15 YEARS

May 25, 2006

our marriage has been like a long road trip to an unknown destination where you start with just a small backpack and the clothes on your back. we didn't have much early on – in fact, we were so poor that we didn't have enough money to have a "proper wedding". no church, no rings, no fancy reception. no anything. but i look back at those early years as one of the most exciting and happy in our marriage. the early struggles didn't last long. soon afterwards, we were able to get our acts together and build a home of our own. now, here we are, celebrating our 15th anniversary and looking at a future that is filled with so much promise. i can't wait to see what will happen next.

JAKARTA

May 24, 2006

jakarta, indonesia reminds me so much of manila. it almost has the same feel. it has the same sad sorry old houses on one side of the street and beautiful new buildings on the other. i could swear that the roads too have the same number of potholes. replace the many mosques with churches and you can't tell the difference. the people look the same – brown skinned, always smiling faces. we speak differently but we share many common words. some have different meanings or are pronounced differently but most of the common words mean the same. it's as if the indonesians and filipinos have been separated at birth and allowed to grow individually that eventually they ended up looking the same and yet somehow different.

MILK

May 20, 2006

i used to hate drinking milk. growing up in south east asia, one is not predisposed to drink milk as most of the kids are in the west. we're either water, tea or coffee drinkers over in that part of the world and a lot of us are lactose intolarant. there is the occasional fresh carabao milk that we used to get when we were kids but that was more like a novelty. but everything has changed since we've moved to california. i now drink milk everynight before i sleep and in the morning, i mix it with my cereal. even i am surprised – i am beginning to like it.

HOME SICK

May 20, 2006

this month marks my fifth year out of the philippines. i don't miss it really. in fact, i miss singapore more that i miss my home country. why is that? perhaps i am sick and tired of the politics. sick of the heat and the humidity. sick of the dust. sick of the traffic. sick of the corruption. i know this will change someday. but for now, i am loving sunny southern california.

MOTHER

May 14, 2006

my mom and dad split up when i was 13 years old. after that it was my mom who took care of me. it was difficult for all of us because with my dad gone, money became a big problem. i don't know how she did it but for the next 10 or so years, she put food on the table and made sure that i would finish school. it must have been so hard for her but she didn't complain. i look back now and am amazed of her poise and grace. her perseverance did bear fruit – eventually i would finish school and become successful with my career.

happy mother's day mom. thanks for everything.

HONG KONG

May 12, 2006

hong kong was the first place i visited out of the philippines and i remember it like it was yesterday. in was an uneventful business trip though and we didn't see much. we spent the four days that we were there travelling from hotel to office. in fact, the most memorable part of the trip was the treacherous landing into the old Kai Tak Airport.

you must remember that this was my first trip abroad and so touching down was really a big deal. i remember every small detail – the cathay pacific plane we were riding came in from the harbour and as the plane descended, i looked out and saw huge mountains and row upon row of buildings to the left and right of the runaway. we were flying so low that i could make out individual people inside their apartments who were probably eating their lunch (or maybe they were looking out at some guy watching them from an airplane window). then as we were about to land, somebody played tina turner's "simply the best" on the airplane's sound system. we had arrived.

i had arrived.

NOMADS

May 10, 2006

my wife and i knew early on that we won't be able to have any kids. it was going to be the two of us together till death do us part and this was just as well. this made us mobile enough to move anywhere with ease. it was perfect for a life based overseas. which is why when the opportunity came for us to live abroad, we immediately took the chance and moved out. we haven't looked back ever since. it has been five years already and what a great trip it has been.

LORD OF THE FLIES

May 9, 2006

LORD OF THE FLIESmany years ago, i was part of a team of engineers that did power plants up in the virgin rain forests of the philippines. well, they weren't virgin anymore by the time we went up. it was more like "partially screwed". during the early 1990's, we had massive blackouts because there wasn't enough electricity in the island and everybody was scrambling to start up power plants all over the country. being in the pacific ring of fire, the philippines has a major geothermal power reserve. to produce power, all you needed to do was to draw from the well, so to speak. i've never been told the reason why, but most of the geothermal power reserves are in the middle of rain forests and in order to tap that power, you need to build power plants right where the resourse is located. as part of the engineering team building the plants, that means we had to live there. it was fun at the start but when you’re up in the rain forest for long stretches, things start to change. because of all the isolation, you start to think crazy thoughts and then you start doing crazy stuff. pretty soon, you run through the jungle naked and do kung fu poses.

i’ve been on the road almost all my adult life. i’ve been to all the right places travelling for all the wrong reasons. yes “ive been to georgia and california and anywhere i could run” as the line of that most hated song goes. i’ve done it by bus, boat, plane, jeepney, truck, car, motorcycle and everything in between. i am an engineer and because of work, i’ve been hopping from one island after another all these 18 years. it’s been a rich experience – i’ve met so many people, seen so many things and been to many places that i would otherwise not have experienced had i done something else. well, i could have been a sailor and maybe travelled even more but i digress.

i am an accidental tourist.

DOWN ON RAIN STREET

May 3, 2006

it was misty again today during my early morning walk. the streets were damp and it was chilly. it was that kind of day when the best thing to do was just to lie in bed, sleep the whole morning off and have a late breakfast or an early lunch (or both). but instead i was out trying to lose last night's dinner. it wasn't so bad, really. i had my iPod and was marching in a steady cadence to some european singer singing dylan's "blowin' in the wind" in german.

its been foggy and grey during the mornings since last saturday. i guess this is part of what the people here call the “may grey / june gloom” season. it’s that time of year when the weather gods start bringing in layers of vapor and mist from the pacific ocean. but only during the morning though. around lunch time, the sun appears and all of a sudden it’s spring time again.