28 September 2004
After almost four years of dreaming about it and projecting it, I am finally going to visit Japan again! Come October 1st, with four other people, I will be flying to Osaka for the Pan Pacific Youth Exchange Program. I really can't thank God enough for giving me this chance, this opportunity to see Japan again. After my first visit to Japan in 2000, I promised myself that I will, one day, go back there.
I have thought and thought about this many a day. I have dreamt about this many a night! Since 2001, I have been seriously thinking and planning to apply for this year's PanPac. I chose 2004 because I was thinking, then, that it might be my last year here in Manila unless I decide to work here (which isn't my plan right now). And, no, I am not finishing this year yet, but I knew I just had to take my chance at the program. And, luckily I was chosen as one of five Philippine delegates!
I am sure this is going to be another unforgettable and enriching experience. I am sooo excited that I can't keep still. I can't wait to see my Japanese friends, as well as my Filipino friends studying there. I can't wait to take the Shinkansen (Bullet Train). I can't wait to see Osaka and Kyoto. I can't wait to see Tokyo and Chiba again. I can't wait to go to the Ofuro (Japanese Bath)! All my Japan memories come back as I'm writing this. I am just so happy! :)
I have again proven to myself that with the combination of doing one's best, prayers, determination and constant projection, one can do or achieve whatever it is that one desires. The achievement of one's dreams really depends on how much one really wants those dreams fulfilled. Whoever said "life is what one makes it" couldn't have spoken truer words! :)
24 September 2004
Back when I was still in MSU, after my college graduation and just after SSEAYP, my mom and I would sit down and discuss my plans for further studies. What I love most about my parents is that they always make us decide for ourselves. They suggest things or some alterntive plans, but in the end, it's really up to us (the children) to decide what we really want. They allow us to commit mistakes and, eventually, learn from them. My dad, wise and weird that he is, would term this "the freedom even to go to hell and back". Sadly, not all Meranao parents are like that. This is why I couldn't be more thankful for being part of my family.
Back in college, it was my decision to stay and study in MSU rather than in any other school. Staying in MSU would mean studying close to my loved-ones, friends and it would mean never having to leave home. I've lived in MSU all my life (our house is inside the university!) and I wasn't just about to give the comfort of home up to be in some new place or some very busy city where I didn't have my parents around. Yes, I was very, very dependent. As it turned out, it was one of the best decisions I ever made. I had the best college experience in MSU. I don't think I would have had as much fun and great time if I went to Xavier University in Cagayan de Oro (one of the choices I had back then and where my mom wanted me to go) or in any other school. Not that the other school(s) is not good or anything, it's just that, well, MSU is my university. Thus, for me, it is the best! Anyone who's been to MSU would definitely agree with me, I'm sure! Hehehe:)
After college, my mom and I agreed that I should take my masters either in the Ateneo or UP. By that time, I was thinking that I was old enough to go study somewhere far from home. I knew I also needed that; a new environment would do me good. My mom and one of my aunts actually preferred Ateneo, but I chose UP because it's so much like MSU. Also, the course I wanted so much to take at the time was offered only in UP.
