Monday, January 30, 2012

Wah, so damn expensive the dentist...

Sigh. I just came from a visit to the dentist to have a tooth checked.

Over the weekend, I noticed the one of the molars was chipped.

So I went to the dental clinic near my home. The doctor asked what I needed. I thought all I needed was a filling.

But no, an X-ray had to be done.

Then the dentist told me that my only options were either to extract the tooth or have a root canal procedure. I asked for the rate, and it's so damn expensive.


I feel down right now because I feel trapped. But I know I have other options. I should consider either a trip to Malaysia or back to Manila.

Leaving the tooth as it is is definitely not an option.

I need a happy meal right now to make me smile.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Hyung Koo Kang's exhibit at SAM...

Another recent exhibit I got to visit was The Burning Gaze which featured works by Korean artist Hyung Koo Kang.

The exhibit was at the SIngapore Art Museum, and I got to see the exhibit for free because I went on a Friday at 6PM. (Free entrance to SAM every Friday, 6-9PM).

Almost all the pieces on display were paintings of well-known personalities, as well as a number of self-portraits.

From what I read, Kang's technique is a style that seems like photorealism.Simply put, works under this genre are paintings that appear photographic.

And appear like photographs the paintings did.

I couldn't help but be amazed at the tremendous attention to detail seen on each work.

Most of the pieces were huge, occupying a significant part of each wall of the exhibit space.

Intense. Hyper-realistic. These were some of the words use dto describe the works of Kang.

I have to agree.

Another thing I have to agree on is how SAM described what the paintings do to exhibit visitors.

"In our media-saturated age, the sheer quantity of images that we encounter daily in print and digital forms encourages us to look, but not see. Kang's paintings precisely force us to stop, and see," wrote SAM.

Looking back now, that's exactly what I did while I was at SAM for the exhibit. I stopped. And I didn't just look, but I saw. And I was conquered by the paintings.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Spring Awakening is coming...

Spring Awakening will be in Singapore!!!


On one of my recent visits to the National Library, I saw a banner for the hit musical. It will be staged at the Drama Center Theater of the National Library and will run from 3 - 26 February 2012.

I was able to watch the Manila production, and I absolutely loved the show - the cast, the story and of course, the songs. I'm really excited to see how Singapore will stage the show. I'm also looking forward to seeing Adrian Pang in the flesh. Wooohoo!

Also, I think the lead female character Wendla Bergmann is played by a Filipina - Julia Abueva. Meanwhile, the lead male character Melchior Gabor is played by Nathan Hartono.

In case you're in Singapore and you're interested to watch it, you can get your tickets here.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Happy birthday, Carlo Pogi...

Today is the birthday of Carlo, one of my very good friends back in Manila.

To many, he is known as the graphic artist/creator of the superhero ZsaZsa Zaturnnah. The graphic novel has gone a long way since it was published several years ago. It's been made into a movie. It's been made into a musical. It has been cited in studies.

I've known Carlo during the days that he was still conceptualizing ZsaZsa (or if I'm not mistaken, even before that.)

We met through one of the really popular online forums in early 2000. After an EB (gad, EB! Who still uses that term?) with other fellows from that online forum, we totally hit it off and have been good friends since then.

Carlo belongs to that group of friends of mine who I see just one-on-one. He's this guy who I can talk for hours and hours, telling him what's really inside my head and now worry about being judged. The same goes for him. Our favorite spot is anywhere there is coffee. Usually, it is Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. But before that, it was Dome at Shangri-la Mall. Hehe!

I can't remember the last time I saw him, but I definitely met up with him to tell him that I'm moving to Singapore to try it out here.

Thanks to Facebook, we still get to keep in touch. Plus, I get to be up-to-date with what's happening with his projects, including the much awaited release of another issue of ZsaZsa Zaturnnah.

We haven't had those conversations that we used to have in Manila but I'm sure that he is still one of the friends I can run to whenever I feel like talking to someone.

I know it. He is just one of those people who you know would still be around for you, even when everyone else has already left.

So my dear Carlo Pogi, happy, happy birthday to you! I may not be in Manila, but do know that I remembered you on this very special day of yours.

Biggest hugs, and as you used to say...

"You are loved."

Monday, January 23, 2012

OFW feelings on the Lunar New Year weekend..

