Genetic cocktails and DNA mixes: Raising our HAPA (mixed-race) kids

In my previous entry, I revealed to you my heart’s desire of having two kids with Ian. As a newly engaged woman, I am really excited about the prospect of a new family life with my fiancé. And while I am set on pursuing a career over immediately having a child after getting married, Ian and I have discussed children several times in our relationship.

We are both thrilled at the thought of having mixed/HAPA kids. We think it’s cool. The Philippines has a very rich cultural background and almost everyone can claim to having a mixture of Chinese and Spanish lineage brought about by years of intermarriage within these cultures. I have no way of confirming whether I have Chinese flowing in my veins. My chinky eyes may rather be a result of having a Japanese maternal grandmother. My paternal grandfather, on the other hand, is part-Spanish.

Ian’s heritage is an interesting mixture: When we first met, he described himself to me as “quite the mutt”. Born to an American Jewish father of Polish-Austrian and Ukrainian descent, Ian has hazel-green eyes, hair everywhere :D, and an overall look similar to how Jesus was described to us back in the Catholic school that I first attended. Ian’s mother is French and Scottish. Enough said.

Now you understand our fascination. If ever anybody asks our future children what they are (which I am sure would be frequent), they would probably need to inhale deeply before answering because it’s going to be a looooong reply.

It is an amazing thing for us – the coming together of varied cultures to make one harmonious family. I feel privileged to be a part of this. It had never crossed my mind that our children would potentially have a problem dealing with their multiracial ethnicity, because it was never an issue for me and Ian. We both came from multicultural backgrounds so first and foremost we understand that it is something to be proud of rather than loathed or embarrassed. I feel like we will be responsible parents and guide our children to foster the same kind of appreciation for their mixed heritage as well.

Mixed race is God’s photoshop!

Looks like an interesting magazine! See more at http://ricepapermagazine.ca/ , for my Canadian readers! 😉

Now, I am not the authority when it comes to marriage and motherhood; as you know,  I am yet to be a wife and mother myself. Yet I do have some ideas on how to handle being a mother to mixed kids. I’ll rely heavily on instinct, or since I am about to be Ian’s wife, I’ll refer to it as “Weinstinct” (Weinstein + instinct, get it?)

Weinstinct Tip #1. It’s all about acceptance.

Have you ever wondered why your nose doesn’t look like your father’s? Why your complexion doesn’t match your mother’s? Why your sister is fairer than you and why you are darker? I suppose we all have. Procreating is almost like joining the genetic lottery: You can never guess what you’ll draw from the bowl. Chinky eyes, almond eyes, blue eyes, brown eyes, straight hair, curly hair, freckles, no freckles, tan, fair, yellow skin, etc. Imagine factoring in a mixture of races and you get a very confusing DNA cocktail. Considering the mixture of our lineages, an accurate guess about such potential physical characteristics would be quite an amazing feat. Now, figuring your future children’s appearance is NOT the issue here. In fact, it doesn’t even really matter. What matters is how you’re going to tackle it when your child asks you the very same questions. Tricky, eh?

The solution is NOT to focus on the question but rather on what the question implies. Your child is wondering why he/she looks different from you. Correct. Yet additionally, he/she is wondering if it is okay to be different from you. Of course it is! But he/she doesn’t realize this yet. Your job as a parent is to make your child FEEL that these differences are indeed okay. Curly hair, straight hair, fair skin, brown skin, dark brown skin, whatever! Make them feel accepted. We all want to be validated right? I don’t know if I will do a sufficient job at this myself but what I do know is that I will try my very best so that my children would feel loved, appreciated, and valued no matter what they look like. I can only hope that it’s enough!

Weinstinct Tip #2: Own it so it doesn’t own you!

 Parents tend to be very protective. That’s their nature.  Of course we will all try to work hard to provide our respective children with the sense of security and belonging that they need. But parental protection can only extend so much. Try as we may, we are not sure whether some people outside of our homes will try to hurt them and screw with their self-esteem.

My greatest fear in becoming a HAPA mom is the thought of my children growing up in an environment that I did not grow up in. I wouldn’t really know how to deal with it. I hear horror stories of bullying in American schools, and I see the concept of “social casting” popularized by the media: the cheerleaders, jocks and the cool kids sit over here, the nerds over there, the Asian kids on one side and the losers on the other side. It’s sooo scary! I don’t ever want my little boy coming home to me in tears because he was teased for being of Asian descent. Beyond my protective shield, I am powerless, and my child is defenseless. Come to think of it, children spend more time in school than at home, and so it becomes as much of a venue for developing character as the home.  What if my child turns out to be shy and timid because he was excessively bullied in school without my knowledge? What if he acts out our underperforms or hates going to school because he doesn’t want to be smacked in the head or “labeled” time and time again? I would really hate for that to happen. I cringe at the thought of it! Harsh realities are looming, and they are out there waiting to bite when our unsuspecting children are left unguarded. You can’t be there wherever your kids are, can you?

The tip then is NOT to keep your eyes on your child and extend your protection all of the time (sure you could but that’s still not quite enough), but also to let your child learn to protect himself. Strengthen your child’s inner core: educate him, talk to him about his heritage, encourage him to be aware of the many cultures he has, allow him to accept himself as you have, let him embrace his mixed-ness and carry it as a badge of honor. That way, it (being multiracial) can never hurt him. Instead, it becomes a source of pride. This may seem easy but it isn’t always implemented. Some parents carry within themselves a colonial mentality or an inferiority complex and more often than not their children do “inherit” it. But that’s a separate issue entirely.

Going back, Tip # 2 then leads us to tip # 3 which is of a similar theme:

Weinstinct Tip # 3   Expose your children to the world: Travel!

  It has been said that travel is the greatest form of education. The best way for your HAPA children to get to know their heritage is to experience it. Traveling is a wonderful opportunity for them to explore these other aspects of their identities, and at the same time it provides a venue for them to cultivate appreciation for it. I certainly dream of one day taking my children to visit exotic locations, cultural heritage centers, historical places, etc. both in Asia where I came from, and in North America and Europe where Ian’s family is from. I would have them wander the cobbled streets of European countries with me, run-hop along metropolitan boulevards, explore the thoroughfares of third-world countries and bathe under the tropical sun.

