Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A Practical Magic

Dear Sister,

I couldn't get your question out of my head. You asked me, "What if I never find love?"

 I remember having the same thought. Half of me dreaded it, the other half was steeling myself for it and saying, so what? Some ultra-feminists would say we are silly for even thinking we need to find a man. They confuse themselves with their liberal talk when all we mean is that, we want someone to share the love we have. And hell to feminists, but gifts are nice. period.

But there is one thing that has kept hope afloat inside me all those years of waiting. By being very inquisitive, I have researched that in our mother's side, three generations of women (at the very least), found love one time, big time. 

Our great grandmother fell in love with our great grandfather at first sight. Our grandmother only had eyes and heart for our grandfather to the point of running away with him at the age of 18. She was young when she found him, but they never left each other's side until granpa died. And Mommy? Daddy was her first and only love.

So there's something in our genes that has a propensity for just knowing when our great love has come. It's definitely not in our brains. You know my long list of crushes, and they are one impossible fictionalized men after another. And the one time I was smitten and thought I was in love, you know what version of impossible that was.

It may be too early to speak, but as far as my limited vision can see, I see myself married to the man I'm with right now. And you know how different he is from the man i fantasized myself belonging with. It turns out, love is not about vanity. It is not about what you think you deserve, but who fits. It is about who can grow with you, and round you out. It is about finding someone who feels like home to you.

So don't fret about not finding your great love yet. When you see him, and this could be someone whose been there all the time, you will know. And when it hits you, you would know what I mean by one time, big time.

For us Santos women, it only takes one to get it right.

It is our practical magic.


Sunday, January 26, 2014

Last Day at 31

There's about ten minutes left of my most awesome year so far. I have to be very honest here, I feel like I made comparable leaps and bounds the last 12 months than the last 10 years. I actually felt myself stretch and get uncomfortable until I got used to it, and suddenly, I grew, noticeably, incrementally.

I am feeling a bit sad leaving 31. I have a fear that I will never be able to top this year. But another side of me is also saying, no, this is where it starts. This is where you woke up, and this is you stretching your limbs. Yet far to go, Liv.

I just want to be able to look back, 5 or 10 years from now and remind myself that for better or worse, I was alive the last night I was 31 years old. And I was also grateful and hopeful and I can feel my core stabilizing again.

And to wrap up my year of awesome adventures, I listed a few accomplishments I want to remember. To remind myself I am not a sell-out. To affirm that though I still daydream, I am also living my life as well.

Liv's Top 15 Awesome Memories the year she was 31:

1. Built my first snowman in negative degrees Birmingham.
2. That godawful leg cramp i got in the middle of Harrod's and people started looking at me funny and I started thinking how embarassing it would be if I try to walk and fell down. So I whipped out my cellphone and pretended to be debating with someone about which souvenir to get. For a full ten minutes til i recovered. Gimme that Oscar.
3. Took to the London Underground like a duck to water.
4. Climbed a mountain-sized hill in the Mongolian countryside. In freezing weather.
5. Trekked barefoot to a sacred spring in a hidden valley in Mongolia.
6. Lived in a ger for a week without taking a full bath.
7. Closed my eyes and sent a prayer to heaven before opening my mouth while a strange man put ceremonial pan (sweets wrapped in nganga leaves)in Islamabad.
8. Saw the Gobi desert with my own eyes (from the plane, but still). There's something very satisfying about seeing something you've only read in your textbooks in grade school.
9. Survived the chaos of a particular country's strange airport. Di ba, Jay Ancheta?
10. Learned smatterings of 2 languages (Mongolian and Pakistani)
11. Wrote 2 children's book which came out in HaloHalo Books.
12. Illustrated 2 children's books for other people.
13. Saw a wolf, a tapir, a marmot, a falcon and real elephants. God's strange creatures strewn across 3 continents.
14. Had less severe depressive episodes.
15. And the hardest achievement yet --- kept the Faith.

Lord, I wish I could surgically incise my heart, just so I could hold it up to you as proof of how filled with gratitude and joy it is over your so many blessings. And You are also the reason why I leave my fear of never having this much fun in any age again. Because I trust, that with You, the best is always yet to come.

