Friday, June 29, 2012

Islamic Cairo: Al-Hakim Mosque


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I have to say, while the trip to Coptic Cairo was amazing, Islamic Cairo is one of my favorite places in Cairo.  While I am not a big history buff, I do  have a deep appreciation for beautiful architecture and the culture and tradition it represents. I love the whole ambience inside Islamic Cairo, it's almost romantic. Here are some things you need to know when visiting Islamic Cairo:

kindness on the road


One of the most often said words to me when travelling to new places by family and friends are : be careful. These words are usually accompanied by horrific stories of people being mugged, killed or kidnapped. It's basically the adult version of "don't talk to strangers." Hello, have you seen the movie Taken?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Things I learned from visiting Coptic Cairo

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It's been a little traumatizing to check on online news articles regarding Egypt. The comments against Muslims, Islam and the Arab world have been in general harsh, racist, hateful and ignorant. I've been wanting to reply to the comments or blog about them but I feel I don't have enough experience or knowledge to reply. I only know, from having been here in Cairo for a month, that I have been surrounded by nothing but kindness and tolerance. And if anything, people here are like just everyone else who go through regular lives working, spending time with family, praying.  Those folks responsible for terrorist acts are not even a percentage of the population of the Arab world.

Thus this trip to Coptic Cairo with one of my teachers have been a blessing in that I learned a lot about Islam and its relationship. 

Here's what I've learned on this particular trip:

Monday, June 25, 2012

Thank you!


Before I finally go to sleep, I just wanted to share how truly grateful I am to these 2 lovely people. Erin and Wael have been very kind and generous in welcoming me to Egypt and to their home. I don't know how I would've survived studying Arabic here without all their help. Can't wait for your wedding!!

Japanese Food trip in New Jersey

First, I'm an idiot for blogging this trip to Mitsuo(?) in Jersey City at night, right before going to bed. Now I'm starving and salivating from seeing all the wonderful food we ate at that Japanese market/foodcourt. I can't even sleep thinking about all that food. A visit back to that place is certainly on the top of my to do list once the plane lands on NYC ground.

Second, if cuteness could kill, you'd be dead from looking at Francine's pictures in this post. In some other lifetime, I think Francine and I would be related. I mean, how else would you explain our apetite for, uhm, any kind of food. She even eats like an adult!!

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More pictures here:

Why I love videoke


I am not ashamed to admit it: I love videoke. With a passion. If only this love equated the talent needed to actually sound good. Unfortunately for my friends, they will have to bear with my vocal, ahem, abilities until they finally decide to delete me from their phone directories and facebook friend's list.  Why do I love videoke, you say? Here are the reasons:

Sunday, June 24, 2012

In a little bit...

I got to visit Coptic Cairo! Will post pictures later. For now, back to Arabic lessons.

Morsi Wins



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The streets are filled with people waving flags, screaming and rejoicing. The bridge over the Nile is crawling with people drinking tea and talking about the day's events. Cars beep their horns, for once, in a celebratory mood.  Truly, it is a good time to be in Egypt.

Morsi, the popular candidate from the Muslim Brotherhood, won the first democratic elections as President of Egypt. Many are relieved because this means that Shafiq, who represents Mubarak's party, lost. This is a new beginning for Egypt, an opportunity to move away from the mistakes of the past - from a dictatorship that lasted 30 years -  and towards a more stable future.

At the same time, everyone is holding their breath, watching Morsi's every move. The Muslim Brotherhood is perceived to be a conservative group which believes that Islam should be part of everyone's daily life, including the way politics is run.

Liberals are afraid that with Morsi winning, Egypt will have lost any steps it's made towards progress and modernization. Only time will tell.

For now we rejoice. For now we rest. Ashufak Bukran Masr.

P.S. I've been reading comments in reports by CNN, and seriously, what the hell? People, stop equating Islam with violence or terrorism. Come here and see how you're wrong. Dead wrong. Stop believing that hope is exclusive to non-Christian groups.  Stop thinking that you're better than of these people outside your context. Stop making assumptions about what's good or not for Egypt or any other country other than yours. Live and let live. 

Quezon Community

This was during our immersion/project assessment in Quezon. I miss this community. I feel bad that I might never be able to go back. I wish them well and I hope that we get to meet them again soon.