  Sure, you can also take your children to places that are not in the long list of their genetic origins. It’s also healthy to know more about other cultures. I actually feel like taking my mixed family on an adventure, trekking on roads less traveled, and marveling at the sights and being amazed by the varied but equally splendid sceneries that the world has to offer. I would have my children become acquainted with different modes of transportation: the Japanese bullet train, the Thai tuktuk, the Philippine jeepney, the small Parisian cars—hell, even the not-so-reputable New York City subway. If this world is a big, big university and the streets are classrooms, then that is where my children should be.

Weinstinct Tip #4 Teach your kids to care.

 Where I don’t want my children to be is on the couch sitting all day playing video games and watching dumb TV. We can all agree that the last thing a parent would want would be for his or her children to be spoiled, stuck-up, obese reality-TV-show-watching spawns. Children need to be aware that the world doesn’t revolve around them, that there are issues we have to care about, and that amidst the wonders of the Earth there’s also so much injustice and suffering going on. If my children are going to be students of life, they have to study the most important subject in the world: The Plight of Humanity. Now this doesn’t only apply to HAPA kids, it’s for everyone else too. I think that a big chunk of what being a parent is about is teaching your children to be productive and contributing citizens of the world we all live in, reinforced by an understanding of justice and a sense of empathy.  Ultimately, I think those values are what brought Ian and I together. Values that we would surely want to inculcate in our future children and hopefully they would pass on to their children as well. Such values are not only about interaction with people from within or outside of your own culture, race, etc.,  but also about just generally being a person who exercises fairness, equality and respect to his fellow men,  because at the end of the day, whatever color or race we may be, we are all from the same Earth mother.

 Okay, perhaps I have been sounding a bit too preachy (or hippie \m/). And so this concludes “How to Handle your HAPA kids 101” in four (4) easy Weinstinct steps:

A-ccept

E-mbrace

E-xpose

C-are

But the most important one of them is Care. Ciao!

Pink tutus and metal shirts: Daydreams of Our Life Ahead!

Waiting for the next steps of our K1 visa application does require a lot of patience. Receiving our first Notice of Action (NOA1) meant for me and Ian that we have done our best and that our fate is in the hands of the government. It’s nerve-racking, as the rest of the Fiance and Spouse visa applicants would know. It involves a lot of hoping, praying, but also a lot of forward-looking, dreaming, imagining…

I won’t spare you any details: When I think of my future life with Ian, I imagine two cute, bubbly, healthy and sometimes naughty little HAPA children-a girl and a boy.

Hapa

ha•pa (hä’pä) adj.

1 Of mixed racial heritage with partial roots in Asian and/or Pacific Islander ancestry. 2; If an individual has one parent whom is Asian/Pacific Islander, and one parent whom is of an ethnicity outside of Asian/Pacific Islander, they would generally be considered Hapa. 3; Damn good looking people

2 a Hawaiian word that was originally part of the full phrase: hapa haole, which was a derogatory term for someone half Hawaiian and half “white foreigner.” Today, the phrase has been shortened to simply “hapa” and generally refers to anyone part Asian or Pacific Islander and, generally, part Caucasian. However, the definition of “hapa” has come more and more to mean “half” or “of mixed blood” in which case many different racial combinations are beginning to fall under the umbrella of “hapa”.

white + asian = hapa

http://www.urbandictionary.com

 

I would imagine Ian and little Adam (Yeah, guilty! We’ve already named our future babies. Ian would try to deny it but don’t believe him ;-P) coming home from basketball practice. They would be sticky with sweat, even stink a bit; I imagine my thick brown-haired kiddo rushing to me, excitedly blabbing about his and his father’s latest conquests. “Mama, Mama, you should’ve seen me!” Fully supportive of my child’s bragging, I would say, “I’m sure you did well. I wonder who taught you to shoot like that”, secretly eying my exhausted husband who is beaming proudly from the corner.

Other times, I see myself picking up our little girl from a Saturday bonding spree with the folks in Katonah. My girl throws open the door as she hears me parking, her curly hair flying with the wind as she runs towards me while greeting me with a torrent of her freshly learned French phrases from her session with Nena Weinstein. She’s eager to show off. I wouldn’t understand what she was saying but I would be very proud nonetheless-my little French-speaking Princess.

Speaking of Princesses, my mind turns into a flurry of pink. I imagine walking hand in hand with this future darling daughter in the aisles of what would be our favorite mall looking for her pink Princess Ballerina costume. I picture her sticking out her round tummy as she tries an item on, scratching and complaining that the glittery tutu is making her itchy, her tiny tiara falling off her head. The saleslady gives me that mean “Watch out” look and I pray to the heavens we get to be out of that place as quick as lightning.

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I smile to myself in reverie. Ian tells me that he likes my musings so much because they are so vivid that when I describe these images, the richness of detail sometimes makes him feel like he is actually experiencing them. Of course, I usually customize my imaginings to something that would fit both me and Ian’s personality. Including his influence into my daydreaming leads to other interesting fashion options for our future daughter!

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“That sure is Ian’s daughter!”
 

Some would say too much imagining can’t be good. It sets you up for expectations and possible frustrations—

Such as, what if my daughter wouldn’t want to learn ballet? Or what if my little boy wouldn’t actually be good at sports? What if I get two girls instead of a boy and girl?   (This would be the realization of my worst nightmare – A girl alone is hard work; two would be the death of me!) Would I be devastated? I don’t know the answers to these questions.

I only know that the waiting part of it and not knowing what lies ahead can send one’s brain to overdrive, and can drive you crazy if you don’t know how to deal with it effectively.  For now, this is how I handle it. These imaginings of a future ahead makes me yearn for it more, makes me want to start this life right now…but it also aids greatly with the waiting.

And so, the waiting becomes bearable. It encourages me to be patient. It tells me that life isn’t going to be perfect, but I have a good feeling that it will be beautiful and worth the wait after all.

Open Your Eyes – No More Mona Lisa Smiles!

Have you seen the movie Mona Lisa Smile?

