What’s up, doc?

Finally Bacolod at past 11noontime!
From Roxas, my brother Jake and I left at 7am, taking an L300 van that would take us to Iloilo City. After nearly three hours, we transferred to a jeepney that took us about 15mins to Muelle Loney St., where the pier is. After the usual hassle of getting tickets and bag inspections, we boarded the Supercat, a fast-jet that would take us to Bacolod City in less than an hour. Years ago, when I was still in university, it took 2 hours via slow boat to get to Bacolod. So now it’s fast eh? Great. At this day and age, people are rushing to do things, to reach their destinations, even young people rushing to grow up. What’s the rush?

Trip was good, pretty uneventful. The sun’s out, perfect for this boat ride. For some reason, Jake and I were a little motion-sick after the fast-jet docked in Bacolod in just under an hour. We sat down at the terminal for a while before calling Doc Sharon who was expecting us. While resting, I was happy to see that the Banago port improved a lot. Cleaner and more organized. No more of the obnoxious porters around.

Sharon was still taking a shower when we arrived at the hospital. She is doing her residency and had just finished her shift. While waiting for her, I had the chance to look around the pediatric section of the hospital. Pretty much a typical government hospital. Lots of patients at the free ward, with patients seemingly sharing beds. At least the ward is clean. There were old, dilapidated buildings. Some abandoned, others still used. A few were also under construction. Lindy, the Pedia section secretary, told me that the constructions were started last year, before the elections, but apparently the candidate associated with the hospital lost. Hence, the unfinished buildings. A little later, Sharon emerged! You’ll never recognize her as doctor at a quick glance, especially when she’s not in her doctor uniform. But she’s every inch a doctor when you see her attend to her patients.

Over a hearty lunch of inasal na manok (grilled chicken)and garlic rice at one of Bacolod’s manukan houses (chicken-houses which Bacolod is so well-known for), we talked about university life and beyond. Who got married, and who married who, who’s dating who, who worked where, what happened to our crushes, teachers, enemies, etc. In between bites of chicken leg, we laughed and giggled. She’s the same Sharon I know: determined, funny, and full of optimism that someday her prince shall come. The last time I saw her was in 1997 (7 long years!) when she was still in medical school in Cebu City. I, on the other hand, was working for ABS-CBN Naga City.

Bestfriends, then and now
Sharon and I in our boarding house in Cebu City, early 90s.
Bestfriends, then and now
Sharon and I, in 2004, more than 10 years after the other picture was taken.

Anyway, Sharon was my roommate for almost 4 years, aside from being classmates in most GE (general education) subjects in UP for the first two years of our university life. We lived, ate, shopped together, borrowed money from each other, exchanged notes, gossiped, shared secrets, heartaches, as well as successes big and small. Doc Shao has been my confidante for quite some time now, and I thank her for that. Religion did not come in between us, she, a Baptist, and me, a Catholic. We respect what the other was and could not. But what drew us together was the desire to achieve something. This stemmed from the fact that her two older sisters were already degree holders (one a law student, now taking the bar exams as of this writing, and the other a CPA)when we were studying; and I, being the eldest in the family and trying to set an example for my younger siblings. Our parents became friends as well even after our university days.

Despite not seeing each other for 7 years, thanks to modern ICT, we have maintained contact through email and text. But both have the same sentiments for snail mail so we send mails from time to time. Actually we’re perfect for each other, perfect 10! Right, Shao? She promised she’ll be my future children’s doctor. So what’s the point of this seemingly senseless blog? Wala lang. Just that, real friendships last. You can make new friends, and keep the old. Someday they might be useful to you. Bwahahahaha. Seriously, madamo guid nga salamat, Sha, sa pila ka tuig naton na pag-amigahay. Life in UP would never be the same without you.

Getting Ready for the Holidays!

Okay, at this hour the room is a mess and I am still packing. It’s about 6 hours before my flight. hah. In state of panic now. In two hours or so, I need to finish packing, tidy up the house and catch some sleep. Seems like a tornado hit the room and everywhere is messy :D.