Brooklyn Bridge/ Battery Park

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I grew up watching American shows (colonial mentality, I know.) And if you're anything like me then you must have seen the Brookly Bridge a million times featured in establishing shots of shows set in NYC.  I never realized until much later how deeply imbedded in my head is that picture of the Brooklyn Bridge over the Hudson River. And so every time I get the chance to visit this bridge, it's almost cathartic.

The last time I was there was when Nikko and Claudia came for a visit. We weren't able to meet up as early as planned but I didn't mind the wait since I loved this bridge. Just standing there, with a great view of the city, while people-watching was just the perfect way to start the morning. If I had a choice, I'd want to live near the bridge and jog there everyday.

I have yet to see the bridge at night, but they say it's lovely. There's one thing to add to my list when I get back.

After our brief stop at the Brooklyn Bridge, we went to Battery Park. This is where you go if you want to ride the ferry that takes you to the Statue of Liberty.

Here are the pics:

Saturday, June 23, 2012

By the River Nile

Sunset by the Nile

Tonight the people of Egypt have gathered and divided themselves into 2 groups. One in Nasr City in

30 Day Sketch Challenge : Day 2

(Walad) Boy


(Bint) girl

Malaybalay, Miarayon Bukidnon


(Why am I doing this again?See here.)
Bukidnon is one of my favorite spots in the Philippines. And that's saying a lot considering I'm more of a beach person. ( see this, this and this.) There's something about Bukidnon that just makes me want to build a nest there and plant pineapples. Maybe its the cool weather or the fact that it's not as crowded as Baguio or Tagaytay. Maybe its the people who're so friendly they're bound to make a jaded city dweller check if they're not up to something. Or maybe it's the beauty of its mountains and trees. Or maybe, and most likely, it's the presence of the Jesuits and the work that they do among the community.

The school, St. Therese of Miarayon, has been consisten in providing good education to the poorest students who've got so much to offer. A couple of years ago, Melai and Raph was sent there to work as Scienc and English teachers. The combination of the beauty of the place, the people and the work that's being accomplished there makes me hope that one day I can go back. If you're ever in the area, don't forget to check out Malaybalay and Miarayon. 

Here are the pictures.

Dear Bronx,




Yo bro what's up?! It's been exactly 3 weeks since we last saw each other. It's whack how fast time flies by. So yeah, it's been fun here. I've been trying to learn Arabic, trying out the food, visiting places. The pyramids will kill you, man. They're huge. Oh yeah, and there's a revolution goin' on. How about you?

I have to tell you something, man. I know you want me to be as tough as you to prepare me for how crappy life may be in the future. Why else would you train me to be alert every time I walk out of the apartment  even if it's only 9 am. It's you who taught me not to walk too close to street corners where I easily be surprised and caught off guard. You taught me to never trust anyone just hanging out in your streets past 7pm.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Craving for Chinese Food in Cairo



I never thought It would happen, but it did. I craved for Chinese food. Back in New York I ate Chinese food almost everyday because it was very convenient until I finally got sick of it.  It was the last think I thought I'd be craving for when I got to Cairo. Truth is, it wasn't Chinese enough. I did have excellent mint tea afterwards. Plus apple pie and coffee. So yeah, it was pig out day. 

30 day sketch challenge : Day 1


girl at night in bed.

My Favorite New York Photos (so far)

Taken at Times Square. As touristy as this place is,  it's one of my favorite places in New York. Makes sense since I love people watching. 


There's no denying it. I have come to like, and yes often enough, love New York. Which is why I'm doing this post, because I miss that crazy city. These photos aren't necessarily the best ones I've taken. Since my MBTI says I'm a feeling person, it's most likely that I chose these photos because of the feelings and memories attached to them. So here are my Top 10 favorite photos in New York City so far.

On the Edge of Glory or Why I love the beach


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So yes, I just quoted a Lady Gaga song. So sue me. I've been posting a lot of beach pictures lately. I think I really just need to go to the beach. I will admit that I have a fear of drowning. This may be because when I was a child someone pushed me on the pool and I almost died.

But still, I love the beach. And here are the reasons why I love the beach:

Latest News from Cairo : Is it safe?

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I've been looking through my blog stats and apparently one of the most commonly googled questions that lead people to this blog is this: " Is it safe to go to Cairo in 2012"

I will try to give an answer, but as in many aspects of life, it's not going to be simple. But before that, what exactly has been happening in Egypt, you ask, over your Starbucks and suman. Here's my non-expert attempt at giving an update, so correct me if I say something stupidly incorrect:

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Impromptu Beach Stop!



