Long live King Norodom Sihamoni!

Photo by BBC News/AP.

So there he was… wearing a crisp white uniform of sorts with gold embroidery and the traditional Khmer pants called phanoung (?), smiling tensely. Wearing not the royal slippers but black leather shoes… wearing not a crown but a golden phnov leaf tucked behind his ear for good luck…

Preah Karuna Preah Bat Samdech Preah Baromneath Norodom Sihamoni, the official title of the new reigning monarch, officially ascended to the Throne of the Kingdom of Cambodia, after a series of religious ceremonies which combined Brahmin and Buddhist rituals, spread across three days.

There were lots of people in Phnom Penh gathered in numbers in front of the Royal Palace and hoping to get a glimpse of the new king. I had the same idea too, but laziness overpowered me and the lure of the bed was so strong I could not resist. Well, after weeks of sleepless nights, who wouldn’t?

Anyway, so I was sat glued to my favorite seat in the house, munching a bag of chippy (thanks to my donor, Tita Cute, who brought lots of them from Pinas!), watching the live telecast. The crowning ceremony I believe started with a procession with the royal “carriage” carrying King Sihamoni through walkway lined with blooming flowers. There were There were also the royal alalays carrying umbrellas to protect the king from the sun’s harmful UVrays. Hah, and why not, the king has a schoolboy complexion complimenting his mestizo good looks.

The Buddhist monks and the King’s parents, former King Norodom Sihanouk and Queen Monineath, took turns in the traditional ritual of pouring water over King Sihamoni’s head. The water, I later learned, came all the way from Phnom Kulen mountains in Siem Reap province, which was believed to be a sacred mountain.

Prime Minister Hun Sen, Senate President Chea Sim and National Assembly President and the King’s half-brother Prince Norodom Ranariddh, plus other high-ranking government officials and more than 200 people representing the foreign embassies, NGOs llistened to his first speech as the country’s king. Outside thousands of Cambodians listened with bated breath through a massive loudspeaker that was installed days earlier.

People are excited, and hopeful that the new king would lead them to a better and brighter future. The king is highly-revered in Cambodia. According to ancient Khmer beliefs, the king is the descendant from the heavens. To a poor country who has gone through a lot, the Cambodians still hold on to that belief and look up to their king, as he symbolizes hope, peace and stability in the country. And the new king promised:

“I will never live apart from the beloved people,” he said. “Every week, I will devote several days visiting our towns, our countryside and our provinces, and to serving you.” (The Cambodia Daily)

Hmmmm. Very little has been known about King Sihamoni before he was chosen as King. A a man known for his privacy, simplicity and love for the culture and the arts, King Sihamoni appears to be a reluctant royal leader but is hailed as the natural successor to his father.

And to quote The Cambodia Daily, after all these pompous rituals and celebration, King Norodom Sihamoni is now one of the small but elite group of monarchs in the world, who as retired King Norodom Sihanouk (the father) likes to point out, reign but do not govern.

Oh well.

Sentimiento de Azucar

I finally finished writing the CBET Project Proposal and Budget for CF. I knew it took me too long, and it was just lying there, and I was fully aware that it was pretty urgent. Now all I have to do is wait for further clarifications from CF, which I’m sure are plenty.

The budget that N, the PC based in Kompong Speu province, submitted to me looked like, nope, it’s really a copy of last year’s (just as I expected), which made A, the Project Advisor, concerned about the Khmer staff’s (especially the PCs and POs) ability to understand the project cycle. I looked at it again and again, and I agree with A. A new donor might buy into this because they don’t know the history of the project well, but I think that it’s important for MB and for the staff to see the progression of activities and not repeat the same ones year after year. This was the whole point of the “graduation plan”, but N has missed the whole point. In designing new project budgets, we really need to look at what is working, what isn’t, where is it going — and sometimes make hard decisions such as cutting off support as part of the exit strategy. For example, N should have not included the revolving fund for homestay in the 2005 budget since it is already included in the current budget, and revolving means that it will still be available in 2005. A also questioned the budget for traditional dancing and music. She said there are young kids studying with the older ones and it doesn’t cost a thing really. So the question is what is the money for? Aarrrgggghhh!

bumperAnd then there’s this incident where I asked N to come to Phnom Penh to discuss activities for the Gender project. Guess what? She assigned M, our volunteer from down under, to meet me instead. And I quote N “… I don’t need to meet with you because I will learn from M…” Wtf? This responsibility shouldn’t be passed on to the volunteer. It just difficult to deal with N.

