Lunes, Marso 3, 2014

Top 9: Beautiful Wedding Favorites (Charms' Personal List)

As a wedding florist, and as someone who belongs to an age group where everyone (except me.. at least not yet.. haha ;-) ) is getting married, I have probably witnessed or worked for over 60 weddings my entire florist life and counting. So I cant really help but develop certain expertise and eye for it. Not too much, but just enough for me to put some wedding experiences in three categories: 1). Beautiful and exceptional 2. Nice and Pleasant and
3. Unforgettable.

When I brand a wedding as Beautiful and exceptional, it means that the experience is burned in my memory because it gave me another reason to believe that life is wonderful when lived with someone holding your hand.  When I say a wedding is Nice and Pleasant it means that the wedding was, in my point of view, well planned and executed. While when I say a wedding is Unforgettable, it means that the experience left an impression caused by other reasons (e.g cold weddings [and I didn't mean that as freezing], or encounters with "nice-ish" coordinators (or other suppliers), or momzillas/mohzillas/dadzillas/closefriendzillas (and other forms of "zillas"). In my experience, most of the time, its not usually the bride or groom who turn into feisty versions of themselves, but the people who plan with them. The pressures of preparing for the most awaited event of a person's life can be too much at times, that's why the "zillas" are born. Believe me, I was one of them. I was a MOHzilla, and terrible one at that. hehe Just ask my sis-in-law. ;)

So, today, I want to share with you the most beautiful weddings that I have ever witnessed. Those that left a lasting imprint in my heart. :)

1. Let me share with you the wedding when I was a MOHzilla. haha... Of course, my favorite wedding of all time, was that of my brother (Ian) and his wife (Lovely). :) Its not being biased (well maybe a little haha), but I love their wedding because of its simplicity and sincerity. Their wedding wasn't lavish, but just special enough to aptly celebrate 10 years of their relationship and welcome their new life together as husband and wife, coincidentally on my brother's 28th birthday, April 10, 2013. Because budget was an important consideration, they really sifted through almost all the wedding suppliers available to them. At the end, everything turned out just as they hoped for. As my brother said in his speech... "Lahat naman ng tao pinangarap magkaron ng ganitong klaseng kasal...", and based on his teary thank you speech, I was pretty sure, he got the wedding that he and Lovely wanted. :D Sure, there were details that did not go as planned, but a year down the road, it did not matter much. :)
Their wedding was sincere in a sense that 2 families really did blend together. I love the fact that our (Ian and I's) parents and Lovely's mom really became good friends. :) More importantly, their baby boy, Lexzeus Skyler, became a very important common ground between two families who love him to bits. :)





2. It is the first time that I hop into an airplane to attend a wedding. :)  Another brother (soul sibling) of mine got married to the love of his life. :) Almost a month ago, I witnessed the most fun and heartwarming wedding of my good friend Jerome and his wife, Lyn. I loved having able to witness my friend of almost 15 years get teary eyed as he looked upon his lovely bride as she walked down the aisle. The small beautiful chapel was filled up with love in that very moment almost instantly. It was one of those weddings that did not depend on expensive things to become memorable. It is a wedding that was filled with details (big and minute) that reflected the couple's personality and their common love for travel. :) It was also one of those weddings when having close friends as your emcees turned out really well. Their reception party was fun, entertaining, and made me appreciate having an intimate guest list who are very close to the couple even more. The night went on for hours without a dull moment and was capped by Jem and Lyn breaking into a dance number! Oh how I love that part! hehe :) Ultimately, it was surely a day to remember, Feb 8, 2014. :)




3. I have a knack for dance numbers during weddings. :) Another favorite wedding of mine was when the groom breaks into a surprise dance number for his bride to the tune of  "What makes you beautiful" by One Direction. :) It was definitely entertaining and I loved seeing the bride's joyfully surprised face. :) Oh, this was during the wedding of my good friends Rex and Inah. :) I also loved how the groom looks into his bride's eyes and vows not to make promises because promises are meant to be broken, instead he professes his love and loyalty for her before family and friends and lived by that day after day from then on. I also loved that I was part of their prenup pictorial, where I snapped a few good photos of the couple with their big smiles and joy evident in their eyes. :)




4. The bride's father was not able to witness her daughter say I do. He passed away some time prior to the wedding. But that did not stop the couple from making him a part of the wedding celebration. At one point of the program, live butterflies were released to symbolize the couple's love for the father. The song "Butterfly Kisses" were playing at the background while the words of affection for the father were being uttered. It was a very touching moment and I must admit that it moved me to tears. Soon after that, there was a beautiful fireworks display that lit up the clear evening skies. It was indeed perfect. :) One of my staff saw this butterfly perched onto one of the table arrangements that we made while we were doing egress. Since its life did not last long after that, I kept it as as a souvenir and put it in frame which is now displayed in our living room.


