Friday, November 28, 2008

Two Years and counting

Two years ago I left Manila to embark on a journey that changed my life. Two years ago I decided to jump on my biggest adventure-- moving to a totally strange country away from all the comforts of home. It's been two years already today when I moved to Kuala Lumpur. Imagine that. I survived 730 days already. 730 days since I last called Manila my home. Two years to the day I said goodbye to family and friends.

Ang bilis ng mga araw. Parang kelan lang lahat ng iyon. Ang daming nangyari, ang daming naganap. Ibang iba na ang buhay. It has been one hell of a ride I should say. I stumbled a lot along the way, but looking back, it was a good two years. There may have been tough times but there sure were good times too. And somehow looking back, all those struggles finally made sense. They all led me to where I am today.

This morning a friend asked me what was my career plan. I told him that I'm in a job that I love. And though its tough at times, it allows me to do something I am passionate about. So I guess that answers my question on what is my career plan for now.

For now I choose to be here. For now this is where I belong.

Monday, November 17, 2008


I was bumming around the other day when my friend Jom dragged me with her to a birthday party of their new colleague. After a short stay in the party, we decided to have our own mini party (thanks to the 2 bottles of club 99 we were supposed to give the birthday celebrant) at her house in endah regal. There was a bit of drama on the way home to make things exciting ("Nawawala ang wallet ko!"-C.A.) plus the return of world peace ("let there be peace on earth!"). We even got to stop by to see the latest gimik place in Endah Regal Block C (Hapi Cook Cabaret branch. hehehe).Finally we started the session at around 1am.

I haven't been drunk in a long time. But last Saturday we were all out of it. No one was throwing up or doing anything scandalous or gross. It was pure wholesome, fun drunkenness. There was dancing and laughing and major soundtrip (Anong kanta nga yon?). Mommy J (a.k.a. Classmate J) was the star. Newbie J (dalawa kasi silang J) was the photographer while Mr. Peace Charlington and I were the resident bartenders (bago ko sila tinulugan that is). Ces finally gave in to the party after a bit of canjolling from the BI's (Beautiful Influence! hehe). Ang nawawala lang ay si Ann na ininjan kami. (hahaha..sige na nga we understand..tinirahan ka naman namin).

Yun pala ang epekto ng club 99. Kahit na sabog sabog ang senses it was still so much fun-- tawanan, kantahan, sayawan (nadiskubre ang mga hidden talents!) at may mga "revelation" moment pa (i remember...haha) . At one point I remember I wanted to cook whatever food I could find in Jom's freezer because I was so hungry (Ang kulet!!). Ended up eating chicken nuggets with rice before I fell asleep. zzzzzzzzzz...

I woke up at around 7am with a splitting headache. Classic Hangover. I was barely comprehensive on the phone. Backed out of my photodate that morning and went home to sleep. Bangengers. Sabi ni Charles natapos ang session ng 5am kasi nagalarm ang cellphone ko. Di ko na naalala yun. I was in dreamland na by then.

Hanggang dito na lang daw ang kwento. What happened in C-12-1 stays in C-12-1.

Till the next session...

I call them Battle Scars

I was 16 years old when they first appeared. I gained over 30lbs in one month due to prednisone and lost almost all of it in a span of another 2 months. My body was like a baloon that got inflated and deflated. I have them all over my thighs, butt and shoulder. And because I was young and a bit low on the EQ then, I scratched whenever they itched and that made it worse.

They're stretchmarks. Battle scars from my relapses with ITP.I tried all possible creams you could think of. But they just don't work. They fade away through the years but they get bad again whenever I relapse. Recently they became very evident again. My recent relapse brought back those unsightly scars. My resident derma told me that if I wanted to I could get them lasered out. But of course that would be costly.

I used to be so conscious about it. I refused to wear shorts and swimsuits. There was a time that I even used concealer to cover them up. Then I realized, those stretchmarks, no matter how ugly they look, is the small price I had to pay so that I could live. If I didn't have them, I wouldn't be here today. So I told myself, what the heck, I'd wear whatever I want to and just live. Now whenever I look at my ugly marks, I am reminded of how I made it through life's toughest battle scarred but not broken.

