Sunday, August 2, 2015

Finding Purpose in Tanzania - TAFCOM

I can’t believe it’s been 3 years since I’ve written an entry…and I will backtrack and give that time the due respect it deserves…But for now, I’m sooooo excited to share what I’ve been doing the last few months. It’s hard to believe that my journey so far has taken me across 5 continents in 5.5 years.  I feel a bit like a cliché saying that I’m finding myself in Africa but here I am in Moshi, Tanzania – a small town on the foothills of Kilimanjaro doing exactly that.

I feel so immeasurably blessed to have found myself a volunteer project that truly resonates with me. TAFCOM, (website to be updated) is a fantastic organization that focuses on alleviating extreme poverty by supporting the community and people affected by HIV/AIDs. It was started by a local Tanzanian couple (Nie and Jonas), who sold their car to start this NGO! They are inspiring to say the least and I am often reminded that we can all do our little bit in whatever capacity we can. And with that in mind, I realized that the best way I could that was to help them with organizational management, systems creation as well as strengthening their sustainability strategy. It has been unbelievably rewarding and I can’t even begin to tell you how much they have already touched and impacted me. For those that don't know, one of my degrees was actually focused on Development and international studies before I did my Business Management. I am reminded how things often happen in life for a reason even though it is not immediately apparent. For the first time, I truly get to combine both of those and apply it to a sector and organizations that actually make the world a slightly better place.  

TAFCOM's story has been an amazing journey about how to solve tackle poverty. When I asked them initially about why they have so many seemingly unrelated projects their answer was this: 

"First we just wanted to see why people were so poor, so we started with  *Home Care Visits* by providing counseling and support services. It was because most of them were affected by HIV/AIDs and where shun by the community. So we started  *Community Outreach* tackling stigma, health and women's issues. But that wasn't enough cause we noticed that there were so many children that could not afford to be educated, so we started a *Nursery/School* to provide them that opportunity. But we taught to ourselves how else can we truly help? We realized that we need to provide them with skills and a chance to be independent. That's how the *Women's Tailoring Group* started for single mothers. Afterwards, we also wanted to support families in other ways by giving them the ability to start a business through  *MICROLOAN PROJECT*. " 

Uh, ya, that totally makes sense now that you explain it that way. And here we are...  
Unfortunately, the poverty here is unlike anything I have seen anywhere else before. Families living in mud huts with no running water or electricity. And yet their spirit and desire for a better life refuses to be squashed by all the insurmountable odds. I hope that that the work I'm doing can move you as much as it has me.

How it works: 

Basically $100 will help a family be able to start their own business. Because it's a community development cause, TAFCOM will provide the necessary business training along with basic book keeping to aide in their success. The goal is to enable these women and families to have the opportunity to earn money and be independent. It is a way for them to earn a sustainable livelihood. Any little bit you donate will be appreciated. Once we rehaul the website - there will be quarterly updates about the women and businesses that you support :) It'll give a window to how big a difference you can make to a person, family or child's life!!  And impressively, the 40 previous families they’ve helped – they had a 99% prepayment success rate and the businesses are still thriving!! We hope to continue it by helping more like them achieve independence!

As their newly appointed Chairperson of their Board of Directors (oh ya I’m feeling important ;) – I, as well as other amazing volunteers (Thanks Lavannia, Dani, Femke) and newly formed partnerships with other NGOs (Thanks Team FriendsTogether) have committed to help TAFCOM in whatever capacity we can. We have amazing plans for them! We're all very excited to spread their reach and positive impact on the community, increase it's capacity to help and generally just make the world better, one person, man, woman, child or family at a time. I wish I could share how truly wonderful it feels to be able to do this. I hope that you can join us in this fantastic endeavor in whatever capacity – with either your donations, time, skills or simply forwarding this fundraising link across your social group: 

Advanced THANKs everyone. Asante sana from Tanzania :)    

Monday, March 12, 2012

C - eh - N - eh - D - eh!