5. Yes I turn into a romantic softie once the groom becomes more emotional than the bride. ;) One of my favorite moments during wedding ceremonies is the exchange of vows. I love it when couples declare their personal vows on top of the " for better or for worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part" church prescribed vows. One of my favorites was when the bride pledges "From this day on, everything will start and end with you...", and the groom actually sheds tears. It was a very tender moment that instantly filled the small chapel with overflowing love. :)

6. More on wedding vows, another favorite of mine was when the bride vows to his husband in front of I think 150 (or more) guests that she will never make him do household work. And the congregation reacted with a loud cheer to that statement. hehe.. It was also the only wedding that I attended where there were more than 10 pastors who took part in their wedding rites. I also loved that they have different wedding symbols that are not very ordinary like a plant and a Jewish shawl. :)

7. The members of the entourage were not wearing gowns, instead they were wearing jeans and green shirt (but of course they had floral bouquets and corsages with them). It was school themed wedding. :) I did not witness the wedding ceremony personally, but I find this idea very unique. I love it when weddings defy the usual wedding practices but still turn out very beautiful. :) The couple had a school bus as their bridal car, which I think is fun and reflective of their personality as a couple. :D

8. The wedding party was made up of less than 25 people literally: the couple, the pastor, and a few of their close friends and family. And this was held in a big church. They were all gathered in the altar area. But the beautiful thing about is was that the bride still walked down the beautifully decorated church aisles. It was the 25th anniversary renewal of vows of this beautiful couple who were in their 50's. The bride talks about his groom with so much love and even humor. I remember that it was raining that afternoon and Taft avenue traffic was terrible. When the groom arrived at the church, he realized that he forgot the rings at the hotel room. But since the roads were clogged with vehicles, he rode a pedicab back to the hotel and back to the church in order to fetch their wedding rings. I just think it was adorable. :) However, recently, the groom went home with Lord. I came by to pay my last respects for him, and the bride recognizes me as their young budding florist (at that time) who decorated their church for their wedding. And even when he was gone, I could still see the love and devotion that she had for him. Definitely, I will never ever forget them as a couple. Blessed to have the opportunity to be a part of their 25th year milestone.

9. I love it when couples shake things up a bit to keep the wedding experience unique and fresh. I was the stylist for this one wedding when the couple skipped the standard prenup pictorial (in between church ceremonies and reception), and went straight to the reception venue. Before the guests were let in, the couple was already standing by the entrance of the ballroom in order to personally welcome each of their guests. This is actually the first and the only time that I see a couple welcome guests instead of making a grand entrance. I just think that it is a very personal and heartwarming way of thanking family and friends who came to witness your special day. :)

Another one that I liked was when the couple made a little boy their flower bearer instead of a little girl. So I prepared for him a little toy truck filled with flowers that he pulled down the aisle. That was charming. :) So cute.



So that's my list... I'm keeping this open for future favorite weddings. :)

Linggo, Marso 2, 2014

Thoughts in a time capsule

This was a blog entry that I've written back in 2012 but for some reason, I left it unfinished and unpublished, and soon after that I've been locked out of my account for, oh, 2 years!! So after repetitive efforts to retrieve my account, finally, I am able to access my blog! Thank God! :) So this piece contains thoughts that were locked in a time capsule for 2 years. Unread, unedited, almost forgotten. So reading through it made me feel that I am reading someone else's thoughts. The events and words are familiar, but the feeling as I read through it is just not the same.

So, www.goingbacktomyfirstlove.blogspot.com is back online! :) The timing of finally being able to unlock this blog today, I think it is fate. ;)

.......................................................................................................

There are moments such as this when I suddenly stop and realize how days or even months slip by so fast! Its amazing how we are just a few weeks away from 2013! Oh yes another year is about to begin and before we even know it people are posting their new year's resolutions list on their FB pages. I don't know about you but some of my resolutions never seem to materialize. The last time I wrote such a list, among the top items said that "I will never wait for anyone for more than 30 minutes".  But from my latest meeting alone, I don't think the resolution was applied at all.

So to shake it up a little bit, I will not list the things that I want to change or improve, instead let me share with you how the last 11 months turned my life in many different ways. 

