Author Archives: MT

Make haste (or not)!

It seems that I have abandoned my blog. It felt that way, anyway. Things have peaked again at work with many engagements here and there. So here is a quick post which I republished from my FB page. Hope everyone who reads this post is well and happy.

 

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Nan Lian Garden (Hong Kong, Feb 2016)

Horace said “Carpe diem (Seize the day!)”. Gandhi said, “There is more to life than increasing its speed”. Merry Tea says “Make haste only when necessary. Slow down when you are out of breath. You will not enjoy time when you are rushing; you will not see much when you are too slow-moving.”

(Posted on my Facebook page on the 31st of July 2011)

London 2012 Olympics: My Top 3

The excitement of Rio 2016 Olympics brought us so many lovely memories of the London Olympics. Watching the games until wee hours of the morning due to the time difference was not easy but still brought us to the edge of our seats. It was impossible not to notice the almost empty arenas though. During the London 2012 Olympics, tickets were selling like pancakes. There was far higher demand than supply, making it extremely difficult to take hold of tickets. Fortunately, we were able to secure tickets for various venues in five different Olympic events and for two Paralympic events. We were also able to watch the opening ceremony of the Paralympics.

beach volleyball

Experiencing the London 2012 games was truly a once-in-a-lifetime for us. I can write heaps and heaps of stories and anecdotes about it. For the purpose of this post, I challenged myself to choose my top three memories of it.

 

  • Mission: keep calm and carry on

On the 6th of July 2005, it was announced that London was to host the Olympics 2012. The jubilation was crushed by the London bombings the following day. Despite this, the run up to the games was noticeable for everyday Londoners like us. Changes happened bit by bit, memorable Olympic structures started to rise from seemingly deprived areas. Year 2012 was welcomed with the London NYE annual fireworks celebration in style – we were there, too!

Weeks just before the opening, I noticed more people standing on the left hand side of the Underground escalators – a sign that the world had indeed arrived in London! London’s Thames river, which was about a couple of minutes’ walk from our home, was where the amphibious assault ship HMS Ocean was stationed. With this there was a feeling of security; bring on the games!

marines

  • Mission: impossible (‘hiding’ the hubby’s ticket)

Two weeks before the games, A joined his brother on a two-week European cruise holiday that unfortunately, due to work commitments, I could not tag along to. The first tickets we had secured were for the beach volleyball (set at the grand Horseguards Parade), but these did not get delivered until a few days before the event. My hubby arrived on the same day as the event, and his flight was an hour later than the scheduled time. Not wishing to miss the event, our friend Rev and I entered the arena ahead of A’s arrival. I left and hid A’s ticket inside a selected ‘instant photo’ booth at London Victoria station. Pretending that I was having my photo taken, I discreetly taped the ticket wrapped in black plastic on the ceiling. (This was on the thinking that when one normally would have his or her photo taken, one just looks straight ahead at the camera – and not on the ceiling of the booth.) When A arrived, as planned, he found his ticket and managed to join us for the second game. It took me a couple of visits to the station to concoct this plan; and I was very relieved that the ‘risky plan’ paid off with no hitches!

 

  • Mission: accomplished

inside stadium

Our final set of tickets was for the Paralympic events. This was the second time we got into the Olympic Stadium. After the events, together with two of our friends, we enjoyed the activities and buzz within the Olympic Park, the whole afternoon, even during sunset until the late evening. Perhaps we were one of the last ones to leave. Needless to say, it was so fun – especially since I had both the Philippine and British flags being waved around the park.

Really memorable particularly since this was on my birthday!flying the flag

Usapang ulam

Naisipan kong magsulat ng isang sanaysay sa ating sariling wika. Ilang taon na rin mula nang huli akong magsulat sa Tagalog. Sa totoo lang, nasa ikatlong pangungusap pa lang ako ay medyo napapahinto na ako upang isipin ang mag salita, “Ano na nga ba ito sa Tagalog?” Ngayon ko lang nakita na mas madali pala para sa akin na magsalita kaysa magsulat sa Tagalog. Malamang ay dahil kulang ako sa ensayo. Ngunit pipilitin ko pa ring magsulat, at kung talagang walang pag-asa, siguro naman pwede akong medyo mag-Taglish.

