Thursday, January 29, 2009

Behind the Flickering Gown is a Gracious Gentleman

Being the only son among five siblings, I grew up in a female-oriented environment with my three elder sisters who took care of me while my parents were in their respective works. My younger sister, who is only two years and three months younger than me, has been my childhood playmate. As a kid, I acquired more feminine characteristics than masculine behaviors until I went to school.

I went to school at an early age with prevalent feminine characters causing other kids to tease me of being gay. There were times that I ignored them but there were also times that their constant pulling of my leg tormented me and left me in tears as a child. Nevertheless, those banters from the other children in my village never left much impairment in my emotional growth until I transferred to another school in the capital of our town to pursue my intermediate years in the elementary.

At first, I never thought that school life in that new environment would be as difficult as I never imagined. Because of my evident feminine gestures, the boys in the class always bullied me from time to time. There were times that I wanted to be with them but I usually ended up mistreated because of who I am, physically. I was in the fifth grade when our teacher asked all the boys to be in one group and haul decayed rice stalk in the nearby rice field. I could still clearly recall how the activity turned into a disaster when a group of boys made fun of me and one boy pushed me down to about one meter deep rice field. I went back to school crying with muddy clothes and then my teacher and a group of girls consoled me. As far as I could remember, I often had bad days in school because of bullying issues which were usually done by the boys in the class. I once told my mother that I wanted to stop schooling because I am afraid of those bullies in school for no matter how I tried to befriend them, they seem to be outrageous at befriending me because of my feminine gestures and my closeness to my female classmates.

Because of that certain situation and my fervent request, my parents decided to send me to the city for high school. I stayed with my eldest sister who then looked after me while I was away from my parents. However, after three months, I eventually decided to go back home as I realized that I was not yet ready to stay far away from them. I went back to our town and saw the same old faces that used to bully me. As a consequence, I avoided not only the boys who bullied me but I avoided all the boys in the class. I hanged out with my girl friends until I went to college and got even deeper and deeper feminine acts. I felt safe whenever I am with the girls than with the boys for they were so caring and sensitive. They easily laughed at my simple jokes and they appreciated myself being me. On the other hand, my outlook towards the masculine society became more excruciating urging me to burn bridges and build barriers between me and the all-boy society. Convinced with the painful bullying issues I have encountered in the past which were always associated with the boys in the class, I turned to hearing more negative issues towards men. Although a confessed man with more feminine gestures, I questioned on why the society is not taking any action against all those things? Oftentimes, I only had to cry my heart in silence and did what I could do to avoid those men-associated, fear-provoking situations. I always thought that going with a group of men is so dangerous for I would get nothing but trouble that would horrify me for the rest of my life.

I saw how a group of men illegally used prohibited drugs. I saw how a group of men sat in a table together with bottles of liquors until they got drunk and looked mad. I saw how my classmates (usually boys) cut classes and broke their parents’ dreams. I saw how a group of men put an innocent man into trouble and left him unconscious. I heard how a group of men who were duly appointed members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) conspired, confederated and mutually aided one another and abused their 'superior strength' in committing a very unthinkable crime which left three women succumb to death and the other one surviving in deep pain. I remembered how a fraternity in a prestigious university in the Philippines killed one of their brothers in an initiation. Those were some of the issues which were enough reasons for me to avoid an all-boy gathering. Nobody could ever blame me why I felt more at ease whenever I am with women than with men.

However, as I grew up, I gradually understood that I could not live with my past although the impact of my preceding experiences is still so strong. I am a man and I can never be with women all the time. No matter how I try to relate with all their chats, there are still times wherein I am left behind especially when they talk about their crushes and boyfriends and other girl stuffs. Most of the times, the thing that I could do is to butt in with a genuine joke which does not even give them a clue that I wanted to them to laugh. Situations often left me in the middle of sixes and sevens and backbiting became a norm that I had to live with especially that people easily voiced out their circumlocutory opinions towards me. I could never change their opinions just like I could never change them. I only had to think that I was lucky to become popular and feel the comfort of being a celebrity. Hahaha!