Goodnight one and all!

Monday, January 06, 2014

Artist Card Edition and Originals and Artist Trading Cards

So I came upon a trend in etsy and amazon about ACEOs (see title) and ATCs.

ACEOs and ATCs are artwork done in 2.5 x 3.5 inches of canvas/paper and was originally used as trading cards (much similar to baseball trading cards, but for artists). I figured I will try to make as many as I can, and it's fairly easy for me because I have that kind of short term attention span anyways. :D

So here's some of my latest works. These can also be viewed on my other blog: http://livbeeart.weebly.com/

Friday, December 13, 2013

Baby Envy

At different points in my life, I wanted to be a nun, an actress, a maid, a teacher and a dolphin trainer. But in all points of my life, there is one thing I consistently wanted and that is to be a mother.

I am at a point in my life though when I think that might be the one thing I may never be. My weight, let's admit it, will probably never go down south of 100 kilos. I have diabetes, and a history of difficult pregnancies in the family. To top it all of, my boyfriend still doesn't have any plans of asking me to marry him soon, and my chances are getting slimmer by the literal second.

Sometimes I am angry at myself, for not connecting the dots about health and getting pregnant. Then I assuage myself by saying, I'm not financially ready anyway. This will be followed by a spate of resentment against my boyfriend for being so slow and contented while the one thing I want in life grows in jeopardy. It's not like I never discussed this with him. He's just too happy right now with his life to be moved to something so uncertain as marriage.

Now my friends are getting married, and having babies, and I feel the panic rising in me. I pretend like I don't care I'm being left behind, ashamed of even thinking there is such a thing as being left behind because supposedly, I'm a feminist. But truth is, I despair. And I approach the issue like I approach death, steeling myself for the inevitability of my childless future.

  • If you’re under 25, you have an 86 percent chance of getting baby on board within a year of trying. From age 25 to 29, your chance of conception drops only slightly, to 78 percent. Overall, infertility rates are a mere 5 percent during this decade.
  • Between ages 30 and 34, your likelihood dips a bit to 63 percent — still a very healthy possibility. At 35, you still have more than a 50 percent chance of getting pregnant naturally within a year’s time.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Cast of Hunger Games: Catching Fire

I am biased. Way biased.

No young adult fantasy could be as good as Harry Potter. Flawed as some characters may be in Suzanne Collins Hunger Games, the distinguishing factor of this series compared to, let's say Twilight, is the tight storytelling. The best thing about this movie is that it does not stray far from the book, so instead of confusing the audience, it actually serves as companion material to the book. Say for example,  I honestly appreciated seeing the film's idea of how the Dome looks like. I have to say it's even better than my own imagination's rendering of the Arena. Very few book-to-movie rendition can claim this, but the Catching Fire movie actually helps deepen the mythos of the book instead of distract from it.

I also have to say that half of the reason why I loved the film was because of the heroine. Some people say Katniss Everdeen breaks the mold of modern heroines everywhere, but I disagree. Katniss' attitude of resilience and selective empathy is exactly the formula for the anti-social heroine. However, just like Hermione Granger's neuroticism, Katniss' consitution is a far better formula compared to the passive-agressive Bella Swan.

The other half of the reason for praising the film is Jennifer Lawrence's acting. My goodness, did you see the range of emotions that passed through her face in the last scene of the film? 15 seconds of the camera focused on her face captured despair, regret, anger, helplessness, hatred and finally, conviction. 15 seconds would probably be better spent watching ants crawl, than use it to show Kristen Stewart attempt to have ANY emotion on her face.

So, just saying that, you may not be a fan of young adult fantasy, but this is the better YA Fantasy. If Twilight left a bad taste in your mouth, then this movie will restore your faith in humanity.

Monday, December 02, 2013

How Childish Art Saved my Relationship

Here's a window into my soul: I am the type of person who will not do something if I can't be the best in it. Some people actually exist who chooses to learn and be good at something even if they repeatedly fail at it. I am not one of them.

Which basically explains my whole life. Which is why I know I am actually an underachiever, even if a few people may think otherwise. Gosh, even my parents believed it, i think.