In case you are wondering what I am talking about, it’s the proposal for the Ecotourism Project and N is the Khmer Program Coordinator. It’s always been difficult to work with N, with her complaining about almost anything and when you ask her why, she can’t even give sufficient reasons. Very typical N. I have to be firm to her, and ask VM the Director to back me up. My job is to help PCs write and finalize proposals, donor reports and other official documents but I almost always end up writing the entire documents. It’s really important that PCs like her take the responsibility for fundraising since MB is stepping up its localization process where MB will be an all-Khmer organization. It may take a loss of funds and lay-offs for them to really understand this – and I hope it doesn’t come to that, but there’s definitely an attitude that the foreigners are the only ones capable or responsible for it.

King Sihanouk Abdicates!

Totoo, official na nga ang pag-abdicate ng hari. After so many attempts ay natuloy na rin. Kaya eto ngayon, nagsusunog ng kilay ang mga lawmakers para i-draft ang pinakahihintay na law (Throne Council Law) na nag-a-outline ng selection procedure ng papalit sa hari. Ipinag-uutos din ng batas na ito na sa loob ng 7 araw ay may bago o may napili nang papalit sa namatay o nag-abdicate na reigning na hari. It was hastily passed last Friday lang. Minamadali nga ito kasi kapag walang successor ang king, ay magiging ganap na republika ang Cambodiaa , na siya namang pabor sa kasalukuyang Prime Minister. Pag nagkataon ay magkakagulo na naman (katatapos lang na-solve yung gulo sa election, eto na naman. Kung sakaling maging republika ang Cambodia, ito ay lalabag sa unang chapter ng kanilang Constitution, na nagsasabing (sa wikang Ingles) “… Cambodia is a Kingdom with a King…” Maraming makakating dila ang nagpahayag ng kung ano-ano tungkol dito pero hintaying na lang daw muna ang mga susunod na kaganapan.

At ang 2 sa mga pinagpipilian ay … si Prince Ranariddh at si Prince Sihamoni. Meron pang ibang kandidato na myembro din ng Royal Family, pero silang 2 ang pinakamatunog. Pareho silang anak ng hari magkaiba lang ang nanay. Early on Prince Ranariddh has been telling the media that he’s not interested in becoming the king. Kasi mas type niyang maging pulitiko (siya’y kasalukuyang head ng royalist na FUNCINPEC Party at National Assembly President). Oo nga naman. Wala namang power ang hari e. Sa kabilang banda, walang gaanong impormasyon naman about Prince Sihamoni, except that he’s the former ambassador to UNESCO in Paris. Kumbaga hindi siya masyadong kilala ng tao, pero nakow, mas gwapo si Prince Sihamoni kesa kay Prince Ranariddh.

Dagdag pa ng hari, hindi daw siya uuwi sa Cambodia hangga’t wala pang bagong hari. Sa kasalukuyan ay nagpapagamot sa Beijing, China ang hari kasama ng reyna. Matagal na rin sila duon. Sino kaya sa dalawang prinsipe ang magiging bagong hari ng Cambodia– Ranariddh o Sihamoni? Bakit ganitong pagpapahalaga ang binibigay ng pamahalaan ng Cambodia sa mga royalty? Abangan ang susunod na kabanata…

Ang sagwa pag tagalog ano? Been attempting to write a decent blog in Tagalog pero mukhang baluktot talaga ang wordings ko. Pasensha na po. Sa mga gustong bumasa tungkol sa Royal Family ng Cambodia, click lang kayo dito . At sa karagdagang impormasyon tungkol sa balitang ito, click naman kayo dito . Kung gusto niyo namang makilala ang hari ng Cambodia, punta ka dito .

Postcards from R

Actually, these were posted in my other blog. Then tonight, when I was browsing through Kiwipinay’s blog and saw that she posted some of her own, I thought of posting na rin some here.

So here they are… postcards from Guernsey, England all the way to Lourdes, France.

Postcards from R
Postcards from R
Lascaux caves
Postcards from R
Postcards from R
Postcards from R
Postcards from R
Postcards from R
Postcards from R

Thank you very much, R. Happy 78! >:x

Samut-saring kwento

The clock is now ticking loudly to the day that I will be … well, home!
Exactly 2 days from now. So let me see… I really need to check my to-do list before I go home. Here goes:
1. Finance situation for 2005 (chart) (done)
2. Set up meeting with Canada Fund (done)
3. CFI proposal letter (revision of budget) (done, with positive result)
4. Canada Fund concept paper (all projects in one)
5. Fundraising activity outline
6. Make sure the Annual Report is sent to everyone in the list (partially done)
7. TMA2 Media survey (maybe finish at home)
8. Buy silk cloths for Momsie, polo for Bigboy, Cambodian tshirts for Lab
9. Pay house rent and electricity and phone bills
10. See Kunthea, my Khmer language teacher, before she leaves for India (one-year study)
11. Pick up the software CDs from Ate Susan (to send to Davao City thru LBC)
12. Call up Badette (about her padala for her parents)


Mao Vy and me, on a cyclo.
Mao Vy and me, on a cyclo.