Just more than a week ago, I saw inside the Ateneo gates. I had dinner with Bok and Erik somewhere in Katipunan and they decided to take me for a tour inside the Ateneo campus. We drove around with them pointing out to me every single building and statue. It was great being there for the first time after I've heard lots and lots of stories about the school. I found the campus very nice and clean. The atmosphere was a lot different from that of UP. I don't know but there's just something I like about the atmosphere. Well, UP is UP and Ateneo is Ateneo. Don't get me wrong, I like both schools. ;)
Two days after that, the SSEAYP 2004 Interaction with Local Youth was held at the Ateneo Covered Courts. The ILY was great. After the interaction, I met with Bok and she brought me to her office, not without taking a stroll around for a few minutes first. That time, I had a better view of the campus because, aside from the fact that there was still light (daylight), we were walking. Again, there was something about the Ateneo air that I really liked. I just couldn't explain it. Or maybe it was just because most of my Ateneo friends love(d) their school so much that I just came to love it as much, too. :)
The next day, I went to the Ateneo campus again. I had to fetch Bok because we were to go to the Nippon Maru, which she and Erik insist on calling "the good ship lollipop", for the On-Board Dinner Reception later that night. The traffic was just too heavy, I was in a cab, that I decided to just take the trike to go inside. I did and it was again a new Ateneo experience. I just couldn't stop looking around the now familiar buildings. I was too busy observing things that the absent-minded me almost forgot to make the trike driver stop where he was supposed to stop. Hehehe:)
The day after that, I found myself back in the Ateneo yet again. This time we went there to see Erik. He was still working out in the gym so we had time to go around again... walking! I just love walking because it's the only way I get to remember places. We went to some places that Bok and Erik hadn't shown me during our prior tour. Among the places Bok brought us to, my most favorite was the little Mama Mary Chapel. I'm not really sure what the place is called. I'm very sure Bok mentioned it, though. It's this beautiful chapel (a small part, sort of like a room) within or at the side of the bigger church. At the altar was a huge Virgin Mary idol with hair flowing freely. I think it was my first time to see a Virgin Mary idol without her veil. I also loved the lights in that small room. I am not Christian, but if I were, that chapel would have to be my favorite (praying) place. It's a really nice place. :)
Those four days of seeing and visiting the university (on a daily basis) were memorable. I know and feel that the Ateneo will always be special if only for that weird feeling (in a very good/positive way) that it gave me during those first few visits. When I mentioned to Mommy Minda (my aunt) that Bok and Erik brought me to see Ateneo, she asked me, "Did you like it there?" When I said yes and told her about the atmosphere being very nice and the air giving me that weird feeling, she said plainly, "Ah, now you understand why I wanted you to go there!" Well, not really... But, I didn't say anything more. :)
21 September 2004
Our ship, Nippon Maru, sailing the blue ocean...
The 31st Ship for SouthEast Asian Youth Program (SSEAYP) was in the country from September 14th to 17th. As usual, every single activity brought me (us) to a journey back in time - to the time when we were the PYs. The annual coming of SSEAYP never fails to do so. Usually, at this time of year, almost all SSEAYP alumni are just so emotionally charged. Much as I would want to explain how SSEAYP makes me feel, words are lost to me right now. They always say that only a fellow alumnus/a would really understand another. Drew from Bidlisiw 2003, a very good friend of mine, couldn't stop his tears from falling as he talked about how SSEAYP changed his life. Indeed, SSEAYP is a life-changing experience, aside from its being absolutely THE BEST experience in the whole world!
Being part of SSEAYP really taught me a lot. Daddy Nel of the Philippine Homestay Association, an educator, once said that SSEAYP was the best classroom he ever saw. This is because in the program, you don't just read and talk about things, you actually get to experience things first-hand. Books, television, the Internet, and class lectures would definitely teach you a thing or two about different peoples and cultures (particularly the ASEAN and Japanese peoples and cultures in this case), but being with these peoples, actually experiencing and being absorbed in these cultures is another story. It is when you really get to see and experience things that you really learn them. SSEAYP has not only taught me about cultures and peoples, it taught me more about life and how to live with others. It really did change me!
Before SSEAYP, I was this big, stubborn brat! I always wanted others (everybody) to cooperate with me. I may not always be the leader in all my groups, but I somehow managed to always have everybody play by my rules. Although I was not really the irritatingly bossy or domineering type, I could really get nasty when I didn't have my way! I remember making the president of my college organization cry because I did everything to show him that I didn't agree with him about a decision he made. I really went out of my way just to piss the hell out of him! After some time, he really cried desperately in front of everybody and yelled at me for being such a pain in the ass. After his discourse, I calmly stood up and yelled back, "You know damn well why I'm doing this!" After having said so, I sat down with a huge smile (smirk) on my face and my eyebrow raised. Hehe:) Remembering it now makes me laugh and want to give my good friend, the president, a hug. :)
I was probably hard to get along with at times (especially when I wanted to). I was lucky that the friends I hung out with really understood me or thought like me. SSEAYP changed that. It made me realize that that attitude was just plain wrong. Sure, you may want others to cooperate with you at times, but, most of the time, you need to cooperate with others. It's better that way.
SSEAYP taught me to be less self-centered. It made me see things and the world from many different views, and not just from my view. It made me accept things that I never would have imagined I could accept. It gave me confidence and self-trust that I never thought I had or could have. I happily welcomed doing things that I never would have done in a million years.
