My Luggage and all it’s happy stuff

It has been 2 months that I’ve not blogged. I was busy with work and all it’s challenges but also had a great time last New Year when I had the opportunity to spend it at home (1st time in 3 years)! I was there before New Year and went back to Bangkok 5th of January after my Mom’s birthday. It was a short but really memorable trip.

Now, going back to my new blog post. Maybe you wonder what is the picture above all about? Or you may also be thinking if what it was, actually. From afar, it may look like a mini Sari-Sari Store (Philippine version of the convenience store but it’s more of a family-run business) what with all those toiletries, noodles, chocolates, mixes and sauces. Well it’s not a delivery for 7-11. The picture you are seeing above is my typical luggage…

I am coming back home (again!). And what you had seen above are the items I had been compiling in my room for several weeks/months. It’s all the goodies I want to bring home. Actually, If I have no scheduled trip I would usually put it in a Balikbayan box and send back home.

Maybe some of you think I am a fool bringing back all these stuff as if there are nothing like those in the Philippines and at times the cost of shipping them is even more than the actual cost of the item.

Overseas workers like me would definitely understand (I bet 90% or even more of these OFW’s are doing the same thing everytime they go back home) what I had been doing since I started working abroad (coming 4 years on May).

For me, it’s not all about the price or the quantity of goods that matter. Looking at my family (even friends) waiting for what’s inside my luggage and dividing it amongst them (as if I’m the younger and slimmer version of Santa Claus) and seeing how excited they are for any “pasalubong” I bought is good enough for me. And the feeling is just great. It is also a product of my hard work as each item in the luggage (or box) are from my hard-earned money.  There was even a time that I bought bottles of perfumes for each member of my family. Even though it cost a small fortune for me, they were really happy to receive something from my heart (and of course seeing me makes them happy and excited too!).

Honestly, I don’t mind packing stuff like these even if I really have to spend time going to the supermarket or malls regularly, putting packaging tapes on liquid items so it won’t spill, making sure everyone has something to receive and even replacing my clothes with all these items.

My forthcoming trip in the next couple of days is kinda exciting in the sense that I am traveling in time for my birthday. I treated myself  and my mom to a trip to Cebu and Bohol for several nights. It is even more special because it’s the first time for my mom to visit these places (for me will be 1st time in Bohol). I was inviting my siblings and their families to join the trip so it will be a big family affair but since school is still on, they cannot join. It could have been more memorable if my Dad was still alive.

Another reason for me coming home again this February is in time for my Dad’s 1st year death anniversary. It seems like only yesterday when he was still with us but now almost one year has passed since he joined our Creator. I know that even though he is not physically with us  anymore, he is happy that my Mom could go to places she’s never been before. They’ve always treasured memories of trips together as a couple or with the whole family.

Going back to Bangkok from my holidays, my luggage is again always full. The contents are different though. I would fill it with all those Sinigang, Menudo, Kare-kare and all the whatnot, local vitamins and medicines, some local-brand toiletries and also pasalubong for my friends and colleagues in Bangkok.

My luggage is always full. Full of foods and other perishable stuff. But I also make sure that my luggage is also full of happy memories from all my travels. All my excess baggage (read as: bitter memories) I usually leave behind.

Have a good one my friends and readers!

Advertisements

Happy Birthday Papa!


Today is the first year that we are celebrating the birthday of my dad (Sixto “Tito”Asuncion)…without him physically present.
As I had mentioned in previous posts, he died of Cancer last February. Had he been alive, he could have celebrated his 73rd Birthday today.

Every time I see his pictures I will suddenly realize I am still in denial that he is no longer with us. For He had always been there in all aspects of our lives.

I can still vividly remember that when we were young and it’s examination period, he would patiently spend time with each of us kids to review the lessons and have question and answer sessions just to make sure we will pass and have high marks in our tests which definitely molded us and made it our habit to study harder even until college.
He is a firm believer that education is the best inheritance a parent could give their children. I know it is a tough job to raise 5 children, more so give them quality education which he is able to do single-handedly since he is the sole bread winner in our family, my mom being a plain housewife ever since having children.

My dad is not the authoritarian type but we are also scared of him in many aspects especially during issuance of school report card. He would usually pick-up the cards in school and so when we know he is coming, we will be worried if our grades are good enough up to his satisfaction. Fortunately, in most cases we have high grades but he would always remind us not to be complacent.

He wanted me to become a doctor since he was a frustrated doctor by profession (believe he was studying medicine proper when he had to stop due to reasons I can’t exactly remember why). That’s why he really wanted one of his children to have fruition of this dream. He would always tell me to try Medicine in college because I am patient and he is confident I can finish long years of studying and reviewing and wanted me to try taking exams in PLM or UP.