A 2012 Revolutionized Perspective:

1. Learned to better appreciate and understand the intricate details of Boss-Staff relationship.

I know that there are different facets to consider when trying to foster an effective and harmonious relationship with the people working for you and with you. Employees working for companies probably have a bigger and more complex bucket list to be filled for them to work efficiently and stay with the company for a long time. It varies per person, per company, and even per industry.

I had been blessed with the chance to turn the table around and see this kind of relationship from, should I say, the "Employer's" perspective. This year, I had the opportunity to handle a bigger group of people compared to the group that I was handling in the past 3 years of doing the business. For this year, the challenge of understanding different personalities, transfer of skills, influencing, and motivating different persons all came together as one giant fusion that filled up my to do list. And it was  difficult but I can't back down. My team is composed of individuals who have simple lifestyles and backgrounds. And these different personalities actually taught me be to be a better leader and a listener at the same time.

I, being a hardcore choleric-melancholic, always had a tough time listening to negative responses and sometimes even to little suggestions (gosh this is an understatement hehe). I hate hearing words like "hindi kaya", hindi pwede",  and "hindi ko alam". Believe me, metaphorically and physically, I would feel burning sensation in my ear whenever I hear these negative phrases. However, as I spend more projects working with these people and learned how to understand and handle one personality from the other, I eventually learned to listen through the negative and actually allow them to contribute ideas. So now when they say they can't do it in the way that I want, I finally learned to encourage them to think so they can suggest alternative ways to do things efficiently and creatively. And there are times, some of their ideas actually worked. That's good for me, the team and our clients. :) We really are not perfect, even I know that, but then again, we strive to improve and become better in what we do as a team. 

After working with them for a year (and some of them for even longer), the experience taught me that the foundation of leader-subordinate relationship becomes strong and effective when built on discipline, respect (of people's time, ideas, resources, decisions, physical capacities and limitations, etc.), trust, integrity, and open communication. 

To my staff who worked with me since the business began, but most importantly those who worked with me from 2011 to present day (now at 2014), thank you. You rock, team CPB! :)

Work at Tagaytay




Stage Design at Calamba, Laguna

Wedding at Sonya's Garden

Wedding at Sta. Rosa, Laguna

2. The process of Letting Go, Moving On, and Growing Up

Letting Go. Accepting that talents can be passed on and people, when properly trained, can do what you can do, and sometimes they can do it better. It took practice, faith, and more importantly, lowering of one's pride.

It took me years to accept that I cannot do a one-man show forever. During the early part of my Entrepreneurial Journey, I had this delusion that I had super powers. I thought that with some of the leg work out of the way, I can be on center stage all by myself and do a great job. When my projects were smaller, yes I did a spectacular job on my own. Then as the projects expand in scope and details, my stellar performance could not hold up much longer without any help. So I had to hire and train people, which means that I had to share the secrets of the trade, I had to allow people to see what goes behind the magic, and eventually teach them to perform on center stage with me. Letting go for me means acceptance, trust, and yes even humility. Slowly I learned to unravel the tricks and steps locked up in my brain that I have developed for years, lay the process and techniques on the table, and teach it to my staff one step at a time. Letting go for me means harvesting extraordinary patience and having faith in someone else's creativity and perseverance. It wasn't easy for me since the process did not only involve transfer of skills. Its more of asking someone to take care of something that is very precious to me. 

Moving On. 

The art of moving on taught me something new for this year. Its like moving on in reverse. I always had this notion that moving on generally means, "Having-Losing-Accepting-Forgetting-Moving Forward". Little did I know that the process can be stirred up and it will still do a person good. The process can also be in the order of "Losing-Accepting-Forgetting-Having-Moving Forward". Sometimes there are things that you have to do or accomplish or experiences that you have to go through before you reach a state of inner peace, which a person normally gets with acceptance and moving forward. Have you ever had that experience wherein you always run into the same situation/problem/people/dream until you finally "man up" and face them with all courage? Sometimes we feel that we have "lost it/him/her" and we learn to deal with the loss, accept it wholeheartedly, and even sometimes erase them completely from our memories. However, somewhere along the way, we would "casually" run into the same person/event/dream/mistake/situation until we look them in the eye and say "Ok let's get this over with". Then when you do, that's the time, that you have really "moved on".