Starring Julia Roberts, this movie was about Katherine Watson, a free-thinking art teacher who moved from California to Massachusetts to teach in the very prestigious Wellesley College for women. Set in the early 1950s, the movie showcased the beginning of a decade where women were privileged enough to avail of a college education. The girls were portrayed as being smart, prepared for class, diligent and disciplined in their studies. In fact, when Katherine first started at the school, she considered it an honor to be teaching the country’s leaders of tomorrow. Boy, was she in for a big surprise…

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The title of the film refers to the famous painting by Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), a Renaissance artist and inventor. One of the reasons the painting is so famous is because of Mona Lisa’s enigmatic smile: is she really smiling? The technical term for this painting technique is sfumato, which means soft and blurry. If you look directly at her smile it seems to disappear, when you look away it reappears. The poster for the film is of the four main female characters gazing at a painting: they have similarly indefinable expressions.

http://www.filmeducation.org/pdf/film/MonaLisaSmile.pdf

The war had just ended and the face of America was changing.  Marriages and birthrates were booming. And the women of the 1950s weren’t just majoring in history, economics and/or pre-law but also in the art of husband-hunting as if back in the time of Jane Bennett and Mr. Bingley. Cookery, housekeeping, interior design, poise and social graces were equally as important subjects as chemistry, mathematics and language. Of course! A woman must be prepared to cater to her husband and home’s every need! It seemed that college was merely a holding area for women until an eligible bachelor propositions her for marriage. Then she leaves school and, how did they say it in the movie? Ah, “set up house”, that’s it.

           The film shows the 1950s ‘ideal’ woman as one that is pretty and house-proud, and emphasizing her husband’s career over her own. Women have historically been portrayed as ‘trophies’, as an appendage to a man; their own existence is only qualified by the presence of a husband.
 
http://www.filmeducation.org/pdf/film/MonaLisaSmile.pdf

It makes me glad that I get to marry in 2013 and not in 1954. It wouldn’t have worked out for me. I’d be out the door the minute my smart-ass 50s husband starts yelling for me to get dinner out of the oven because he can’t, he’s busy reading the paper.

Ha! On second thought, just a few years back, I was actually mere inches away from being another Stepford Wife. I barely escaped without a scratch.

You see, I am an ambitious woman. I knew from the second I started walking that I wasn’t going to be a Plain Jane. I would go to graduate school, pick a career path, excel at it and climb my way to the top. It’s good for a woman to be independent: to pursue her interests, set up her own priorities and even have her personal finances in order.  I honestly believed it to be the right thing. But a few years back, I was in a situation where I thought I wanted to be a full-time housewife and spend every waking day devoting my life to managing a home: cooking, cleaning, taking care of the kids, making sure my husband is well and happy, etc.  I guess there’s nothing wrong with being a full-time housewife especially if one is really passionate about it. After all, it isn’t easy work. In fact it’s a very challenging job. Being a housewife is both an art and a noble sacrifice, but I don’t like the stigma that’s attached to it.

I was born and raised in the Philippines, a country with very patriarchal views. Working women are generally accepted and encouraged. Yet women having jobs or not isn’t the issue here:  It’s the double standard. Men are expected to be breadwinners: work hard and provide for the family. For women, working is optional. And yes, you may pursue a career, but if something happens to the kids, your in-laws would tell you it’s your fault. It happened because you were away working when you were supposed to be at home. You have to do this, you have to do that, because you’re a woman.

Somebody used to say this to me all the time and I got sick of it. I bailed. I never really found out if he meant it or not. Maybe he was kidding. Nonetheless, I believe that no one should think this way anymore, even jokingly. This is the 21st century and women have come a long way from being portrayed as pin-up bimbos. As a person who has a great degree of understanding and respect for what women are capable of doing and achieving, I WILL NOT HAVE IT.

50s-ads-1 Sexist-Vintage-Ads-e1319678862361 221008052015_sexism_ad_455x290 sexist-ads-from-the-1950-s-feminism-23226983-468-312

There’s nothing wrong with being a housewife or at being good at housework. I am very good at housekeeping and child care, as I was the oldest among a brood of four. But I also think that the decision to stay at home and watch the babies is as much the free-willing decision of the wife and not just of her husband. These days, no husband or mother-in-law can tell you that you cannot pursue Medicine because you are getting married. These days, a woman SHOULD be able to be what she can be and pursue her dreams.

So, to the ladies out there: Choose only a partner who will allow you to maximize your true potential, who will not limit you just because he’s too insecure and afraid that you will outshine him. Ack! The thought of those bastards just made me vomit in my mouth. Do NOT choose a partner who will refuse to let you spread your wings; choose one who will willingly be the wind beneath them instead.

I was prepared to settle. I never thought I would ever find my wind.  But I did, and so now I have soared higher and discovered greater horizons.

I understand it must NOT be easy to challenge conventions. In the Allegory of the Cave by Plato, the prisoners, after years of being in the dark, were reluctant to come out into the light because it hurt their eyes. They feared the light was blinding. Even people who undergo eye surgery experience trauma from the recovery of their eyesight. Sometimes too much information (as in the eye processing what it can see and sending brain signals) can be traumatic, the sensory overload causing headaches and vertigo so that the now seeing person may even wish he were blind again. Similarly, new knowledge and new perceptions are overwhelming, especially when we are so accustomed to what was there before.

allegory_of_the_cave

Katherine Watson hoped for her students to be the CEOs, Presidents, statesmen, trailblazers of the future but she was disappointed to find out that they actually felt they were destined to be the housewives of the former- and that they believed and accepted that the housewife role is the one they were born to fill. They could have been so much more, and Katherine was frustrated to see so much potential go to waste.  I really hope you don’t make your teachers feel the same.

It is time for a change. It is time to open our eyes and settle in to the new vision that we have.

We are NOT in the 1950s anymore. These days, a woman must be able to express when she is unhappy and/or dissatisfied, say so when she feels disrespected or belittled, protest when she is undermined or discriminated against. No more Mona Lisa smiles.

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Why Celebrate Monthsaries?

They say that monthsaries were invented because some people don’t even stay together long enough for them to celebrate an anniversary. One may choose to see it that way. As for me, each milestone is worth celebrating. Every single day you and your loved one are together is a blessing.