Words will never be enough to actually express everything I want to say about the program. Suffice it to say that after having joined the program, my life has never been the same. It brought me far and wide, literally and figuratively. SSEAYP was a dream... a great dream come true. And, I could only pray and hope that more and more people would experience it, too. :)
19 September 2004
I know I mentioned in my last entry that the last two Sundays were really great ones, but I only got to write about the first Sunday. So, this entry will be on how the second Sunday (September 12) went. It was my brother's birthday, and
The experience was another unforgettable one for me. The energy was just so high the whole time, it was impossible not to be carried away by the cheering crowd. It was just so much fun. It's really weird that I only got myself into the UAAP thing just now. I mean, after all, I've always loved watching competitions and games. Well, I guess I'll have to thank my friends, Bok and Erik, for that. :)
After the competition, we went to A Venetto for dinner. There, we were the noisiest group. Everyone still had a hang over from the competition, especially Bok's cousin Mimi and her friend Lachi who both come from UST (this year's champion). It was a perfect ending to the wonderful day. There really is nothing like capping a great day with a fun-filled "bonding time" with good friends. I sure am looking forward to more Sunday experiences, as well as other days', to keep in the "fondest section" of my brain. :)
Oh, and I also met
13 September 2004
The last two Sundays were great ones. These days afforded me experiences that I'd like to forever keep in a section called "fondest memories" in my brain. I imagine my brain to be composed of different sections and I assign names to these sections. I don't know, but doing this, rather than imagining left and right hemisphere and all those things, makes me feel more human and, well, more in control. Hehehe:)
Okay, so first stop is Sunday of last week, i.e. September 5. Kuya Frankie texted me Saturday night to invite me to go with the Osaka Association Youth Development Exchange Program participants and some other SSEAYP alumni for a trip to Pampanga. Since it was to be my first time to visit the place, I was naturally very excited. The next morning, I was up by 6 o'clock to prepare for the trip. I slept for only two hours that night. So, anyway, I went to the meeting place and met the participants and saw good friends from the SSEAYP alumni. We left for Pampanga at about 9:00.
It was about 11:00 when we got to Clark. We were told that we were to go up the mountains for our interaction with the locals, particularly the Aetas. After a very brief orientation and an ice cream treat, we got on the four-wheel drives and proceeded to our "climb". On our way, we had such a great time. We, at the back of one of the 4x4s, felt like beauty queens or traditional politicians as we waved at every house and person we passed by. The bumpy and "sunny" ride was made okay by all the joke exchanges and laughing.
It was lunch time when we got to our destination, the Aeta Maganchi community of San Martin. San Martin is a very small and a very poor community. They have this little community elementary school and that's all. People lived in very small bahay-kubos close to one another. Lots of people in the community didn't speak any Tagalog or English, just Kapampangan and their own Maganchi language. They are very, very friendly people. Everyone in the community, old and young, was there to warmly welcome us. It was just so nice. There we were meeting these people for the first time yet we were hugging people all around us. Hugging really does wonders. It puts a smile on everyone's face. :)
We went straight to an open hall (sort of an unfinished building). Being still full from eating breakfast in our minibus on the way to Pampanga and the free Milko ice cream, we decided to have a little program right away. The community children prepared lots of numbers. They sang and danced. Our Japanese friends also prepared a song number (SMAP's Sekai Ni Hitotsu Dake No Hana) and a little game for the kids that we all enjoyed. The program, short as it was, was great. It was also amazing to see all those kids. There were LOTS of kids. The reason is that the people of this community marry very young. We even saw this woman who looked not more than 16 already breastfeeding a baby. There were much, much more kids than adults.
After that, we had lunch. We ate on banana leaves spread over three long tables. They prepared or cooked food without pots and pans. They used bamboos instead. They put these bamboos on the table. As we took our seats, the people in charge shook the bamboos vigoruosly and out came rice, chicken, and other food. We shared everything. My friend, A-nang, and I had to be very careful, though, because being Muslims, we couldn't eat pork or anything that touches pork meat. But, all in all, it was a very good and interesting lunch.
After some more interaction, we went back to our "wheels" and went to see some projects of the Clark Development Center. It's really nice how some people spend their whole lives helping less fortunate ones. You'd think that seeing how simple and poor those Aetas lived and their situation would actually depress people. But, for me, it was different. Sure, it's depressing to see poverty and all, but seeing all those happy smiles, I just couldn't help but feel a pang of envy and guilt. They may be very poor, but they were very happy. They looked contented with how things went. I, like most people I know, complain so much about how life is treating me (us) yet I know that I (we) live a relatively good life. Those Aetas have so much more reason to be depressed, but they're not. They enjoy and love the simplicity of their lives. I, on the other hand, can't seem to get enough. There would always be something more that I'd want.
