Friday, November 19, 2010

Just Got Lucky

When I first came in the Red Dot four years ago, I heard about this quaint mall along the posh Orchard Road where Filipinos gravitate, called Lucky Plaza. They actually called it a Jologs mall. The low rise mall will remind you of small town neighborhood malls back in the country. I never had a chance to go inside and check it out.

Until lately.

Sissy told me that Lucky Plaza is bustling with Filipinos on any busy weekday, but most especially during weekends. This is where many OFWs go for forex, remittance to home country (at a lower charge), buy authentic Pinoy groceries (Boy Bawang, Pancit Canton, Likas Papaya, etc) at Singaporean prices. At the food court you will find a stall serving Pinoy dishes. One serving rice and your choice of two dishes will cost SGD5.

One rainy Sunday afternoon, onwards to my second week at Sing, I was struck with flu and was literally sick and tired. I didn't have food at the service apartment then and was near starvation so I decided to brave the rainy weather and headed to Lucky Plaza to get a late lunch of rice and Pinoy food. I was also quite deppressed then that each step felt so heavy. The rainy weather did not help either and added to the gloom of it all. It was that kind of a week, really.

I knew I was close to Lucky Plaza when I saw throngs of fellow Filipinos at the rainy pavement. Chatting. Waiting. Laughing. Inside the mall, it was elbows to elbows with Pinoys. The remittance centers were the busiest lot.

I went to the basement food court and found the Pinoy stall and ordered my lunch. The tables were full so I had to squeeze in amongs the Pinays eating and chatting in one table for four. They smiled at me and let me take the vacant spot. I can hear their conversation as we were seated so close. I think they work as domestic caregivers, based on their exchange of stories. I listened to their stories as I ate my lunch. Before I left, I went to the Pinoy store and bought some noodles and canned tuna.

When you are in a country that is not your own, alone and sick as I was that day and longing for the comfort of your family, the company of fellow kababayans is as close as you can get to give you a sense of belongingness. Even if it was just a quaint mall sorely misplaced in the middle of the posh Orchard Road.

And who really knows? Probably during those weekend afternoons, the communion of Pinoys might have been sharing the same thoughts I had. We are all not very different at all. We were all just strangers in a country that is not our own. Working. Missing our loved ones. I will go through it for three months, but most of them probably had it for years and years. And there we were. Bounded by our solace.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The End of a Friend

And so my loyal and strong friend met its end.

I have sworn to run (well, walk really) it to the ground. So I did. After 4 years, my loyal Naturalizer Wedge Sandals called it quits. The red strap gave way. Actually if I yank the horizontal strap off, it will still be good as new. So I am seriously contemplating to do just that.

I bought this in Bangkok 4 years ago (!) together with a fellow WPI Pillar leader Wang Ping when we attended the 1st ever Regional Std Work training. Come to think of it, Wang Ping had left and came back to China already after years of sojourn in Europe, and this pair is still my favorite every day shoes, and is still good. Wang Ping also bought one but a lighter color with Lime straps. I wonder if it's still alive.

My good old wedgie have been companions everywhere-Bohol, Batangas, Subic and Central Luzon, all of South Luzon, Bangkok, Shanghai, Beijing, Vietnam, Japan and Singapore. I always bring this pair of shoes in all my travels, in all the 53x4x2 days of weekends of my life. Can match any outfit in the wardrobe, casual or formal. If you are a keen observer, one would assume this is the only pair of shoes I have.

I love it most of all because it is just so comfortable! You can walk all day long and not feel fatigued. Almost as if a premonition, I was browsing for a similar pair at Naturalizer last week. But not a chance.

And if I happen to find Mr.Quickie at Lucky Plaza, I am sure I can have it repaired! So I am not throwing it away for now!

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Gift of Generosity

Eversince Kyla started owning coin purses, mostly as a gift or souvenir pasalubong from someone, she always made it a point to fill them up with coins. She is so resourceful that her pink piggy purse or her tarsier purse from Bohol would always be brimming with coins.

When I travelled home this month and we had quite a time together, it was then that I saw for the first time what she has been up to.

When we heard our Sunday Mass, Kyla would no longer ask me for money during the Offertory. She turned to her own coin purse and brought out coins for the offering. She even gave some coins to her Kuya Kevin. This made me smile. I am proud of my little girl!

Later thay day while going around the mall and shopping for home stuff, whenever we will stop by at the cashier, Kyla took out coins from her purse and drop a peso or two to the tin can coin banks beside the cashier. She did this for at least 3 outlets we visited. Kyla knows that these coin banks go to charity work, usually for Red Cross or Bantay Bata, she once asked me what they are for. This also made the cashiers and sales ladies smile.

By mid-day, her once heavy coin purse is empty.

And so whenever I have change of coins after paying the cashier, she would ask for them. I think she also collects the coins from our garage sale at home. She never rans out of coins to be sure. I believe generous people-- despite giving away what they have-- they never really lose anything. They gain back more vs. what they have given away and most of all, they gain back more blessings and reap good karma points.

It is so refreshing and heartwarming how a child develops the gift of generosity amidst her world where the young are surrounded by crass materialism and me-first attitude.

I am proud of you, my little one!

And as I waved my goodbye to her this morning, though I leave Manila today with a heavy heart, I know that she will be alright. In more ways than one. 

(Musings from NAIA, thanks to the reliable wi-fi, it worked this time)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A House and a Home

Been busy house hunting for the past three weeks or so.

Exciting, interesting, riveting and of course tiring. It helped that I have been trained on Options Analysis, Success Criteria and Key Drivers. It made a big difference when it boiled down to the Final Two choices.

As I was looked forward previewing the so-called future home towering above me, I could not help but also think about our home in Sta. Rosa, Laguna that will be the soon-to-be-ex-house with poignant memories. Come to think of it, two years ago my husband and I made the big leap to finally build our home/house and it ended to be everything we both dreamed of and a place where the kids would be warm and secured. It was in a way a symbolic commitment on our end that it was a place where we would now be settling down for the many years to come. We even thought of selling the land and moving on the side of Sta. Rosa where new neighborhoods and villages are bustling. But we also believed that it wasnt just the prestige of those new places that mattered -- really, it was our community of friends in La Joya and their warm treatment of Kevin that held us back. That home also brought about many blessings and good karma to our family. Alvin and I both felt good we stayed in La Joya. The thought of having to relinquish ties with the old home seemed unnerving. I thought of every stick and stone that carried priceless memories.

In the Settling-In tour that Alvin and I had during his visit to Singapore, a nice Swiss lady was assigned as our settling in consultant. She has been married for more than 16 years and lived all those years in SG. Over a nice lunch at Lee Soy Chicken Rice (I hope I remembered it right...) along the SG backstreets, she shared something that her husband told her once when they were deliberating to sell their house in Switzerland ... "A house is just a house."

I had to tell myself again. A house is just a house. I had to bow to the wisdom behind these words.

A house is just a house. But HOME is where the HEART is.

A house is just a house. We can have so many houses in a lifetime. We actually did. But there can only be one home.