It feels a bit late to say Happy 2012 so we'll go with Happy Leap Year, but even that has come and gone! How do I even begin to describe the gloriousness of the last 2 months.  What I can definitely say that its been a whirlwind and the only thing unfortunate is my body hates the crazy shock it's been through. Its been a while since I've written but since this journey is far from being over, I feel the need to still share how insane, crazy, stressful yet fantastic the last little while has been. I write this back in Melbourne, still in a surreal daze that I've relocated here. I still wake up in the mornings trying to get my bearings realizing that I'm not in Vancouver anymore and that I'm in yet another new city, but this time with the intention of making it my home. With that comes a certain amount of trepidation, fear and excitement mingled with the fact that I have to start building a life. 

I'll start at when I left off:

I have to say that interestingly enough, Christmas 2011 was the holiday season that I got into the most. Thanks largely to the crew at the Hub. We indulged lazily every day making sure that my last days in Brissy were pretty much characterized with the gang hanging out on our balcony, legs up on the rail with a cider and smokable on hand. 

Special thanks to:

Natsuki - You were the best roomate that I've ever had and I will always be thankful for your support. You know how much you mean to me. Patrick and our insiteful chats about everything including our obsession with the Japanese Evil Genius. Ryo for actually finally letting me taste home-cooked Japanese food! The Germans for always keeping their door open and beer flowing. Jo for always being there. Ian for being a great friend. Jason you were a wicked manager. Nicole and Corey for always having a spare smoke to share. Paul for taking me on wonderful random adventures all the time. And of course my "lil brother" Nick, who made sure I was always with family.

Flying to Hervey Bay on Paul's plane meant that I got to end the best and worst year on record literally on a high. There is nothing more serene than looking at the world from above. It was beautiful and picturesque to soar in the sky looking down at the beautiful coast and the Glass House Mountains. And I finally got to see a Koala and pet a kangaroo. It was a great way to end an other wise turbulent year. I'm glad to put 2011 to rest and look forward to the new adventures that 2012 brings...

Clearly the cutest most chilled out creatures in the world!
On Paul's plane!
The views of Fraser Island from above!
NYE 2012 was wonderful incorporation of all our different cultures filled with traditions of what we would do/cook at home. So we started the night with a traditional Swiss/German fondue, some Japanese chicken teriyaki, Filipino pancit and Peri-peri chicken with copious amounts of bubbly. There was something magical about missing the beginning of the fireworks because we ended up celebrating the stroke of midnight outside The Hub. We eventually got to the Story Bridge and meandered the streets of the Valley  bar hopping along the way. There may have been some donairs, free dances and making random friends in there. The best part was just hanging with everyone, walking  back after sunrise, lighting firecrackers and chatting til 8 am about golden cages and hand feeding Natsuki berries. I also got to see Jiggy in our 3rd country, who gave me an awesome luggage tag that appropriately reads "Not all who wander are lost". 

Bring on 2012!!
As sad as I was to leave the Hub, Melbourne was definitely worth exploring. As the 2nd largest city in OZ, it seems like a wonderful combination of Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver but more vibrant and hotter! But more on my new home later...

C - eh - N - eh - D - eh!

My much needed trip back home! I naively thought/hoped that somehow 6 weeks was going to be enough to see everyone...but alas, I was sadly mistaken. I did try to fit as much as I humanly could, crossing the entire country (all 7,000+ km) in an attempt to hug everyone I miss so much! I flew into Vancouver during a beautiful sunny day, the stuff that makes BC winters legendary. Then I excitedly loved it when few days later, I was blessed with gorgoeus snow - at that point it was such a welcome surprise and a gift. After catching a cold going from Australian summer to a Canadian winter I wasn't so sure about that anymore! 

My flight in was gorgeous!

  • Being there for one of my best friend's last chemotherapy. I can't begin to explain how great it was to be there for her. Even better was being able to celebrate it with drinks!
  • Seeing Astrid & Shannon pregnant! Gurjit getting engaged. 
  • Family time!!
Best Gelato in the World!
  • Set B reunion with the girls - every get together marks a new phase in our lifes. 
  • Mini Career Services get together - wish everyone had been there! 
  • Random night out in Gastown with Yasmeen. I'm glad you're second 29th birthday at Chill Winston was so unexpectedly more fun! 
  • Cuddles with Ate. Yes, I do miss the spooning and the chats and the YouTube!
  • Working out with Ate and Yasmeen even though I wanted to kill them at one point. So hardcore and ridiculously strong! 
  • Sleepovers with Yuko, drinking way too much wine and talking about everything and nothing at all.
  • Yummy food with the Malelangs.
  • Drinking 3 bottles of wine with Christina and having a blast at the Casino - "Wheel of Fortune". 
  • Hard to admit it, but stressing with Mom and Dad is also part of the wonderful times ;P
  • Finally getting my condo rented (singed on my very last evening)...although this should be in my LowLights for taking up so much time and stress!
  • Playing tourist to one of the most beautiful cities - I do love Vancouver.
  • Valentines at the Afghan Horseman and guzzling the Mighty Horseman.
  • Chilling with Duazel and having brunch at our fave German restaurant. 
  • HANGING OUT with people!!