Getting ready for my homeleave
Less than an hour to go before 5am and still packing.
Getting ready for my homeleave
Finally, bags are packed and ready to snooze.
Getting ready for my homeleave
Holy water from Lourdes, France sent by R.

I need to put R’s package (for Momsie)in the luggage. But before I do that, look,R, postmarks still intact, as per your instruction. 😀 . Momsie would be pleased, that means a thousand pogi points in your favor.

What else?? Passport… check. Tickets… check. Wait, asan ang ID ko? Ngapala, it’s in my waistbag, together with some spare cash. Whew, buti na lang! thought I was going to go through my stuff again, one by one. After a few more rounds of combing through the stuff, I decided everything’s ready and the day is done for me. Tomorrow, I mean, in a few hours, holiday starts. Sleep is now calling me… in a few hours, I will be in Manila… lie haoy, Cambodia… mabuhay, Philippines, here I come!!

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.”

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.

Kape, atbp.

You Are a Peppermint Cappuccino

You’re fun, outgoing, and you love to try anything new.
However, you tend to have strong opinions on what you like.You are a total girly girly at heart – and prefer your coffee with good conversation.You’re the type that seems complex to outsiders, but in reality, you are easy to please.

What Kind Of Coffee Are You? Take This Quiz 🙂

😀 So true, cute ‘no? Strangely enough, daw ako gid. Abaw a… Ginhambalan na ko ni doktora Marissa na mag-stay-away na kuno ko sa coffee, pero pwede from time to time basta mag-inom ko damu nga tubig.

Wala si boss subong. Nagkadto siya sa amon field office sa Kompong Thom… wohoo! Gin-abrihan ko dayon ang a/c, login ko sa YM kag gin-launch ang YM radio… nami e! Kanami gid sang akon adlaw subong, bisan pa gani naga-worry ako kay Papa. Wala nila ko ginhambalan daan na nagkadto sila sa clinic. High blood pressure. Tsk, tsk. Sige, Pops, kaon pa sang baboy… madugangan imo ka-high blood!

Ma-kape ko danay a… :)) Who wants to have coffee with me?

Sreisaat Discovers Malaysia

This is for my brother (kumusta, Bigg)who wanted to see more pictures than texts in this blog… hehehe. Yes Bigg, your wish has been granted. Ikaw pa, basta ikaw, kurog ko sa imo! 😀

The following are pictures of my trip to Malaysia. First part was the Congress (East Asian Seas Congress) where I presented a paper (ahem!) on environmental education and advocacy in Cambodia and, the second part, which was the fun part, when I traveled with my Thai friend, Anocha, to Pahang State and went jungle trekking in Kenong Rimba National Park. So there, enjoy. Will post some pics of my travels to Bangladesh (not so many good sights there though), Laos, Thailand, Vietnam and Sri Lanka later. Pangitaon ko pa ang mga pictures kung diin na. Baw, daw indi ko palakon, no? Tell Momsie and Popsie I will be home soon!!!

I. East Asian Seas Congress, Marriott Hotel, Putrajaya, Malaysia

I and the APFEJ team covering the PEMSEA Congress.
I and the APFEJ team covering the PEMSEA Congress.

The team is composed of journalists from all over the Asia-Pacific region. Standing from left: Yon Thayrun (Indonesia), Lee jong-Myoung (Korea), Ivan Lim (Singapore), Yang Ming Seng(China), Orex Cayaban (PEMSEA Phils) and Tim Yoshida (Japan). Seated from left: Din Thu Hong (Vietnam), moi (representing Cambodia), Elizabeth Roxas (Philippines), Sylvia Inciong (UNIC Phils), Anocha Pichaisiri (Thailand)and Tang Yandong(China).

A question for Cambodian Environment Minister Mok Mareth.
A question for Cambodian Environment Minister Mok Mareth.

Finally with the presentation over, Anocha and I relaxed and seen here playing around. Ivan saw us and took this.