Hilarious it may seem but there are things that you could not just merely share with women because they find it offensive or the other way around. I have discovered that I have thoughts which can only be shared with men. Oh MAN, is it for real? Anyhow, I don’t have any regret for growing up in a female-oriented society and for getting more feminine gestures for those things have given me better understanding on the real nature of women while fostering my own nature as woman-loving man. I understand how they feel and I know why they act the way they are. In the same manner, I could not just simply dwell into my past and my immature premonitions that being a MAN is just equal to being a societal stigma. At my age, I have met plenty of professional men from whom I have learned a lot. Added to that, I have discovered that men like Hubert Webb, Osama bin Laden and Sadam Hussein (and even my bully classmates before) cannot cover all the contributions of men like Sir Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther and other men who gave tremendous contributions in the history of mankind.

Men need women as much as women need men. For sure, nobody wants to live in a very pathetic and hilarious all-men or all-women society. There might be plenty of gender issues around us due to the ever-changing landscape of our society but I still stand to the belief that everybody is created equally with equal rights and equal responsibilities. Neither men nor women were given the right to rule over all the other creatures.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Way I Look at Them

For the past few weeks, I have been writing blog entries which narrate my experiences and outlooks in life. To be different, I realized that I should explore writing short articles about few of my acquaintances. And the subjects that came so easily in my mind were none other than but my classmates in my masteral class. You may continue to visit my blog for you might be one of those individuals that I will feature here very soon.

Krishna the Chinita
"I never pretend to be something I'm not; I know exactly where I stand."

“Hahaha… Kung may video cam lang!” Who will forget that infamous line? Indeed, everybody in the class, except Nelson who did not know what it means, was shocked by this revealing and mocking assertion which was craftily uttered by Krishna to one of our Filipino professors. Krishna, as I have known her ever since, is a kind of person who defers nothing and no one when her ego is stirred.

Being the youngest among two siblings of a well-off clan and holding a bachelor’s degree in Education major in English, she usually comes with her well-enunciated spoken English and a gangster-of-New-York type of gesture. She is ‘fashionista’ in her own right and she enjoys rattling places more than hushing ones. I like her being herself whether she’s inside and outside the classroom.

As frustrated theater actress, her motto is, “If you have worn that certain attire in one place, never come back to that place with the same attire.” She has very deep motto in life, right? Well, her motto reflects her level of maturity and unique understanding of what really life is ─ it’s all about focusing on the present and enjoying life as it is.

Krishna is an English teacher at Darasamutr School in Sriracha, Chonburi, Thailand.

Donna the Great
"Time to change course... This time I'm going to give my full attention and effort so that there's no more REMEDIAL in my life."

I don’t know if she’s named after the popular singing sensation Madonna but whatever the reason of her parents is in naming her Madonna, she has got powerful voice as you listen her intone her stunning rendition of the song ‘O Holy Night.’

Raised in the battlefield of Mindanao in the southern part of the Philippines, she’s so emotional on peace and human rights issues especially those that deprive the rights of the young generation. Because of her expressive and dramatic advocacy in promoting equal and quality education for those children in her area, who are affected by the current philosophical unrest, she won the highly marveled ‘Best Actress Award’ in the unperformed awarding ceremony of the second batch of M.Ed. class.

Madonna is very prudent at financial investment as she presently owns hectares of ‘Coconut Plantation’ and other small businesses in the Philippines. However, her astute easily fades away when it comes to love for she tends to give everything in the name of love. In a very profound statement, she said, “I tried to play your game but you don’t even know how to play your own game, and now I am here playing my game all by myself.”

To Madonna, all that I could say is, “You have to make the best out of your life and never let your troubles leave nothing but deep pain.” It’s never been a mistake to fall in love and give all what you have but genuine love itself learns to let go. As a saying goes, “Love and get hurt, get hurt and learn, then learn and love again.” You’re never away from the reality and I knew even before that the reality has taught you a lot.