I am saying this because I have been running into an item on my To-do/dream list that I thought that I will never ever accomplish ( I have been putting this off for nearly 5 years). But I just keep on running into it, my mind almost seem to long for it. I just can't have that inner peace until I finally take the courage to do it. It feels like when I avoid it for the nth time, it will never get tired of calling out for me, because that's my destiny. So finally, I have decided to tackle that road this coming month. Little-barely-baby-steps at time, it will take me a looong time (about 3 years hopefully) to finish, but I strongly feel that its really my destiny to go through this experience. So, though I am scared, uncertain of what lies ahead, and even sometimes doubtful if I am even worthy to stare at it squarely in the eye, I am doing it. Finally. And hopefully when I do, it will stop haunting me, and give me a little bit more inner peace. Asking for your prayers. :) Hint, it has something to do with achieving a what seems to be an impossible dream. (Another hint, now at 2014, I am currently more than a year into my "ID" dream ;) )


***photo -2014



Growing Up.

This is what growing up meant to me not only for this year but in the last 2 years: It meant embracing humility, learning how to ask and accept sincere help and assistance from friends and loved ones, listening and considering ideas and opinions different from mine, and more importantly seeing the hand of God in the series of events that transpired in the last 4 years of my roller coaster life. Growing up also meant seeing myself in the light of how God sees me -precious, full of potential, and living out those potentials.

***Unfinished piece. But I will leave it just as it is. ;)

Biyernes, Oktubre 12, 2012

Loco over Sinampalukang Manok in Buco :)

Two weeks ago I had a wonderful time (as always) with my beloved Gelatins. We had the most fun road trip that brought our happy feet to the shores of San Juan, La Union. We savored the sights, the sounds, and most importantly the tasty food that the province has in store. My friend Cathy brought us to this place called Halo-Halo de Iloko, where we had a good dinner. The restaurant is located in one of the side streets of San Fernando City. They have the best tasting ukoy, bagnet (well, I did not actually taste this but looking at my friends' faces as they were eating it, I guess it was delicious :P), and of course their Halo-Halo was superb! But what really caught my attention was their Sinigang/sinampalukang manok in Buko. My friend mentioned that its like an Ilocano version of Chicken Binakol. But I haven't tasted any of those two dishes, so I was curious with how the dish tastes like. So after waiting for a while, the chicken concoction was served in a huge coconut shell, steaming with its savory goodness. I was really excited to taste it! :)

The hot soup was of course, sour, but it is also a bit sweet (I'm guessing because of the coconut juice). It has a hearty mixture of chicken pieces, string beans, radish, fresh tamarind, kangkong leaves and stalks, young coconut meat, and tomatoes and onions. So with that mental note, and with the help of my friend Jem's nice photos, I tried to replicate it a few days ago. To my surprise (or maybe it was just my imagination hehe), this replica is actually good. :) Its really easy, just like cooking sinigang and tinola in one dish. ;) So I'm sharing the recipe with you so you can also try it at home. :)

Jem's photos of the dish by Halo-Halo de Iloko:



SINAMPALUKANG MANOK IN BUKO:

Ingredients:
1 whole chicken chopped in serving pieces
2 cups of string beans sliced in 2 inch strips
3 cups of young kangkong leaves and stalks
8-10 pcs. whole fresh tamarind
4 whole ripe tomatoes, quartered
1 medium onion, quartered

1 small chunk of ginger sliced into big pieces

Meat and juice from two young coconuts (About 2 cups of meat, and 5-6 cups of juice)
2/3 medium sachet of sinigang in sampaloc mix
1/2 small sachet of seasoning granules
2-3 tbsp of Fish Sauce (add according to your taste preference)
2 tsp white granulated sugar
2-3 tsp of iodized salt
1/2-1 tsp ground black pepper
6 cups water

(NOTE: You can add more veggies if you like. Eggplant and radish will be good for this dish.)

Prepare soup base: In a large soup pot, pour in all the buko juice, water, tomatoes, onions, tamarind, 2 tsp iodized salt, pepper, and 1/2 of the contents of seasoning granules sachet. Bring to a boil, stir occasionally, until the tamarinds are soft (but not mushy). Taste, then add the fish sauce and sampaloc mix, add more or less according to  your taste preference. I like intense flavors so I added a bit more than usual.


Brown chicken: Pour a little oil in a hot skillet, saute ginger for a minute, then add chicken pieces, cook until brown or until the bloody bits are gone.


Incorporate: Transfer the browned chicken from the skillet to the prepared soup base and bring to a boil until chicken is fully cooked. Add 2 tsp white sugar. Add more fish sauce or sampaloc mix when necessary. When the chicken is about done, add string beans. When the string beans are a bit soft, add the kangkong leaves and stalk. Boil for another minute (don't overcook the veggies), then turn off the stove. Mix in the coconut meat and let sit for about a minute or two.