  •  Way too much Patron with KC, Mark, Matt-matt, my parents, Ate and getting to meet my adorable Goddaughter.
  • Getting some good pics of the city!

LowLights: I didn't get to see everyone that I wanted to. It was a bit heartbreaking not to be able to hug and hang with people that I miss so much. Alas, there is next time... 

St. John's, Newfoundland 

And, just to confuse my system some more, I jumped into another plane for 9 hrs to go to the Eastern most point of Canada. All worth it because I  went to go visit my sister and Dean and Kalli for a week. We got to enjoy a snow day where I got do the ultimate challenge (it involves a hot tub, a bikini, jumping out into the snow and doing an angle and then back in). Hard to believe but I really enjoyed shoveling the driveway for a couple of hours and got to go cross country skiing for the first time with only one face plant but I felt impressive! I played tons with the kids - toboganning, and sweating it up with Dean on Dance 3 on Wii - let's just say that it's far better exercise than you think! I even got to celebrate anya's mini Stagette - Hope is holding out for the right one to come along and then drinking martinis and dancing the night away to celebrate. It was wonderful to bond with the kids but my gosh my body was hurting from all the fun and games!

Best part of snow days!

Happy Stagette T girl!

Toronto, Ontario

After that, it was off to Toronto for a much needed catch up with my university best friends and my gosh has time certainly kept moving. Alex and Jeff are now parents to 2 wonderfully cute and adorable kids, who are shockingly uber white (we were thinking maybe their 25% Filipino genes would be more evident). LOL. Fed is the gloating dad that I knew he would be. I got to see Mona happy and optimistic about life.  There was even a catch up with Kunal about the last decade and his path to career success and a random homage to our teens by getting invited to an after hours party. I got to hang out with Jopet and Jezza, who were, as always wonderful family support. There were yummy dinners, too much good food actually...thanks to Alex (and Jo) my pants are even tighter! I have truly become that friend that blusters in and out, who people use as an excuse to indulge in dinner and drinks! But, I do wear that role well! ;)     

Every single day was spent doing something, seeing someone, getting things done - I don't think I actually had any spare time whatsoever. I certainly didn't have time to reflect, relax or process anything. It was more of a go, go, go and go even harder type of visit. I'm also very thankful for everyone who made/had the time to come and see me. It meant a lot. Although I'm gutted to not have gotten a chance to  see everyone, there will always be next time! 

And for now, my next adventure is to find a job/opportunity that's the right fit and build a life in Melbourne...I'm  lucky that I had a good base to start with - Whitney's friendship, Nina's Canadian Crew and Dean's wonderful hospitality. Wish me luck, I'm pretty determined to have an awesome time here! 

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Life and celebrations in between

So it's been a while since I've updated, and to be honest, I haven't really had the urge to write. It's because of oh so many reasons...It's been a rough little while that really prevented me from wanting to share such a terrible and blah period in my journey. I fell into a bit of a depressive funk - one that was made me so gray and blue that it felt like a haze and I was idly walking through a thick fog of sadness that wouldn't lift. But the great thing about life is that eventually by hook or by crook, whether you have to claw your way out of it or just let enough time pass - everything gets better again. Unfortunately I woke up about 8 lbs heavier!


I missed the season of the Scorpio. It's my fave cause generally I love celebrating birthdays. A party just to celebrate the day you came into the world?! Done! But admittedly  this one was a struggle for me. Ever since I was 15 I always thought 32 would be the age that I'd be settled, have a partner and maybe starting a family...Somehow being thousands of miles away from friends and family while continuing my world adventures was not where I thought I'd be. Don't get me wrong - I am extremely blessed to be in this position and it is a path I chose, however, that doesn't mean that the transition from a carefree traveller to a corporate job, the death of several loved ones, being homesick and trying to make huge decisions about where I'm going to live weren't going to get me down. I tailspinnedand have been fighting my way out of for the last few months.  During that time I was pretty anti-social and boring. Shocker I know but it is known to happen everyonce in a while. And like all things in life, time eventually heals most wounds.  

