More overwhelmed than I thought possible – my going away gift from my students


When you teach, you hope your students learn a thing or two and are able to apply the things they learned to their real life, and are all the better for that. But you don’t really know – can’t even guess – the impact you have had on them unless they tell you. You just go on and teach the next batch of students and hope they learn a thing or two.

Erica, with the help of Nina, devised a going away gift that suited my life as a lecturer at the University of Malaya: an assortment of pens, a small notebook and a slightly larger monthly planner with space for notes and other ideas. In those extra spaces, they collected well-wishing messages from my former students, mostly from TEAM Dance Studio and Erica’s Hampton Court Ballet, but also from my CSB students, JM and Candice. I haven’t had time to really absorb what they’ve written but was quite overwhelmed by what did strike me of what they said. I guess I’ve been doing a good job so far. And most were sure I would do just as well in Malaysia.

You do hope they learn a thing or two. What I discovered they did learn from me is still sending me reeling.

Thank you, my beautiful students. I’ll see you again soon.


At my last show in the Philippines before I leave for Malaysia with (clockwise from top) Lucas, Jacqui, Sol, Erica, and Nina beside me in the center. Thank you again, beautifuls!

Last minute packing

I’m packing for a trip that’s starting in 3 hours. I do this all the time, losing sleep because I always end up packing last minute, no matter how far ahead I always try to plan it. Of course, planning ahead is wise, since I can still get stuff like new contact lenses and do laundry in case I don’t have enough underwear. But the actual getting things in my luggage part? Always last minute.

I’m blogging about this so that I can determine if I have everything I need plus have an easy reference guide for future last minute packing. This is just a 3-day vacation so I can travel somewhat lightly, and traveling with my dad always means carry on luggage only. So here is what I’m packing for a 3-day trip to a foreign land.

Toiletries – includes contact lens cleaner, toothpaste, lotion, facial wash, cologne, shampoo and conditioner in one, all in bottles 100 ml or less, contained neatly in a ziplock bag inside my toiletry case. Anything else can be found in the hotel, or bought in a convenience store. Other essentials such as toothbrush and contact lens case (and some feminine products) also checked.

A coat in case it’s cold, but since the internet says Hong Kong will hit 27 degrees this week, maybe I won’t use it. It always pays to be prepared so I also have a lighter cardigan.

Flip flops and fleece boots, because it always pays to be prepared. I’m traveling in my comfy mary janes.

Clothes and underwear. Sleepwear. A leotard in case I am able to do some stretching in the morning.

My iPad and its charger. My Kindle and its charger. My android and its charger. Not bringing the laptop, I think I can live with just the iPad the next few days.

A separate coin purse for Philippine coins. Because I’d want to have HK coins in my wallet when I’m out and about.

Foldable bags!

Meds – my most recent maladies were a bad cold and acid reflux, so I packed meds for those and some advil, which is always a good idea.

Stuff that’s normally in my handbag, like a comb, sunglasses, kikay kit, splenda packets (and more splenda in my carry-on, because I’m a freak), tissue, and a dog eared xerox copy of Sally Ness’ paper on Agnes Locsin’s Igorot, which I’ve been reading for the transnationalism paper I’m writing for a conference in February. Also adding ballpens for the immigration cards.

Passport. Wallet. Mom has my plane ticket.




So I went to the Christmas bazaar at Cuenca community center last Saturday, my second Saturday in a row. The resto that my sister Jacqui does marketing for has been camped out there for the last 2 weeks, so we drop by to check up on them. Or my sister drops by to check up on them, we just tag along.

This is not yet the St. James Christmas bazaar – that one is nearer Christmas and much crazier. I went once with Mikah, and it was like how I imagined the Market in Neverworld would look like, if only the wares were more bizarre. Also, the bazaar extended into the streets for a few blocks. This one was quite tame in comparison.

Last week, we were tasked to get gifts for my brother Quincy’s family as my Dad left for the US last Friday to visit them. Quincy has 2 adowable daughters, so Mom went a bit wild going through baby dresses. I got each of them a plushie – Violet gets an owl, my impending goddaughter Izzy gets a Totoro. The guy who sold them to me said their dollmaker was all about the Totoro, and I found a Totoro plushie ring for myself. He also said that for each plushie they sell, they give one to Cribs. Pretty good deal, I believe. He also said they have a store in Cubao X, and another in Baguio. I can’t remember the name of their store, but keep your eyes out for the Pinoy wallets and the Totoro plushies.

Last Saturday, I didn’t buy anything, I just ate some cheesesteak from The Cheesesteak Shop and Coolman halo halo. I’ve also been looking around for Christmas gift ideas. You need to plan these things.

Mom bought a plant. She takes to plants the way my sister and I take to dogs. It was a Milflores plant and she fell absolutely in love with it. My mom is practical and caustic, so it’s kinda weird when she gets all giddy over pretty things.

Going to Cuenca means going through Ayala Alabang Village, also commonly known as Alabang. We used to go through this village everyday because my siblings and I all went to De La Salle-Zobel till high school. Back then, I was a kid pretending not to impressed by the opulence of the houses we passed everyday, so much so that I believed my disinterest. Now, I can admit freely, those houses are divine. If I could go through Alabang more regularly just to look at the houses, I would do it.

I have always loved architecture – it’s the only reason why I would sit in a church: to look at the building. I think I understand buildings more than painting or sculpture. And like my mom, I do get quite giddy about pretty things.

The houses in Alabang are super amazing. Coming from a less impressive prefab world only a few villages away, there is an awesome difference. I don’t have pictures because I’m zooming in a car, just soaking up one beautiful house after another, plus I think it’s creepy if someone took pictures of my house and blogged about it, don’t you?

Now, I don’t want a mansion in Alabang. I wouldn’t know what to do with a large house, that’s too many rooms to clean and I have trouble keeping my bedroom in order. Also, despite the prefab, my house is awesome enough. I’m saying I like looking at beautiful houses, and beautiful buildings in general. If you saw me through these trips to Cuenca, you’d see me grinning like an idiot. But I believe I have the same smile on my face walking through Intramuros, Bacolod, Hong Kong, KL, Sydney, and Makati. At least, these are just places at the top of my head.

One place that reminds me a lot of Alabang is the area around the Goethe Haus in Jakarta, Indonesia. We would walk to Goethe every morning from our hotel, in time to see people pulling out of their driveways and showing us their houses through the open gates. I wonder if people are able to appreciate how pretty their house is from the outside. After all, they spend most of the time inside.