Archive for December, 2007

new year’s round-up

Once again, sorry for being MIA and back-posting erratically. You guys probably don’t check this blog out as often as I do anyway, but still, I have a lot of catching up to do.

In the meantime, a couple of things that’ve crossed my mind since coming back:

1. Who are you and what did you do to the other girl??

I feel like a completely different person now. For one thing, I’ve been dressing more stylishly. I haven’t left the house in a sweatshirt and sweatpants since March, and I intend to keep it that way. I seem to have lost my appetite lately, so hopefully that’ll offset all the macarons and pasta and choc-nut I had over the past nine months and I can go back to my 110-pound self. I don’t cuss as much as I used to– in Paris I was constantly muttering putain merde de bordel! for some reason or another, but I was high-rolling in the Philippines so I couldn’t come off as an uneducated low-life. :P I’ve also been speaking more Tagalog, but I don’t think that’ll last very long…

2. What the hell are you gonna do now?

The year’s adventures had to come to an end at some point, and now I think I’ll be grounded in the Bay Area at least for the next two years while I finish my bachelor’s degree. I’m still trying to figure out whether my horrible academic record is really just me being lazy or if there’s actually something up with my health, so a trip to Vaden is in order (once I get my student health insurance back in January!).
Even if it is all in my head, I guess I’ll have to be a hermit for a while and focus on not screwing up my $200K education. The twenty years of loans I’m gonna have might as well be worth it!

3. What about the Sorbonne/Peace Corps/grad school?

Maybe in 2009 or 2010 I’ll go back to France and try my hand at Sciences Po or Paris IV again (while trying to break into the French rock scene). I’ll need braces and laser eye surgery– and some moolah– before then, though, so pfft (it sounds more like “pffuu, euh…” in French).
The Peace Corps can also wait. As for grad school, I still have no idea what the hell I’d want to study as a grad student, so that plan is definitely the least pressing.

4. Are you ever gonna learn how to drive?

I like being eco-friendly, and if that means taking a lot of inaction, so much the better. But the freedom driving affords would be pretty nice… as long as the first car I buy is a hybrid.

5. Who reads this blog, anyway?

The other day, one of my mom’s co-workers mentioned that she’s read my blog. I nearly passed out when she went on to tell me that my mother passed on this blog’s address to a lot of people in her office. I don’t know how long ago that was, but according to WordPress’s Blog Stats, I got 500 hits in June, so I’m guessing it was then.
This made me curious– who’s (still) reading this? At the risk of exposing myself to TMI and e-mail contact from creepy stalkers, I’d like you to post a comment here. It doesn’t matter who you are; if you’ve spent more than three minutes on transitory residence, you’re fair game.

This is the end of my 2007 posts. It’s been a fun first year. For 2008 I’d like to wish everyone Bonne Année, あけおめ/ことよろ, Manigong Bagong Taon, 新年快乐 and Happy New Year. Hope it’s a good one!


elvis is back in the building

It’s strange for me to see my friends from Stanford now. A lot of them I haven’t been in touch with, so when I see them for the first time in who knows how long, I don’t know whether to hug them, kiss them, double-kiss them, wai them, etc. Having the Philippines as my last stop brought back all the Filipino manners I had when I was a kid (before my sister and I got overly Americanized), so now I’m “po“-ing everyone at home and I’ve forgotten a lot of the American mannerisms I picked up from four years of living on a mostly white college campus. I’m kind of scared to conduct myself in front of non-family members now.

But besides that, I’m back in a land where the customer service is fantastic, the people are so effing friendly, liberals rule the intellectual elite, vegetarians are heartily welcomed, and I can speak my mind.


aaaahhh motherland!

(If you don’t know what the title refers to, please see this Flash animation.)

I haven’t been to the Philippines in well over ten years. The last time I lived there, I was in kindergarten and Czechoslovakia was still one country. The last time I visited, my now smoking-hot seventeen-year-old cousin Jessa had just started grammar school. A lot has changed since then, and a lot about living in the Philippines has been lost to my memory. Not that that’s bad– I sort of like my childhood memories in their hazy, pristine state. If I’d known then what I know now, I would probably have never enjoyed my five-year-old self. Anyway…

One of the advantages of being a hyphenated American is that you can always get free food and lodging in at least one other country in the world– in Manila, I stayed partly with my cousins and partly with some family friends. One disadvantage (for me) is that it’s reaaaallllly hard to bring stuff up in conversation ‘coz I never know when my liberalness might push a few conservative relatives’ buttons. I’ve ended up with a couple of “Hail Mary”s being said for me when I accidentally told my uncle that I’m agnostic. -_-;

Plus, my sister and I have been so Americanized that we’ve had to re-learn our Filipino-ness— how to mano, how to eat the middle part of a mango with a spoon and fork, even how to speak Tagalog (everyone speaks Taglish anyway, but Tagalog’s useful for bargaining). As such, it’s really nerve-wracking for me to do anything in the presence of anyone except my sister and our cousins, whom we grew up with. (It’s probably even worse for my sister– at least I have her to get cues from!)

The worst part is being vegetarian in a meat-loving country. (I don’t know how an island country’s cuisine can be primarily meat-based. A century of Spanish rule, I guess?) My cousins were really considerate about it, but some other households had more of a “You’re in our country, deal with it” kind of vibe. Sometimes I feel really bad if someone panics over the issue, but I usually deal if they don’t. Vegetarianism for me isn’t a food preference, it’s more like a belief, so I think it’s only as imposing or rude as eating kosher or halal. If they have it, great; if not, whatev.

Speaking of beliefs: Unless you’re Catholic, don’t talk about your religion in the Philippines unless you want to get into hot water. (For extra points, try to stay out of conversations about other countries in general, except maybe the U.S.) The “The family that prays together stays together” billboards kind of speak for themselves. One of the first conversations I got into here was about Thailand, since my sister and I just came from there; I nearly choked on my food when someone mentioned that Thais were a bunch of Godless savages who worshipped animals. The whole table agreed.

I’ve gotten some negative reactions when I say that I’m definitely more American than Filipino, but the above reasons are why. I’m still quite Filipina at heart, and this trip has only made me more so, but being here sometimes makes me appreciate how vegetarian-friendly California is– and how tolerant the U.S. is in general.

The Philippines has its good side, though— the weather is great, the people are usually really accomodating, whatever food I *can* eat (ube ice cream, choc-nut, meatless sinigang) is totally delish, and everything’s sooo cheap. And I actually like the traffic. It gives me and my sister more time to talk to the other people in the car.

Oh, and don’t forget all the maids, cooks, drivers and security detail. Once upon a time in the Philippines, my sister and cousins and I all had nannies and maids and stuff– labor here is cheap if you’re earning in American dollars. Unfortunately, our financial situation drastically changed when I was still little so I don’t remember any of that, and thus a few days ago I was freaking out (“Jesus H. Christ, we were THIS RICH?!?!”). And the family friend we stayed with is actually kind of a powerful diplomat, so they’ve also got a police siren on their unmarked white van. O_O


This is a blog of things place-related, by a cash-strapped Stanford grad who's lived in various places and writes about life. She's currently looking for a job in Manhattan or the Bay Area.

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