

Saved by the Swell

me, the sea and my books

me, the sea and my books: the big picture

Went to Anilao last weekend to get away from the city. I did not know I needed to do it until Cupcake Queen and Mordor called me a workaholic. To be called a workaholic in Beacon is not a good thing because everyone in this school works like a dog. So to be called out like that meant I was probably working too much, all the time, beyond what was Beacon-healthy. I guess, I do tend to get carried away with work. This is nothing new. Between preparing for my first workshop, being anal about the yearbook, my teaching preps, and homeroom, I have pretty much put everything aside and have gotten lost in my mind maps and to do lists and have, as usual, forgotten myself. Its all part of living with the perfectionist gene and the territorial whip. (Sheesh, what will happen when I take my second MA or my PhD? Eep.) Thank goodness for well-adjusted friends who remind us to think of our well-being, taking real breaks from the city and the big picture.


Cupcake queen and I

With that, Cupcake Queen and I got up at the break of dawn and took a long and easy drive to Anilao (diving capital of Luzon) and met up with our new friend, Mordor, his wife and funny friend (Ringo).

It was a weekend of laughs, beers, untouched vodka, card games, checking papers and good food. More importantly, it was  about music, conversation, being near the sea, getting some sun and being kind to ourselves.

grateful slice: getting away from the city and meeting new peeps

traveling feet fetish

traveling feet fetish

view from our  day beds

view from our day beds

beach musts

beach musts

we didn't mind not diving

we didn't mind not diving

the best company

the best company

Ringo:  Creator of the one handed high five

Ringo: Creator of the one handed high five

Mordor's wifey, Jess

Mordor's wifey, Jess

laughter is the best boundary

laughter is the best boundary

cupcake queen with her camera

cupcake queen with her camera

light in the trees

light in the trees

kitchen confidential

kitchen confidential




urban OD remedy

The first rule of Fight Club…

I have been thinking about the idea of everything in this world breaking down, or falling apart at some point.  Old dive gear corroding, the soles of  hardly used shoes crumbling, faux jewelry tarnishing, hard-drives crashing, watches stopping, phones dying,  tattoos fading.  Nothing lasts.  Everything ages.  All things are replaceable and changeable.  It’s a hard lesson to learn especially for a pack rat like me.   Saving them gorgeous pair of heels for some big paparazzi-infested  bash, keeping my dive gear for the next great scuba expedition,  storing too many sneakers, bags, accessories, clothes and more shoes but not really using them, thinking that at any time I choose to  use them  they would still maintain their pristine, brand-new stature unaffected by time, humidity, bacteria and well, life.   Only to leave a trail of crumby rubber sole in the school hallway in the middle of the day, find  a broken zipper, an itchy necklace, or  a Buoyancy Control Device I can no longer re-sell.  The discovery of how fragile and mortal things are can deflate the spirit of the best of us and can leave a hollow feeling that we ultimately can not rely or control anything in this world.  No matter how much you paid for it.  Phhht.

now what?

now what?


I think I have recently accepted the finite nature of my “stuff.”  It has taught me to simplify, to actually use my best and beautiful things right away instead of wait for a special occasion (imagined or otherwise).  It has also taught me to buy one beautiful thing at a time.  This world and the things of this world, no matter how much joy they initially give us,  will certainly, almost always also let us down.  I think that is a given.  That is why it is so important to enjoy the ride, move with the cheese, be grateful for the best parts and humbly accept the worst parts.   I have embraced the fact that things fall apart and have learned to be comfortable with the idea because again, it is  sign of change and being able to let things go.  Om.

Things falling apart are easier to handle though, than when it is people who disappoint us.   Promises broken and agreements disintegrated can really crack someone’s peace but it does not have to smash anyone’s integrity to bits.

Yesterday,  after a very long time, I felt a great deal of anger.

A colleague found me sitting in the middle of my classroom couch, jaw clenched, fists white, head down and forehead scrunched up like a prune.   I didn’t know he was standing there until he said, “You look so serious.”