This birthday also ended up being the most chilled out one. A Billion thanks to the FB greetings I got. Oh the most amazing bouquet of flowers and wine that my sexy twin, Chrissy Benz sent me.  Daryl flew in from Sydney and played best friend while I did the tourist guide thing/food thing actually. We took the fast ferry up the river, had drinks on a beautiful patio overlooking the river, went for a walk in the scenic South Bank, saw the views of the city up Mount Cootha and had dinner with a few other friends at one of the local steakhouses. We basically ate our way through the weekend, and spent my actual birthday at the Gold Coast with a yummy picnic and a swim on the beach. We had a great picnic of different types of cheese, salami, smoked salmon, mussels, fresh fruits, bread and crackers and Jo brought a chocolate cake. Later at night a few other friends came over with some wings and cider. There were no endless shots, no "Lifestyle of the Rich and Famous Dirty Thirty" themed party. Yes, I felt I suppose life happens, but I just wasn't expecting to wake up actually feeling older...

Celebrating with friends in the Gold Coast.

She said - Be birthday sexy...this is unfortunately what we came up with. 

I got this bouquet from Chrissy at the office! Best surprise ever! 

Australian/Canadian/Japanese sized block.

CHRISTMAS = Summer?! Huh?

The holidays...I have to say, it definitely does not feel like it's almost Christmas here. In fact it's the least Christmasy place I've ever been!! And that includes living in an Arab Islamic country! There are hardly any decorations. There is no insane Christmas traffic because of shopping and there is definitely no "Oooh, will it be a white one this year?" when it's 32C and 80% humidity. Not being a huge fan of the season, at least I'm spared the endless Christmas carols that inflicts the rest of the world. Of course as I'm typing this the Bach choir started singing one in the Business lobby.  Ha.

I'm so ready for 2011 to be over and so ready to bring on 2012. This year has been the best and worst year of my life - filled with many ups and it's fair share of downs. I've spent the holidays reflecting and working out (hoping not to be lazy). 

Pros- No exhorbanent spending on pressies. And I shouldnt gain weight because I have to go to a zillion gatherings and parties (not quite true it seems). 

Cons - It's weird not having a "real" Christmas.  And yes, I kinda wish I was at at home bitching about how stressful it is and having to figure out my schedule could possibly fit in so many events. 

Actually, the reality is that I got into the spirit of it all on Christmas eve. We started out the day going to the Farmer's market to buy fresh goodies to cook, started drinking at noon and had the best "Orphan's Christmas dinner" - prawns, roasted lamb, veggies, chocolate oatmeal cookies with ice cream, copies amounts of champagne and ciders. The table was decorated and we had crackers with the hats and watched Love Actually and A Christmas Carol. It was a great night of feasting and drinking with friends.

Santa in boardies and a surf board. That's how he rolls  here.

Yummy yummy in our tummy.

We tried...

Mixed matched perfection.
HOMEBOUND...just for a visit...

I may not be there for the holidays but I will be HOME in the New Year!!! Yay! I can not even begin to explain how excited I am to see everyone!!!  Goal? Try and see everyone that I love. 

Here are my dates: 

Jan 5 - 11 Melbourne - I have to explore that city! 
Jan 12 - 17 Vancouver - quick catch up with everyone
Jan 18 - 24 St. John's - Must remind Kalli and Dean that I'm the coolest Tita Ynah in the world!
Jan 25 - 28 Toronto - See the old university crew! It's been way too long.
Jan 29 - Feb 27 Back home to Vancouver. Somewhere in there will be trips to Whistler, Kelowna and probably Seattle! I run a tight ship. I'm pretty determined to see everyone I love in the regions that are feasible driving distances. 

*** I take advanced bookings and reservations for quality Charina time. Alcohol is not a requirement but it'll be a BYOB affair or will take place at some fave restaurant that I desperately miss! 