Case in point: If I took up a Math-based course in college, I will be lucky to generate a pass. But taking another course which has less structure in it can make me a magna cum laude.

Maybe I shouldn't be belittling my past achievements, because let it not be mistaken that I didn't work for them. It's just that, I didn't work that hard for them. My sister always had an impression I never studied in college, which is of course a fallacy. But it's saying something that I can afford to read all the books I wanted and still get the grades.

This kind of skewed thinking has led me to a lot of shaky places, which I only survived by the skin of my teeth and some charm. But that changed when I entered into a serious relationship which I had no idea if I would be good at.

At the initial stages of our relationship, I had my own trepidations. Finally, here was something I cannot foresee -- a happy ending. And because of all the uncertainty, I began controlling everything. I had a long list of musts and must nots. If I was geek enough, I would've even done a whole logical framework for how our relationship must work. Because I wanted to make sure I wouldn't fail.
Because I wanted to prove I am so much smarter than those silly women who fall in love and not make plans and counterplans. So, six months into the relationship, I have almost killed something beautiful before it could even start.

The guy clearly felt suffocated, but probably liked me well enough to work it out (thank God). It wasn't the best 6 months of our relationship, but what we were able to discuss helped create stable ground for our relationship. At one point, I realized, I have to let go. And it was at this point, when I was so confused, I decided to take up the brush again.

I wasn't good at Art. I've never waxed poetic about Manet, or Rembrandt, or Monet, but I liked copying their work. My Mom taught Arts and the Humanities, and I used to browse through her glossy textbooks with beautiful illustrations. But it was never anything more than cursory. They were just pretty. It wasn't like it inspired me to create some grand masterpiece myself. Actually, it even did the opposite. I felt that Art were for masters. I am never going to be able to make anything near Da Vinci's Mona Lisa, so why bother?

But I did dabble, and some of them my Dad has framed and displayed around the house. So at 14, i was actually already doing Art, but I didn't care to call it a talent because I thought I couldn't be as good in painting as I already am in writing. I wanted to be safe, so I chose writing.

But at that confused point in time when I was 28 years old, I needed an outlet which could express how I felt and I suddenly felt that words were tiresome and ill-fit to express what I want. It was just an afterthought, picking up my pencil, then my brush, and my decade-old paints. Some of them were even dried up due to unuse. I decided I will make something. It doesn't have to be beautiful because my emotions didn't feel beautiful at the moment. So I drew. A cartoon.

A ghastly one. I told myself i sucked at it.  Just like how I suck as a girlfriend. But I wouldn't give up my guy, even if my life depended on it. So maybe.... just maybe, I thought to myself, I should draw another cartoon. And another, and another.

It's been three years, and I am still drawing. I am not bad at it anymore, but I do not excel either. But what I learned was that at some point, you have to try to do what you're not good at, if only because doing it makes you happy. If you keep working at it, maybe at the end of your life, you could see you made some pretty great art. Just like being in a relationship, which could fail, yes, but if you keep working at it, could lead to a pretty great love.

So just keep drawing.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

So I met this handsome bookseller...

Last night, I bought this book in an Islamabad old books shop for Pkr 595 (Php 250) in one of the many book shops scattered all over the city. For a nation that claims they do not like to read over much, they sure have a lot of bookstores. This particular bookshop though had a certain asset to it that very few bookshops nowadays can boast of -- a bookseller who apparently reads books.

It helped he was a denim-clad, lion-haired, bollywood handsome young man with a fantastic smile. Upon entering his shop, an unusual conversation started --- unusual in the light of me not able ti imagine having a similar conversation at my local Booksale outlet in SM Fairview or any of the National Bookstores.

Book guy (BG): I am glad you put down that book (referring to a bootleg copy of Dan Brown's Inferno I picked up only to check if it was indeed bootleg), it's a lot of talk, but not really good, eh?

Me (trying to stay distant and still digesting the fact that apparently, cute guys do read): Yeah.

BG: Are you looking for any particular book?

Me: No, thanks. I'm just here to browse. (Sungit.)