Although, I’m not really into Daysaries. That’s just too much! 😛

TA Te Ti TU TO: The Analogy of Ted Mosby, Timelines, The Universe and The One

https://theglobalfilipina.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/510sbxc7fjl-_sx500_.jpg?w=300

In my previous entry, I repeatedly pointed out how tired I was of waiting for the day when I would finally be together with Ian. Together as in: living in one house, one city and most importantly in one country.  Ian is my fiancé of – wait, how long have been engaged? It’s hard to tell, really. The truth is, we were officially a couple for only a week when we decided we wanted to get married. In less than a month, we managed to gather the official documents we needed for Ian to send his petition to the US government to marry me, an “alien.”  Two weeks later, we received our first Notice of Action (NOA1) letter: Our petition is now officially in a special government box waiting for the lucky bureaucrat to pick it up and move along the process. Some people may say we’re moving too fast. Maybe, but I don’t mind one bit. When it’s real, you just know it.

Phew! What a relief! I know that I kept complaining last week about being away from Ian and all of this waiting we need to do before I finally receive my visa. Come to think of it, I am far luckier than other people. I mean, at least I already know who I’m going to end up with, what my life is remotely going to be like, etc. Yes, I don’t know all of the details for sure but I’m guessing it’s going to be an exciting life filled with fun and challenging happenings. Meanwhile, so many people out there still exist in a limbo state, wondering what’s going to happen, who’s it going to be, where they would meet and exactly how it’s going to happen. Most importantly, how do you know when he/she is “The One”?

Ah! The One.

Today’s musings aren’t just a product of new relationship smugness (occurring when you begin a new relationship and you feel like it’s the best relationship ever) although I really do think I’m in the best relationship ever (possibly second only to my future in-law’s). Lately, watching re-runs of my favorite show, “How I Met Your Mother”, also made me think about this. In the episode “As Fast As She Can” from season 4, that’s exactly what they were talking about – Finding The One!

In the show, Ted Mosby (the protagonist) is a proud New Yorker in his 30s.  This fellow appears to be a good catch: he’s cute, an intelligent professional, he has a healthy sense of humor, cares for the environment, and speaks French! Ah, he speaks French! (Ian, you should really start watching this show!!!)  Yet he never seems to get it right in relationships.

Now you’re curious. Tell you what, he’s not a jerk. He’s also not a freak. Let’s get that out of the way. In fact, he’s sensitive, caring, sweet, and a big romantic – possibly everything a girl could ever wish for. The women he has been with could surely attest to that despite the fact that his affairs with them failed – including the most recent one, which failed miserably. So what is this guy’s problem? After watching countless episodes, I have come to realize that this guy’s biggest hindrance to finally settling down is: HE DIDN’T WANNA SETTLE! He didn’t just wanna settle for growing to love someone he was with. He wanted to fall in love hard: fireworks and all!

Yes! He is such a big romantic that he actually believes that True Love exists. That The One is out there, also wondering and waiting for him to arrive.

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-Ted Mosby

Perhaps he got it all wrong.

Maybe, what he failed to realize was that while he was desperately searching for this woman (or man, LOL), she was actually rushing to get to him too, AS FAST AS SHE COULD!

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how the Universe plays with us mere mortals sometimes. Have you ever heard the saying, “We plan, God laughs”? Story of my life.

All of this time, I have been obsessed with my stupid timelines. My timelines are, yes, my guidelines to what I should be accomplishing within a specific period of time. Allow me to give you some examples:

My Timeline When I was 8 years old:
Be a lawyer I don’t know when! Just be a lawyer!
My Timeline
When I was 15 years old, by this time I already had an idea of how old I would be when I finished college
Be a Certified Public Accountant By age 21
Then, be a lawyer After I finish law school, of course, which I’m guessing would be when I’m 26
My Timeline When I was 18 years old
Finish nursing school and be a registered nurse By age 21 (Aha! Now that’s a twist!)
Be a lawyer Any time before I’m 30!
My Timeline When I was 24 years old:
Finish my Master’s degree By age 26
Get married on or before I’m 27
Start law school after getting married
Deliver my first child before I’m 30
Deliver all planned children before I’m 32
Get back into shape after delivering children because by that time my lawyer husband would make Partner in his law firm and all of the secretaries, paralegals and new, young lawyers would be swarming around him!

In early 2012, I was right on track with the latest version of my timeline. It seemed like I was on the brink of achieving it all. It seemed nothing could go wrong with my perfect little plan. Come mid-2012, some cosmic power, God, or maybe The Adjustment Bureau (I’m borrowing this idea from my friend and fellow blogger, Abi. Darling, I read the entry you linked me to) decided he/she/it/they did NOT want my plan to succeed, and so went ahead and destroyed it, popped my protective bubble and crushed my dreams in the process! Tsk tsk tsk! Mean!

What I did not know at that time was that this in fact was a blessing in disguise. The Universe didn’t want me to have what I thought I wanted because it wasn’t for me to have. When Ted Mosby’s fiancée, Stella, dumped him, he thought the Universe was conspiring against him. Isn’t that what normally happens to us when we encounter a crisis? The crisis converts us. We lose faith. Ted Mosby and I, for a period of time, became love skeptics. Suddenly, the sky is gloomy. Suddenly, you can’t trust anybody.

Seems like a stump, eh? But wait for it! Love skepticism is not a condition without a remedy. It only takes one person to heal the wounds, make the pain go away and the heart start beating again. It only takes The One.

I know that now. Months back, I never would have thought it could happen to me. That’s the beauty of it: Love happens when you least expect it, and when it does, it hits you like the Big Bang explosion which you couldn’t mistake for anything else.  That’s how you know it. You know it because suddenly the skies light up and the world becomes a much better place to live in. It’s like, for lack of a better word, magic!

In a lot of ways, Ian is like Ted. He’s a wonderful man too: lovable and very marketable (my appraisal is both biased and true). And he’s also in his 30’s and unmarried. Ian’s dilemma is the same. He didn’t wanna settle. And I’m glad he didn’t.  Nobody should, anyway. He/She/It will come. As Barney Stinson from the same show would always say, “(Just) wait for it!”

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Ian came to me when I least expected it, screwing my new and updated timeline in the process (for reference, read my first entry “Paunang Salita”). Love came to me as fast as the rush of blood I felt when I felt it. Love comes in different packages. In my case, it was delivered as quickly as FedEx. But who cares?  Who keeps track of how long we’ve been together anyway?