Dona is an English teacher at Holy Family School in Nakorn Nayok, Thailand.
Diana the Unscented Rose

Diana is not just well-known in the class by her ‘-d-ending’ English phrases which has made her ‘unique-d’ among the people in the class. She also has some stunts especially in writing.

Silent as she is, she once told me that she’s caught in the middle that’s why she could hardly join all of the fun with the group. However, she’s maximizing her time whenever she’s in the classroom as she is always at the center of the discussion especially in the eyes of the unseen one. Diana is very patient and reserved woman. I bet she has gained this high level of maturity which is, in many ways, evident in her actions.

Among the women in the class, Diana is the one I seldom chat with that’s why I am pretty sure that there’s so much more to know about her aside from being hardworking and dedicated to her endeavors in life. The reason, maybe, is because she always comes late and busy with her ‘seminars.’

Diana is an English teacher at Holy Infant School in Sukhumvit Road, Bangkok, Thailand.
Gorgeous George
"God knows how to put a proper price upon each good."

Are you looking for the sexiest in the class? Do not mistakenly direct you gaze to one specific corner of the classroom because George is just hiding in a very palpable spot and waiting to be discovered. Doris, as Dr. Jessen has called him, has been badly missing home and still coping with homesickness. I find him happy most of the times but his emotional distress floats whenever he’s alone.

He came to Thailand not just as breadwinner but as a professional seeking development as well for he has dreamt of becoming a college professor someday which I believe not far from his reach. George becomes so sensitive when it comes to family-related discussion ─ it would really make his eyes gloomy exhibiting deep melancholy and concern for his siblings.

Not because he is sexy, George is an epitome of a typical Filipino descendant who, by all means, strives for the betterment of his family’s quality of life. Ever since, teaching has been a passion for him that it made him stand through for more than five years now. George I know that there will, still, be lots of struggles that might come along your way as you are miles away from your love ones but never forget that everything happens for a reason.

George is an English teacher at Darasamutr School in Sriracha, Chonburi, Thailand.

Embryonic Christian
"Hanggang Ngayon!!!!!!!!"

“Hanggang ngayon…!!!” Listen to him as he scream with the highest pitch that he could no matter what noise it could bring in the classroom and what disaster it could make to his nerves just to reach his ultimate singing goal ─ to reach the highest tone of a line in the chorus of the song ‘Hanggang Ngayon.”

Aside from being an avid follower of Aiai delas Alas, as he tried throwing some of his things and wearing apple green recently, he has got some sensible ideas expressed in ‘yes’ and ‘no.’ Christian is the youngest among the class although he doesn’t seem to be the one sometimes. He is very adept in technical aspects of the computer.
You have way to go Christian! You are young and, for sure, plenty of opportunities are still coming into your way.

Christian is a Mathematics teacher at Nawamintriamudomsuksatranchachunutit School in Samutprakan, Thailand.

"We are amazingly different from each other, yet we couldn't live apart. Instead of focusing on the negative aspects on those differences, we could focus on the lessons that we could learn from other individuals for God has exceptionally created each one of us not to become solitary individuals but to become appreciative of our individuality. We need other people in many other ways which we might not have realized."


Sunday, January 11, 2009

BETTER, The Second Time Around

The days were counted and the final examination was getting near. Aside from rushing the reports and other paper works at school, I had to complete my course works to comply all the requirements for my subject in Seminar on Key Issues in School Reform which were due for submission last 10th of January. I ignored all my household chores and other scheduled activities just to have them completed before the 9th of January. I burned midnight candle to make a Policy Paper that would somehow reflect the best of my efforts and abilities but everything turned into lemon when my flash drive was infected with an unknown virus which deleted all the files it contained and left me with a single choice which was to reformat my flash drive.

That Friday became a staggering day for me as I couldn’t stop myself from moving from one place to another to seek help so I could retrieve all my files. I ended up the exodus at the IT Department of our school wherein one staff asked me if I have the warranty card so I could change my flash drive at the store where I bought it. No, the flash drive was not the issue that time. I did not need a new flash drive – what I needed was the files which have been corrupted by unforgiving virus.