Serve in coconut shell (if you wish) or a simple bowl. Serve hot with steamed rice. hhmmm... Enjoy! :)



Biyernes, Setyembre 7, 2012

Wisdom comes with age: Life lessons from my Grandma

I won a book! Yay! :)

Earlier this week, OMF Literature, a publisher of Christian Books had a little contest in connection to the list of new book titles that they will be launching next week during the 33rd Manila International Book Fair. Among the books that they were giving some free copies of was about Grand parenting.
To win a free a copy, you must share with everyone the "Greatest lesson that you learned from your grand parent/s".

So I did.


Yey Thanks OMFLit! :)


Our grandma is the most helpful, generous, sincerely concerned, and selfless woman I know and I look up to her. The lesson mentioned in my FB post tops the list. But she has a lot more wisdom to teach to her grand kids and great grand kids. Some of which she mentioned herself and some are based on my observations. Let me share with you 3 more of my favorite words of wisdom and lessons that I learned from my grandma.

1.  What sharing and giving is all about (as mentioned in my FB post).

2. My Amma always quotes from the Bible and among the verses that she shared with me, the one that I will always remember as recited by her is from Psalms 37:25 . The verse says: "I have been young, and now am old, yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his children begging bread".

The righteous, those who trusts in the Lord and obey Him, those whose faith in Him is unwavering, no matter what the situation is, good or bad, they will be sure that their Father in Heaven will never forsake or abandon them. Ever. It hit home run in my heart because I have seen my Amma walk the talk. The way she cares for her family, even for other people, her willingness to share even if there are times that she only had enough for herself, speak loudly of how her faith works. And she has years of life's journey to prove how much the Lord has blessed her and how she never kept those blessings all to herself.

3. I learned and will continue to learn how to find my niche, work and pray for it, and never lose faith in my God-given talents. I learned this by observing how my Amma's life turned out. 

Amma's passion has always been about Music. Her gift was inborn. She sings and plays the piano beautifully since she was a little girl. Years later, she graduated from The Union Theological Seminary, with a degree in Religious Education major in Music, Cum Laude. She was a music teacher from day one of her career, became a Dean at the Cathedral of Praise Music College some years later, and served several churches and schools as their choir director for many years. This is probably the shortest version of my Amma's resume. But the point is, her chosen field may have not lead her to the most lucrative career available to her during her time, but she continued to choose to follow her passion, day after day, up until her retirement. She would always share stories about how she would go from one school/church/student to the other for the whole week to earn for her family. It was not easy for her, and it does not sound easy even as she relays the story to us. But as I see it, my Amma wouldn't have it any other way. She chose to focus on doing what she is good at, took good care of her family at the same time, and retired happy, contented and thankful. Not everyone will have a chance to grab this kind of opportunity, nor will everyone decide to choose to do things they are passionate about for reasons of practicality. But I learned from Amma's dedication that with hard work and faith, it is by all means achievable. Its just up to you how to make it happen.

4. Another lesson that I have to try again and again until I finally imbibe it is: Its ok to flirt a little. ;) 

Yes you've read that right. She would sometimes ask me why I don't have a boyfriend or do I even consider getting into a relationship, much less, getting married. Each time she would ask, I would just shrug at the comment, and she would laugh. She would pout her lips and bat her lashes playfully to tell me that I should try to have that kind of demeanor, even just a tinge of it. Then it would be my turn to laugh.  ;)

But then again, hearing about my Amma's stories about her boyfriends (during and after the war! hehe), I'm sure she knows what she's talking about. She had a fair share of young love sweet love experiences in a 1930's-1940's fashion of course, until she met and married my grandfather. Their wedding was published in the newspaper and all. It was a move by my Lolo, who, by the way was a smart guy for making sure he had my Amma to be his wife, but that's another story altogether. hehe

Thanks Amma for all these lessons! You are the most interesting, vibrant, sincerely caring woman I know and I'm proud to be one of your grand children. :) Love you! :)

Our Amma Nora at 85 but looks way younger than her age. :)






Huwebes, Agosto 30, 2012

On following one's Passion and chasing Dreams...

I have been living the dream for the past 4 years as a florist and I enjoy working on each project and serve more than a hundred of my clients. Putting my creative juices to work always gives me a natural high. Yes, working on my passion through my business did not always have a steady pace going up, but I knew that I shouldn't stop just yet because this is my passion and my calling, at least for this season of my life. Being on this road for sometime taught me valuable lessons that I will keep for life. And being on this road also made me realize that I should be able to help those who are dreaming of chasing after their dreams, by sharing to them what I have learned so far.