I do! And today, on our 2nd monthsary, I’m as sure as ever that Ian is the man I want to spend the rest of my life with. Unsuspecting, on that fateful day of July 3, I crossed paths with The One. My One. The stars were aligned in a special formation that day and it looks like the Universe knew what he/she/it was doing after all! One day soon, Ian will tell his kids the story of how he met their mother and it’s going to be LEGENDARY!

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-Barney Stinson

P.S. Happy Monthsary, Mahal ❤

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The Universe has spoken. I am fated to be yours. Nothing else matters now. Just Me, The Space and You. I Space You!

Living A Double Life

Suits Season 1 (2011) - Free Download

This week, I started watching SUITS. It’s an American legal-comedy-drama TV series about Mike Ross, a smart but not so lucky kid until he stumbles into a job interview for a firm which is searching for an associate lawyer. That particular firm happens to hire only Harvard graduates and well, Mike didn’t attend Harvard. In fact, he’s not even a lawyer. Senior Partner Harvey Specter hired him nonetheless based on the fact that Mike has an eidetic memory, is an avid reader (he has read all law books and perfectly remembers every word), and because he mirrors Harvey’s characteristics in a lot of ways.

Anyway, I’ve had the first season episodes in my laptop for over 7 months but I’ve only just begun to watch it now. And watch I did: watched it on my free time, on the way to work, 30 minutes before I start my job, after working hours and until I fall asleep. Yes. That’s what boredom does to you.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not some dreary cat lady. In fact, so many things are happening in my life right now that you could even say “Wow, that’s fast!” But the thing is, I feel like I’m not exactly living my life, like this is not how it’s supposed to be right now. Allow me to explain:

You already know the story about Ian and I first meeting back in July. We’ve spoken all the time since then, and in November we sealed the deal:  We became a couple. In December, we decided we wanted to get married. While that was going on, I had just moved to and started a new job here in Thailand. My current position in my company allows me to make almost full use of my skills and talents. I am in the verge of many more learning and career opportunities to come. In fact, only three months into this job, my company is already sending me to Singapore next week to train for one of the latest operating room techniques in lung disease and cancer diagnosis and treatment. My boss told me so the day before my probation status evaluation. Today, it’s official: I am a full-time employee. What a wonderful welcome gift!

While that all seems very enticing, the truth is, I just want to get out of here as fast as I can. I know, I know, my job is amazing, my family lives here and Asia is the next economic tiger if it isn’t already. Right now, I am in the best place to be. Thailand is on its way to conquering the global arena side by side with Singapore, China and Malaysia. And with the advent of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), things are looking up for every Asian.  BUT I DON’T FEEL LIKE I BELONG HERE ANYMORE.

Going back to SUITS, like Mike Ross, yes, I feel like I’m living a double life. I wake up in the morning and the first thing I do is call Ian, ask him how his day went, what’s keeping him busy at the moment, and after a few minutes of idle chit chat and endless “I miss yous”, I jump into the shower, get dressed as quick as lightning and hurry for work.

That sucks!

 All I want to be doing first thing in the morning is wake up next to the love of my life, see his handsome face the moment I open my eyes, plant soft little kisses on his nose and forehead, jump into the shower with him, make us both breakfast and give him a big wet kiss before we both leave for work.

That’s how I should be living my life.

I know that in possibly less than a year, fingers crossed, I could actually be doing it. But really, I feel impatient – I can’t wait for it to finally happen. I can’t wait to be with Ian.

I once was a big believer in long-distance relationships. Well, granted that I am still technically in one now, I have to continue believing. But I must say that I am not such a big fan anymore. It used to work so well for me before. I am the type of person who enjoys a lot of time alone and away from my partner. I feel like it allows me more freedom and consequently, more personal growth.

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But what happens now, when my partner’s presence actually nourishes me, feeds me, sustains me, and cultivates me? With Ian, I can be in a relationship without compromising my individuality. I can truly be myself without the fear of judgment and/or rejection. In this kind of environment, I can be the best that I can be. I have never felt this before and IT IS awesome! Sometimes I wonder if maybe it’s not really about the circumstance, but the person you are with. What I thought I was really excellent at doing before, these days just drives me crazy. Now, I don’t like long distance relationships at all.

Of course, Ian constantly tells me that the long distance part of this is temporary. Sure, but while we are both still waiting, I am unceasing in my prayers that the hours may be shortened, the days will fly by quickly and the months will just speed past us so fast that I would hardly even notice.

Right now I am living a double life because instead of Saturday Skyping with Ian, I should be going to the farmer’s market with him to pick out vegetables for our  lunch that we will cook and enjoy together. Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, I am ordering lunch from restaurants every day. I am living a double life because instead of getting recommendations for a good fitness center from my Thai friends over here, I should be checking out the jogging/running routes in my New Paltz neighborhood. Ian tells me there’s a track on the college campus just across the street from my would-be house.

I am living a double life because instead of snuggling with Ian on the couch, sipping hot chocolate with marshmallows on an unforgivably cold winter afternoon and playing footsie, I am buried deep under my double comforters because my roomie just turned the temperature down to a degree my skin-and-bones physique can barely handle.

It’s all wrong! And I just want this to end. I may eventually end up unemployed my first few months in New York, my driving could be awful, I could burn the toast or screw up Ian’s favorite Angel hair pasta, or my skin might adjust poorly to the temperature. Hell I could freeze my butt off! On top of it, I wouldn’t know anybody besides my new husband and his family. But we would live in our own little world, living the life we should be living and that would be enough for me.

If I am being desperate, I would say Mike Ross from the show SUITS is better off. I mean, sure he is living a double life pretending to be a rookie associate.  But can another double life get any better? He is working in this prestigious firm, earning the big bucks, being mentored by the best legal minds and he gets to attend those fancy Harvard alumni soirees.  Not to mention his name is actually on the Harvard alumni website.  He has a fake Harvard diploma for the love of God.  On the other hand, I don’t even know if I could still get to pursue law school. But that’s another story.

Oh well! Too much of this pity party: Let’s liven it up a little bit.

 I am not only writing this for catharsis but also to express my admiration for the people who are in the same boat as me and my Ian and kicking ass at it. This is also for my dear friends Racel and Krishna, who both got to spend only a week or two (after their weddings) with their new husbands before their men had to fly back to their respective jobs and residences. Racel works in Saudi while her husband is based in Singapore. Krishna had to wait 9 months or so before seeing her husband again last November. Joan, my big sister based in Canada, is about to embark on a long distance relationship with her adorable man next month.