I almost ruined the rest of my day when I started to focus much of my attention on something which could never be retrieved. I didn’t know where my consoling thoughts have gone that day but, at least, I eventually decided to enjoy the remaining hours of that day as I joined a number of colleagues who were having pleasure over plenty of foods and stories at the staff room while waiting for the foreign teachers’ meeting to start. I really had to forget all the worries brought by that devastating virus for we were about to embark for a three-hour party at Bangkok’s biggest and most luxurious river cruise. The Brothers (the congregation who manages the school) through their representative just handed out their gifts and expressed their Christmas and New Year felicitations that afternoon during the meeting with all foreign teachers of the school.

Once again I realized that as we live, we will really face several perplexities in life caused by those uncertainties. There might be plenty of deterrence which would help us avoid those things from happening but this is life and we couldn’t twist the reality just to have our wants fulfilled. We have to face all those circumstances with positive outlook that all those things happen for a reason because, indeed, they hone our character and they make us even tougher to face all the challenges that might come along our way.  And now, I am here making all those projects again with great confidence that it would be absolutely better than what I made earlier.

Monday, January 5, 2009

My Tales of Leaving the Philippines and Embracing Thailand

Decisions can never be separated from us. We make decisions from day-to-day which determine our future. I am not wondering at what I am today because I am so sure that whatever I have and whatever I am at present is the result of the decisions I made in the past. I might have unconsciously opted one thing over the other but; nevertheless, it still made impact in my life.
Almost three years ago, I decided to leave my home country in exchange of what I called 'greener pasture'. I left my homeland with a hope that I would be able to find fulfillment in my career in another land which was so strange to me. My parents had to accept the fact that they would be left by their one and only son in which the question “When will we see each other again?” was still unanswerable. Although I had lots of musings that time, I never showed to them that I am not yet ready to leave and be totally independent. I had to let them know how determined I was to fulfill what I believed at a youthful age.

It was September 6, 2006 when I first stepped an international airline which brought me to Thailand - the Land of Smiles. While in the airplane, I started to wonder how the feeling would be in a country where the language is much different from what I have spoken since young. I was thinking on whom should I call when I am in deep depression considering that my family is miles away from me. I was thinking to whom should I share my good and bad days when I'll be back in my room as the day ends. I could think of nothing but to scribble on my pocket notebook a poem that could express the nostalgia that I was starting to feel and the hope that I had deep within for myself, my family and my country.

Few minutes later, the airplane landed at Bangkok's Don Muang International Airport. I said to myself, "It's all or nothing fight." I decided to be here, I have been safely brought here and so this is it. As I stepped out from the airplane, I started to hear strange words. I could only understand “Sawatdee Kha/Khrap” – a Thai greeting which reminded me that I was already in Thailand and there’s no way to deny that I was very far from my family.

My first week in Thailand was quite tough for I could hardly chomp most of their food and speak with the locals every time I needed something. I ended up eating Khao Phat (fried rice) for one week not just because I could not stand their spicy food but also because I had difficulty in ordering other Thai food. However, I felt better when I found some Nissin cup noodles at one of their supermarkets the following week in which the taste was just fine for me. At least, I had another alternative aside from Khao Phat. I also enjoyed Filipino food from time to time because my new-found Filipino friends prepared some and then we shared meal together, sometimes.

Weeks later, I got a teaching job in a government school in the smallest province of Thailand where I could hardly see foreigners milling around the town aside from my British and Canadian colleagues who came in five days after I started teaching. Finding someone to talk to was that difficult especially that most of my Thai colleagues could only speak limited or zero English. This time, the feeling became more evocative as I missed not only my family but the group of Filipinos as well, whom I met in the place where I stayed before.
I tried to hide the emotion from my students and my colleagues but my coordinator had observed and felt the nostalgia I was facing then. I couldn’t deny from her that I really felt distressed and isolated although I admitted that I should not live with that disparaging mood for the rest of my stay in that school. Later on, I found outlet when I met a group of Filipinos in the province and an online Filipino community in Thailand where I hang out until now. I discovered later that there was so much to focus than inhabiting the corners of my room and idling the time with pain. I had to develop my lessons and so myself to become better if not the best.