I'm moving
I'm coming
Can you hear, what I hear
It's calling you my dear
Out of reach
(Take me to my beach)
I can hear it, calling you
I'm coming not drowning
Swimming closer to you

Great trips don't have to be planned ahead of time. In my experience, the funnest trips I've had were those that were spontaneous. When we were invited to this wedding in Tagaytay, I had no inkling that we would be doing a side trip to the beach. But we did and it was fun in a way that we were just laughing most of the time. Bea, Nikki and Roel were so game for anything, we just found ourselves driving to the beach and getting our feet wet in the sand while still in out dress shirts and dresses. 

New Face, Old Woman


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Truthfully, I find it more enjoyable to take portrait shots of people. Each face is so different and interesting. This particular woman, I met when I was in GK Gabaldon. Maybe I warmed up to her because she reminds of my grandmother. And maybe she smiled at me because I remind her of someone. In any case, I think she looks beautiful. And I'm just thankful that she let me take this picture of her.

Paper Cranes and Christmas Lanterns


One of the best things about studying in NYC is that I get to have a diverse set of friends. I learn so much from each one of them. Take Brittany for example. She throws regular parties for our class in her apartment. She tries to make each party different. For Christmas she brought out colored papers and made us do Christmas lanterns and Cranes. As you can see, I did pretty well on the cranes. As for the lantern...

ICe Cream

You don't need to travel far to find the most delicious food. We found this uniquely flavored ice cream in New Jersey! They're green tea and red bean flavored! My taste buds can still remember them

Rainbow Jars


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This is one of those ideas that will amaze you in its simplicity. I saw these jars in Camiguin. They're the perfect way to decorate a home. Just put water and some food color in a jar and put it on a window or where light will hit the jars. et voila! rainbow jars!

Take me to the beach


nikko by the beach

In my heart, I really am a beach bum. In another world, in another lifetime, where the world isn't as troubled, I would like to be a surfer dude. I would want to wake up to the smell of the sea. When I look out the bedroom window of my tiny hut, I want the ocean winds to greet me good morning. I want to be able to spend the day in my board shorts. In the morning I will take a dip in the blue waters. In the afternoon I will jog along the endless beach, as the sun sets in the horizon. I will read all the books I want under a coconut tree. I will write poems and draw.

In this alternate world, I will finally have time to write post cards and love letters to the people I care for.

Kite Flying


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Once upon a time, I experimented with oil paint. This was one of my earlier experiments. Growing up in the province, near farmlands, I've always been fascinated by kites. Even when I was all grown up and working, the fascination never left me. I remember flying a kite one afternoon at the car-park of our Makati office. I was working as a Marketing Manager then and I asked a couple of my staff to come with me in the middle of the car park, surrounded by tall buildings and fly a kite. There I was in my long sleeves and leather shoes trying to catch the wind.

One of these days.

Happy Birthday Anne!!!



Since most of us (by us, I mean Me, Donna, Bea hahaha) can't be there on your special day, here's my gift to you! hahaha (I know what you're thinking : CHEAPO/Cheap *astard. Oh well. C'est la vie Annie!!! hahaha. Which is of course the name of her blog : https://cestlavieannie.wordpress.com/)

So thank you, Anne for being you! For being sweet, cheerful, smart and simply amazing (SMART!) I guess it's true what they say, good things come in small packages. Kidding!


Anne with her housemates and batchmate, Donna.

Anne at her graduation.

With the Hernandez family! and the BF (best friend). Fine I'll admit it: I forgot his name. Sorry. I really am bad with names especially if we haven't shared a bottle of beer or two (not that I only make friends with alcoholics but you know what I mean.)

Erratum: So Donna tells me that the name of the dude beside Anne is Earl. Hello Earl!!! Of course, I am banking on the probability that you will never get to see this blog or that we'll never meet in person again. Otherwise: AWKWAAAAARD. haha


This was in Vermont with Anne doing her Little Ms. Philippines pose.


Here's to your peace of mind,

Peace in your love life,

and peace in the world. haha.

Her most treasured award. haha.


During the South African Braii.


Happy Birthday Anne! And see you back in the Bronx!