BG: Alright, hope you find a good one. pocketbooks are on this aisle, hardcovers are at the back! (said with a winsome smile)

Me: A nod and the kind of small smile similar to what you give people on the streets trying to give you their brochures.

After 15 minutes, my colleague came in and I was pressured to wrap it up, so I just decided to buy a hardcover on the Romantic Poets. Approached the book guy and told him I am making this purchase.

BG: Wait, there is another brilliant book on this topic! Let me find it.

He jumps up and after getting his bearings, made a beeline for a pile of books among a dozen piles of books and started rummaging. And I wasn't expecting him to find it, not within a reasonable amount of time. So I started making noises about it's okay, he shouldn't bother.. but even before I could get really into my dismissal, he amazingly found the book he was referring to!

BG: You see, it's a critique of the poets, so maybe after reading this book (the poetry), you could read this one to explain things a bit more. I read a bit of these poetry too, and I found this helpful. But I am not English, so maybe that's why. (I paraphrase a bit, can't really remember his choice of words, though the meaning is clear)

Me: (something inane) Yeah, but I don't like being told what to think of poetry. (which is not true, because I need all the help I can get when reading poetry) and even said something about My mother doing the analysis for me. (a. my mother is dead, b. my mother never read poetry in her life.)

Sigh. I don't know why I say these things. White lies you give to overeager salespeople, but i believe I actually came across a rare breed of bookseller here, and i felt bad because he just looked genuinely happy to help.

The truth of the matter is, I didn't have the heart to tell him that I only bought the book because it was pretty and will make a great souvenir. Though I enjoy reading my Percy and Shelley and Blythe occasionally, I am not completely excited about reading a dissertation on the formulation of their couplets and quatrains.I was completely checkmated.

But thank you, handsome bookseller for giving me a story to remember every time I see this book. I am happy to know your whole species has not yet gone extinct.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Ode to Real Books

I write of books as I would write of an aging parent.

With reverence, admiration, a lot of love, and a deep sense of foreboding at their possible demise. I have been raised by books as much as I have been raised by my loving parents.  I know all things are lost eventually, but mortality makes it difficult to accept that  a loved one who was so instrumental to your being alive could be lost. We have to wrestle the delusion of their invincibility as they take their last breath right in front of our eyes. So it was with me.So it is with books.

 If you dig away at the layers of my humanity, you will find you won’t have to dig very far to find the solidified layers of lessons, values and stories that reading has given me. Each bone of my body has a patina of literature protecting it; a silvery sheen of extra strength that calcium or any mineral on earth cannot provide.

With every book I have held, I have understood worlds. The firm hard covers, the soft pliable paperbacks, the yellowed pages, the glaringly new white pages, the smell of ink both fresh and mildewed --- I am inheritor of worlds through the stories that I lived through them. I am somewhat comforted that stories cannot die. That they will take on another form,  less physical but it will not make them any less real. However…

An e-book, a handheld electronic device, is so much different from a real book. Somehow, something is taken away when we take away the magnificent covers, the pages that crumble with time. I’m just afraid that by the time my own future child learns to read, she would read from a glaring screen and not a care-worn copy that faintly smells of dust. Some people would say it’s not where you read from but what you read. I am one of the very few who remains to stand in the contrary. Holding a physical book adds another dimension to the reading experience – a sensory immersion that is lessened by the clinical smoothness of an Ipad or Kindle.  God, yes, books are heavy, and at some point I was the girl who lugged around 5 books in a backpack because I read according to my mood and who knows what mood I’ll be in after lunch. But the effort of carrying a heavy bag full of books is a lesson in itself. Knowledge is a burden but it must be carried if any of it is worth knowing.

I hope books still have a long way to go. I hope we find a way to balance the digital with the physical. Earth’s institutional memory can’t all be digitalized. And I have let go of aging parents, but books --- it is not yet their time.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

How I plan to get married

(Inspired by a link shared by a common friend of Ian and I --- Thanks, Elaine)

It has come up, it did.