During the conference, I had the opportunity to brush elbows with former Philippine Senator Letty Ramos-Shahani, DENR Secretary Gozum and APFEJ Deputy Chair Elizabeth Roxas, and other big names in Philippine environment sector. I remembered very clearly while I was delivering my presentation Ex-Sen. Shahani was looking and listening closely to me. She was smiling, and sometimes nodding. I was looking at her, nearly getting distracted and feeling so self-conscious. It’s not everyday that I deliver a presentation with none other than the former Philippine senator and other government officials of ASEAN countries in the same room with me. Thankfully my presentation was over with no major eff-ups. I quickly headed towards the girls room feeling queasy, haha. When I came back to the conference hall, the senator was already talking on the stage. She spoke about how women all over Asia are taking on more leading roles towards environmental protection. She also told the crowd how proud she was about how visible Filipino women are in the movement all over the world. She ended her speech by saying, that she’s now ready and happy to retire knowing that there’ll be Filipino women after her who will carry on her work. I was happy. I went to her and we hugged and she gave me a beso-beso. Hay. I feel like I’m doing something productive and important and just grateful for the opportunity to learn from ASEAN’s movers and shakers in environment protection.

The APFEJ Media Team - composed of environmental journalists from SEA.
The APFEJ Media Team – composed of environmental journalists from SEA.

II. Jungle Trekking in Kenong Rimba National Park, Kuala Lipis, Pahang State, Malaysia.

The second part of my first trip to Malaysia was a jungle-trekking adventure in Kenong Rimba in Kuala Lipis with my very good friend, Anocha. We extended our stay in Malaysia for another week after the conference and went to Kuala Lipis, a cosy little town in Pahang State. The town’s main street is narrow and, although it showcases its mix Chinese, Indian and Malay cultures, there were old colonial buildings that remind you of its important past. Walking along the old town is like walking in any small town in the Philippines.

We didn’t waste time so it’s off to the jungle we went first thing in the morning.

My camping gear were all borrowed from Yumiko. If you notice, my pants were tucked inside my socks, which were sprayed with a leech-repellant. I have to say, it was a really beating loud for fear of wild animals ambushing us. Appu assured me that there were none, except for wild elephants. hah. Saw some monkeys, didn’t know which kind though. They’re sat noisily on top of the tall trees.

Entering Kuala Lipis Jungle.
Entering Kuala Lipis Jungle. In front of me was Appu, our guide.

Trekking in the jungle we saw a lot of rubber trees. Malaysia is one of the world’s leading producer of rubber. It seems to be so easy when Appu demonstrated how to tap a rubber tree, but when it was my and Anocha’s turns — totally opposite. We will never make it as rubber tappers. We will stick to office work.

Trying my hand at rubber-tapping.
Trying my hand at rubber-tapping.

We had a stopover at this hanging bridge, took a break and snapped some photos. With me is Appu, our Indian guide who was born and has lived in Kuala Lipis all his life. He also told us stories about his work as a guide. According to Appu, I am the first Filipino to have trekked in Kenong Rimba. I was elated to hear that, hehehe.

One of the many hanging bridges in Kenong Rimba jungle.
One of the many hanging bridges in Kenong Rimba jungle.

Kenong Rimba also had several interesting caves and we explored some of them. Appu gave us flashlights and I’m amazed at some of the formations around the walls and ceilings. In one of the caves there was a shallow streaming flowing. I’ve never done full-caving before and all I can say is that as soon as it gets dark and cold as you go deeper, it gets creepier. I was also beginning to get claustrophobic and was on the verge of a panic attack. (Un)Fortunately, I slipped and fell bum-first in one of the rocks that I ended up with a bruised backside and muddied pants – and that distracted me from my phobia and the impending panic attack!

Before I end, I want to share this picture of our generous hosts in Kuala Lumpur, Chris and Yumiko. Chris is Anocha’s colleague, both are part of the same network. Yumiko, on the other hand, was my colleague in Cambodia. She was a Volunteer Advisor in the local NGO where I work. There’s a funny story how Anocha and I ended up in their apartment (for one week!!!) in Petaling Jaya but that’s reserved for future post. Both also have the same birthdays so we had a celebration for them.