I had this ambition too till 4th year high school but just before graduation I started realizing it could be hard and not practical firstly because it would also need a lot of resources to finish a medical course. During that time me and 3 other siblings were still studying so I thought it will be very difficult financially speaking.
Secondly, I had been studying since I was 4 years old so I also had a feeling of tiredness because of studying since young. Pursuing a course that would take longer years to finish could aggravate this feeling.
At the end, even if I did not become a Doctor I know I made my parents especially my Dad proud since I also had some achievements during college and be able to have a good career.

Papa (which is how we dearly call him) is generous and thoughtful. I remember my sister Princess as a young girl is used to seeing cake in the dining table during her birthdays. In one of her birthday, my dad failed to buy a cake on time. She started crying very loud and is not willing to stop unless she can have her birthday cake. Papa still tired coming home from work had to go out again and buy her a birthday cake even though the nearest bakeshop is very far from our home then.

My mom would always receive gifts from Papa during her birthdays. She would sometimes receive either a perfume, blouse, bouquet of flowers or even orchid plants (since my mom love to plant trees and flowers in our garden).

Papa’s generosity and thoughtfulness is not only for his immediate family. He makes it a point to greet and visit relatives during birthdays or special occasions. He would lovingly dedicate songs or greetings through a local radio station that he and mom would always listen to during weekends. Suppose it is my aunt’s birthday she would call the radio station to request my aunt’s favorite song then followed by a birthday message. Next, he would call my aunt to remind her to listen to the radio that instant. Upon hearing the song and dedication, naturally my aunt will be surprised by the gesture and will be very thankful.

He also loves his grand children so much. Every afternoon, he would take them out for a walk in our village from the time they were babies until the time they can walk. Our neighbors would always compliment him that he loves the children so much and very proud of them which he would confirm by saying his grand children are not only kind but also smart and all good looking so there is no reason not to be proud of them. I heard a story from my sister that even on his sick bed, he reminded them to buy my nephew’s favorite toy car as his surprise gift as soon as he goes out of that hospital.

I am sure many people misses these thoughts and gestures from my dad. There are countless memories to tell but it will be such a long post and words cannot describe exactly the feeling just reminiscing these events since we were young.

But I am certain he is in a happier state now with our Lord.

Happy Birthday Papa. We truly miss and love you.

One Helluva Year


The year is almost over in a few days. Time has passed so quickly I never realized another year will say goodbye again and a fresh year will start. I had my share of ups and downs in the Year 2010.

I had a good percentage of travel this year. I went to Singapore in January, Chiang Mai and Kanchanaburi in February, Saraburi and Pattaya in April, went back home in May, Phuket in November and again Philippines in December.

I love to travel which fortunately my job require me to do so once in every few months. I am looking forward to more trips (Holiday is preferred of course!) next year. Every time I travel, I learn new things, see interesting places, do exciting activities and more. I only hate waiting in the airports, train or bus stations.

This year has been very challenging in terms of work due to slow down in business across Thailand due to the political unrest in April-May. We have to exhaust all our creative thinking and continue to motivate the team to overcome the difficulties. It is not with sheer luck that we are able to conquer the obstacles but it is because of excellent team work, dedication and passion that put us intact and that despite the gloomy business climate, we are still able to put a good smile in everyone’s faces.

I’ve been overseas for almost 3 years now and I can say I am already used to living far away home. However, this year our family went into a very difficult situation that also tested our faith as well as our relationship with each member of the family. As earlier posted in my blog, my Dad was diagnosed with Bladder Cancer and he has undergone 2 operations this year including the total removal of his bladder. It was a very tough and stressful situation. The family is challenged physically and financially. Physically as each one (except me of course) has to have a fair share of contribution of their time (in between work, family of their own and other activities) in helping my Dad when he was confined at the hospital and up to now that he is still recuperating (He is not 100% recovered yet). My contribution is more on moral (encouraging everyone especially my Mom and Dad) that we could pass this test, spiritual (through daily prayers and prayer for a special favor, etc.) and financial.

When I went back beginning of this month, my Dad I can say is on the way to complete recovery. I really encourage my parents to fix their passport and other documents this time so they can have a holiday here in BKK next year as a treat.

As far as my love life is concerned, a year after a long term and serious relationship ended I can’t say everything is the way I wanted it to be though I am still hoping next year would be brighter on this aspect of my life. I am keeping my fingers crossed btw.