Plans for the New Year? Usher in a new Era. As much as I've enjoyed my time here in Brisbane and the friends that I've made, I'm really looking forward to being home, figuring out if Melbourne is better suited for me, exploring where I belong, looking for opportunities that are right for me and continuing my journey.   

Like a bird's view of freedom and peace
in happy blue skies;
I wish you the haze of 40 proofs,
the clarity of smoke-filled roofs,
and the pleasures of senseless nights.
Enjoy the fortunes of seasons
and the joys of new turnings.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year Everyone!! May 2012 bring you health, wealth, happiness and love.

Monday, October 31, 2011

The Best Reunion for the Saddest Occasion - My Eulogy for Nanay.

I'll miss those cuddles forever. Nanay 1920 - 2011.
The last little while has been a very intense and thought provoking time for me filled with all the emotions of loss pervading all facets of my life. I feel that I'm unfortunately getting to know the process of grief a little too much right now - the not so up moments, its downs and everything in between where in a fleeting moment it feels like you're going to be ok and fine, right before another emotion grips you into the throes of sadness or anger or resentment. To be honest, it's terrible. It absolutely sucks and I'm exhausted and I certainly don't enjoy being all over the place. I despise not being able to trust my own reactions to things - I hate, hate feeling this way - the emotional vulnerability and the rawness. I thought it'd be over now but it's not. I am impatient. I am angry. I have the shortest fuse I've ever had and I'm still crying at a blink of an eye. I feel unbalanced, unstable, homesick, sad, lonely and I have the frustration of not knowing what to do with myself. I know it's a phase and it too shall pass but I really would like to feel like myself again. Thankfully, I do have an amazing support system around the world and I am truly appreciative of that.   

One of the things that I am very thankful about is making the last minute decision to go to the Philippines for Nanay's funeral. I bought a ticket at 4pm on a Saturday for an 11:45 pm flight bound for Manila and 15 hours later I was with my family. It was one of the most whirlwind weeks of my life. Although it was a tremendously sad occasion, I can't begin to describe how wonderful it was to reconnect with my family (BFFs included). There was certainly lots of tears but there was boisterous laughter as well.  It's those tight comforting hugs, the loving shoulder to lean on and the smiles that come with reminiscing fantastic memories that are truly priceless. We were all very close to my grandmother. The loss is simply devastating. However, like two sides to every coin, it was also the most touching and heart warming reunion for us as a family. I would not have traded anything in the world for those moments. 

I was given the difficult task of eulogizing Nanay and as promised am now posting it since between my apparent inability to hold the mic close enough to my mouth, the construction work outside the cathedral, my incoherent sobbing and difficulty breathing - most people did not hear it (yes, I can finally laugh about that now). 

Our hands - can you actually tell which hand is mine and which is Nanay's?
She loved taking pictures with the iPod.  
Ya think maybe I took after her a bit? I hope I'm like Nanay at 90 - Loved and still looking goooood!
Best back scratcher ever!
The day Nanay found out she doesn't like wine! LOL!
Her legacy = Our Family (not all are present here but all are definitely loved).
The Santos/Lamucho/Cruz cousins 

She'd have been happy we were together and smiling.
*** The Eulogy ***

Gusto ko ho magpasalamat sa inyong lahat (I want to Thank you all). Your presence, well wishes and prayers are truly appreciated. On behalf of our family Thank You all for being here with us. Today, I would like to honor Nanay's memory by sharing what she meant to us, our precious memories with her and most importantly by celebrating the life that she lived. Words can't describe how much we will miss Nanay. It is truly one of the saddest days to lose someone you love so deeply, admired unfailing and to us, the epitome of everything good and fair and beautiful in the world. 

Before Nanay was our Nanay, she was a Reyes daughter, a caring sister to her 12 siblings, a good friend, a supportive wife to Tatay, a loving mother to her daughters, my mother Thelma Cruz and my Tita Vicky Lamucho. She was the best grandmother to us, Charmaine, Cheryl and me, Charina, to Sunshine, AJ, Dindo and Moonbeam. And ultimately sa kanyang mga apo sa tuhod (to her great grandchildren) si  Marshall, Dawson, Dean, Kalli, Cheyenne, Aili, Jaiden, Jed, AM, and Sky. 