And those stretchmarks, are my medals.

Friday, November 14, 2008

110 Reasons to Say Thank You (for the 110 days of Prednisone)

On July 27, 2008, I sent out 3 text messages for 4 people whom I wanted to say thank you to. I thought to myself that if something happened I wanted to be ready. I think I scared them as I was scolded by one for being too morbid while the two others cheered me on to not give up.

I was on prednisone for a total of 110 days, a drug, though lifesaving had a multitude of side effects that created chaos in my sense of being.

They say the measure of a good life is not by the amount of riches you gain but by the number of people who love and care for you. This is a long thank you note to the 110 people who made the past 110 days possible. It was a long process listing all these folks down and I know I may have missed a few. But to everyone whether your listed or not, THANK YOU..

So here goes...I am grateful..

1.For God – for the gift of life and well, for everything else.

2.For my Mom, Maria, for letting me go on my adventures even if I know she’s worried about me.

3.For my sister Vesper who taught me the value of ambition and soaring for my dreams

4.For my bestfriend Ella who has always been there for me, through thick and thin even if at times I am not there for her. Thank you for being part of my life

5.For Jay, who kept my spirits up during the times when the side effects of pred were taking its toll on my sanity; for rescuing my PAP convention paper and for treating me as if I was just the same old me.

6.For Oliver my beloved pusang kalye, my baby and my friend who never forgets who his “mommy” is despite our distance.

7. For Anthony, for making me laugh and keeping me company in Davao. Thanks for calling every so often to check up on me.

8. For my neighbors, Ria and Jesse who kept me company in the hospital and looked out for me during that hell week

10. For classmate Adrian’s endearing sense of humor and his courage to remove the bandaid.

11. My aunts and uncles—Tito Mannie & Tita Malou, Tito Joey & Tita Lucille, Tito Ted & Tita Thel for their never ending love and support. Thanks Tito Mannie for all the text messages you’ve been sending everyday.

17. My Ninang Rose and her family—papa june, che and pey—for their concern and care.

21. To Nongni, Tita Dada, Vince, Bobsi for picking me up in the airport whenever I go home.

25. Tita tats—my doctor away from home.

26. For my pamilya badmintonTita Nel, Tito Noel, Kei, & RB. Thank you for always remembering me in your thoughts and prayers. I miss you guys!

30. My mentor and namesake—Fr. Jaime Bulatao. You’ve been there for me since even before I was born. I am honored to share your name.

31. For Fr. Ben, whose been there for me and my family for as long as I can remember.

32. To Michael, Jay’s friend whom I don’t know and haven’t met but took time out to help sort out my tarpaulin crisis in August. You saved my presentation. Maraming Salamat.

33. The Jollibee Plus Travel Group—Ma’am Lisa, Jovil, Marivic, Nicole, Ma'am Veron, Maam Anna & Hubby, and Earl—for welcoming me with open arms.

41. The Perfect 10 Girls—Divina, Tetet, Jai, Mariel, Kim, Flo, Beth & Aries —my personal cheering squad and bodyguards all rolled into one. These girls will go to war for me and I love them to death.

49. For Angeli, who is not only a great boss but also a great friend. She makes Nottingham feel like home.

50. To Angeli’s brothers and their families—Randy, Rose, Zoe, Rob, Selena & Zach—for the wonderful time we had in the cruise and for making me feel like I was a part of their family. Thanks!

56. For Charles, my safeguard Malaysia (a.ka. my konsensya).. He keeps me grounded to reality. Pano pag nag adik ka, he will smash you with the shuttlecock.

57. For Jom, my perennial sounding board. Rarely do you find someone worth keeping so she is a treasure to cherish.

58. For Bala & Natasha- for their understanding and care.

60. To Marissa, my first real friend in Kuala Lumpur.

61. To My doctor, Dr. Rudy Yeoh for his faith in my body’s capacity to heal itself. Rare do you find a doctor who listens not just with the mind but also with the heart.