My boyfriend and I have skimmed through the M word for some time now, and making itty bitty smattering of plans that more or less falls on the other side of the line of our relationship. I am glad that our plans constitute of real things like where should we live, where our kids will study, who will be good cop or bad cop to the children. I think it's so much better than just talking about the wedding ceremony itself. I don't care a fig if Ian wears an Armani suit or something bought during the further reduction sale of Marks and Spencers. I don't need a Vera Wang gown, and I don't want fakey grated styrofoam posing as falling snowflakes to annoy my tropical climate guests.

I know that girls are stereotyped to be the kind of creatures that  keeps Dream Wedding Journals since they were 8 years old. But I have always had what I thought to be a healthy disdain for big weddings. My own parents had a simple church wedding and small reception. And look what happened --- they got forever, that's what. The grandiosity of a wedding does not have any effect on the length of a marriage at all. So why bother, eh?

To make it meaningful, they say. But is the meaning in the event or in the union itself? Is the purpose of a wedding ceremony to entertain and feed multitude of guests, or to invite people to share in their happiness any way they can?

Recently, Ian said his mom is willing to give us a generous sum of money for our wedding. And my reaction was: Wow, great! That'll be useful as downpayment for our condo unit. The wedding? We will eat fishballs during the wedding and we will be happy because we are eating together along with some of our closest friends.

Here's my plan so far (of course, this may change a little, but the general idea hopefully holds):

A nice chapel in Tagaytay or somewhere similarly cool, with a friend-priest officiating the ceremony.
Guests will be asked to wear their decent but comfortable picnic clothes.
Bridesmaids will wear pretty sundresses and groomsmen will wear button-down shirts and slacks. ALL of them will wear shades in all the photos.

For the reception ceremony: Guests will be about 100.
Venue is near the chapel and has a wide open space with nice chairs and colorful tableclothes and my only concession to decorations would be all in the spirit of shabby chic and world traveler. Food will not be hotel food, but potluck. I know that sounds hardcore, but seriously. Invited guests will be asked to prepare and bring their own picnic baskets designed to feed 4-5 people. We will have some back up simple fares prepared but the idea is for guests in each table to share their baskets with the others seated with them. En pointe: Life's a picnic if we allow it to be. :D
There will be no friggin' kooky games or doves flying.
I don't need a very expensive and exquisitely pretty but quite inedible cake. I want yumminess.
Artist friends can sing for us. Verbose people could speak, if they want to. But nothing else. No wedding singers who doesn't know me from Adam. Although if Adam Levine can sing during my wedding, that would be ohwsum!

Oh and did I say I want a dawn wedding? Hehehe...

Yup. Bright and early people. :D

I know this sounds so extreme to some who have always dreamt of taffeta and lace. But I want something festive, Filipino, and simple. Call it barrio-tic, I don't care. Watch us make it work. It's all in the ambiance and spirit. And of course, the good cheer and love of the people who will make the effort to be with us on that day.

In lieu of gifts of oven toasters and ice cream makers, we will launch a social media contest to fund our honeymoon. I will ask Ian if we could prepare two itineraries,  and ask friends to donate to the itinerary they think is more awesome instead of buying us gifts. I'm going to ask my sister to oversee this so that up to our actual wedding day, we won't know which of the two options we will be going to. Now that's a welcome surprise gift :D

What do you think friends? Will you help me make this work? :D Don't worry, we still have a looooooooooooottt of time. :D

Friday, May 10, 2013

An Ode to Paella

I have a craving today, and it can't be sated. I want to eat Paella.

I know that this dish isn't anything like Sinigang na Baboy which has a huge following in the Philippines. But this has always been one of my favorite dishes. As a rice lover, I enjoy the richness and softness of the rice, the mixture of tomatoes and saffron, and the myriad possible toppings you could put on top of a paella.

It's on my top 5 list of Spanish things I love (in good company with the Spanish language, the word delicadeza, the unique chorizo, and my own surname).

I don't understand why Ian and Ella can't get into the paella craze. It's a complete meal on its own. I could eat it for days on straight! Anyways, the last Paella meal I had was in Shangri-la Mall's East wing --- in a new quaint resto called Corazon. It features Spanish-Filipino food, and serves the kind of meals you have grown up with. I luuurved it. Ian ordered the Molo Soup, and it was ok for tastes, but I only had eyes and tastebuds for the heaping pile of ricey goodness which was quite a deal for the price of about P550.