Out of curiosity, I Googled the phrase "following your passion" and found tons of encouraging articles filled with good and valid reasons why one should always go after one's passion and chase one's dreams. A few of these reasons are: 1) Work on something that you love and you will never work another day in your life again; 
2) Passion trumps money anytime, since not everyone will be happy with just having money; 3) Working on the things that you are passionate about gives you a sense of fulfillment. 

Having experienced these myself, I could somehow say, that there's truth to these statements. 
However, reading from the variety of articles, I can't help but notice that there are two important things about this topic that were seldom discussed if not at all mentioned. Let me share with you what these are.

A Fair Trade?

1. To do something that you like and earn from it also means that you have to do things you dislike or even hate

For example, you are a naturally creative person, you are good with your hands and you have a vivid and colorful imagination. However, you currently have a job that pays you to sit in front of your computer all day answering emails or pacify irate clients. Wouldn't you dream of quitting your job and be, say for example, a fashion designer instead? Maybe your hands can do magic each time you hold a set of drawing materials and sketch pad. Maybe you can actually create wardrobe fit for royalty. You have talent that way. Wouldn't you rather be an actual fashion designer to the stars if the opportunity presents itself? Wouldn't you give up a stressful job that doesn't give you the pay that you deserve to go after your passion with a drop of a hat? Some would say yes, others would say no, especially if there are other people who depend on them. 

But let's look at those who would say yes to the opportunity. 

Following your passion means you won't just focus on the things that you like. Most of the time, you would have to master the art of doing things that you actually hate. Its true when you're doing something that you really like, everything else (including doing things that you dislike) seems easier to handle. However, it is also true that when clouds underneath your feet have cleared and the natural "passion high" have subsided, you will still face the reality of answering emails or picking up phone calls and assisting and or reasoning with clients. There's actually more to it than you signed up for. 

Maybe you don't like numbers, you will realize that you will actually have to learn decent accounting and worse, taxation. Maybe you find law tearfully boring, you will realize that you will actually have to be knowledgeable about a wide variety of laws on top of the basic laws that you already know. More importantly, maybe you like to keep the sanctity of your Sabbath or personal and family time, you will learn that following your passion would actually diminish the barrier between your personal life and work. My advice is, before you jump onto the golden path, think of and possibly list down your priorities and non-negotiables, that not even your "passion" can interfere with. Think long and hard if it is going to be a fair trade. If you used to hate your job because it demanded so much from you, then guess what, following your passion would demand much more, sometimes more than what you're willing to give. What I'm saying is that you should go about chasing your dream not only with a whole heart, but most importantly with a clear mind that can see beyond the present times and with a clear goal that would help you determine in time once the passion has been followed and the dream has been lived, and be satisfied and thankful for the opportunity and for your accomplishment. Don't miss the precious moment of having to pat yourself on the back for a job well done.

2. Know the sustainability of your passion

Sustainability is important especially when it comes to raising something from the ground up. You would normally see the word sustainability correlated with words such as new business ventures and sometimes even with charitable and social causes

I also dare to relate it to pursuing one's passion. There are questions that need to be answered: 
1) How long will it take you to work on your dream and make it into reality? Can you actually afford to invest in such length of time? 2) Imagine yourself more than 20 years from now, do you still see yourself "living the dream"? If you find yourself really passionate about doing a particular thing, and you can envision yourself doing it for the rest of your life with no questions asked, congratulations, you are really blessed, then yes go and follow your passion.

However, as for the rest of us, I learned one thing: No dream or passion is infinite and no dream or passion is exclusive, and every dream and passion has a time frame. Our passion is modified with every change in our perspective, personal and or surrounding circumstances, series of obstacles and solutions, and even our physical and intellectual capabilities and emotional and spiritual conditions. At the end, you would need to find out if your passion/ dream can live through the changing times.

The path to following your passion actually has three connecting roads. The first one is somewhat long and bumpy because it would test your patience and determination, and would require you to work, sweat, cry, bleed for and even defend your passion/dream. The second one is the longest path that is sometimes smooth but also comes with a lot of rough road patches. The part where you are actually living your dream by the day and dealing with different challenges and difficulties one at time, not smooth all through out, but still you enjoy the ride in its entirety. The second road ends and gives you joy and a sense of accomplishment. However when pursued further, the third road becomes rough again and brings unnecessary discomfort. 