So far, I managed to have fifteen fruitful months in that small and peaceful province and had a chance to start my master’s degree in Bangkok before I transferred to a reputable, century-old Catholic school in the outskirt area of the country’s capital where I am currently teaching Mathematics to Grade Four students and handling a training program for Mathematics teachers. Indeed, God is so good (as He is always) for all His blessings did not fail to come as I patiently waited for them.

For my more than two years of stay in Thailand, I had a chance to go back to my home country and saw how changes ate all those views I used to see. This year, I am embarking to another journey for my third year of stay in the Land of Smiles.


Saturday, January 3, 2009


My love for arts has sparked ever since I am young. I appreciate simple to complex works of arts and I do aspire to have my own masterpieces in the near future. I tried using oil pastel and water color before but it soon faded away as I felt discouraged when I could hardly use them and I have learned no technique in using all those art materials.

I could have pursued my love for art if I really insisted on my passion but I failed to follow what other successful individuals in the field of art have went behind – passion is the secret of perfection. In spite of this, I have continued to show my passion for art by visiting museums and art exhibitions (in short by appreciating other people's works of art) but those were not enough because the people whom I usually meet are of different interests. I have diverted much of my time to something else which still never left any regret to me – I enjoyed all other activities I had recently.

It’s just this time that I tried to devote much of my effort this holiday into photography with my point and shoot camera. I started to appreciate the photographs I have taken and felt so good as I continued to enhance my pictures using photo editing software. It’s somewhat like I am having an adventure in a far away place because I could see how I have changed one simple picture to a magnificent one using those photo enhancing tools. I have discovered how sepia works, the RGB effect, turning photos into black and white so it would appear like a vintage one, and so on. Its fun and it’s really exciting. The experience became merrier when I met Donna who is also into photography and to tell you, she got something to share and I learned a lot from her. She also takes good candid shots or shots with candid effects.

Although exciting, I have learned that I have to be patient and I do have to expect the unexpected just for the sake of Art and the artist in me. Last few days, I spent my time early in the morning for a photo shoot at our school garden. I tried some macro shots and other techniques like focusing the curve and horizontal lines and it left me so excited to upload my pictures to the computer so I could enhance them but it turned to be a horrible one as the computer was infected with virus and I guess the pictures were infected too. It broke my heart but I could do nothing on it. I just have to accept the fact and hope that I could have those same kinds of pictures someday. I have to consider that there are things which are beyond my capability and no matter how I avoid them, they would really happen.

But I still hope that I could have a self-directed photo shoot with a model someday. I’ve got some concepts in my mind now and prospective places for the photo shoot. I hope I could materialize it someday but as of now, I have to “put first things first.”

(please leave your comments)







PHOTO 7(peeping technique)



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Squirrel Fights

I was in a garden one morning when I noticed two squirrels chasing and teasing one another. The two lovely creatures caught my attention that I was instantly convinced to take photos of them. However, they were too swift and small to be caught by the flash of my camera so I just decided to take pleasure in watching them.

Missing my family back home, those two lovely creatures reminded me of my childhood memories with my younger sister. Those days when we used to make fun of each other until one of us get hurt.

My childhood playmate, my mother used to get mad at us when we started to tease each other which usually ended up into a drawn out scuffle or a spoiling fencing match using a huge stick or a broom. In fact, there were times when my mother wished that we were in school even during weekends for she heard nothing but scorching expressions that I and my sister threw each other every time we were home together.

We’ve grown up into teenagers but still we acted like young children as we endlessly contrived words that would surely penetrate one’s ego until it would make one of us livid. My sister called me bayot(gay) and I called her barang(witch) – we repeatedly mumbled those words until the winner takes the pride and the loser takes the prize of getting hurt. A boxing match or a wrestling championship would usually end up the exchange of words.