On our way to that place, we were complaining about how the heat of the sun would ruin our complexions. Such a stupid concern, I know! On our way back, I was happy that the sun was there and I welcomed its kisses with excitement and an unwavering thankfulness and gratitude for its being there and for all the things that I actually have and do enjoy! :)
09 September 2004
Does your weblog own you?
Good, my blog doesn't own me! :)
There's a 25% chance that I'll win a Bloggie™.
What's Your Chance to Win a Bloggie™?
What's Your Chance to Win a Bloggie™?
25%, huh? That's not bad... Hehehe:)
BabyPink's different names...
YOUR PORN STAR NAME: (name of your first pet + street you live in)
Bantay Ford (MSU house) or Bantay A. Roces (UP dorm)
wow, those are both weird! with a name like that, i sure won't have a shot at being famous... at all!
YOUR MOVIE STAR NAME: (name of your favorite snack food + grandfather's first name)
Cheetos Pangandaman (maternal grandpa) or Cheetos Benasing (paternal grandpa)
i'm so not cut to be a movie star!
YOUR FASHION DESIGNER NAME: (first word you see on your left + favorite restaurant)
Polaris Chocolate Kiss
EXOTIC FOREIGNER ALIAS: (favorite spice + last vacation spot visited)
i hate spices!
SOCIALITE ALIAS: (silliest childhood nickname + town where you first partied)
marawi's not really a town, but MSU is where i first partied...
"FLY GIRL" ALIAS (a la J. Lo): (first name initial + first two or three letters of your last name)
now, we're talking!
ICON ALIAS: (something sweet within sight + any liquid in the kitchen)
DETECTIVE ALIAS: (favorite baby animal + where you went to high school)
yeah, that's a detective alias all right!:)
BARFLY ALIAS: (last snack food you ate + your favorite alcoholic drink)
no alcoholic drink for me.:)
SOAP OPERA ALIAS: (second/middle name + street where you first lived)
that's so meranao, man!:)
ROCK STAR ALIAS: (favorite candy/dessert + last name of favorite musician)
now, this one i like. :)
05 September 2004
I got this from Friendster's Bulletin Board. I liked it, so I posted it back so that my "friendsters" (especially the non-Muslim ones) would also get to read it and find out a little bit more about Islam and Muslims. A good friend of mine, Kuya Mike, commented that it would have been better if I had explained or expounded on some things because that way it would be easier to see things clearly. So, in this entry, I will try to expound on things and explain each item in the best way I could.
The explanations I will give are based on the knowledge that I have gained from reading, from listening to wasi'at (sermons) and from the Madrasah (Islamic school). I would just like to emphasize that I am not THAT knowledgeable. God knows best. :)
The Top Ten Misconceptions about Muslims:
1. Muslims are violent, terrorists and/or extremists.
-- Muslims are peace-loving people. The term Islam came the Arabic letters S-L-M, where the word "salaam" (peace) is also derived from. More or less, Islam also means peace. To be a Muslim to follow Islam. To be a Muslim is to devote one's life to God (Allah)... everything that a Muslim does is for and in praise of Allah. To be a good Muslim is basically to be a good person (inside and out), and good persons, I think we all know, are not violent, terrorists and/or extremists.
2. Islam oppresses women.
--Women are given a very important place in Islam. It is said that women are the most beautiful creatures in the world and men the weakest! A man's greatest weakness is a woman. Men are powerless if women were to use their "powers". This is why we, Muslim women, have to cover certain parts of our bodies that can attract the opposite sex. Thus, we have to cover our hair and wear clothes that will not emphasize our "assets" and the curves of our bodies. Muslim women can work, do business, educate themselves and even fight in wars, etc.
3. Muslims worship a different God.
--There is only one God and Muslims call this one God, Allah. Allah comes from the Arabic term "al-ilah" which means "the God". The kalimah shahada says: "There is none worthy of worship but God, and Muhammad is the Messenger of God." To accept this is the first step to becoming a Muslim.
4. Islam was spread by the sword and intolerant of other faiths.
--Islam was never intolerant of other faiths. If we look at our history, it has always been mentioned that when Muslims ruled over a certain country/nation, the people of this country were free to practice their own religion/faith. Islam was spread in a peaceful manner when Muslim traders went to other places to do business and eventually settled in these places.