Solution? Dream of pursuing numerous worthwhile, well-thought of and time-bound dreams. Avoid choosing and being stuck with one and call it a day. Chase after it, praise it's Giver, work on it, improve yourself, learn from it, share it and mentor other aficionados like yourself, then recognize when the dream has been accomplished, and its time to chase after a new one.

I say this to myself often: "Don't be afraid to say Next because its not a sign of failure". 

It may mean that you have already transformed into the person that you ought to be by staying and following your passion for that specific season in your life. It also means that we shouldn't be afraid to grow up and grow wise. And that we should muster the courage and trust the One who lights our path when He assures us that the journey continues even though a season has ended. You just have to look up and see for yourself that there's more interesting and life changing roads to tackle. All you need to do is thank and bid an old dream farewell, and take your first step in walking through new paths in pursuit of fresher passions. I believe you can do it. Go for it. Its not failure, but courage to start anew. The most important thing is that you NEVER stop dreaming and KEEP ON following your passions, even if it means letting go of your treasured accomplished dreams and embracing and working on new lofty aspirations. Just keep on going. 

God bless you! :)

Martes, Agosto 28, 2012

3 reasons why I love dogs and why you should too

I am without a doubt a super dog lover. When asked why I love my dogs and dogs in general so much, I have three simple answers:

1. Dogs proved to me that "Love at first sight" does exist


I have yet to meet a person who won't be moved by cute puppy face even for a second. The connection between a person and a new puppy is almost instantaneous. No rapport needs to be built, the moment you hold the puppy in your hands, you would know that its love. I brought home my dog Bruce (a.k.a. Banchi) four years ago and we adopted Chester (a.k.a. Chechi) 3 years ago and those are among the best decisions we made ever.

Banchi at 2 months old

Chester at barely 2 months old

Unfortunately, there are pet owners who keep on forgetting that puppies grow up. Sometimes they grow bigger than you hoped for. They grow big enough to make such a big mess inside your house or at your garden, needs to be fed more than once a day, bathed at least once a week, needs to go out for a walk at least once a day, needs to be brought to the vet at least once a year. In short it grows big enough that he will actually need a chunk of your time and a lot of your TLC.

Sad but true that there  are some pet owners who would rather give up their pets especially if they become too sick, hard to handle, or simply because they just don't have the space, time, and money for it anymore. And the poor dog would be abandoned to fend for himself and most of the time they would become victims of hit and run, undernourishment and cruelty from the hands of moronic people who don't know any better (redundancy intended).

Most dogs have an average life span of around 12-15 years, some live much longer. So have this in mind when you bring home a puppy because its so cute, and you felt love at first sight. Please make sure that you're ready to give it the care and love that it deserves no matter what the cost. Yes, you will have to love your dog, but remember that no amount of love that you can give to your pet could ever match the kind of love and loyalty that he will ever give to you for as long as he lives. So between you and your pet, you're the luckier one because as far as your furry friend is concerned, the love at first sight never dies down.

2. Dogs teach forgiveness and unconditional love day in and day out

There are times that I would call Banchi or Chester's attention (in a firm or angry tone) for chewing up a slipper or peeing on the rug or they did other similar (sometimes annoying) dog habits like that. The moment they hear my voice, they would bow their heads and sit quietly in a corner. I believe they knew they did something that I didn't like.

But almost immediately, I would realize that dogs do stuff for a reason. They could be bored because they need more exercise, or they're irritable because they're sick, and sometimes, they just want to catch your attention. There was one instance that Banchi literally got my phone on the coach and chewed it up (my theory was he was jealous of Milo, the new puppy, he was trying to say something to me I guess). I became mad for a minute but realized that I should check on him for he might have swallowed something sharp or poisonous from the cellphone. Thank goodness all parts were complete and he did not ingest anything.

But anyway, the main thing was, even if there were times that I wasn't in a mood nor had the patience to "understand" why they did what they did, and scolded them for a bit, they are still always happy to see me even I was just raising my voice at them 5 minutes ago. They don't care if I had a bad day or I was tired, or if I was just angry a few seconds ago, they are always excited to see me each time. I would come home and  they would prance around, bark with excitement, and announce my arrival as if I was some sort of celebrity. Because for them, I am a celebrity, I am the most important creature that they ever laid their eyes on. Not because I am special or because I took good care of them (that is my responsibility), but because dogs are naturally loving and loyal that way. All they want is to be with their pack and pack leader, and as far as Chester and Bruce are concerned, that's me. And I consider myself lucky.