I remember looking up surprised,  seething and seeing red,  “I am so upset,”  I muttered in a soft, controlled voice. “I am so so upset.”

some things we break, stay broken

some things we break, stay broken

Anger is something very familiar to me.  It used to be my comfortable, default emotion.  I liked to express it, swim in it, enable it.  I used to romanticize the whole experience of my adrenaline pumping, my blood boiling, my tongue condescendingly lashing at the object of my fury and finding the many different ways to make that someone feel really small.  But, I slowly but surely realized that going about my anger that way only made me feel smaller in the end and that I broke more things, significant and trivial that way; many of which I damaged permanently.

I found that after the pure expression of my wrath, I  would often  regret saying many stupid, painful things.  I also didn’t relish seeing the monstrous version of me — red-seeing, ribs heaving, teary-eyed, entitled woman of the wolves with a superiority complex.

And really.  For a long time now, I have stopped wanting to identify with my Tyler Durden.

So it was a challenge yesterday, to manage my own incredible hulk rising from the deepest, angriest, most familiar part of me.  I was ready to charge, pounce, bitch, moan and throw a tantrum from hell, like I used to.


I didn’t.

Instead, I looked at my new friend and just said, “I am so upset.”

He asked me if I wanted to vent, and in my most professional demeanor, I just said, in not so many words, “I feel like someone pulled the rug from under me. Um, am I over-reacting?”

To make a long story short, I didn’t let the green, angry me come out.  Instead, I took a deep breath, confronted the person involved, talked to my direct superior, listened to her advice, calmed down, went to small group to re-group and ran straight for 60 minutes soon after.  It helped to stop and take a minute to breathe, give someone the benefit of the doubt, get solutions from the right people and just not let the green angry person out – my Tyler Durden who would’ve kicked the living bejeezus out of that person who I felt, in a way, stole something from me by breaking her word.  It also helped to run till my knees ached.

In the end, even if everything in this world breaks and many things we have learned to count on, can and will fall apart and let us down, we can hope that friendships can still heal through forgiveness and compassion and be humbled by the knowledge that we also made our own unique  mistakes during our first year of full time teaching.    It happens to the best of us.  We just have to be willing to bring out the mighty bond to try and fix or rebuild what has been lost and honor what we feel in the most constructive and productive manner.  I was really angry sure, now I need to get over it and channel the fury into forgiveness.  Because, hell, I was forgiven.  And I am now able  to forgive, precisely because I was first forgiven.

redemption is transformation

redemption is transformation

grateful slice: overcoming anger and forgiveness

Surreal Saturday


Captured in M one drunken night

I love lazy Saturdays spent sleeping, puttering about and being idle.  With another jam packed work week, running (preparing for the Kenny Rogers Night Run) and the workshop prep behind me, I decided to chuck my entire list of stuff to do and just rest.    It was awesome.  Being able to do that during the day is like telling schedules, responsibilities, to do lists and rigid regimens to eff off.

Eventually, I got cabin fever and called Uncle to have dinner and a movie.  After small group, I picked him up and dragged him around to do a bunch of mindless errands, had really salty buffalo chicken pizza in CPK and watched the newest Johnny Depp movie, “Public Enemies.”   Not too many spectacular things to say about that movie except it was a good thing Johnny Depp was in it.   It was pretty plot-less with a predictable ending  that was not earned.   We ended the evening at the 24 hour pet shop to buy Mr. Marsellus Wallace cat food, Science Diet Light Hairball Control.   We decided that it was too late to grab a drink and opted to quit while we were ahead and just save the beers for another time.  I still have to show uncle the pictures of my trip, anyway.  So we need to make another day of it.

All in all, it was a great Saturday.  It was a true-to-form full day all to myself, for myself.  I didn’t have plans to write, agendas to come up with, deadlines to meet, papers to check.  It was the first real Saturday just for me and I would not have had it any other way.   🙂

grateful slice:  perfect days and good friends who understand where you’ve been.