Nanay means everything to us. She is our one. She is our all. We are who we are because of the love she gave us and values she taught us. Somehow, she was always there for us - through the most difficult times in our life, our challenges, hardships, heartaches and specially through all our times of happiness and triumphs.  She was our supporter, our cheerleader, our rock. She was extremely loved by all of us and most of the time nagkukulitan kameng mga pinsan kung sino ang pinaka faborito at mahal ni Nanay (The cousins would all tease each other about who she loved the most). She would always say, "Mahal ko kayong lahat" (I love you all). Nanay was always so fair. Masyadong fair nga eh (Too fair in fact).

Imagine ha? Kilala nyo ang mga familia namin (You all know our family). Meron sensitive, may happy go lucky, may poet and artist, may mga strong willed and matapang, may mga tahimik at mahiyain (quiet and shy). Pero si Nanay - Pinalake nya kameng lahat (But Nanay, she raised us all).  She was the rock that stabilized the foundations of our family.  She was our protector and the glue that made us strong. Nanay was magical because she managed to love us all in a way that was exactly what we needed. Ang galing nya (She was amazing), because she always knew what to say and do to make the world right again.   

Among many things, She was also loving, funny, wise, supportive, giving, kind, thoughtful and truly selfless.  Lahat ng puwedeng niyang ibigay binibigay nya (Everything she could give she always did). She lived her life with admirable grace and dignity. Nanay was a woman of Faith.  Of Compassion. Forgiveness. Of Gratitude and most impressively of  tremendous STRENGTH. She has been and will always be our beacon, our moral compass and a source of strength and love that will never be forgotten and will always live in our hearts. I believe that she will always be there to guide us in spirit and in love.

To me, she was honestly the perfect Grandmother - Nanay was very traditional in a non-conventional way. She was a devout Catholic who let us be spiritual in our own way. She was fearless and brave. She had the best perspective on life. She taught us to have a zest for living, to take things with grace, pride, humility and face life with a smile and hope despite whatever trials or tribulations may come your way and to have faith that God will provide. Ang favorite saying nga ni Nanay was "Bahala na ang Dios." (Her favorite saying was, It's up to God.) We thank God that he blessed us with Nanay, that she lived a good life and that  He ultimately took her painlessly.

Her legacy is us, her FAMILY. She lives through us - our values, our hopes and dreams. We embody everything she taught us. In many ways,  we are all different versions of who she was. She taught us that family is the most important thing in life.  Nanay instilled the values of love, acceptance and support. She was and will continue to be the ultimate example of virtue and strength. All of our memories of Nanay ends with her always smiling, or laughing and saying the perfect thing kahit pinanagalitan na kame (even when she was getting angry at us). She was full of the kind of wisdom that we all aspire to have in our life, the kind of advice that will never steer you wrong or ever regret taking, the kind of knowledge that comes with a life fully lived. 

Nanay aged beautifully and gracefully. Stricto raw siya noon (She was apparently strict). Pero sa tutuo lang (But to tell you the truth), all I think of when I think of Nanay was how amazing she was, how beautiful she sounded when she hummed, how peaceful she looked when she prayed,  ang contentment nya when she enjoys her pagkain and mierienda (how content she lwas when she enjoys her food), the way she would light up when she played with her apos (grandchildren), how wise she was when we asked for her advice and opinion. Mostly, it's her joyous laugh I will always remember. Grabe ang sarap tumawa ni Nanay (Did she ever love laughing). 

I'm so thankful to have had the opportunity to have spent so much time with her in this last year. She never lost her sense of humor. 

Me: Nanay, I love you. 
Nanay: I love you too...3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 ! Comes complete with laughter.

Me: Nanay, sino ako? = Who am I?
Nanay: Bakit, di mo ba kilala ang sarili mo? = Why don't you know who you are?

Or she would say: 
Nanay:  "Galing ka sa akin" = You came from me. 
Me:  Nanay, apo mo ako. = I'm your granddaughter. 
Nanay: She'd look at me and smile and say "O, pareho yun diba?" = Same thing isn't it?

Me: Nanay ilan taon ka na? May 70 ka ba?  = Nanay, how old are you? Have you reached 70?
Nanay: Wala pa naman. Mga between 61-65 para sigurado. Baka sabihin ng mga Tao na nagpapabata ako = Nah, not yet. Uh, somewhere between 61-65 - just to make sure. I wouldn't want people to think I was trying to be younger than I am! (Said at the young age of 90)

Me: Nanay, Ganda mo naman... Nagmana kme sa iyo = Nanay, you're so beautiful. We all take after you.
Nanay: Kinuha nyo na lahat! =  Ya, you all took it from me! 