62. To Dr. Rudy’s assistant—I don’t know your name but you make blood test as painfree as possible for me and for that I am so grateful.

63. To my manila doctor—Dr. Lisa Naranjo—for keeping tabs on me even if Im far away.

64. For Len & Witart George for their friendship. I look forward to my visits with you guys everytime I go home.

66. For Karen & Marlu who taught me about friendship and staying true to who you really are.

68. To Mimopie, my original “boyfriend” whose faith in me is amazing. Thank you for your love and trust even from afar.I promise if and when I get married, you will be the officiating priest (hahaha.. if it ever happens..)

69. For Friendship Maan’s support of my “crazy antics” and “adventures.”

70. To Oliver, the human (hahaha).. Teroy’s visit was one of the most fun times I had in KL. I’m glad you’re happier now.

71. To my Nottingham family—Liz, Azlan, Regina,Dian, and even Melissa (you’re still part of it) for taking me in and not making me feel alone in a strange land.

76. For my soulsister—Charrie whose impending motherhood is something I’m so excited about. I know you will be a great mom partner.

77. To Mardet & Jeff, my big brother and sister in the counseling program of ateneo. You always remember.

78. To my GBC family—Tita Cons, Tito Mau, Marlu, & Harry and everyone else who queue every Monday and Thursday nights.. Thanks for always welcoming me back to my beloved GBC.

82. For Denden & Kirby—for their cheerful hi’s and hello’s and for always keeping in touch. Thanks for breaking the curse kirbs!!

84. To Josh, my sis in SG, for being one of the few people here that I could talk to with all honesty. I’m so glad we became friends.

85. For Giselle & Shella and their generosity. Thanks for keeping our mom company in Manila.

87. To the PPPeyups gang—Vivi, Gilbert, Merly & Tin, good friends through all these years. Ano kaya ang announcement ni Tin? Thanks guys for believing in me.

91. For my cousin Tryke and his beloved Michelle who were my personal tour guides/drivers while I was in Davao back in August and whenever I am there.

93. For my comps’ gang—Chin, Bambi, & Obeng, for sharing my ups and downs even years after our famous exam.

96. For my ARP students—Sham, William & Hui Ying for being patient with me whenever I’m too sick to advise them.

97. For Ralyn & Ben whose lovestory gives me the hope that people do find their soul mates.

99. To Prednisone, the drug that saved my life.

100. To Niel,AJ, & Weevens, my ateneo friends and colleagues whom I bug every now and then for favors.

103. To Peter and the rest of experimental psychology & psych testing students in Ateneo for reminding me always of why I love my job.

104. To my UP Math Barkada-- Aldwin, Lyzet, Sheryll, Kim, Aldwin E., & Peter.. Good friends that I surely miss.

110. And to YOU, you know who you are-- for driving the symptoms away by simply being there.

I am forever grateful.


After 110 days I finally said goodbye to prednisone, the medication that boosted my platelets up and saved my life. My platelets are finally deemed normal enough to warrant a chance to do things on its own. For those unfamiliar with Thrombocytopenia, what happens with my platelets is that for some unknown reason, my body has developed antibodies against its own platelets. So when the blood is sent to the spleen for filtering, instead of just filtering out the bad stuff, the good platelets also gets the ax. Thus causing abnormally low platelet counts.

Yesterday I went to see Dr. Rudy again and we had our usual blood tests. For the 2nd time around, no blood came out of the syringe! ouch! The med tech had to fan the needle a bit (double ouch!) to catch the right vein. 2 hours of waiting later (dr. rudy had a bone marrow event), i came out smiling from ear to ear. Count was at 190,000.

So its goodbye prednisone. I hope this would be the final goodbye.. but if not, i hope we don't meet for a very very long time.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Back from Cambodia

It took almost 6 months of planning and now it's finally over. We're back from our 4 day adventure in Cambodia. If I could use one phrase to capture the trip it would be this-- "hope and blessings amidst magic" (nagpapaka deep lang po ako ng onti! hahaha). But seriously, the trip was indeed magical. Worth every sweat and stress we experienced along the way.