That's Banchi in his favorite corner. He would always stand up and greet me with this kind of happy face each time I come home :)

3. Dogs always take away any feelings of sadness, anger, and exhaustion

I may be fuming with anger and impatience, or feeling lower than low, or feeling crazy exhausted, but the moment I sit beside Chester and he would lift my hand with his head, asking for a pat or scratch behind the ear, and my arm would just rest on his furry back, all the negative feelings would just subside. Its like hearing a word of assurance from a longtime super close friend. Only Chester  did not utter anything, he did not even bark, he just sat beside me, and everything seemed to feel lighter.

There are a lot of times that I believe that my dogs understand my sadness and frustration. They may not know how we humans call those kinds of ill emotions, but they always know when I am not ok, and they would be there for me. There a lot of books, movies, cartoon plots that are based on canine-human friendship, and I know that though the plot and characters are fictional, the love and loyalty portrayed between the friendship of man and dog is always true to life.



Chester sitting on top of our favorite hangout - a low table on our veranda. I would sit there, and he would  hop on the table and sit beside me. No questions asked.

All dogs deserve a home and a family. Sadly, there a lot of stray, malnourished dogs everywhere. Unfortunately, though organizations such PAWS and CARA strive hard to save as much animals as they can, they too have limited means, funds, and shelter space. They would need all the help they could receive from concerned individuals and animal lovers. I salute people who make it their mission to foster rescued dogs and cats alike. I was watching a documentary show called Front Row aired in GMA News TV a few days ago. The segment was called Aglahi. It was about dogs who have been victims of neglect and cruelty, and how said organizations and volunteers stay true to their mission to rescue (and some foster) animals to the best of their abilities. I must say that the situations of the dogs that they rescue are beyond heartbreaking. There was one dog (Monzo) who rescued, one of its front legs need to be amputated because of a bad injury. There was another dog (Fifi) with a permanent muzzle made of metal wire (alambre). The wire was wrapped around its neck with some parts of the wire sticking inside the dog's mouth. I can't imagine the kind of people who would do this to helpless creatures. I've read this in a bumper sticker or poster somewhere in Makati a few years ago, it says: "Those who are cruel to animals are just getting started". And I absolutely agree to this.

I only have one wish for these rescued animal friends, that they too will have a shot at experiencing what its like to belong to a family and have their forever home, that they in turn, can show their owners what its like to love, forgive, and share friendship in its purest form and essence.


To know more about Monzo and Fifi, please visit the FB page of CARA and PAWS:

https://www.facebook.com/CARAPhil
https://www.facebook.com/pawsphilippines






Inspired by the Aglahi Documentary.

And also written in fond and loving memory of my faithful furry friends, Miko and Milo. 

Miko, 9 years old, May 2011


Milo, 2 1/2 years old, Sept. 2011






Lazy no-brainer dinner: Tuna Stir Fry with Leafy Greens

Mom and I had a super lazy dinner. We didn't want to cook the usual viands because none of us wanted to wash too many dishes with pots and pans after. She wanted me to buy litson manok (roasted chicken) but I was too lazy to go out and buy some. So anyway, since we're both lazy, and I still wanted us to eat healthy, I told her I'll just whip up my quick tuna stir fry with leafy greens. Its a dish that you can do in 10 minutes max from prep time to cooking time.

So if you're having a lazy evening, you can try this out. :)

TUNA STIR FRY WITH LEAFY GREENS

INGREDIENTS:

1 small can of tuna in oil (or brine, but I prefer in oil)
3 heads of Pechay, whole leaves with ends cut off
1 small head of cabbage, cut into large (around 1" thick) strips
1 tsp. Worcestershire Sauce
Dried basil
Ground Pepper
Salt

Boil 3-4 cups of water, salted, in a medium sauce pan. Once the water is boiling, dunk in the sliced cabbage. Let it sit in the boiling water for about a minute, then remove from the water and arranged it in a serving dish. Set aside.

In the same sauce pan (water used for the cabbage removed),  over medium low heat, pour in the contents of the tuna in can, add dried basil (a few dashes), a pinch of pepper, mix it a bit, then add the Worscestershire sauce. Mix a couple of times, put in the Pechay leaves, then put on the lid of the sauce pan. Allow to the leaves to wilt a bit and absorb the flavors of the tuna, for around 20 seconds before stirring. Don't over cook the leaves, it should not lose its green color. Once cooked, using a pair of tongs, place first the Pechay leaves on top of the cabbage leaves that you cooked earlier, then top it with the tuna with its sauce and juices. Best served with plain hot rice.  :)

Simple dish, almost ready to eat, yet healthy and filling. Serving good for 2. :)

Happy cooking!