5. All Muslims are Arabs.
--Now, if this were true then I wouldn't be a Muslim. I am a full-blooded Filipino and I am a Muslim. Muslims are all over the world and in every race.
6. The Nation of Islam is a Muslim group.
--The Nation of Islam (Ummah) is not a group. It is the community of Muslims. Whatever kind of person you are, wherever you come from, if you are a follower and a believer of Islam, you are part of the Muslim Ummah!
7. All Muslim men marry four wives.
--This is one of the biggest misconceptions about Islam, especially here in the Philippines. Most non-Muslims think that every Muslim man should and must marry four wives. There is something wrong with the modals "should" and "must" in this sentence. The modals shouldn't be "should" and "must" because the most appropriate modal is "can". Men CAN marry up to four wives. There are conditions to be met before a man can marry more than one wife. The man should have enough money and time to divide equally among his wives. There shouldn't be favorites. It is actually rather hard for a man to be married to more than one woman. Thus, more and more Muslim men opt or choose to marry only one. Oh, and the first wife has a say before a man can marry. The husband must have the first wife's consent.
8. Muslims are a barbaric, backward people.
--It is always wrong to say a certain culture is barbaric and backward. Just because a ceratin people's culture is different from one's own doesn't mean that that certain culture is barbaric and backward.
9. Muhammad was the founder of Islam and Muslims worship him.
--Islam was there even before the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). He was, in fact, the last and final Messenger of God. He's like the "seal" to all those who came before him. This makes him very, very important- the most important prophet/messenger of God. Muslims do not worship him. Only Allah is worthy of worship.
10. Muslims don't believe in Jesus or any other prophets.
--Muslims believe in Adam, Moses (Musah), David (Daud), Noah (Nuuh), Solomon (Sulayman), Joseph the Dreamer (Yusuph), Abraham (Ibrahim)
01 September 2004
Another one of my closest (best) friends, Ate Khair, got married last August 20th. It's actually so funny when we think about everything because we never really thought she'd end up with the guy she married. He was my very first major crush ever! I had this really huge crush on him for about two years. Days after she found out and confirmed that the guy was the one her parents and family chose for her, she called to tell me the news and asked me if I was mad or something. Yes, it was such a big surprise, but mad?! Of course, not! I couldn't be happier for them. And now, the more I think about it, the more I'm convinced that they're really perfect for each other.
What made me sad and still makes me sad, though, is the fact that I wasn't present during one of the most important days in Ate Khair's life.
It's bad enough that I'm feeling very selfish again... just like the way I felt when Leyh got married. I am not sure if this is normal, but while I am very happy that two of my best friends married "dream" guys I also cannot help but feel bad about it (their getting married). I feel like my best friends are being taken away from me one by one. And, not being in their weddings makes this feeling worse. It almost feels like I just gave my best friends away without even a fight. I'm crazy, yes!
I know this may not be a welcome feeling, but I can't help it! This is how I feel... I also know that that this will pass. I sure hope and pray that the next time one of us gets married, I will be there! Insha-Allah! :)
Yay, it's September 1!!! It's MSU's Foundation Day! When you're in MSU on this particular day, you're absoultely in for a great day! It's the most wonderful time of the year for MSUans! Everyone's happy and smiling... and really full! Full? Yeah, full because it's "open house" day! You can choose from any of the dormitories and boarding houses and pick any room and just go there and eat and eat and eat as much as you can! Even private cottages open their doors to visitors and even total strangers. It's like fiesta! This lasts for two days (although some could only afford to have guests for a day).
I remember that I'd feel like I would gain tons more weight every September 1. My friends and I would start going around the campus at about 10 o'clock in the morning (right after the very colorful university parade). It's best to do this walking! And, there was this one time, we stopped only after 6 o'clock in the afternoon! You could just imagine how much we ate! We just ate and ate and ate! We went to our friends' places, we went to places where we didn't really know anyone and just ate and ate and ate! God, just thinking of that now makes me sick. On that day, I was just so full that I thought I couldn't get up!
It's one of the best times to go visit MSU because everyone is just so happy and giving. You'll get to see the best dorm rooms (usually the male engineering students win in this category), the best performances (dances and singing). Hay! :)
Home is really where the heart is. And, right now, I swear I'd give anything to be where my heart is!
"MSU, paraiso ka sa amin..." The song goes and that cannot be more true. I love you, Mindanao State University (Marawi)! Happy birthday! :)