When we were in high school, we ineffectually teased each other by tagging each one's teachers with nasty names which is later correlated to the quality of learning we got from them. If our teachers only heard how we involved them as we exchanged blows, they would have blushed and stared us with their fuming eyes. “Your teacher is so dull that’s why you learn nothing from her,” I usually yell. “And so what, your teacher looks like a horse and your face looks like hers,” my sister retorts. The fight went on and on without our teachers’ knowledge – for sure they have bitten their tongue a couple of times as we fought. It’s pretty funny how we get angry at those statements when all of her teachers were my teachers before and all my teachers became her teachers too. Those times, we never thought of what we were talking about and why should we react to such things. It's all nonsense, actually.

I now understand the worries of my mother when she realized that me and my sister had to stay together in the city as she had to go to college too. My mother used to advise us not to bring the shame in the built-up capital for there are more people there than in our place. And now, as both of us became full-fledged educators already, my sister wanted to follow me and teach in Thailand as well. When my mother knew it, she jokingly asked, “For what? So you could fight in Thailand?” My father added, "It's good that you would be far from each other. At least, both of you would live in peace."

But even if I and my sister were like fighting squirrels, I am pretty sure that we never fail to miss each other. My grief was unexplainable when she was hit by a passenger bus while riding a motorcycle with her friend when she was in third year high school. That time, I was in first year college in the city. The accident has left my sister unconscious at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for almost five days and it also made my eyes teary although I was trying to held my tears back. No matter how I barred those tears from flowing down my cheeks, it just flowed like water from a spring but it was so bitter – I did not like the way those tears flow but I could not help myself that time.

Watching my sister lying in bed with tubes in her mouth and nose, I did not know what would happen to her in the next few days. I couldn’t ask her how she feels for she could neither utter any word nor stare at me and show me how she felt that time. She took liquid foods through the tubes which were inserted into her mouth. I thought, “How could I tease you and how could you tease me when you are lying there so helpless?”

I felt so excited every time I saw the doctor coming inside the ICU for I wished I could hear some good news from him. The doctor checked my sister’s vital signs, tried to open her eyes with her hands and pointed the flash light in them. I didn’t know what she’s looking for but after doing those things, she wrote numbers in the monitoring sheet attached in my sister’s bed. When the doctor went out, I tried to look at the sheet and saw numbers 3, 4, 5, 4, 6, 5 and so on. It’s not constant and I started to inquire what those numbers mean. Gazing at the other side of the ICU, I saw a poster which reads GLASGOW COMA SCALE (GCS) and I found out that those numbers indicate the consciousness level of patients who are suffering from head injury. I learned further that patients with GCS of 1 to 3 have 50-50 chance of surviving. We used to curse each other as we fought but I could not explain why at that very moment of my sister's struggle between life and death, I fervently asked God to help my sister survive in such pain. I used to slap her with a huge stick but that very moment of her pain, I wished it was me who suffered such pain and not her. I knew I brought pain in her life and she caused me pain too but, still, my whole being wanted nothing but my sister's survival.

After having a nap in another room of the hospital, I went back to the ICU and saw people in white gown surrounding my sister’s bed. I saw my parents smiling and so I hurriedly get inside the and to my surprise, I saw my sister with her eyes open. The doctors tried to talk to her and tested if she could respond to their commands and she just did. I wished I was there and witnessed my sister opened her eyes from a deep sleep but that was not important at all. To see my sister recovering from a serious injury is more than anything else that I could ask. Indeed, it was the greatest birthday present for my mother who was about to celebrate her birthday that time.

As I matured, I have discovered that no matter how and no matter what, love would never fade. It's not by accident that I call my family my love ones for they truly are. With all sincerity, love could not see faults for it could mend every hole in our heart. However, it's very sad that it has to take circumstances in order to realize the depth of love. Thanks to those squirrel fights for they made our relationship even stronger. As yet, common misunderstandings are still happening even if I am miles away from my sister. We squabble even in the phone and while chatting online – the distance that separates us apart did not become a reason to stop the fight. But at least, with those insignificant disputes, I am learning that even if we are miles away from each other our relationship is still strong for we do not fail to express our affection even in the middle of those squirrel fights. We're not fond of vocally expressing our affection but our actions easily convey our feelings. Last February, I was so surprised to receive a Valentine’s card from my sister.