I met new and good friends this year and also catch up with long time friends through Facebook, Blogsphere and Chat. When I went back home this December, I was able to meet my College friends and the sort of reunion is definitely one of the best events I had in year 2010.

They say it is better to give than to receive. I observed this principle more this year than in the past. And true enough, there is such an unexplained joy helping those in need or just sharing your blessings to family, loved ones, colleagues and friends. Definitely double, triple or hundred fold blessings just flow easily.

As early as now, I am certain God has better plans for me in Year 2011. I will gladly accept the blessings and prepare myself for the challenges ahead for surely God is using me as His instrument to become a channel of blessing to others so I will try my best next year and more years to come so when I look back, the passing year brings Heavenly feeling to me.

Have a Blessed, Healthy and Bountiful New Year to all!

P.S. Just to make it clear, the Santa in the picture above is not me.

: )

Fur kids or real kids anyone?

Last night I was watching in Channel News Asia the programme called Blog TV. The episode is titled “Fur Kids”. The guests debates and gives opinion as to which one is better, raising your own child or owning a fur kid (read as: pet). Wooaah what a topic. Owning a pet has been a trend nowadays and many pet lovers spend a lot in grooming, dressing up and feeding their “fur kids” which is good because most household pets (especially dogs) help relieve stress, are very loyal and fun to look at. However, personally I believe the topic is non debatable in the first place. In totality, it is a lot better to raise your own child as opposed to raising a fur kid.

Please don’t get me wrong with my opinion. I have no objection if some people spend a lot in raising and maintaining their pets. I also emphatize to those couples who want to have their own children but cannot so have to resort to owning a pet for diversion. It is definitely a good deed. However, if a legally married couple has the financial, mental and physical capacity to have their own children, then by all means do not think twice having your own. It’s all about satisfaction, fulfillment and pride of raising your own children.

I don’t have children of my own yet but as I see my parents, siblings, relatives and friends who have their own children, I can see how proud, happy and contented they are having their own offspring especially for my parents as all of us are grown ups now and are successful in our own ways. No matter how obnoxious, underdisciplined or naughty kids these days can become, a parent will always love their child.

We are happy when our pups would learn how to bark and compliment them how brave they are even at a very early stage. However the feeling is entirely different when our baby starts to say its first word like Mama or Papa or giggle when we do peek-a-boo or tickle them. The world seems so full of happiness and the sight of a very innocent face staring at you is priceless.

When a dog learned it’s first trick like sitting still or rolling, we are very proud and would show these tricks off to our friends. However, when our baby responds when we asked them to close or open their hands, blink and do “beautiful eyes” gesture or when they learn to take first small steps, some parents can’t help but become teary eyed with their child’s progress.

When they start to go to school, learn how to read, write us short poems or messages or even draw a picture of their family and show to us, we will treasure these memories for a lifetime.

The list of memories and events shared together between a parent and their children goes on and on. Of course there are random instances wherein the children may grow up not as expected like giving the parents some problems like unwanted pregnancies, being hooked up in drugs or other vices, not following parents orders and stuff. But these are isolated cases and not usual to all families.

Overall, the bond between a parent and a child is stronger than the Great Wall of China, deeper than the Pacific Ocean and greater than the Great Barrier reef. It’s all because the foundation is love, trust and physical and emotional connection.

Let us continue to become a good parent or child or both, whichever role we play in life.

Cheers!

A Note to God…


Note from the author: This post is not inspired by Charice Pempengco’s song with the same title. My inspiration for this post is God.

For more than a month now, my family and I are in extreme stress because of my Dad’s ailment. He was diagnosed with bladder cancer 2 years ago.  He was in perfect shape before that (except for some occasional muscle cramps as he still loves to play Basketball and regular jogging with my mom to maintain healthy level of blood pressure). Suddenly, there was blood in his urine and finds it difficult to pee. He was admitted to the hospital and tests were made. Then they found a tumor in his bladder. It was eventually removed and comes the dreaded result of the biopsy. The tumor is malignant.

The family consulted several doctors about his case and some doctors recommended to have the bladder removed so the cancer will not spread out. However, my Dad do not want this idea because it will be very uncomfortable not having your bladder and only an artificial urine bag working for you. They went to a Doctor specializing in an alternative form of treating cancer, that is through Detoxification. There were so many foods that were prohibited that are cancer causing. He has to eat only organic foods and strictly no oil or salt in his diet.

First few months saw a sudden drop in his weight due to change in diet and lifestyle but we think it is working quite fine. The treatment and food ingredients (organic products) are very costly though. At certain point my Dad started to complain and misses the “normal food” so we obliged.

