Tuesday, December 24, 2013

the Year in Review

Hello Everyone,

Hope your Christmas holidays have been good so far.
It's been a busy year for our family. Here's a rundown:
In early Feb, I flew out to the Philippines stopping by California on the way to see my sister's family. Ken, Jerry and the kids were all a delight to be with once again. Always treasure these times with them. Definitely the higlight of my stay was going to the Discovery Science Center in Orange with the whole family. That was a rare treat so thanks to Jerry and Ken for that. I got to lie in a bed of nails which was on display there. Got to try most of the science exhibits and it was a good time all around.
So on to the Philippines.
Good to be back with Mom and Dad. This was a year I would spend the majority of the year here in the Philippines with them as you will see.
Wonderful to see family and friends again. By now, it really feels normal to be back every year. I no longer feel like just a returning visitor.
This trip was also different for I flew with David, a good friend of mine from San Antonio who expressed interest in visiting the Philippines. And so, I volunteered to introduce him to the country.

We went to Morong to watch baby turtles being released into the waters (to return after 25 years to the same beach hopefully).

This was also a time of many trips.

This being a year where I promised myself I'd visit an Asian country, I booked a trip to Taipei, Taiwan along with David. We talked about visiting Asia well before this trip even came about. That was a wonderful trip and very educational. It's a rare thing to go and see another first world and an even rarer opportunity to learn so much. That was a good 4 days and I must say, even if the rest of the year turned bad on me, I'd forever have the trip to Taipei as a highlight.

Lots of other trips ensued in the Philippines.

Meanwhile, my buddy David has moved out of the room he was renting with us and into his own place. We took him on a majority of our family gatherings to get him used to life in the Philippines. He's made a good circle of friends around him and was pursuing a Filipina lady or two. This is where we parted ways and from here, he traveled by himself and back to America I heard.

I too, went back to the USA. But not before one last trial.
Mom got sick with what we thought was a stomach flu. It was bad enough for us to bring her to the hospital. And so, a day before I took off for the USA, I kept vigil that night at the hospital. Those who keep tabs on my facebook account will see the picture I took of me and Mom at the hospital.

Of my return to the US, it's been a blur.
My brother fetched me at the airport as always accompanied by his eldest child. He's the one who always fetches me and brings me to the airport. We've switched roles since he first came here.
I was eager to get back to normal now that I have returned (having flown through Los Angeles in a hurry to attend a convention in Texas).
Things were not well at the office, though. And about those times, I felt like an unwelcome tick.
In all my month long stay, it is with my San Antonio friends that I felt the most welcome.

And so, just over a month in the US, I was flying back on a fast flight to the Philippines through Beijing (where I had the worst Chinese food ever at that airport).
(Mom got sick again so I had to fly back fast)

On my home front, the year has been spent working of course. It's not really a vacation when I go to the Philippines or anywhere for that matter. I just change locations but I still work.

It is during this second trip that we now attended several funerals.

Come to think of it, 2013 is a year of charity work for me... and lots of trips to see ailing relatives. I am thankful we spent that time together and enjoyed each other's company while they were alive.

Our last challenge was this past week where Mom was again hospitalized but for different reasons; it was a stomach ailment this time which led to some bleeding. Thankfully, we brought her to the hospital on time.

And so, despite all the hospitalizations and harships our family had, we are thankful that Mom is still with us and is now back to her old self.

This year was capped by a most wonderful trip out to Hong Kong.
I could not imagine I'd be visiting 2 countries in the same year but it happened. My friend who was going away to Australia some months back told me he planned to go and a bunch of them including my cousin. I did not have the cash at the time (expenses with Mom) and even if I did, I held them in reserve just in case. But my friend was very nice and said he'd front the money if I really wanted to go. It's great to know that of all the years I've been lending out and giving money to others, that it got paid forward to me.

This happened not just with Hong Kong, but with another event also having to do with me needing the cash fast.
During those times, I felt like George Bailey of "It's a Wonderful Life". Very blessed and very lucky to know such wonderful people.
And so this Christmas time, I sit here and am very thankful to have known all of you in my life. My career as an author and artist may not be going great and just treading water, but I am thankful I have all of you in my life. Very thankful.
In that respect, I can consider myself someone who is rich in friends and loved ones.

So a Merry Christmas to you all and a Happy New Year!

P.S., Hong Kong was a blast!

Monday, December 9, 2013

A Well Ordered society even under less than ideal circumstances.

Living out here in the third world... You get exposed to all the facets of life. And you are living in such close proximity to others. Even when I lived in tight quarters in Texas, I barely see anyone outside the apartment complex. This area where I live in is teeming with humanity. You will always see people outside your door. I get to witness more of general life, it's joys and sorrows. Baptisms, funerals and everything in between. Life in all a grand parade just outside your door.

That's a REAL community with real people and relationships. People from all walks of life, vendors and craftsmen always building someone nearby. We even have a couple of nutty people wandering around. In this situation, we have the entire community to deal with them such that they don't turn out to be too much of a nuisance to any one person. I suppose it works because even though the nutty people visit you, you can just say hi and humor them for a bit and then they move on. And when everyone shares in this, somehow, it's not much of a burden. They also obviously go home to someone who cares for them.

And because life is so open, nobody has time to hide away in their own house and occupy themselves with negative activities like hoarding, obsessions or even keeping children prisoners in the basement or some horrible thing like that. Out here, something like that IS unheard of. When people get old or sick, there's always someone to take care of them even with an imperfect social safety net. Even then, the Philippines at least has Phil-health which is really Medicaid for everyone, not just seniors. Anyone who contributes is enrolled into the system. The advantages of living in a real community, indeed. There is plenty to learn from.