Weeks and days before Christmas 2011, several Filipino friends, upon finding out that I wasn't planning to go home for Christmas, told me, "You're going to be lonely here. Christmas and New Year are not really that big of a deal here."

I wasn't worried. I've always taken a "Life is what you make of it" attitude most of the time, and I was determined to make my first Christmas and New Year away from home memorable.

Both holidays turned out to be very memorable. Thanks to friends, thanks to Pg Boy, I was just really happy all throughout December and the first few weeks of January.

I can't say the same for the Lunar New Year long weekend that is about to end.

Uhm, I'm finding it difficult to write this because I think it's a sign of weakness, but I actually felt lonely during the days of the long weekend because of the Lunar New Year celebration.

Most of my usual buddies were away on a holiday. Pg Boy went back home to celebrate with his family.

Technically, I wasn't really alone. Richie was here. Ian was here. The Tampines East gang was here. But for some reason, I still felt lonely, especially today.

My mistake was that I didn't plan enough activities to keep me occupied during this day when the entire island shuts down. So, I ran out of ideas and even if I wanted to do some things, loneliness already took over.

Good thing there's WhatsApp and Skype, I got to talk to Pg Boy and tell him how I was feeling.

I was telling myself, "I wonder how those in countries much more far away from the Philippines are handling situations like this. They're the tough ones."

When I was still in Manila, I've heard many times how life as an overseas worker is difficult and challenging. One is away from home, from family, from friends, from a familiar environment.

Since I arrived here almost 10 months ago, it is only today that I've felt a loneliness of this kind.

The good thing is I know that this is just for today, and that tomorrow I will feel better.

There is nothing wrong I guess with feeling down every now and then. It's a reminder that one is still human and has emotions. What would probably be worrying is if one were, as Pg Boy puts it, "Santa happy" all the time. Hehe!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Gong xi fa cai! :)

Gong xi fa cai! :)

Photo from Pink Dot SG

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Random thoughts on a pre-CNY Friday night...

While I was here in Singapore last year for Chinese New Year, it is only this year that I am becoming more familiar with the celebration.

So, apparently, the first day of the celebration is where the entire family gathers for a meal. That means everyone back home.

For Pg Boy, home is in one of the nice cities further north of Kuala Lumpur (I think).

He went back early last week, and won't be back till next week. Some friends have been asking why I didn't go.

Uhm, it wasn't really a big deal to me that I'm not there. I did wonder what it would be like to have a real CNY celebration with his family, but that's just me having my usual daydreams. Haha! But seriously, I knew it was a family thing, and I'm not in a position to invite myself or ask to be part of an intimate gathering. Apart from that, the family doesn't know and I can just imagine how the folks surprised the would be if Pg Boy showed up with a Filipino guy in tow. Hehe! There would be some explaining to do about the Filipino "friend."

When I said this to Rich, one of my really good friends here and one of the guys I usually approach for advice, he told me, "It's kind of sad that we have to settle for that, huh?"

He further said, "If it was a girlfriend, and the girlfriend was introduced as a 'friend,' that'll surely be an issue for the girl."

Rich wasn't talking about my situation. He was just giving a general statement, and I understood what he meant.

One of my good Singaporean friends, Melvin, was telling me that some of his guy friends would bring along their partner with them to the family dinner. The folks would be okay with it. I think it would be nice to have that, eh.

Going back to Richie's comment, it got me questioning a little. "Should we really just settle for that?" The UP activist in me has all these thoughts (haha!), but I know and understand the bigger picture. It's much more complicated than it really is.

Pg Boy and I are talking about a trip to Manila. He's never been, and I do want him to visit. I was teasing him that I will bring him with me to meet my folks and sibs. While I'm confident that my family knows, I haven't really made it official. Hehe.

I wonder what it would be like if I told them who Pg Boy really is in my life. Or should I just settle for introducing him as a 'friend?'


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Eh, Singlish so damn cool, ah...

One more thing that I have grown to find very interesting about my adopted country is the colloquial Singaporean English, Singlish.

The Batangueños have their "ala eh." The Singaporeans have their "lah."

In the short span of time that I've been here though and after numerous conversations with local friends, I've learned that "lah" is just one of the many phrases in Singlish.

You've got lah, leh, loh, mah, meh, among so many other Singlish phrases.

And if you think that you can use these phrases interchangeably, uhm, no, you can't. Each phrase is used for a certain statement.

I know! So confusing mah!