Unfortunately after almost 2 years when the tumor was removed it recurred and was detected last July. An immediate operation took place but sadly, part of the tumor cannot be removed cos the root is deep and the only way to take out the tumor completely and avoid spreading to other organs is to remove the bladder by surgery.

We had to agree it is the best move though it may be hard for my Dad. He actually do not want to have the operation because he knows it will be very costly and also because it’s back to back operation and he still yet recovered from the first one. In addition, his lifestyle will be changed from now on.

I am not ashamed to admit we are not a rich family. We are just a normal middle-class family who are living comfortably but not extravagant. Since my Dad retired from Government service more than 5 years ago, they only rely on his monthly pension as well as support from their children including me. After serious discussions and convincing, the operation was arranged.

Another challenge has come up before the actual operation. The hospital said we had to prepare at least 5 bags of blood from donors because it is the number of bags they expect to be used for the operation. Though there is a blood bank, we have to replace the blood. It was such a rush considering we learned about it only a day before the operation. We asked relatives and friends for help and even posted in Facebook. There were several kind-hearted volunteers but the hospital is quite strict in the selection of donors so many were rejected. Though they give a word that we can replace the blood later even after the operation so we were a bit relieved. Fortunately, only 2 bags of blood were used in the operation and we managed to get it from supportive friends.

The operation was successful thanks to the able hands of the Doctor and the medical team. He stayed in the hospital for 1 more week after the operation. My dad had a post operation trauma and he had nightmares so he don’t want to sleep for fear he will not wake up again. It is really stressful and the family had to endure it especially my Mom who was with my Dad all throughout. We had to assure him that he should not worry because the critical stage already passed and he must only think of recuperating.

As the days passed, the hospital bill is going up and so is my Dad’s blood pressure and blood sugar. Since he can’t eat anything including his medicines, it was higher than normal so they had to inject him some insulin to stabilize it. These added to the bill. Me and my siblings had to raise the money quickly cos the doctor already said he can go out in few days. Considering there was a previous operation done not over 1 month ago, it was really a tough time in terms of our finances.

Though it is really challenigng, I realized we have many relatives and friends who tried to help in every way they can either through some monetary help or a message of support through SMS, Facebook, e-mail, etc. We are really loved.

Moreover, it also proved that our family is stronger and despite the problems we are holding on to each other.

Importantly, I know God is with us and He remained faithful to my Family.

We had been very stressed but fervent prayers made us whole. God is with my Dad during the critical times and now as he tries to fully recover. God is with my Mom and continuously giving her strength and good health. God is with me and my siblings and giving us wisdom to support our parents in these trying times.

We pray very hard and everything is just falling into the right place. God’s hands is really on the works.

Before I retire to bed every night just after praying, I make it a point to listen to various Christian songs before I eventually doze off. There is this line in one of my favorite song “My Desire” by Jeremy Camp wherein every time I listen to it, I can’t help but be teary eyed and really feel humbled by God’s extreme sacrifice for us.

The line goes, “there’s not much I can do to repay all you’ve done so I give my hands to use”.

Truly there is really nothing much we can do to repay God. That’s why I am writing this note to express my sincerest love and thanks to Father God. It’s one way of bringing something back even how small it is to HIM.

I am so blessed. My family is so blessed. Thank you Lord. Thank you Jesus..

Dear Dad…

Tomorrow, June 20 the whole world will celebrate Father’s Day. Coincidentally, the next day is my Dad’s birthday so it’s a sort of double celebration for our family back home. I texted my mom the other day to ask their plan for the 2 occasions. She said they already bought fresh products in the market which they will cook so the whole family can eat together. God, I miss my family. It has only been 2 months since I came back home for a short holiday but the memories of that trip still remains. I was able to enjoy a family outing and spending more time with them catching up.

Now that all of us children are already adults, I can proudly say that our parents have brought us up well. They are good role models and has always been there for us. However, since Father’s day is coming as well as my Dad’s day, let me make this post a tribute to my dad. Btw, we affectionately call our Dad, “Papa”.

My dad was a Police Officer when he met my mom. They eventually got married. Because of the risk of the job and since my eldest brother was already born, my mom requested him to resign from the police. He then worked for the Central Bank for many many years until he retired. His passion for work has been an inspiration to all of us especially now that we have our own careers. I can still remember those days that he wouldn’t mind going to work even though there is typhoon or flooding which is a common scenario then because our city is located in a low lying place. He is the breadwinner and my mom is a plain housewife. Having said that, I cannot imagine how they are able to raise 5 children well, send to private schools and always have good food in our table. Life may be hard but our parents would never let us feel it.

