Greeting 2018 – and a toast to exiting 2017

I’m looking forward to fireworks in the neighborhood tonight. Though I hear that a fireworks ban was declared this year, many predict it won’t be widely followed — in the Philippines? It’s where over the decades, ushering in the New Year has been celebrated in the loudest fashion and with the most spectacular fireworks displays in the sky. But we’ll see tonight. I still look forward to witnessing the traditional, garish way of celebration.

So how has 2017 been to you? For me, it went by so fast, regardless of what the sage says that time goes by more quickly when you’re older. I heard some young folks claim it went by like a breeze.

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Feeling daunted, but refusing to be miserable

Battling the cold and cough is far too much of a struggle, especially when they linger past the one- or two-week scourge. More than a struggle, it’s an embarrassment trying to suppress a sneeze or a cough because of the perceived threat of contamination to those adjacent to you. When you burst out sneezing or coughing, you can’t help but get the furtive looks, or imagine you’re getting them, like darts thrown your way. Worse, people start walking away from you – or you imagine them walking away when in fact, there could be a perfect excuse for that, like the need to get a glass of water, or go to the restroom, or the conversation’s just plain boring. Even sadder is when folks who swear they’re fond of you turn their stiff back on you and walk away. You feel abandoned, like no one cares about your battle. Then you’re inclined to indulge in a one-person self-pity party. And just sulk away.

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The dilemma of packing for a trip

I have procrastinated too long. My suitcases are waiting to be packed, a task I need to do in preparation for my return trip to the US a week from now. The urgency of the chore is to make sure my heavy items purchased for pasalubongs (gifts to family members, friends upon arrival) can be accommodated within the weight restriction: 50 lbs. (or 30 kilos) for each of two check-in luggage. By the looks of it, I may have some excess weight. Now the question is – which do I leave behind? Perhaps, some clothes? Perhaps, some candies? Perhaps, some gifts from relatives here?

Now, see my dilemma? It’s best to procrastinate. I don’t need to make the decision now. But every “now” turns to a yesterday. I’m bushed, just thinking about this. Too much pressure … I’d rather nap over this.

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Naga is a splendor

Naga City in Camarines Sur, Philippines held a population of ~67,000 during my youth. Now, the booming metropolis is populated by some 196,000, according to the 2015 census. Around 167.3 miles south of Manila, Naga sits as the reigning queen in lush Bicol region touted for its perfect cone Mayon volcano in the province of Albay; Cagsawa Ruins, a bell tower and belfry emerging above ground while the rest of the church was buried underground during a massive earthquake in Daraga in the 16th century; the pink sand beach of Irosin, Sorsogon; the hot springs pools of Panicuason at the foot of Mt. Isarog in Naga, among many other wonders.

Besides being the center of the colorful, age-old tradition of the week-long and widely attended Penafrancia fiesta, Naga also is home to the old and charming Penafrancia shrine of the Lady of Penafrancia, and the handsomely renovated cathedral. The city grew and expanded the past decades. The presence of several prominent universities underscores the high quality of education in the community. What were small streets of modest residential areas are now commercial hot spots. The increase in restaurants, hotels, stores and shopping malls speaks to the buzzing business life of the city.

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Sending my grandson loving thoughts from over 7,000 miles away

I miss my 8-year-old grandson, who calls me Lola with a perfectly rounded “O”. He in California, and I in the Philippines, I watched him on facetime weeks ago as he very attentively rehearsed for a piano recital: a skippy Minuet and a winsome adagio that he was aiming to perform with perfection. Quite obedient to his father’s request, my grandson repeatedly practiced the pieces, as well as the introduction to his performance – of course, to my sheer delight, because I don’t tire watching this darling boy at all, playing music or just playing, or doing anything at all.

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Rainy day blues bring out food cravings

This is the rainiest December that I know in all my vacationing in the Philippines. December 2017 is not at all like last year’s when it was warm and feeling almost like summer. The upside is the temperature is definitely a bit cooler, perhaps much too colder for regular residents. The breeze is extra delightful, especially because the grown bamboo, mango, guava and citrus trees in the garden fan the air with a balmy freshness. Nearby is a small mountain of thick vegetation that further fans the breeze.

It has started to rain again just now. I enjoy the lulling pitter-patter on the ground and the tiled balcony floor outside. It makes me want to take a nap – but not just yet, lunch is almost to be served. I think I would love the champorrado (chocolate flavored thick and lightly sweetened porridge) from yesterday’s breakfast. It was a hit; so there mustn’t be any more left. And with the champorrado, I would have chosen the tuyo (salted dried herring) – that, too, all gone, a definite favorite with the champorrado.

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