The local government actually discourage the use of Singlish and favor the use of standard English. From what I've read, certain steps have been made to promote using standard English.

For me, I see Singlish as one more instrument that gives the country its identity. So really, I dun see anything wrong with it.

Actually, I'm even more interested by ang mohs (ang moh is a local term used to call Caucasians) who speak Singlish, just like the guy in the videos above.

Uhm, honestly, I dunno if he considers himself an ang moh because it seems like he's been living here in Singapore all his life. Hence, his very familiar Singlish accent and use.

Stumbled upon his videos while looking for Singlish videos. I may have been living here for a really short time, but I'm actually glad that I could understand some of the terms he's using in his video.

Eh, so damn cool.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Sunday morning was spent volunteering at the National Museum of Singapore.

Several weeks ago, I was doing my usual browsing of the museum websites to check out if there's any new exhibits when I stumbled upon this ad looking gallery sitters for the Singapore History Gallery.

Having mounted several exhibits in Manila, manning exhibits was certainly not new to me. Haha!

I figured I could spend a few hours lending a pair of extra hands to the place that has allowed me to see Van Gogh, among several other awesome pieces.

My shift was 10AM - 2PM. I arrived at the NSM ten minutes before 10. After registration, I was directed to go to the Singapore History Gallery where I was met by a lovely and pleasant lady named Mas.

She gave me a brief orientation about the History Gallery, and what needed to be done. The main assignment was preparing the audio companions for the gallery, and welcoming and teaching visitors how to use the audio companion.

Sounds easy, eh? It is. But then there are times when there are several visitors arrive at the same time, so then you have to hurry up in the distribution and giving of instructions.

An hour later, I was pulled out from the History Gallery post and was asked to help top up the shelves around the museum with the information materials. (Probably because of my huge frame, they realized that I can do the walking and lifting of materials. Haha! It was fun though.)

I accompanied the Duty Officer of the Day Vivien in getting the materials from the storage areas and going around the different areas of the museum to top up the shelves with more information materials.

Initially, I thought the shift would be quite dull because I would just have to stand for four hours. I'm glad it turned out to be very busy with different kinds of work.

I signed up for another shift on 5 Feb. This time, it'll be the afternoon shift. I was told to be ready for it because it's an Open House day and they expect several people flocking to the museum.

As a token, I got a pair of complimentary tickets to all the galleries in the museum. Yey! Date at the museum soon.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

A visit to the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple...

On a late afternoon, I accompanied Bernice to Chinatown. It was her last few days in Singapore before flying back to Amsterdam, and she said she wanted to see Chinatown.

We took the train and got off at Chinatown MRT station, which led us directly to Pagoda St.

With the Chinese New Year just around the corner, the streets of Chinatown were very busy. (Although I must say that Chinatown seems to be a very busy place any time of the year. Hehe!)

After walking along some of the streets, I brought Bernice to the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple on South Bridge Road.

I've seen the temple from the outside so many times, because it's right next to Maxwell Food Centre.

This was, however, my first time to enter the museum.

Probably because of the Chinese New Year, the temple had extra special decorations. Probably.

But I was really wowed by the interiors of the temple.

I didn't read up on the temple before going, so we missed going to the museum in the museum. Eeep!

Maybe I'll check out the temple again this CNY.


Monday, January 9, 2012

Cheese overload...

Nature-tripping buddy Melvin shared this Youtube video during the drive to Bukit Timah on our New Year's hike. Hehe!

The video shows Timothy Tiah from Malaysia who proposed to his girlfriend Audrey using a Internet memes.

What I really loved the video is that you can see how Timothy was really, really happy. He had such a huge smile on his face the whole.

That is definitely a guy in love.

Awww... congrats to the couple.

You can read more about the video of the couple here.

Quickie lookback at 2011...

Yeah, I know it's been days since we started another year.

I've been meaning to write a review of some sort of how my 2011 went, but I haven't found the time to sit down and put my thoughts into words because the first week back at work was crazy.

It's only now on this quiet Saturday morning that I am able to sit down in front of a laptop and let my fingers dance on the keyboard.

The biggest thing that happened was bagging a job and making the move to Singapore. Boy, the plan was several years in the making. Friends Rejoy, Richie and JoAnn have been convincing me to move to Singapore but it was only in December of 2010 that I became really decided to try it out here.