Isa sa mga bagay na nakakapagpasaya sa aming mag-asawa ay kung nakakapag-imbita kami ng aming mga kaibigan sa aming hapag-kainan. At dahil hindi karamihan ang mga kainan dito sa London upang madala namin ang mga kaibigan naming banyaga, sa bahay na kami naghahanda  upang matikman naman nila ang mga ulam natin sa Pilipinas.

Kapag kami ay maluwag sa oras o di kaya ay may espesyal na okasyon, talagang ume-effort kami. Iniisip namin kung paano namin maihahanda ang ulam na parang naihanda sa isang espesyal na kainan.

Kahapon ay inimbitahan namin ang dalawa naming kaibigan mula sa simbahan. Medyo maraming ginagawa sa trabaho ngunit dahil ang aming kaibigan na Ingles ay dadayo sa ibang bansa, naisipan naming maghanda bilang pagdiriwang sa biyaya. Tatlong taon rin siyang hindi uuwi rito sa Inglatera dahil sya ay isang opisyal ng embahada. Kasama niya ang isa pa naming kaibigan na mula naman sa Korea.

Ito ang aming mga handa. Ang una ay insalata (talong na ginisa sa mantikilya ng olibo, kamatis, mangga, tocinong manok, litsugas at ginisang bagoong sa gilid). Ang pangunahing ulam ay pansit palabok (pansit, lemon, hipon, dinikdik na chicharon, dahon ng sibuyas, coriander, itlog at pinalutong na tinapa). Para sa panghimagas, gumawa kami ng ginataang halo-halo na may saging, kamote at langka. Nilagyan rin namin ito ng sorbetes sa ibabaw. Nalusaw agad ang sorbetes pero masarap pala ito kapag hinalo sa ginataan. Sa gitna ng bawat handa at nagbigay kami ng atsara (gawa na mula sa bote) para panglinis ng ngala-ngala – sa Ingles, ‘to cleanse the palate‘.

Nagustuhan ng aming mga bisita ang lahat ng aming mga handa. Bukod sa mabilis nila itong nakain, malinis ang mga plato nila kaya andaling maghugas!  Ito ang ilan sa mga larawan:

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Buwan ng wika ang Agosto, kaya sana pasado ang aking sanaysay. Tulad ng ano mang bagay, mabuti na ang mag-ensayo paminsan-minsan upang di makalimutan. Hanggang sa muli…

‘Hobby blogging’

ShakespeareAre you contemplating of starting (or restarting) a blog as a hobby and may have one or two of these questions? Here are some practical answers:

  • I am not a good writer, is blogging for me? First thing to ask yourself is, “What made you think that you cannot write…”. Second is ask, “…on whose standards?” Many of us think that writing is only for an elite group of individuals who have been trained to do it. I do not agree with this. Everyone can write, in different formats, tone and purpose. A blog post is not equivalent to an essay that one submits to an academic institution. Stop being harsh to yourself. As how an editor-in-chief of an international publication puts it, “Complex or highfalutin words are unnecessary as long as you convey the message”.
  • Is blogging a cheap hobby? No, it isn’t if you have a very busy life like mine. Blogging requires time, and time is precious. But if you view blogging as an escape from your daily routine, then it is indeed a cheap hobby. There are sites that offer free websites to start with e.g. WordPress or Blogger (via Google). Free sites make money through ad banners they place on your page.
  • Is it straightforward? Designing the layout and content links of your website could be a disaster, and may involve a lot of trial and error. Look at it as a puzzle, there is a sense of achievement for every issue solved. Get to know various settings and tools; use that virtue called patience. Choose themes and colour combinations that are not striking to the eyes for ease of reading.
  • What if people do not take notice? I recommend that you develop a ‘Paki ko’ attitude (credit to fellow blogger, Yen, for the idea). ‘Paki ko’ means ‘I do not care’. Remember, this is your site. You can choose whatever topic you want to discuss in any format you prefer, in any language you want to use. Focus on your main purpose: a respite from the routine.
  • What if I run out of ideas? I do not believe you.
  • What if people disagree with me? Of course, this will happen. We live in a world of many opinions, cultures and beliefs. The good news is they do not own your site. As long as you are not offending anyone and not blatantly attacking people, you should be fine. Similar to our daily interactions, being tactful on-line also matters. I also suggest that opinions are differentiated from facts. Avoid sweeping statements. If you are communicating a fact, make sure you have done some form of research about it. If all people do this, my Facebook feed will not be full of unfounded treatment and prevention claims for cancer. As a strategy to avoid spams or trolls, you can also moderate the comments (i.e. they are only published when you approve them).
  • Will I make money from it? I am not an expert about this but as a hobby, I do not think one can make a living out of blogging. It all boils down to what you want to achieve. I found this site that talks about money blogging.