True to form ang mga bloopers ko. Andyan yung muntik akong di makasama kasi naiwan ko ang passport ko sa bahay. Ano nga daw ang tawag dun? Strike one. Strike two-- wrong gate ang pinilahan (but it turned out to be right naman!) kaya naranasan naming mapage sa LCCT ng di oras (calling passengers xxx,xxx,xxx,xxx...iiwan na kayo ng eroplano!). Strike three, four, five and so on---ilang beses akong muntik mabalian during the entire trip dahil naiisipan ko laging mag acrobatics (a.k.a mapatid, madulas, atbp). But of course these bloopers only made the trip more fun.

Upon arrival, adventure na ang paghahanap sa aming munting hotel. Nakatago kasi siya sa likod ng isang malaking karatulang-- People's Party of Cambodia. Di mo tuloy alam kung kami ay pupunta sa isang meeting de avance or mababakasyon sa bahay ng isang malayong kamag anak. Matapos mag settle kay "Auntie's House" sinimulan na agad ang grand tour. Nireview ni K (ang aming driver na sabi ni Jay ay kmukha ni chuckie dreyfus at romnick sarmenta kaso di namin talaga makita ang resemblance) ang itinerary kong ginawa at nirevise ito ayon sa format na naayon. Bumili kami ng temple pass (sorry po... di na pala kelangan ng passport pic--blooper number 9?), at pumasok na sa kakaibang mundo na ang tawag ay Angkor. It looked liked we were transported out into a totally different timezone! I was in total awe.

The photography outing started with the Angkor Thom temple (a,k.a. Angkor Thom's Cabin). Kasagsagan ng init ng araw pero game pa din kaming kumuha at magpose para macapture ang truly priceless moment na iyon. Ang daming mga turista, pati mga tour guide. May gwapo, maganda, pangit at mukhang paa. You name it. May kamukha pa si Oliver (kung siya ay may alopecia at ginawang isang GI). Ayos day 1 pa lang, ang dami na naming nalait.

Matapos ang isang oras na siesta (at shower! sa sobrang init, 3x a day kami maligo..), we found ourselves saying ooh and ahh at the Angkor Wat. Reg and Tina ventured inside the temples first while Jay and I took time to take the pictures outside. Sa sobrang tagal namin eh nasarahan tuloy kami ng temple. Di na kami umabot sa center part (the famous three towers of Angkor Wat) kasi sarado na for the day. We did witness a beautiful sunset though and finally I understood why the Angkor Wat was the most popular of all the temples. There was the "oomph" factor that you would feel when you enter its domain. We also had a side trip to the jewelry store. Sabi nga ni neighbor, "may papamana na ako sa aking mga anak.."

Day 1 ended with a good dinner at the Soup Dragon kung san may special menu of "Pork Escalopes (a.k.a. pork with HARM and cheese.. ano daw? sinaktan na baboy with queso?). Neighbor Ria found true love in the beef leklok (kaya everyday niya itong inorder) while Tina feasted on the veggies. Jay and I were introduced to Angkor Beer by K. Panalo siya! walang bitter aftertaste. The drinking session continued in our room along with Jay's magic show and the traditional tong its. Taob kami ni Jcool kay neighbor, kami ay mere mortals lamang..

Day 2 was spent visiting more temples starting with the Roulous Group. It was in the outskirts of the town but definitely worth the travel. May miniature version ng Angkor Wat pa. Then we visited Ta Prohm, the site of the movie Tomb raider. Among the ruins, this was the one that was most left untouched. So feeling mo talaga eh nasa jungle ka. I found myself doing an amazing race Ta Prohm version since tina and i couldnt find reg and jay. Buti na lang pumayag si tina sa idea kong bumalik sa pit stop kasi true enough andun na sila. Sa sobrang pagod ko, nakatulala na lang ako nung lunch. Pero syempre go pa din tayo. After a brief siesta (plus shower again!), we went to the market to go shopping and then off to Tonle Sap Lake. Medyo minalas kasi umulan kaya matapos ang ilang sandali we decided to head back to shore. Neighbor wasn't feeling well din plus nakakadepress din ang site ng mga boat people na nakatira along the river. It was so muddy on the walk back that I think I grew a couple of inches taller. Buti na lang andyan si Efren (It's a bird, it's a plane!, no its Efren!) para ireenact ang washing of the feet sa huling hapunan.Di nga lang niya hinalikan ang aming mga paa. hehe.