It's funny cos they also serve a dish called Burgos -- which is oxtongue in creamy sauce. I would've wanted to try this because I love tongue (the dictionary definition, ok? PG Tayo).  But Ian has imagination for all the wrong things, and just can't bring himself to eat such a macabre piece of a cow's body. Next time. :D

 Other paella places worth visiting are:
1. Casa Armas - various branches
2. Cerveseria - Greenbelt 3, Makati
3. Frazzled Cook - near Shaw Blvd in Ortigas
4. La Tienda - the branch I tried was near Jupiter in Makati
5. Mom and Tina's - not as fantastic pero pwede na.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Movie Monday - Ironman 3

Of all the Marvel superheroes, the least I expected to love was Ironman. I was more of a Hulk kinda gal, until the Edward Norton movies ruined it for me. He was just too... wishy-washy, too emotive. A lot of people disagree with me, and at this particular point, I am not trying to dissuade them. But something was off and I couldn't put a finger on it. That is, until they got Mark Ruffalo, of course. Now I could just say, Hulk is more Mark Ruffalo than Edward Norton and let's leave it at that.

But Ironman? Whoever was the casting director is a visionary because Robert Downey, Jr. IS Ironman. He has the grits, the slick, the brass and the vulnerability down to a pat. Downey's life hadn't been easy. He had his moments of slip-ups --- a whole decade of it. So it's this guy who has been so down, but managed to rise up again who could bring a love-to-hate character to life.

Anyways, please don't expect this to be an unbiased review. I'm a fan, so of course Ironman 3 is worth my time. Just go watch it already! But if I really have to explain why, perhaps I could tell you a little about why this installment is where I feel Ironman 3 was at his vulnerable best.

It's not just his sudden onset acute anxiety attacks. It's the fact that as he travels through the madness he emerges on the other side with enough power to finally overcome his identity crisis. His hi-tech suits doesn't an Ironman make. It's who's inside the suit which makes a difference. Here we see a man hounded by fears for the safety of all that he loves and keeps trying to take control of the situation by building bigger and more powerful robots. He thinks, maybe if I make the suit strong enough, responsive enough, intelligent enough, I can save the world and the girl too. But then, in the end, he has to come into terms that the real avenger is not the Can, but the Man in the can.

Please also just Forgive and Forget all the deus ex machina scenes, or the fact that The Mandarin was turned into a comic relief character. (Ian tells me this bit was flabbergasting because the comic version isn't at all funny).

This movie is more sober than the first 2, although Tony Stark's theatrics hasn't wavered. I guess you could just try to view the movie from the perspective of a friend watching Stark grow up. We who are privileged to watch him evolve not just into a stronger superhero, but a better human being too. :D

Happy Viewing!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Good News Sunday 2nd Edition

Hi Everyone!

It's another good news Sunday!

This weekly blogging is harder than I thought! I had been occupied with a barrage of work and currently, I'm even in between trainings. But i couldn't let another Sunday pass without a slew of happy news. :D

Today, I choose to be happy about the fact that our dear President, Noynoy Aquino, is in the top 100 Most Influential People of Time Magazine for 2013. A lot of politics can make it hard to view any politician as decent, but I really believe the Aquino administration is sincere about their fight for corruption. We just shouldn't expect instant results. There's a possibility that the full impact of the changes being made now won't be felt for at least one more generation.

But at least we're doing something about it, and if we do manage to sustain it, we might just deserve our "Rising Star" branding from the global economic market.

And how about this insighful thought about the realities of civilization? Right on, I'd say. :D

Work wise, I am in the midst of the changes in the VSO global network where our induction process is going webby! The new blended learning journey is currently being introduced to our Pre-Departure Trainors so that they may continue providing support to the capacity needs of volunteers who want to make a difference in the world. Are you curious about volunteering? Here's a link to a happy story: http://www.vsobahaginan.org/story/31312/putting-children-first%3A-transforming-education-in-cambodia

And finally, hope you have some time to relax, as I did, in this lovely nook here at Balay Indang in Cavite:

the sanctuary @ balay indang april 28, 2013

Happy Sunday Everyone!