 If they can do it, so can I. It is tough but nothing is too difficult for two hearts strengthened by each other. As I told Ian after our less-than-traditional Skype pamamanhikan (which is usually the awkward first meeting of the two families of the soon-to-be bride and groom to discuss the engagement), seas and continents may divide us both, but I am okay when he is okay.  It doesn’t matter where we are because my heart is his home and his is mine.

And to all those couples and families loving each other across the miles, I dedicate this to you. May we all keep inspiring each other. Keep the faith! Keep Holding On! Double life or not, may the love keep us all alive.

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FUN FACTS! New Paltz to Bangkok: HOW FAR IS IT REALLY?

http://www.worldcities.us/distance_from_New-Paltz_to_Bangkok/

Dating “Mr. Darcy”

Let me preface this with a disclaimer. This entry has nothing to do with women stereotypes of reading too much romance novels although I would say there’s nothing wrong with that especially now that I’m in love.  I, however, prefer to indulge into a wide variety of genres when reading as I feel it educates me more. But for this entry, I would have to make a Pride and Prejudice reference. I remember back when I was working as a nurse in Manila, I belonged to this wonderful group of ladies who called themselves Cambridge Girls. No, we never went to Cambridge University as we were all educated in different nursing schools in the Philippines. I was 23 going on 24 and housemates with some girlfriends who were of the same age bracket as mine. We lived in Cambridge Tower, Forbeswood Heights Condominium  right at the heart of Bonifacio Global City, Taguig (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Bonifacio), now a bustling residential-commercial hub and the most sought after address in Metro Manila.

Our nest was a 7-minute walk to our workplace, St. Luke’s Medical Center-Global City (http://www.stlukesmedicalcenter.com.ph/), a 15-minute walk to the neighborhood supermarket and mall, and an elevator ride down to the gym, the hippest clubs, bars and restaurants. We were young and single and on the cusp of achieving our dreams. In between trying to start good careers, surviving each of our respective life dramas, endless boyfriend gossip, dancing, drinking, partying until the wee hours of the morning, and balancing our finances in relation to the kind of lifestyle we live, I felt like we were living the life.

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Cambridge Girls
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Jade, Me, Caroline
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Me and Caroline
Sunday poolside lounging at Forbeswood Heights

Sorry. I got lost in memory lane. Back on track, right, Pride and Prejudice. The girls in my condo were voracious readers like me. We each had our favorite authors. Caroline was crazy about James Patterson (Michael Bennett series, Alex Cross series, Women’s Murder club series) and Jade loved the fantasy world of Neil Gaiman (Stardust, American Gods, Coraline). Meanwhile, as an aspiring lawyer, legal thrillers are my favorite. I have adored John Grisham since I was a kid. I have read 23 of his published novels.

While I wasn’t much into Patterson and tolerated Gaiman only for Jade, the three of us had a mutual appreciation for classics or for books set during the olden times. We liked talking about the plight of women before us: their joys, their pain and suffering, their fight for suffrage and equality in a man’s world, the thrill of finding a husband, their domesticated lives, their sexual suppression and the affairs that came with it. The Inconvenient Wife by Megan Chance had been a much-talked about book in our place, discussing it until 2am while we were each lying on our respective bunks. We read and watched Pride and Prejudice many times and almost always referenced to Mr. Darcy when talking about “the dream man”.  Ugh. I never really liked him until one day Caroline said something that really struck me. Something like: “A real man should be able to express his feelings with writing”.   Yes. That’s what Mr. Darcy did. When everything seemed to be hopeless between him and Elizabeth Bennett, he poured his feelings into a love letter and BAM! The rest is literature history. If I were Elizabeth, I would have totally gone for Darcy too despite him seeming to be an obnoxious snob.

 I guess I will always be partial to writers. I mean, while Beyonce could sell thousands of records singing ‘If you like it then you should put a ring on it”, I say “If you really like me, say it through poetry”. Maybe I am just old-fashioned but what girl doesn’t like being wooed vintage-style?

Besides the fact that Ian is really cute and sweet and intelligent (and ah! the list goes on), he, too, is a very good writer, and that’s how he charmed his way into my heart suavely.

He has written me poems filled with both tenderness and passion, some unpublishable;-P.  I really admire him for being so and in a way, I feel like I have a piece of Mr. Darcy save that my Ian isn’t as fashionable and probably wouldn’t wear those pompous looking suits anyway.  Also, Ian is far from being a snob. He’s the most compassionate person I have ever known. He definitely isn’t perfect but I think that his only significant flaw is that he gets clingy sometimes (He is so gonna kill me!!!) so I tease him: “You are such a girl. I wonder if we are on the same cycle yet”.  He reasons that it’s just part of him being in love. Awwww! He is every girl’s dream come true. A lover and a BFF too! Maybe I should take him with me to my next salon appointment 😉

Okay. Kidding aside, I guess he really is just sensitive and it has nothing to do with being girly. In fact, a girl once coined a nickname for him: “Em” or “E.M.” (From his middle name Emanuel) meaning Everything Man.  Hot, right? And the best part is he is my man now. 😉 My romantic, love-letter writing rockstar therapist. My contemporary Mr. Darcy!

 As a supplement to this entry and as a follow-up to my Wind-up Girl entry previously, I am sharing to you Ian’s dedication to me at the back of my Wind-up Girl copy. It’s really sweet and moving; I think some boyfriends and husbands out there can learn a thing or two about how to treat a lady properly. Cheesy alert, everyone!!! XOXO

Click image to view and enlarge!

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Dated: 7 December 2012

By the way, that’s just a preview of Ian’s writing skills. Yes, that’s right. In the next few days or so, Ian’s writing will make its formal debut as part of his occasional appearances in my blog. I have asked him to write a “supplement” to my blog…anything and everything from his point of view (POV) to balance the hormones my entries are inducing, lest we all swim in estrogen. That way, men who come across my blog whether deliberate, by accident or by force majeure (read: forced by girlfriends, fiancées or wives) would have something worth their while too.

IAN.Y.S.M.

Coming soon!!!