My dad loves reading. He has tons of books in our house ranging from dictionaries, English communication books to almanac as well as constitution and governance. As books are plenty, I developed the habit of reading as well. Almanac was my favorite book then maybe the reason why there was a point during my High School when I was able to memorize almost all capital cities of the world.  🙂

He also enjoys writing. He writes very good letters from a plain excuse letter at school, to solicitation for sponsorship of a basketball court in our village to the local government and I think there was even a point that he wrote a letter to a president of a certain country (I totally forgotten which country it was and not sure if the letter ever reached the desk of that President).  I think I also inherited his writing skills though I must admit that he has a wider vocabulary knowledge than me.

During monthly exams in school, he would ask us to read the topics for the exam first in our text book then everyone would have their turn to be asked various questions about the lessons from my dad. My other brother would even have to pretend sleepy or sleeping already so the question and answer part will stop.

With all these, you might think he is a strict father. On the contrary he is not. I cannot remember a single time that he used his hands to reprimand us kids. He is also very generous to all of us. When he was still working, Mother’s Day or my mom’s birthday will never be complete without any gift from my dad from perfume to blouse or even orchids or rose (not in bouquet but plants that can be grown cos my mom loves gardening). There was even a time that my younger sister already gotten used to having a cake during her birthdays. Unfortunately on that day my dad was unable to buy the cake. My sister started to cry profusely and my dad had to buy the cake from somewhere far cos there was no bakeshop in our area then.

Two years ago, my Dad was diagnosed with Stage 2 cancer of the bladder. All of us were very worried but he did not show any signs of depression or desperation. Many procedures were done and up until today is still being undertaken to prevent the cancer from developing further. He has to avoid many foods and habits that are not good for the health. He lost some weight but I still see him very active. He loves taking care of his grand children so it’s a good exercise as well. His well being is always in my daily prayers.

When my friend visited me here sometime ago, my parents requested for some stuff to be brought to me and inside the box was a letter hand written by my dad. The message of which comes from both of them. In the letter they asked me how I am, that they missed me and always pray for my success and safety. They also hope I will like the stuff they sent. I was really touched by the gesture.

I am not vocal showing affection to my parents but in every way or every opportunity I have, I do not hesitate showing or making them feel it. Even up to this day, I would kiss my parents in the cheek to say goodbye which is not a common gesture for children these days.

My dad may not be able to read this blog post since he is not using computer these days but I know in my heart that he loves us so much and he is proud of all of us and surely he knows that we love him very much and we are thankful to God that he is our dad.

Dear Dad…Happy Father’s Day. Happy Birthday. I love you.

Life is like a hot chicken soup

Ideas really come unexpectedly. I was thinking for sometime now what topic I must write in my next blog post. I have not written for quite sometime and I want my post to be good. Anyway, no pressure so I just let it be..

For dinner tonight, I cooked “Tinolang Manok”, a tasty chicken soup with green papaya and chilli leaves (unfortunately despite chilli being a staple ingredient of Thai cookery, I cannot find any chilli leaves being sold in the market). I served dinner for myself around 8pm.

I have not eaten Tinola for quite sometime now so I was actually craving for it that’s why I decided to cook it. I was so hungry and the soup is still very hot as I just removed it from fire. First few bites, I tried using spoon and fork to eat.

However, being a Filipino wherein when at home the best way to eat your favorite dish is to use your bare hands I tried hard to eat the food in my plate at all cost.  The more I tried to grab a piece of chicken or papaya the more I feel a somewhat burning sensation.

Then I realized, life is like eating the hot Tinola Soup. The chicken parts or papaya are like us humans. It is put on fire to cook. We are also put into fire (problems or adversities) so we can be better individuals. Soup are seasoned to suit the diner’s taste buds. The cook keeps on adding fish sauce, water or other seasoning to make it perfect.  In life, we also experienced something that makes it more memorable- from being in love, to being promoted at work, winning the lottery or just finding the right pair of shoes that’s on sale.

Once the soup is cooked, we remove it from the fire and serve it on the table. I compare it as our preparation for building our own lives such as studying hard, molding our character through our family, friends and loved ones. Once we are ready to face the world, we take the leap of life and let others know what we are made of.

If we sip the soup while it is hot, our tongue will be scalded. Same thing for life, if we are not yet ready, many will seize the opportunity to pull us down or bring us close to danger or worse become the instrument for our failure.

But if we wait a bit and make the soup’s temperature just perfect, we can enjoy a good meal. As for life, if we wait for the right opportunity, then we reap the rewards of life.

I really hope life is as easy as preparing Tinola and eating it to our heart’s content. As they say, well…that’s life.