Q: Kumusta Nanay? = How you doing Nanay?
A: Nahihilo ako. = I'm dizzy
Q: Ano Nanay? = What?
A: Nahihilo ako. = I'm dizzy
Q: What? = What? :)
Nanay: "I said, I'm dizzy."

Me: Nanay, what would you like?
Nanay: What your like is my like. 

Q: Kumusta ang tulog mo Nanay? = How was your sleep Nanay?
A: "To be continued..."

And with that, I pray that she may continue her sleep in heaven...I know she will always be with  us, smiling as she watches over us. Thank you for everything Nanay. We love you.

 Best Grandmother Ever!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Thankful Down Under - Canadian Style

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday ever! To me, it basically comprises of everything I LOVE – it comes with a long weekend, you get to spend quality time with friends and family (without the stress of commercialism and presents), early day drinking (cause who doesn't like sipping on wine early and waiting for the turkey to cook), it's not religious in nature and of course the ridiculously gluttonous yummy food. Basically, it's a time to be completely thankful and appreciative of everything that you have in your life...What's not to like?

This is the time when I get really homesick and miss everything that I love in Canada - the coming of a new season, the beautiful golden hue of a clear autumn day, the smile of pine, the changing color of maple leaves. I wish I was there with everyone - It makes me sad that Vancouver was almost a lifetime away – certainly it feels like it’s been too long. So, I made sure that I had a phenomenal Canadian Thanksgiving this weekend! I ended up having 8 people over for dinner – I have never cooked that much in my life! The whole prepping/cooking took something like 14 hrs. But I was so proud of how the whole thing came out! I must say, I was quite impressed with myself - if I may say so! Not sure that’s going to happen again (at least I won’t cook everything! Although everyone offered to help, I just wanted to have things exactly the way I wanted it and what I was craving. Anyhow, you guys would have been proud of my impressive effort.

Menu – My piece de resistance:

  • Turkey – I actually brined it for 12 hours with a salt, garlic, fresh herb before I stuffed it (homemade) and cooked it. For 6 hrs! I can not believe how moist and perfectly brown it came out! 3.8 kilos – I was hoping for more left overs but it was devoured!
  • Homemade Stuffing – whole wheat bread, Italian sausages, celery, fresh herbs, apples and cranberry
  • Chili spiced gravy
  • 2 types of potatoes – Scalloped and chive and parsley mash
  • Sautéed cauliflower, beans, carrots with a balsamic, honey soy sauce
  • Glazed carrots with almonds
  • Garlic roasted Squash and Pumpkin
  • Red Wine Apple Crumble with Maple Walnut Ice cream

Things that I’m THANKFUL for:
  • Having friends and family that are truly amazing!
    • My family for being insanely intense, funny, amusing, brilliant, strong and supportive about everything
    • My best friends - despite living in different countries/locations – still managing to be there ALL the time! How impressive are they?!
  • Skype, Facebook, my iPod, net book and all forms of technology to help – although I’m disappointed that we are not in the “Beam me up Scottie” days yet.
  •  Being able to explore options in a different country
  • Having the opportunity to travel and see new places and meet amazing new people
  • My new and growing Brisbane crew - especially Nick, my adopted lil bro that makes me feel I have family here.
  • The Hub & Natsuki - Awesome place to live and an excellent roommate!
  • Being able to start a new tradition and introducing Canadian Thanksgiving
  • Day drinking with awesome company during Thanksgiving and being in bed before midnight
  • Australia’s relatively strong economy & appreciation for recruiters
  • Having the necessary skills and experience that companies seem to want
  • Being healthy & strong (working out to get even stronger to follow...)
  • Caffeine - without which I would not be effective or survive at work
  • Earning money again
  • My grandmother continuing to fight and be relatively healthy
  • Medical technology and it’s ability to help people find cancer (it’d be better if we can finally find a cure though)
  • Having the opportunity to seek personal and professional happiness (still working on this)
I hope everyone had a great Happy Gobble gobble day and had the opportunity to be Thankful for all the wonderful blessings in your life!