Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Merry & Bright

Gramma's Christmas Tree with the last few presents left over

This year's Christmas has been different from all the rest for many reasons, but namely because for the first time in 20 years, we celebrated in the Philippines. It was a really small and intimate affair, which is different from what I'm used to, but it was still good nonetheless with just the immediate family in attendance.  Like many Filipinos we celebrated our Christmas mainly during Christmas Eve during what is called Noche Buena.

Christmas tree detail
Noche Buena literally meaning "good night" is celebrated on the evening of Christmas Eve.  A big dinner is prepared, all the gifts are placed under the tree and we all attend midnight mass at church.  My grandma sings in the choir, so it's always fun watching her preform (she goes all out!)  There was a massive crowd at the church, and the Christmas spirit felt electric.  Before we left for mass, we had dinner which included the traditional and oh so coveted Lechon from Cebu. Vegetarians and animal lovers alike - beware of the photo below! 

Posing with the guest of honor
If you watch Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations -- Philippines episode, you'll know he claimed Cebu's roast pig as the best roast pig he's ever eaten. So of course, we ordered it. 1 word: AMAZEBALLS. crunchy, juicy, tasty -- everything you want a pig to be. 

We also managed to find my late grandfather's whiskey collection, and thought to drink some of it in his honor.  That glass is from the seventies and my mom has memories of him drinking his scotch from it.  The scotch also is a really old bottle, which we think is at least 10 years old. 

After dinner & church we waited for it to turn midnight so we could finally open presents. I wrapped all my gifts this year in brown paper and string. I also made pom poms which really brought some whimsy to the plain wrapping.  We all took turns handing gifts to each other, and I think Miguel and I really picked out some good ones this year. Everyone seemed really happy. 

Posing with grammy and making fun of her mini santas

All in all it was a great Christmas, that had me counting my blessings.  Hope yours was just as fantastic! Sending light, love and an extra bit of patience to get you through the rest of the holidays. here's to a fabulous holiday season and a beautiful 2013!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Philippines: Week 1

Coron, Palawan, Philippines
Week one of my trip here has slowly come to an end, and so far I've been nothing short of amazed.  This country full of poverty, hardship and corruption still manages to thrive and flourish and maintain a sense of beauty and instill in me a sense of wonder. This is my second time here, so I shouldn't be so shocked or curious as I was during my first trip, but every day I learn or see something that surprises me. 

I hate to make sweeping statements about how everyone seems so kind, but to be honest that's all I've felt.  It's been one generous and hospitable event after another.  I know that the life I am seeing as I travel this country with my grandmother and mom are very sheltered, and I'm not neccessarily getting the full picture, but I can't help but enjoy myself.  

The above photo was taken in Coron on our trip to the islands of Palawan, where we stayed at the most amazing resort.  From time to time I found myself pausing to remind myself to remember how blue the water looked, how beautiful the patterns on the shell of the sea turtle looked, or how soft the sand was because I knew that there was no way the camera would be able to do any of it justice.  I just felt so lucky to be able to experience it all.  

Beyond that trip, we've been spending a good amount of time in my grandma's house in Manila just hanging out, and it is here just lazing about with my family that I am most happy. Week one has been fantastic, but I'm  sure week 2 we'll be even better. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Of sadness and prayers and quiet thank yous.

 When I hear news that is so shocking, so unbelievable, so scary my first instinct has always been to think it was a lie. My gut will always first say that there is no way possible something so frightening could happen in the world. But then the news will register, and I'll learn that it was true. I'll remember that sometimes terrible things happen to good people for no reason. I'll remember that my mantra of everything happens for a reason is not correct, and does not work for every occasion. Because no, not everything does happen for a reason. There is no plausible, life learning lesson that can be taken out from the horrible deaths that happened in Connecticut.

I could go on and on about how angry and sad I am, or about my views on gun laws or even about the man's (lack of) motives. However, I won't. I'm sure by now, you've read something or two about this tragedy, and I'm sure you've created your own opinions. Instead, I'd just like to emphasize something you probably already know. Your family, your loved ones, they're important. It shouldn't take something so terrible as this tragedy to remind me of the importance of family, but truth be told that's all I can think of.

I'm smack dab in the middle of my great Philippine vacation, and I've seen family members who I haven't seen in years, and we're all safe and sound. Not all are as lucky as I. If you are, I highly recommend taking a quick moment to be grateful that your loved ones are fine, and maybe say a quick thank you to the powers that be. Because at the end of the day nothing is as important as the people you love. History shows that people live and die to protect their loved ones, and I'm sure many of us are no different. So while I quietly send prayers to all the souls that have passed away, I will also say a few prayers for my family who is alive and safe.

Sunday, December 09, 2012


Photoshoot fun captured by @skuunk1

Watching: Most of my favorite shows have already ended for the year.  When X Factor aired it's last episode, I literally said aloud, now what? haha We don't have foxtel, (aussie cable conglomerate) so our TV options are limited.  The one thing that is still airing though is Survivor Philippines, and man am I loving it.  I'm really into this season, and am really interested if a veteran or a newbie will win the million. I'm kinda loving one from each side-- Penner & Malcom are both killin' it.  We're a few episodes behind down here, so if one of them got voted out don't spoil it!

Listening To: *NSYNC holiday radio station.  Their Home for Christmas is my favorite Christmas album of ALL TIME. Seriously. What? I'm a 90's kid! You can't blame me. ;]

Planning: on going to the shops to finish up my Christmas shopping. I'm about halfway done, and I still have all the wrapping to do. I normally wouldn't be so in a hurry to get the gifts done, but we're leaving for the Philippines in 2 days, and I want to make sure I've got everything covered before we leave.  

Thinking About: School. Holy moly guys, I got accepted into an Australian University! It's happened!! The big news came earlier this week, poigniently on my last day of work. Now all I keep thinking about is what it's going to like attending a new university, and I'm getting really excited for the new experiences ahead.  I particularly can't wait to be back with other students, and engaging in class again. So thankful for this early Christmas gift.

Making Me Happy: That my sister's here. She arrived from Spain one week ago, and I still get shocked every time I see her.  We've lived apart for over 4 years, so it's been a big change that she's back living with us for the next couple of years as she attends school in Aus. It feels really good to have the family back together, and it's nice to how everyone's adjusting to having us all back together again.

All in all it's been a really good week.  I've finished up work with my temp job, got accepted into school and was so happy to see my sister arrive safely.  Next week we'll be in the Philippines enjoying the holiday season with my family.  It may get a bit more quiet around these parts, but I'll do my best to post every once in a while.  Have a fabulous week everyone!

a little Christmas cheer

This is my third Christmas in Australia, and I'm still finding it hard to get into the holiday spirit. Maybe because we're in the middle of summer...but after seeing this cute video, I'm starting to feel a little holiday cheer.  Thanks to Jenloveskev for sharing!

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

music wednesday?

Sometimes, when you're feeling down, one song can come out of nowhere and lift you right back up again. Today this was mine.

Modest Mouse - The View
As life gets longer awful feels softer, well it feels pretty soft to me. And if it takes shit to make bliss than I feel pretty blissfully.
we are fixed.