The rains didn't stop but fortunately we had beef noodle soup for dinner at this run down house. Tina and K had the pig's brain version while Jay, Reg and I had the normal version (di po ako ganung ka adventurous). Our Bill? 80,000! In khmer money lah! hahaha. Kala mo ang mahal eh no? Pero panalo talaga yung dinner na to- khmer version of the shabu shabu. One thing I love about Cambodia, there's no such thing as bad food. Lahat masarap! yummy! After dinner we headed to Auntie's house (a.k.a. our hotel) and then had another drinking/pusoy dos session. Nakakainis yung taga sira ng plan ko for world domination, talagang ayaw akong papanalunin. Buti na lang napagbalasa din namin siya sa dulo.

On Sunday morning we decided to revisit Angkor Wat. Jay and I wanted to see the other parts we missed while Reg wanted to re-experience the temple minus the mud. Finally I got to take my beautiful pictures of the famous Angkor Wat. Career nga lang ang pag akyat sa matarik na hagdan! We visited another temple afterwards (nakalimutan ko ang name basta siya ay dirediretsong pinto), before finally calling our temple tour a success. We even got to ride a tuktuk kasi may tinataguan na fans si Gidiyap (5 for 1 dollah! buy 10 for 1 dollah!) na paboritong dumugin ng mga vendors. haha.

For our last lunch in Cambodia, K took us to this carinderia by the river. At 1.50 USD per order, it was a total bargain. We ate over 10 dishes plus drinks and paid only 20USD. Ayos! My favorite was the pork ribs ( in khmer, they call it... pork rip.. a.k.a. pinilas na baboy!).Of course di nawala ang ever favorite beef leklok ni neighbor.

The rest of the day was spent shopping for souvenirs and bags. We all got matching North Face Backpacks for a real bargain. Idol sa baratan si Neighbor. Wala kong masabi. Talagang level up! Talented talaga si neigbor..pati pick up skills ay level up. Imagine, 1 boylet a day ang kanyang record. Hmm.. eh ako? nah.. change topic please.

After a two hour shopping spree (bought some dri fit shirts from nike and addidas), we went back to the hostel and rested a bit. K picked us up at 930pm to take us to the Pub street for dinner and drinks. We decided to eat at the Soup Dragon again and drink all the Angkor Beer we could drink. Kampay!!! Kulitan at its finest.

Pagbalik sa hostel, it was time to pack up. Master packers in motion. May nangulit at nangurot pa on the side. kasalanan po niya yung pasa ko sa braso. ;) Nadiscover kong may talent pa pala ako sa wrestling.

Gumising kami ng maaga kanina para mag breakfast in bed este picnic in bed pala under my romantic dimmer light (hep! wholesome picnic po ito). Ang aga kumatok ni Jay para daw may oras pa makipag chickahan with Doro the explorer..At 6:20 am, K picked us up for the last time to take us to the airport. Back to reality na.

The master packer status still holds- Jay was the ulitmate master packer at 14.2 kg, followed by neighbor at 13.6 and me at 13.1. Si tina,kulang pa sa practice. 9.6kg lang. newbie.

Ganung kabilis ang apat na araw. May separation anxiety nga daw kami sabi ni neighbor. Ang tagal kasi plinano ng trip na to. At one point sa sobrang tagal, nakalimutan na namin siya. Nawala na ang excitement. Pero nung dumating, parang kay bilis natapos. Bukas back to work na muli. buti pa sina jay eh naka 1 day leave pa. A part of me wished it didn't end yet. Siguro nga kasi sa loob ng apat na araw na yon, I saw a world totally different from mine and I got to experience it with some very special folks.

What else could you ask for right?