I saw Mao Vy today. She’s gained weight, and she looks happy. I didn’t get to talk to her that much because I was riding the cyclo (see picture) and she was on her moto probably on her way home. Just enough to say soksapbay (how are you) and lie haoy (goodbye).

Mao Vy used to be the finance officer in the office (Mlup Baitong). She was efficient and rather good at keeping Mlup Baitong’s finances in order, but her bad attitude overshadowed her good work performance. She’s younger than me but looks older because she’s masungit and definitely has no person-to-person skills, which is a must if you are an NGO worker.

Every single staff, from the cleaner to the Project Officers and to the Coordinator, is at odds with her. That’s why she has no friends at the office. Nobody asked her to go out and eat or hang out on Friday nights. No one invites her to any lunch outs during weekends. Poor girl. Anyway, I think she’s happier now that she’s not working with us anymore. Months after leaving MB, she got married to an American (huh!) and I heard she’s only waiting for her visa to arrive so she could join her husbie in USA. Good for her. By the way, the girl in pink in the picture is Mao Vy. Amanda took this while we were on our way to a wedding. All prettily made up and riding a cyclo to a wedding. Hah.

Borrowed from MizBelle’s blog:

“Don’t go for looks; they can deceive. Don’t go for wealth; even that fades away. Go for someone who makes you smile because it takes only a smile to make a dark day seem bright. Hope everyone finds the one that makes them smile.”

Apol op May Ays

At long last, the apple of my eyes is back in town, and I’m back to my old, happy self. He’s back from a two-month holiday in Phuket, Thailand, and I must confess, seeing him again gives me an electric jolt in my nostrils!Nah… just kidding. He’s a lot heavier, spiky-haired and nicely tanned. Welcome back, Jake. Kiss Tita-Ninang Ganda! 😡

Remote date

I found this blog entry stashed in my junk stuffs. Somehow I have forgotten to post this, so here it is now.
11 July 04

R is now in France. And true to his words, he is taking me along with him, virtually, that is. Somehow I am amazed at how Internet and text messaging is allowing me to go wherever he goes, to see what he sees, to hear what he hears and to feel what he feels.

After crossing Channel Islands in Guernsey (England) to St. Malo then to Dinan (France), he is now in a town called Britanny. Finding a campsite is not that difficult as there are thousands of campsites in France! Before settling down, he decided to go further to explore Foret de Paimpont, also known as Broceliande, or Camelot. Images of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table and the Quest for the Holy Grail came to my mind when I heard Camelot! Yes indeed. Foret de Paimpont is about 20 miles southwest of Rennes, is all the remains of the once extensive Forest of Brocelainde, the heart of Breton Arthurian Country. Here can be found the L’ Etang de Comper (Lake of Comper), which adjoins a castle of the same name.

We sort of had a “remote date” tonight in L’ Etang de Comper (was it?). It wasn’t like any other lake, nor was it any other kind of date. It was the lake mentioned in the Tales of King Arthur found in the ancient foret de Paimpont, and I was there with R. Virtually. We didn’t dress up for the occasion. There was no romantic dinner and no schmaltzy tunes as well. Just the sound of nature. We were thousand miles apart- me in my Phnom Penh apartment, and him in Foret de Paimpont- but connected by this technology called texting and Internet. I looked the place up in the Internet (thank you, Google) while he described how it was, by text messaging. The rustling trees in the forest, hovering birds, chirping cicadas, the placid lake with occasional rippling waves, the lone man fishing in the lake, the sound of children’s laughter at a distance, the smell of onions and barbecue. I could almost see and hear and smell and feel everything he saw and heard and smelled and felt too.

The place is really beautiful, judging from the pictures in the Internet. I never knew that France has such a lovely countryside. Like sceneries from fairy tales. Romantically medieval. Medievally romantic. Whatever 🙂 That’s what comes to mind and I am certainly sure that men who bring their ladies there are guaranteed to win their ladies’ hearts! All the essential ingredients for a romantic rendezvous are there. Hope I can go there someday. It’s too beautiful place not to be visited. Will add France to my list of dream destinations.

R said he was sitting on the east side of the lake watching the sun go down, while I looked at this picture of the sunset on the net. Nice. No other words said but the effect was profound. Thanks R. Will look forward to my France adventure. Someday. \:D/ 😡

R and R

Ranting and raving. That’s what it is. And is that what I am doing now?