As my three elder sisters are now raising their own families, I and my younger sister are still moving forward in our journey as educators. We walk as we both hope of a better tomorrow for ourselves and for our love ones.

Note: This post is my entry for Best Single Blog Post for Family and Living in the Philippine Blog Awards 2009. Verification Code: PBA0948rnro5

Friday, January 2, 2009


Few days more to go and I will be wrapping up my fun-filled, twelve-day Christmas holiday which almost every going-on just came out of the blue. Breathtaking escapade at Sichang Island, world-rocking clubbing at Sriracha, exciting cruise at Chao Phraya River, knowledge-enhancing photo shoot and butt-hurting biking at Ancient Siam, blue-themed New Year countdown at Khaosan Road and fat-reducing disco at Shamrock Irish Pub – everything happened contrary to my early plan to stay in my room for the entire holiday.

Looking back at those series of restless activities, I couldn’t imagine how those things happened. All I could remember is it started with a nostalgic Christmas Eve when I was all alone in my room and couldn't call my family way back home because of network problems. It’s quite strange how I could still be emotionally affected with this once-a-year family Christmas reunion when in fact it’s not new to me since it’s my third time to celebrate Christmas miles away from my family.

Looking for someone whom I could divert this wistful feeling, I called my friends about ten o’clock in the evening. They were so surprised to receive my late-at-night call informing that I am coming to celebrate Christmas with them. “It’s late at night, how will you come here?” “There’s no bus from the bus station going here this time.” – They sounded like they were worried and puzzled of my eleventh-hour notice. After all, their place is about two to three hours bus ride from Bangkok.

Honestly, I didn't know how to get there that time but all I knew was I wanted to save myself from drowning into the nostalgic ocean of tears on the eve of the celebration. I hurriedly packed my things, took a taxi and went to the bus station when I suddenly realized that it’s past twelve midnight already. “What am I going to do at the bus station at this time?” – That’s the question which spontaneously came into my mind. “Should I go back to my room? I couldn't imagine myself watching at the ceiling thinking of the Christmas celebration back home.” Christmas is one of the most spectacular celebrations in the entire Philippines. Instead of going back to my room, I asked the taxi driver to bring me to Silom Road. At least, I could enjoy a cup of coffee and mill around the night bazaar along Patpong Street until two in the morning when I could move out for the bus station and take a bus going to my friends’ place. And it just happened. I got on the bus at three and left for Sriracha, Chonburi at four and arrived there about seven in the morning.

Left with nothing to do in my friends' house I suggested a day trip to Sichang Island. They were reluctant to go with me especially that the other one has just recovered from pandemic chickenpox. I guessed they were just forced to go with me because they’re guilty that I had traveled numbers of kilometers just to get there (hahahaha!). Thank you George and Krishna for being with me in body and soul although I knew that you did not enjoy much in those museums and historical parks in the island but I knew we all had a great time at the beach and we should have made it even better if we were able to witness the setting of the sun.

The views at Sichang Island were so relaxing and the water at the beach was so clear. I enjoyed hopping from one place of the island to another while on board at Thailand’s famous tuktuk (taxicab which has three wheels) and taking pictures at those breathtaking views. The food was also awesome and affordable. I was so happy to have met those accommodating settlers of the island. I began to miss my island-province in the Philippines which is also surrounded with plenty of islets. After a relaxing stay at the beach, we hurried to the port so we could catch up the last boat for Sriracha and we just did.