Everything happened so fast. The first quarter of the 2011, I flew to Singapore three times - twice for the job interview, and the third one was for the move.

I am forever, forever grateful for everyone who helped make the Singapore dream a reality. I didn't do it all by myself. Without the support of a number of friends, it would have been much more challenging. So, yeah, I am just grateful.

About starting a new life here, I must say (almost) everything has rather been great. I've made new friends at work. I've made new friends outside of work. Then, there's Pg Boy. And then there are the friends who have been the inspiration to move here - Richie and Mon, JoAnn and Kym, Rej, Cyp and Jon, Jean, and definitely, my Twitter gang - MkSurf8, Tian3x and iandmac. These three guys have been my usual HOHOL buddies here and adjusting to the SG life was rather easy thanks to these guys.

Hmm, if I were to quickly name the best things about 2011, the following are off the top of my head:
- the Kylie Minogue concert - this was just awesome;
- discovering the "green" side of Singapore at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, Sungei Buloh and the other parks - SG is not all about skyscrapers and high-rise HDB flats, it does have a green side which I really love;
- the Lion King musical - watched this myself and still enjoyed it very much. I've always dreamt of watching a musical in Broadway, and this was the next best thing;
- seeing Picasso, Manet, Monet, Renoir, Gauguin, and Van Gogh(!!!) pieces - no words. You have to be there to experience it;
- weekend trips to Batam and HCMC - oh, jeez! These have been epic trips. "Mister driver, I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry, Mister driver!" Hahaha!;
- celebrating National Day, Christmas and of course, New Years's Eve;
the month-long birthday celebration (haha!) - I was really glad to have been able to do the tradition of holding my birthday at a kids' center;
- becoming a member of a dragonboat team - seriously, I never thought I would one day be on a boat with a paddle. Add to that being able to compete in the SG River Regatta. It never crossed my mind;
- meeting Pg Boy - completely unexpected. We met May of 2011, and neither one of us thought that we would months later be going out and making things official.
- having good friends from Pinas over - so glad that so many friends from Pinas came here for vacay - Nico, I-van, JB, Miguel, Bernice, Tey, Xzenia, Ella, Gino, Jon, Elapie, Sheena, Joi, Manny, Jamie, Ros. Really great;

There were, of course, challenges which put me to a test. I'm glad things still worked out..

Without a doubt, 2011 was a very, very big year for me.

During a small gathering with Pg Boy's friends, we had a quick recap of how each one's 2011 went. When it was my turn to talk, I just said I couldn't be more grateful for 2011. It was full of blessings, and despite the challenges I've encountered, I have no right to complain about it.

And if I'm going to be logical about it, then this year - 2012 - is definitely going to be better. It's good, better, best, right?!

Hope you had a really, really good year!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Hiking on a public holiday...

January 2. Public holiday in Singapore.


Whereas most of the Singapore population were probably still in bed fast asleep and enjoying the last day before the madness of another work/schoolyear, I have already left the house at that ungodly hour to meet up with good friend Melvin.

I haven't seen the guy in ages. I haven't gone hiking in awhile. It was time for another hike with this guy. He asked Bryan to come along. But when he found out what time the hike was, he chose the bed. I asked Alex and Chris to come along. Same response as Bryan.

Not everyone is as crazy as me and Melvin I suppose. Hehe!

Days before the hiking get-together, Melvin and I were talking about where to go. He suggested having no plans and just getting lost. I though, "Uhm, no." Hehe. I told him I miss the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. So we agreed that's where we're going.

But come hiking day, there was a change of plans just when we reached the nature reserve. Melvin suggested doing the kampong trail. He also asked whether I was up for some fish feeding.

He said, "It is therapeutic, you know." I was psyched for a hike that morning. So even though he said we will be walking for two plus hours, I was okay with it. (Uhm, I was sort of okay that Alex and Chris didn't go. Otherwise, they would have killed me for sure. Haha!)

After parking the car at the Beauty World Plaza (I'm serious! That's the name of the building!), Melvin led the way towards the kampong trail. We quickly passed by a convenience store to buy a loaf of bread for the fishies. And then, we were off.

We were along a main street, car after car zooming past us, and I had to ask if we were supposed to be walking along that road. We reached a part of the road where Melvin just jumped over a road barrier. I just followed.

The next I know, we were already surrounded by trees. There was not a concrete building in sight. It was all greens, the morning sun, and the chirping of birds. Nice, nice.