REWINDING TO THE WINDUP GIRL EPIPHANY

In July, Ian and I had just met. He started talking to me about a book he had read the previous year. Being the sci-fi fan that he is, he thought it was very interesting since it was set about two hundred years into the future in a world where bioengineering companies run the planet and calories are currency. The book, Windup Girl, is bio-punk fiction filled with social criticism and political parables. But it is also a love story between what seemed to be two different beings who found love at an unexpected place, time and circumstance. (Please read my book review at the end of this blog). The novel is set in Bangkok, and in the context of our relationship, Ian thought it was amazing to meet a girl living in Thailand. He admitted that before he knew me, he didn’t know a lot about the Land of Smiles. He has only read about it in Paolo Bacigalupi’s award-winning book, which in fact was his most recent favorite. Naturally, he was curious about what I would think of it so he encouraged me to read it. I said: “Okay, I will try to look for it over here”. A week later, he asked me whether I’ve read it and I told him that I was having difficulty finding the book. So he decided to send me a copy, and the book took only 12 days to arrive. You could imagine how I felt when I held the parcel in my hand: I have been talking to this mystery man from the other side of the world and despite the fact that I would see his face and hear his voice, something used to tell me that the online world is almost like a fantasy world, very enchanting –it almost felt like “Skype Ian” and “Skype Cecille” existed in a dream state.

“You sign your name here”. Snap! Back to reality!

I was called to attention by the voice of the lady from behind the counter. She was pointing the tip of her pen towards the line beside the word “Received”. I noticed she was getting impatient at me giving her that dazed expression. She repeated her instructions to me in accented broken English, offering the pen this time. That was P’ Na, the condominium staff who takes care of mail and bills.

So there, I tightened my grip around the parcel, hurriedly signed my name where P’ Na indicated it and ran as fast as I could to the elevator. I excitedly pressed my floor button and fumbled for my keys as I got to my door.

I can’t wait to tell Ian I got it.

I checked on my Skype and saw Ian wasn’t back yet from walking the dogs. I had been talking to him earlier before he took his 30-minute break to take the dogs out, and I had just returned from buying yogurt from the store.

I set the parcel on the bed, looking intently at it. Tempted as I was, I didn’t wanna open it yet because I wanted to do so in front of him as if we were performing a ritual. Lub-dub lub-dub. My heart was beating loudly out of excitement and curiosity. I checked the time. He should be back in a couple of minutes.

“Hi”. I’m back”,  Ian Weinstein wrote, just in time.

I clicked video call as quickly as I could. “Oh my God! You are real! You are real!” There:  I blurted out hysterically as soon as he answered my call.  That’s what I’ve been thinking the whole time.  Just returning from outside, he looked confused. I was trying to tell him how unbelievable it seemed to me that I got a package from him.

He still looked like he didn’t understand what I was saying so I said “Hey, guess what I got in the mail today.” Before he could utter a word I took the book out from behind my back and said “Ta-daa! It’s in my hands. I’m holding it right now. This came from YOU.”  He nodded in agreement. Being polite, I kept saying my thank yous. He told me to read it first, and If I like it, that’s when I should say Thank You. I wanted to devour the book immediately after I opened the parcel.

The cover art was captivating, the details incredibly eye-catching: a mammoth elephant looking like it was being pulled by tiny men, an aircraft that resembled a flying submarine, towering structures, etc. Oh! My eyes glistened in child-like wonder upon seeing a new toy. I have always been an avid reader and getting books as presents has always brought me joy.  Getting a new book, especially coming from this person I was sure I was already crushing on felt like a combo of two powerful emotions.

But more importantly, it was in that moment when I first thought that if there was any possibility that these constant Skype sessions could ever lead to anything, the Universe just gave me the first sign.

An Epiphany.

In this instant I truly realized that I, Cecille C. and him, Ian W. were real people existing in this world. It was in that time when I first knew that while we were separated by seas and divided by continents, we were not really alienated; we could reach each other. We were capable of connecting if we willed it. What appeared to be a simple gesture at that time had a power in itself but we weren’t yet fully aware of it.

A few days before I got my mail, Ian went online to buy me a book. Little did he know, a   few months after that blessed day, he would go online again and buy a plane ticket to see his own Emiko in a country he never thought he would set foot in. He thought of sending me a book and when I got it, for me Ian became someone real and tangible, proof that I wasn’t just dreaming of this man that had only existed on my computer screen.  Little did I know that a few months later, I would actually get to experience the touch of his hand, the feel of his skin against mine, the warmth of his arms around me, and the head-spinning feeling he is all-so-capable of giving me: like an explosion of emotions, a blast of sensations, an orgasm of the soul. Because just like what Emiko found in Anderson Lake, my soul has found the one she has been looking for. ♥

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msglobalfilipina’s review (August 2012)
The Wind-up Girl is a ruthless rendering of a horrid possible future wherein man struggles to cling to his humanity amidst hunger, despair and societal collapse in an era plagued with treachery, abuse, corruption, selfish manipulations and power play.
Politically-charged, heart-wrenching, evocative (characters), (TWG is) a real cliff-hanger, a definite page-turner. You hurry to the end and realize you never want to leave the compelling Dystopian world Paolo Bacigalupi has so intricately created.

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Plot summary by Amazon:
‘Anderson Lake is a company man, AgriGen’s Calorie Man in Thailand. Under cover as a factory manager, Anderson combs Bangkok’s street markets in search of foodstuffs thought to be extinct, hoping to reap the bounty of history’s lost calories. There, he encounters Emiko. Emiko is the Windup Girl, a strange and beautiful creature. One of the New People, Emiko is not human; instead, she is an engineered being, creche-grown and programmed to satisfy the decadent whims of a Kyoto businessman, but now abandoned to the streets of Bangkok. Regarded as soulless beings by some, devils by others, New People are slaves, soldiers, and toys of the rich. What Happens when calories become currency? What happens when bio-terrorism becomes a tool for corporate profits, when said bio-terrorism’s genetic drift forces mankind to the cusp of post-human evolution?’