After almost five days of editing the 1st semester report for a donor from Scotland (SCIAF), I can now sleep well and early tonight. It’s DONE. wohoo!! Cause for celebration, I am going to treat myself to Chinese food and a tall glass of milk-and-tea flavored bubble tea at ChitChat. Great. Tomorrow I will start doing my Dev Com 202 assignment, which is a media survey. Note: deadline Aug 7. Darn. One task done, and here comes another. When will I ever have a normal life? As if, hello! This is my normal life.

I called home again and was RELIEVED to hear that Popsie’s fine. By the time I was told of his condition, Popsie was already at home and fighting over the remote control with my pregnant sister. Doctors prescribed him medicine (tons) which I hope he’ll take religiously. Knowing my father… the moment he feels fine, he’d stop taking the pills. Wait till I come home. I haven’t booked my tickets yet, because the Finance people asked me to get 3 quotations from travel agencies. Just following office policy, of course I obliged since the office is paying for my travel expenses. Salamat sa donors: Oxfam Great Britain, Community Forestry International and SCIAF for their support to my homeleave expenses… hehehe. I’ll be leaving on the 14th or 15th. I’ll be arriving in Manila at around 7pm and my sister Lab, who’s working in Angeles City, and her boyfriend, will pick me up at the international airport in Manila and we will all go to the PAL airport for our early morning flight the following day to Roxas City- home sweet home!! But it’s still two weeks away…so back to work.

Surprise! Surprise! R’s postcards from Lourdes, France came in today. Thank you, thank you. They’re all beautiful. I put them all in one nice album so I won’t lose all that he sent to me. Will scan some and post here later 😀 Hey, wherever you are… Momsie says thanks a lot. Apart from the postcards, fafa R also sent me a bottle of holy water plus dozens of postcards from England and France and other souvenirs for my Momsie. Aba, siling ni Bigg, wala pa man gani nagapalapad na siya sang papel. I forgot to mention, he even offered to send me a bottle of duck pate, a French delicacy. Eew. Thanks R, but I don’t eat members of Donald duck’s family. 😀

lancesmlIn other news, well… stale news that is… Lance Armstrong won his 6th Tour de France title, a new record set by this charming American. I was surprised to learn that he is dating Sheryl Crow 😮 😮 Well, Sheryl will sing Lance some cheering or inspirational songs while he’s chasing his 7th TDF race :D, that is, if they are still together by that time. Anyways, he has new book “Every Second Counts)coming out sometime this year. Now that’s a biker… like fafa R. Enough of the R and R. Waiting for R’s R and R too.

Hitting the Big 30 (Part 2)

I can’t believe it just happened.

Suddenly, I’m 30.

Yeah, boring. Nothing exciting happened to me in the last 30 years. I wonder why. perhaps when God was giving out excitement, I was sleeping again. What a bummer. Anyways, even if I’m still single at 30, I’m perfectly healthy and I’m blessed with a job that I really like. And just like Jessica Zafra’s sentiments, it is so effing unbelievable that pimples still erupt on my face!

Seriously, looking back at my 30 years, I must say that life is not that bad. Not terrible, but okay. There are more stones to unturn, places to go to, things to explore, adventures to experience and – most of all – people to meet. Although I have experienced both highs and (more) lows, I embrace them, learn from them, and take them as my training in preparation for what the future has in store for me.

This year, I am entering a new milestone in my life. As I brave the new decade of my life, I am borrowing Jessica Zafra’s driving force: BE ALL YOU CAN BE, REINVENT YOURSELF, DO WHATEVER IT TAKES, FORGET ABOUT THE PAST AND LOOK TO THE FUTURE. Amen, sister.

New Year

It’s been a while since I last wrote, and now it’s 2004! So many things have happened, as usual. Last week of December, or December itself, has been very hectic. The usual radio staff production meetings and out of town interviews, the annual program assessment and planning and the highlight so far, the trip to Malaysia!!

kl twin towers
A visit to the KL Twin Towers and KLCC Mall highlighted my trip to Malaysia.

Can you believe it? Well, I have to.
If I look back at my past 29 years, those were full of uphill battle for finding my place in this corner of the world. Despite this, I feel truly blessed for God has given me a second lease in my professional life. Mlup Baitong has hired me as a full time Coordinator for the Environment and Radio Advocacy Program (ERAP). Isn’t this a reason to be thankful for?

This is Krom Muthieta enjoying the cruise along Koh Kong's mangrove forest.
This is Krom Muthieta enjoying the cruise along Koh Kong’s mangrove forest.

Note: For some weird reason, my earlier entries before this mysteriously disappeared.