 

Sure things to expect from ‘hobby blogging’:

  • You will enhance many of your creative abilities.
  • You will have a platform to reach out to others and share your ideas: publicly or privately to a selected few.
  • You will meet same-minded individuals.
  • Your writing will improve over time.
  • You will have fun reading your old posts after a few years.

Blogging is not the same as academic writing. It is fun. So what are you waiting for? Think of your blog name now!

(Please do not forget to let me know about it so I can follow your posts!)

Selfie sticks & holidays

At a glance, taking photos using selfie sticks is a clever idea . You stand there, strategically position your camera+stick, work out your angle, ensure there is balance between the foreground and background, then click! Voila, you have a perfect photo to cherish for a lifetime!

I thought a selfie stick will finally sort out our holiday photo dilemmas. It means we no longer need to ask a complete stranger to take our photo. Marvelous!

But I was wrong. The truth is, depending on the circumstances and location, I find selfie sticks annoying. I am strongly convinced that there is a time and place for its use. Museums and restrictive spaces are not one of these places. If there are people around who  would like to enjoy without a stick blocking their view, one must be considerate. It seems to me that there should be a code for the appropriate use of selfie sticks.

Although what I had mentioned so far may be superficial, a photo taken by a complete stranger has many benefits attached to it:

(1) It enhances your skills in assessing people. Who can take a good photo and who cannot? The guy with a DSLR? The smartphone user? The cool teenager or the serious-looking yuppie or perhaps the retiree? And when you got it right, you will feel amazing that you spotted the right person plus of course, a great photo to keep. Just make sure you choose a person who will not run away with your camera or phone!

(2) It opens conversations. There were many times when my husband and I have approached complete strangers for a photo. They took our photo and we took theirs. Conversations thereafter were about where each was from, shared holiday notes, exchanged holiday tips, which restaurants served nice food, recommended places for next holidays etc. Asking others to take your photo enhances human interactions, that digital technology had somehow limited in this day and age.

(3) The excitement and surprise of a candid photo. Whether you asked someone to take your photo or you set the timer on, there is sheer excitement in seeing the final product. It may be disappointing sometimes and may take a couple of takes, but all of these become part of the story of the photo. From our many holidays, I can still remember the people who took our photos. The stories about them such as ‘I took a great shot for them but they cut my hand out on this one’. Other stories included ‘Look, you were partly sat on that one because you were running to beat the timer!’ or ‘We have a photo bomber!!’.

(4) Lighter load. Overall, the most convenient way of travelling is bringing less. While touring, especially around Europe, it is specially important to keep your load as light as possible. Indeed, having a selfie stick means having a potential self defence material but most of the time, you will be carrying it around like a twig that you picked from somewhere.

Unless one plans to take a hundred photos, I feel selfie sticks do not promise to capture far more unique angles of the whole experience of a holiday. If one is really inclined on having a ‘selfie’ to give in to the trend, they simply have to extend their hands as far as possible, like Plastic Man or the Incredibles!