Monday, January 23, 2012

Spring Cleaning (Welcome Year of the Dragon)

It has been my annual tradition since 2001 to end the year by reminiscing the significant events and milestones of the year that was about to pass... to meditate on what lessons were reaped and embrace the new year with optimism and enlightenment.

When re-reading my so-called Yearenders, I observed that some years were not as bright and salutary as the rest; although thankfully, these years were few and far in between.  I was not able to finish my 2011 Yearender.   I started the draft but I never got even halfway.  I decided to abandone it altogether and not force the issue.

In place of my traditional yearender which is lost by now, let me instead redirect my tradition to a slightly different theme.

Chinese New Year or also known as Spring Festival is being celebrated here in Singapore today to welcome the Year of the Water Dragon. It is said that days before the Lunar New Year, Chinese families clean the house in a major kind of way (spring cleaning) to sweep away bad luck and bring in good fortune. I was even told that furniture sales skyrocket during this period because some families even go to the extent of replacing old furnitures with new ones during spring cleaning.

We did our own spring cleaning earlier today but it didn't include any throwing-away-of-old-furniture. Apart from the usual daily cleaning, I rig the cabinets for old stuff that has outlived its usefulness and I do this every so often. We have a boxful of stuff waiting for the next donation. I got better at letting go of possessions as opposed to hoarding it until the day I die.

Personally, spring cleaning should not only apply to our physical environment but also to our state of mind.

There are so many negative forces around us today and no getting away from it --  it's in the news, the papers, on TV, in every random doomsday prophet near you. But it doesn't have to be this way. We certainly cannot runaway from the so-called "harsh realities" but then life is too short and too precious, to allow such forces to ruin what beauty life has to offer.

What better way to face this world's gloom and doom forces than to soak our minds with positivity!

Look at the brighter side of events... Believe in the goodness of every person... Cultivate and speak positive thoughts... Let heaven and nature take care of what's not. These are not rocket-science learnings isn't?  But when I made a renewed commitment to embrace these, it's all too liberating! We ought to make mental and spiritual spring cleaning a regular habit!

I am ready for you, 2012!

Thursday, January 12, 2012


I couldn't believe my eyes!

Last December, my mother-in-law gave me a most humbling and wonderful gift.

Enclosed in a pink and gold trinket was a gold medallion. I took a close-up picture to see the details.

When worn, it actually resembles a scapular rather than a necklace. There is a butterfly detailing close to the medallion. I find it very meaningful because this is my personal symbol. This is also the icon of metamorphosis (if you noticed). The rather long chain is actually series of individually fashioned big and small gold crusted beads.

I am not expert on jewelry or gold-things but I can just tell that this isn't your run-of-the-mill gold necklace. The chains have a pale-gold sheen to it and so does the medallion. Not too bling-bling-y gold but almost a supremely regal gold. I thought this must be an antique piece of ornament.

The trinket where it was placed also have a gold butterfly adornment.
I first saw from Daphne Osena-Paez' blog/website the medallions that she designed and crafted herself and sold only in specialty boutiques as limited edition necklaces or bracelets. The central piece of the medallion is usually the Mother and Child painted replica which she sources all the way from Europe. I actually wanted to have one but I had to buy it from Manila. It's a limited collection. And knowing how sought after it was, it'll be tough luck.

This medallion though had a central glass piece. Nanay told me that this was once owned by Tatay's mother. Since Tatay had no sister, his mother (my Nanay's mother-in-law) gave this to Nanay eventually. Tatay had two other married siblings, so for her to chose Nanay must have meant something.

It is truly an antique piece according to Nanay. Handed down from generation to generation. Nanay had no daughter of her own, so she said she is now giving to me, and she did say that so that much later, Kyla can have it as well.

Both my husband's and our side came from middleclass Filipino familes. We were always told by our parents that the only riches in this life that can be handed down to us is our education. To use it well and live a full life.

To be bequeated and be entrusted this rare piece of art is simply humbling and priceless!

Thank you Nanay!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

India On My Mind

I have been to India twice so far... the first one was in 2006 when we were qualifying a packaging supplier and I came with a bunch of colleagues from the Plant and from the Regional HQ. We also took the opportunity to attend the Packaging Expo in Delhi, one of the biggest of its kind in the country.