I thought it would end up until there – I was initially clueless that a night is not a night without night-life. “It’s still Christmas. Let’s party at cool club,” I suggested. “Phil, don’t be too aggressive. We just arrived from the island. We should have it tomorrow,” exclaimed George. “Don’t kill the fun. Yeah let’s party tonight,” Krishna butted in. And we really turned the night into a lively morning as we tirelessly jammed with the Thai band (although we didn’t understand their songs) with our newly-found Thai friends and the same thing happened the following night although I was not up at going at cool club again because I became a curse of Krishna and George the other night. You know, they were well-dressed for the party but they just ended up as rescuers of their vain friend who swallowed all the shame during the night (anyway, nobody knows who’s who there except for the lady who clearly remembered the face of the night). The following day, I went back to Bangkok thinking of a perfect rest.

The following Sunday morning I was at the lounge facing the computer editing the pictures I’ve taken at Sichang Island when my phone suddenly rang. Christian’s calling – he is a Danish guy who is the boyfriend of my classmate who in Denmark. Christian was in Bangkok for holiday and he’s inviting to the floating market. He called the following day and we agreed to meet at the Thaksin Bridge BTS Station for I was thinking that it's the nearest BTS station to the Southern bus terminal where we could get into a bus going to the floating market. However, he was hooked to the Chao Phraya River Cruise as he saw it while waiting for us and so we had the river tour at Chao Phraya instead of going to the floating market. We stopped over the snake farm and witnessed the snake show wherein snakes of different kinds extremely horrified the three of us. After that soothing cruise and daunting snake show, Christian went back to his place as he had to prepare for his Thai boxing class at five o’clock. I and my friend Donna went to Siam Paragon to hunt for subjects for photography which was followed by bookstore hopping. We went to Asia Books at Siam paragon then to Chulalongkorn University Bookstore and then to Bookazine at Siam Square. I could see Donna’s face almost succumbed because of boredom. She had been complaining but I was too insistent so she had no choice but to read with me. That’s what I love in Bangkok’s bookstores – you could read books for free.

The following day was a rest day for me but the party went on at night with a group of Boholanos at Impact Muang Thong Thani. The night was filled with fun and my Bol-anon friends somehow eased my homesickness as we shared the laughter and delectable Filipino food with the famous mouth-watering “lechon baboy” on the dining table.

The next day, I woke up so late for I slept at six o’clock in the morning already since the party ended up almost four o’clock as everybody enjoyed the food, drinks, games, sing-a-long (with English, Tagalog and Visayan songs) and other fun activities.

However waking up late was not an excuse from escaping out for I hurriedly got up for a biking fun with Donna at the Ancient Siam in Samutprakan province. My butt was so hurt and I could still feel the pain right now but it’s nothing for exploring Thai culture and tradition was so refreshing at Ancient Siam. I also got some good pictures at the park and applied new photography ideas and techniques. Thank you Donna for teaching me some techniques! You take good pictures, indeed.

From Ancient Siam, we went home about ten o’clock in the evening already for we dropped by at the night market to buy some clothes for our blue-themed New Year countdown at Khaosan Road. We hurriedly prepared as we got home and went directly to Khaosan Road for the New Year countdown and I met Christian again. It was my first time to join an actual countdown and it was fun! I could feel the global community at Khaosan Road and people of different nationalities happily wished a wonderful new year to each and everyone. I felt like I had known those Caucasians I met there as we plainly greeted and kissed each other’s cheeks. There were some who were obviously drunk as they started to bathe themselves with bottles and barrels of beer and some were dancing along the street in the tune of reggae, alternative, RnB and music of other genres. Others were just stamping there feet to the tune of percussion instruments. The experience was absolutely fun especially when I saw smiling faces from different corners of the globe. Of course everybody had the reason to enjoy for we had just successfully passed a challenging year of economic turmoil and yet we have to face another year of happiness, prosperity, and challenges as well.

And it all ends up here. To those who have shared their happiness with me during the long holiday, a million thanks to you guys and I hope we will have a bountiful New Year 2009. Cheers and let’s get ready for the load that is waiting as we go back to our own workplaces next week. Actually, we have the best way to avoid those loads and it’s none other than but to love our work as we have loved the bustles we had last Christmas holiday. Now that we are going back to all those routines like we had last year, I hope we will feel the same excitement we felt when the holiday was coming.