Thank you both for the lovely time in KL. We had a roof over our head and nice, warm beds to sleep after days and days of shopping and wandering at Kuala Lumpur. Yumiko, thanks for the camping gear and for picking me,Anocha and Hong at KLCC. You’re an angel. Please visit Cambodia again.
Chris, thanks for carrying my really HUGE luggage from PJ to KLCC. Would have taken you for breakfast but time is too short. Hope to see you both again.

Ipe the master and Simba, the lion-king

I would like to tell you something about a friend of mine, who wants me to call her my Master. i am your master kekkekekee ipe. She’s Ipe (here in picture, with her cute little baby, Arsal). She is a reporter at Jakarta-based Internews. Ipe and I met way back in 2002 when we both attended the week-long training workshop on Women Perspectives in Broadcasting, at ISIS International in Manila. What drew us together? Oh well, let’s say we both like VJ Jamie and we sat talking about him at Isis’s veranda in between bites of banana cue, a Filipino snack made from banana fried in oil and coated with syrup. And oh, yes, how can I forget? We secretly mimicked our trainers — especially Stalin the Indian. Yes, she has a baby now whom I call Simba. Arsal means lion, thus the nickname. Thank you, Ipe, for your patience in teaching me how to blog and upload pictures. Truly, you are a master. If all goes well, I will be seeing you in August.

Last year, unknown to each other, we both applied for a 3mth training course at Radio Nederlands. We only realized that just this year when she mentioned it to me! She eventually got accepted while I wasn’t because of some technicalities in my residency in Cambodia. Well, some people at the Netherlands Embassy in Bangkok and Manila should be blamed for this. The Radio Nederlands in Hilversum accepted my application but needed some documents that — they told me — could be issued by embassy either in Thailand (nearest to me) or Philippines. I was surprised that the Netherlands embassy in Manila refused to issue such document. To make it short, and because it’s way past the deadline and no document was released, Radio Nederlands offered me another slot for the 2005 radio training. Now that is something else. There is a GOD.

Good luck in Netherlands, Ipe. Break a leg! I will miss our chats during office hours. Send me postcards. Buy me wooden shoes. And if not too much to ask, hitch me up to a single Dutch guy. Hahahahaha.


Water, Sun and Songkran!

Last April 13th, I celebrated the Thai New Year at my friends’ (Keefe and Hiroko) Bangkok apartment. The year here now is 2547, that is 2,547 years since the enlightenment of the Lord Buddha when He reached the state of nirvana.

Songkran is the term for the Thai New Year even in which the sun moves from one zodiac sign into the other. When the sun leaves Pisces to be in Aries the occasion is described as Maha Songkran, or the Grand Songkran. Traditionally, the Thais use this heavenly phenomena to mark the beginning of the New Year. Anyway, what this means now is a big fuss and a one-week holiday for the Thais. For most of them, they use this opportunity to travel to be with their families in the provinces, as many people work in Bangkok but come from the other provinces in Thailand.

While my travel buddy, Bernadette, a friend of mine who is a VSO Volunteer, decided to go up north, to Chiang Mai, I stayed in Bangkok where the New Year is celebrated with a three-day water-fight. As early as 6am to midnight or later, everyone throws water on everyone. I did my best to avoid the dirty canal water as I didn’t fancy dead rats (or the ‘essence’ of dead rats!) thrown on me — a big eeeeeeeeew! It was lots of fun and with it being a big tourist attraction, turns out to be a water-throwing competition between tourists and Thais. People spend all day for three days driving around with a pick-up truck/tuktuk- loads of people with big rubbish bins full of iced water. Thankfully it was very, very hot that day (it averages 40C for three days straight0 that being drenched with water is a big relief.

Everyone is a target during Songkran — you cannot simply stay dry if you are not QUICK enough to escape. You soon learn that if you can’t beat them, might as well join them. But it’s so much fun so why wouldn’t you want to?

All in all, it was a lovely week of water, sun and Songkran… I am now back in Cambodia, shuffling papers in the office.