We kept on walking for about an hour. There were other hikers and trail bikers. I'm not sure what area that was, but I followed Melvin as he made his way through a path lined with trees. This led to a hidden pond.

After finding a spot to sit down, Melvin brought out the loaf of bread. He took out one slice, tore a piece and threw it into the water. Ripples started forming as several fishes suddenly zoomed towards the bread. I took my own slice, and started throwing small pieces into the water, amused by the fishes that raced towards the bread. Several minutes later, a terrapin surfaced and started swimming to the bread pieces as well. Several minutes more, we spotted a number of snakeheads and their young. There was also one huge black fish, which Melvin thinks is a pacu, that joined the other fishies.

Around 11 plus, Melvin and I started to head back to "civilization." We took a different path going back, but it still brought us to the area where we started.

We also reached an area where the KTM railroad tracks used to be. I'm glad I was able to see those tracks a couple of months ago, before they were taken out. It was a part of Singapore history.

It was a good hike, I have to say. Came across some kingfishers, a sunbathing gecko (read: ordinary lizard - LOL!), snakeheads, a terrapin, several monkeys, an oriole, an unidentified bright red-chested bird, and an Oriental whip snake!!!

So, you see, Singapore is not all about skyscrapers and luxury malls, it has a "green" side which I am just really happy to discover because it brings back memories of the Philippine countryside (which I love!)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Welcoming 2012...

This is a late post on welcoming 2012, but still I'd like to write about it for the simple reason that it is important to me.

Back in Manila, New Year's Eve is such a big deal for me, as it is for almost every other Filipino household I suppose. My Mom, my brothers and I would all be preoccupied with our own assignments for the Media Noche. It's become a family tradition that each one has a role for welcoming the brand new year.

And hours even before the clock strikes 12, one can already feel the very festive mood because of all the sound of fireworks that can be heard around the neighborhood.

It is quite different here in Singapore. I was expecting it. I've been told about it. And it's true.

Had I not left the house, it would just be like any other weekend night. It was very quiet, and almost everyone just went on with their usual activity.

Thankfully, Richie and Mon invited me and Pg Boy to dinner at their home. Richie's Mom was in town, and I already knew how good she is as a cook. There was no way I was going to miss that dinner. Haha!

Prior to heading to the dinner, Pg Boy and I had to go to the "unofficial" housewarming of his friend. He's Indonesian-Chinese with a Filipino partner. I've met the close friends of Pg Boy, and I have grown to like them. There are times when I still feel like the outsider but I suppose that's natural being the new kid on the block.

After the housewarming, we headed to Richie's place where we had, as I expected, a fantastic dinner.

Mon prepared a really nice soup. Richie prepared some grilled chops. Richie's Mom cooked really yum pancit. Even Pg Boy liked the pancit with meatballs. There was wine. There was cheese and crackers. There was salad. It was a good dinner.

From Richie's place, we headed to City Hall to meet up with the group of Pg Boy. We were going to watch the fireworks at the Marina Bay.

We were unable to get a good spot though as the roads leading to Esplanade have already been barricaded. Instead, we had to find a place at the park near the Fullerton Hotel.

It was still okay, because I got a good view of the fireworks.

As the time neared midnight, there was excitement in the air. We didn't hear the actual countdown at the Esplanade. But as soon as I saw the time on my iPhone turn 12:00, the fireworks display began.

It lasted for several minutes, and the whole time I was just really, really happy.

Once it was over, we had a group hug and greeted each one a Happy New Year. Haha!

It was a simple, but a memorable welcoming of 2012.

Hope your New Year celebration was just as meaningful and memorable!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Hello, 2012....

After New Year's Eve dinner with Richie, Mon and Richie's Mom, Pg Boy and I headed to City Hall to meet up with his friends.

I told him that I really wanted to watch fireworks for New Year's Eve because it was one of my very few connections to a New Year celebration in the Philippines.

We wanted to get a spot at the Fullerton Bay Hotel side, but we were unable to do so because the roads have already been barricaded.

So, we opted to stay where we were - at the other side of the Esplanade.

Still, I was able to get a good view of the fireworks. I really loved it. There's really something about fireworks that makes me happy. Hehe!

Anyway, must find time to blog more about other things that happened. It's been a good Christmas and New Year!

Really grateful.

Happy New Year!!! :)