Lazy Sunday at Adventure Park

Barangay Talon, Roxas City, Capiz, West Visayas, Philippines

I was fetched by Tito Guenie at 9:30 AM before I had a chance to brush my teeth. I had just finished eating breakfast when he arrived at Tita Elna’s. Tita Elna and her helper, Lynn Lynn, had prepared an impressive spread of chicken longanisa, boiled purple chamote (sweet potato), suman with mango, and Edna cheese omelette served with rice, buttered and toasted pan de sal, and a plate overflowing with citrine colored tambis. And to my delight, there were macaroons and cups of brewed coffee for dessert.

Now Playing: “Pagdating Ng Panahon(When The Time Comes) by Aiza Seguerra

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Ping Ping & Jing Jing

Mambusao, Capiz / Western Visayas / Philippines
The last time we read together (June 2009)

She was sheepish, “tahimik” when I first met her. She couldn’t have been more than a head and a half tall, only having just turned two or so.

Now, still just as tahimik, she stood up to my ears— an exact replica of her older brother, her eyes kind where his was stern, her smile playful where his was absent.

“You’re Manang Jeel-yahn,” she whispered.

“Do you remember me?” I asked. She paused for a moment, as if she already knew the answer but needed a second to figure out exactly how she should answer. A while passed before she decidedly shook her head.

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Advice to My Younger Self: Online Dating Edition

Dear Poor, Silly Girl,

You don’t know me, but ohhh honey, do I know you. I know you so well. So, so well.

I am writing regarding a matter of utmost importance. I’d like you to please consider the below items prior to logging onto whatever app or website you are secretly logging into in hopes of finding someone special.

Spoiler alert: today, you’re 29 and you haven’t found a special someone.

But regardless, you’re gonna do you, boo boo, so please ponder on these before continuing to slide down that slippery slope you call a dating life:

  • If a guy consistently displays more effeminate qualities than you, run. Like fucking sprint. Don’t skip or frolic gaily in the fields because that’s probably what he’s going to be doing, and remember you have the ability to overpower him.
  •  If he starts with the nicknames or pet names early on, he’s using them on at least three other bitches at the same time he’s using them on you. The only nickname you need to call him at that point is FELICIA, coupled best with “BYE”
  • You don’t even like buck teeth. You don’t like buck teeth, you don’t like corduroy jackets in Houston’s August heat, and you don’t like flip flops at a nice restaurant.
  •  You are educated and intelligent. A minimum of a high school diploma or GED is required.
  •  Maybe it’s not a good idea if he grabs your ass in public. Definitely not if he tries to go full frontal.
  •  Be wary if he plans for a three hour date on the first date and you’ve never met him before. All it takes is ten minutes to know whether or not this dude is someone you’d want to spend time with. Don’t lock yourself into something with someone you could potentially detest. See also: Alcatraz.
  •  If he tries to give you weight loss tips after the first couple weeks…

When it doesn’t work out – because it won’t work out with MANY:

  •  Move on quickly.
  •  Don’t take things personally.
  •  Never listen to clichés.
  • Try not to make him a villain, even if he totally is one. He’s just someone you need to forget.
  • Don’t fall into the trap of rationalizing or fitting him into a mold when he clearly doesn’t fit. No one benefits in that situation.
    Just move on.

It’s simple.

Did it work out? Oh, no? Okay. On to the next one.

You’ve got this. I believe in you. I have to believe in you because believing in you means believing in myself too, and if neither of us have got our back then we are one hot mess and we definitely have bigger problems to work through.

And since knowing you is knowing me, you will probably ignore me, err you, err yourself, err us and do whatever the hell you want to do, because that is something that makes you crazily difficult and so irrevocably you.

You will make mistakes, you will fall flat on your face, you will appear weak, and at times you absolutely will be – not just appear to be. Just take a deep breath, learn from it, suck it up and move forward.

Mama didn’t raise no quitter, and she won’t have you embarrassing either of us.

So the moral of the story is,

Like everyone thing else in life, if all else fails,

Do it for Mom.

Just A Reminder (Thank You, Guatemala)

This past February, I had the privilege of spending six glorious days in Antigua, Guatemala. During that week, I threw myself in the local culture, regional cuisine, vivacious music and the Guatemalan art of celebrating life and beauty.

Then I came back to Texas and forgot all about it.

Not too long ago (and almost providentially, if you think about it), a new friend of mine that I met while in Guatemala sent me this photograph he took of me during our hike up Pacaya Volcano:

Sitting atop Pacaya Volcano. Photo courtesy of David Morrison (

Pacaya wasn’t an easy climb, and if you’re friends with me on Facebook you’ll remember the summary of the experience I posted in my Pacaya photo album. When David sent me this photograph, I tried desperately to remember what I was looking at and what views I beheld. I tried not to cheat by looking at my photos, but it was hard not to. Then I stumbled upon this:

Pacaya Volcano at sunset. Photo courtesy of Jenny Robicheaux McKinney.

And then it hit me. Ahh, I said to myself. I was looking at the view… but looking for God. 

To be perfectly honest, my trip to Guatemala wasn’t simply to enjoy the company of one of my favorite cousins, observe the operations of an amazing e-learning start-up company, or paint the town red in a different country. I knew I was going to discover something about myself– or rather, rediscover something that is so easily lost in the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

That is exactly what I saw when I looked over the clouds in Pacaya– the illustration of something that is something bigger, something better, something more beautiful that I can ever hope to understand or see for myself. The illustration that shows me I am part of something bigger, something better, something more beautiful than I can ever comprehend… and the realization that the Man behind it all loves me and wants me to be a part of it. When I feel weak, it’s all right because He is strong. When I feel little, it’s okay… because He’s bigger than anything that can hurt me or cause me harm.

How this experience changed me, I’ll never be able to fully express. But, to put it simply, I am so grateful.

Help me remember Your goodness, mercy, grace and love… every single day, no matter where I am. Thank you, Lord.