We flew in earlier to be able to spend a weekend side trip to Agra which is the home of the historical Taj Mahal. Seeing the Taj Mahal in its full glory is a one of a kind experience. I was deeply in awe being able to see it up close and personal -- the precious stone detailing in precise execution is a wonder! We had a local acting as a tour guide around the Taj Mahal grounds- the whole time he was sharing the story behind how the Taj Mahal was built.

The Taj was truly majestic!

Its gonna be a bumpy ride!

Come and get me...

Our colleague Anirudh Dutta also brought us to see the Light and Sound show at the Red Fort. On the way to the fort, we were distracted by the sighting of this intricately beaded bag which we could not resist buying.  We had a weekful of sampling of various Indian cuisine. My favorites were the Tikka Paneer and the Gulab Jamun. We also went to this under-the-ground shops in Delhi were we bought Indian Pashmina and bracelets made from precious stones. I still have all those with me, including the beaded bag.

My second visit was just last month, a few days before our annual home leave last December. Having worked with the India Team for quite a while, meeting most of them for the first time is of course something I looked forward to. This time our destination was Bhopal in the Madya Pradesh state. We landed first at the (new) Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi where we had quite an adventure, running for life along the departure halls after a long security check only to find out the gate closed five minutes ago.

Having visited 5 years earlier, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that International Airport already relocated to a modern/posh looking airport looking much like Changi. Brings back to mind the embarrassing NAIA, no wonder it is the world 's worst :-(

Bird's Eye View of the Indira Gandhi Int'l Airport

You will find Yoga Poses dominating the airport's Interiors

We were housed in this Jeha Numa Palace Heritage Hotel, which I learned, was indeed, a Palace! It is nestled in the serene Shymala Hills of Bhopal.  It was built in the 19th century and was converted to a Heritage Hotel in 1983, while keeping most of its original structure. The facade was simple but I learned that the rooms were intricately located. There were sepia pictures around the palace from the British India days. I love looking pictures from the by-gone era. There was a small race track around the palace and one can have sightings of horses running around those tracks.

It was a chilly month which gave the Palace a mysterious air-- as if the spirits of its previous inhabitants were lurking amongsts the shruberries, but not in a creepy kind-of-way (besides which, scary stuff doesnt exactly give me the creeps so I am fine with the lurking scenario). I wish I had a long gown and I can have a photograph of me sashaying around the castle. Haha.

The Palace Lobby by Night

The interior design of the room gives you this old world feeling.
I love old world.

One of the many stairwells leading to intricate lobbies.
Sepia pictures lined across the walls. I had a good look of those pictures.

India - with its rich history and culture is more than meets the eye! I will always remember this as one of the memorable places I've visited!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year, Welcome 2012

After celebrating New Year's Eve last year in SG in total silence, we decided that we will definitely extend our holidays in Philippines to lasts until the New Year's Day is over.

We spent the holidays shuttling between my parents' home in Rizal where I spent half of my growing up years, and visiting my in-laws in Cavinti, Laguna via Manila East Road's Rizal-Laguna route which saves time, gasoline and exorbitant toll fees. Plus, I have always enjoyed the countrysides.

View of Laguna Bay from Rizal-Laguna Border

The sleepy town where we grew up.
I came to love the countryside despite being raised in Cubao til I was 13. 

On new year's eve, we were in Rizal together with my sister Jeni and nephew Justin. It is one of those few opportunities where we could bond for some time and have the kiddies play together. We spent the earlier hours singing with the videoke although I must say that this time, the younger ones stole the show!

We normally have the family dinner earlier rather than waiting for 12 midnight-- so that we just pass the time after dinner waiting for clock to strike midnight and welcome the new year. In between, the kids busy keep themselves busy with the sparklers - even Kevin had fun! My sister also bought this colorful plastic horns- definitely sturdier and louder than the usual torotots (paper-trumpets) which are usually broken-down before midnight.

We are no longer keen on having any firecrackers around and I noticed that neither did the neighbors spent any on firecrakers as well. We were all content lighting up a few fountain fireworks towards midnight, but that was about it. Or watching pyrotechnic shows courtesy of nearby residents.

Waiting for 2012 while the Thunders stay away from the haze

We spent the first day of the year visiting again my in-laws and bidding them adieu before we travel back to SG the next day.

Another year have passed and a new one has begun. The holiday season is officially over and  we return back to the daily grind. I thank God for these moments in between where we can be reunited with our loved ones and enjoy togetherness while it matters.

Here's to 2012!!!