The best people to talk to when traveling

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When traveling, I often find myself in awkward situations with people. And this is to no fault of any of the people I meet along the way. It's just that I'm really socially awkward when I first meet people. 2 things can happen. First I'll blabber on in the hopes of them not noticing how awkward I feel or second I'll freeze and be unable to say a single word.

What I have realized is that whenever I myself in situations or place like these the best people to talk to are the kids. I am never awkward with kids because they are always welcoming and fun. Even when we don't speak the same language, it doesn't matter. There are other ways to communicate. They'll at something they wanna show me or make hand signals. Sometimes we'd play games or just make faces.

I remember this one time while visiting a volunteer, I was left with some free time. The adults wouldn't talk to me because they were a little intimidated by this strange boy with a camera. So I started talking with the kids and playing games with them. I think eventually the adults saw that I could be trusted and we began talking little by little.

Oh kids. I think when we grow up we begin to carry a lot of unnecessary baggage that hinders us from doing important things in life. Kids are a good reminder that there are far simpler ways to go about living life.




Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Blast From the Past : On top of a Jeepney


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This was somewhere in South Cotabato. Riding on top of a jeepney can be both frightening and exhilarating. For those visiting the Philippines, you really should try this. Imagine zipping through towns, mountain sides, forests on top of of one these. The wind rushing through your face, your hands gripping tightly the metal bars less you fall to your death.

The jeepney started as a military vehicle. Now it is a major public transport vehicle. There's one in every barrio, city or province. Makes sense, considering how tough it is.



With me in these pictures are Pathways volunteers. Good times.


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Sketching


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I miss doing this. I just might start that 30 day challenge. Let's see!

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Train

I
Together, we
Ride the purple train
To the city along
With everyone else,
Who look through
Towers of glass, paper 
And ideas 

JVP in Bohol


Please check out this link for a background on this series :)

Bohol is one of my favorite islands in the Philippines. There's just so much to do and so many things to see. There's the Chocolate Hills, the Tarsier, the white sand beaches, lunch on a boat while cruising on a river.  I've been there many times and I could never get enough of the place.

But when a couple of volunteers were assigned there to work as teachers, I was even more elated because they were being sent to a part of Bohol that's not usually visited by tourists.  That's one of the great things about being a volunteer. You're not just a tourist but you actually get to live with and like the locals. And for me, that kind of life that's both ordinary and extraordinary is far more interesting than any tourist spot or activity.





Meet Whitz and Makoy. Whitz taught Math and Makoy taught PE and Values Ed to high school students in a small parish school. 

This is their family in Bohol. To the right is the Parish Priest who took really good care of the the volunteers.

Oh and that's Jodel who's also a former volunteer. He came with me in one of my visits.


In one of my visits, we got to spend the night a cottage in the sea. We had no beds, pillows or blankets. It was a bit chilly, but the warmth of being at home with a good people was more than enough to make up for the cold.

This is one of the things I miss most about the Philippines: our sunset.

I usually travel alone in visiting the volunteers. And what I enjoy about that is waiting in train or bus stations because I get to watch people go about their daily lives.

Oh, and I also enjoy the snacks that's sold by local vendors.


The volunteers while walking around the town.


This was the lake near the school.

Hey Whitz!

Hey Makoy!






Makoy is one of the craziest teachers I've seen inside the classroom. Never a dull moment!



Many of the students are not used to being photographed, especially by strangers, thus the awkwardness.

While observing the volunteers at work, I take pictures of my shoes. Don't ask me why.

Everything I need: camera, phone with flashlight, and notebook. 

Whitz really knows her stuff. Those things on the board mean nothing to me!Nothing!!!!

I also get to eat the local carinderia fare. yummy! The food, not the kid!

My grandmother used to burn leaves every morning under our mango tree in the belief that the smoke will make the tree bear fruit.


I don't know if you've tried this: Ice water! It's water put inside an ice bag and sold for a peso. It's the local version of mineral water!


Here's Whitz with her students.


Street food: Hotdog, chicken intestine and chicken legs. Yes, our hotdogs are red. 




On my way back to Manila, I get to eat at the Bohol Bee Farm, which serves the best organic food ever!



You actually have to eat the flowers!


These two are blind and our excellent singers! They entertain you in the airport while waiting for your flight.

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Why you should Travel (click photo)