PAUNANG SALITA (Foreword)

We often hear our fellow Pinoys say things like “Uy, alam mo ba ang balita? Ang kumare nati’ng si Shirley ay American citizen na” (Hey, did you hear about our friend, Shirley? She’s already an American citizen!)” Most often, this news is either squealed in delight or excitement as if it’s that huge a deal or disclosed in hushed tones as if there’s intrigue attached to it.  Sometimes, depending on the tone of voice of the news source, you could tell whether she’s genuinely happy for the person or jealous of her new status. I say sometimes, because people are not really transparent all of the time. They could say one thing but mean another. I don’t have a problem with that. That’s their opinion. What would not escape my scrutiny though is the usual end-phrase “Buti pa siya” (Oh, she’s better off!) as if being a citizen of another country (in this case, let’s say, the United States of America) is an upgrade for a Filipino citizen. I find it heartbreaking how some of our kababayans can take more pride in carrying the name of another country than our own Motherland. Sure, there are so many ways that we can complain about Pilipinas, but is that reason enough for one to actually write “American, Canadian, British, etc.” in the space provided for Nationality in their information sheets? A Filipino can acquire citizenship from various countries (and hell he can write whatever he wants in the citizenship section) but can never change his nationality. Is it then a sheer ignorance in identifying the difference between Nationality and Citizenship? Well, one can Wiki everything these days!

Maybe I am being too emotional. Maybe my patriotism is frivolous and getting in the way of logical reasoning. Maybe I have to be more forgiving to people who have less than excellent vocabulary.  I can’t help it. It has been deeply ingrained in me since I was a developing fetus. I floated in my mother’s womb to the tune of 70’s and 80’s socio-political tracks  from Asin, Noel Cabangon and Freddie Aguilar. The first full-length song I learned at the age of three (3) is Ako ay Pilipino by Kuh Ledesma.

Ako ay Pilipino
Ang dugo’y maharlika
Likas sa aking puso
Adhikaing kay ganda
Sa Pilipinas na aking bayan
Lantay na Perlas ng Silanganan
Wari’y natipon ang kayamanan ng Maykapal

Bigay sa ‘king talino
Sa mabuti lang laan
Sa aki’y katutubo
Ang maging mapagmahal

CHORUS:
Ako ay Pilipino,
Ako ay Pilipino
Isang bansa isang diwa
Ang minimithi ko
Sa Bayan ko’t Bandila
Laan Buhay ko’t Diwa
Ako ay Pilipino,
Pilipinong totoo
Ako ay Pilipino,
Ako ay Pilipino
Taas noo kahit kanino
Ang Pilipino ay Ako!

The first stanza alone is enough to stir waves of emotions in me. So yes, maybe I don’t have an unbiased perspective on this. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have anything against other countries. I’m not even saying that I don’t want to go and live outside of the Philippines. I love travelling and I certainly dream of a European vacation one day. Besides, right now I am working abroad. I will continue living abroad if and when I have to. Six months ago, I had to leave the Philippines. I had my heart broken, and instead of bringing it with me and attempting to mend it, I left it there. No use in carrying extra baggage. What would I need it for anyway? I was determined to set aside matters of the heart. I would focus on myself and get my ducks in a row: Job, career, graduate school. True, the recent events have caused some setbacks in my timeline but I promised I would get it back in order very soon.

A few days before my flight, my friend Myrell told me over lunch: “Don’t worry. There are so many fishes in the sea. And in a very lively city like Bangkok, who knows? You might even meet a foreign guy and marry him some day!”  I remember laughing it off with her but at the back of my mind I really just dismissed it: “I will not go looking for love in Thailand. But if love finds me there, I will welcome it with open arms”, I replied with conviction. Back then, I honestly paid her no mind. With hindsight, wow, was she prophetic!

I met my now fiancé Ian exactly one month after I arrived in Thailand. Six months later, Ian petitioned his government so that he can marry me and be with me forever. Six months from now, I would hopefully be on my way to my future new home-The Land of Milk and Honey, The Land of the Free-The United States of America!

Wow! Younger Cecille would definitely be kicking me in the butt now. A heated confrontation would ensue:

13C (13-year old Cecille): Whoa dude, hold up! What about the things you said in your 9/11 editorial? What about your conspiracy theory?

AC (Adult Cecille): Sure! I still believe that.

18C (Placard-donning, sun-baked, street protesting 18-year old Cecille):  “Itigil ang pagtataksil sa sambayanang Pilipino at pagkapapet sa imperyalistang Amerikano!  (End the betrayal of the Filipino people and the country’s puppet days from the American imperialist!)

AC: Hmmm…maybe we should leave the politics out of this?!

3C (3-year old tiny songstress Cecille):  Ako ay Pilipino, Ako ay Pilipino, Ako Ay Pilipino, Taas-noo kahit kanino, Ang Pilipino ay Ako!  (I am a Filipino, I am a Filipino, I am a Filipino. Head held up high for everyone to see. The Filipino is me)

AC: Of course, I’m a Filipino through and through!

I am tormented by my nationalist conscience. My British colleague Joanna’s voice is ringing loudly in my ears. “How can you say you’re patriotic when you are marrying an American—he who hails from the land of your colonizer!”

And in what could have been my speechless, most shameful moment, I found my voice and managed a reply: “That’s exactly what Ian and I talked about. We don’t see each other as foreigners.  I don’t see him as American and he doesn’t see me mainly as Filipina. Those are just names, labels to promulgate division among the human race. We both wish that there weren’t any countries.  Right now, this BS bureaucracy is what’s stopping me and Ian from being together.  Without it, we would all be free to love whoever we want to love”.

I’m sure I did not say it as eloquently as that. But you see my point and I just want to stress it again: Leaving for the US doesn’t mean I am betraying my country. I promised myself that wherever I may be, I will never lose my identity and strive hard to raise my country’s banner.

Besides, at this point, it doesn’t seem like I have a choice. As I said earlier, when I left for Thailand, I left my heart in the Philippines. Then, Ian came to Thailand to give his heart to me. Now we share one heart. So, I have to be where he is and he has to be where I am.  For just as Siamese twins live with one heart, neither of us can survive without the other.

Let me tell you now: This blog is really a chronicle of love. But, it also tells the story of the Filipina woman—her passion, her hunger, her strengths, her weaknesses, her dreams and her heart. Each entry will be filled with her adventures and adversities, her travels and trials, her journey to conquer the world. We will watch her stand up after every fall, and recover from each little stumble: for she is of the noble blood of her ancestors. Dugong Maharlika. She is the Global Filipina. And she is You and Me.