Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Goodbye, My Captain

O Captain! My Captain!

O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done,
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won,
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;
                         But O heart! heart! heart!
                            O the bleeding drops of red,
                               Where on the deck my Captain lies,
                                  Fallen cold and dead.

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills,
For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding,
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
                         Here Captain! dear father!
                            The arm beneath your head!
                               It is some dream that on the deck,
                                 You’ve fallen cold and dead.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still,
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will,
The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done,
From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won;
                         Exult O shores, and ring O bells!
                            But I with mournful tread,
                               Walk the deck my Captain lies,
                                  Fallen cold and dead.

(Taken from http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/174742)

I first heard about Robin Williams' passing while listening to my favorite morning radio show, The Morning Rush. I initially thought it was Robbie Williams but before I could hear more, I lost the radio signal as I was underground. When I got to my workstation, I immediately started a google search. When no mention about Robbie Williams, I searched for Robin Williams. I could only sit there in shock while my mind went into #TBT mode.

Robin Williams played a big part in my teenage life. Dead Poets Society was the favorite movie of my high school barkada. In fact, we named our barkada after it. There's something about seizing the day that made us relate to the characters in the show. 

The poem above was our chorale recitation piece after hearing it at the DPS movie. I could still remember the feeling of grief which we internalized when we recited the poem. I felt the same grief when I first heard the news and I'm still reeling from it, 14 hours later.

As I write this entry, I'm watching Youtube clips of different Robin Williams interviews. I can't believe that a man who made others happy is battling horrible sadness that eventually took his life.

My Captain has fallen cold and dead but his memory will continue to live on with every laughter.

RIP, Robin Williams (1951-2014). You are now truly free.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

US Vacation 2014

at the plane with Basti

at HKIA taking a break
We've been planning this US trip since my husband's aunt informed us of the date of her son's (my husband's cousin) ordination to the Catholic priesthood. That was our primary reason for the trip and it will be the first time that we'll be bringing our son on a long haul trip.

We bought our tickets sometime March and my countdown began. Unlike our 2011 trip where we had something planned to do almost every day, we took it easy this time around. It's hard to travel with a toddler as being in the US involves a LOT of walking.

A few weeks before we left, I had to do some major shopping for pasalubong for my relatives in the US and I have tons of them. The most popular item that they wanted was the Monopod. Fortunately, I found a cheaper supplier in Greenhills and bought a dozen of them. Our Cathay Pacific flight left on May 16 with a layover at Hongkong and will arrive in Newark at May 16 in the evening.


I have no complaints regarding our flight on the way to the US. Our plane model would let you charge your device via their USB plugs and would even serve Haagen Daas ice cream for dessert!

When we arrived in Jersey, it was raining and temperature was down in the teens (celsius). We quickly cleared immigration and found our bags. My sister found me a few minutes later. After loading our stuff in the van we hurried to their house 45 minutes away.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Happy Mother's Day!

My mom is the most beautiful woman I've ever known. I wish that I am as beautiful as her.

Being the eldest, my mom raised me differently from my other siblings. I guess it goes with the territory as she was the eldest as well. She had it tougher as she had 12 other siblings to look after while I only had 3.

She raised me to be independent, responsible and tough. We rarely had heart-to-heart moments and I will treasure those rare times.

There was this one instance when I was in College, I went to my parents room as my boyfriend broke up with me over the phone and he seemed so distraught and even sounded suicidal. He did not want to answer my calls and I got worried over him. I went inside my parent's room and lied down beside my mom and just cried. I told her what happened and shared my worries. She offered to drive for me to see my boyfriend in the morning and see if he's alright. Thinking about it now is just so embarrassing but what made the moment very poignant was that she did not like my boyfriend at all but she did it because she loved me.

My mom is such a selfless person. People perceive her as tough but she is one of the most soft-hearted and generous person I have ever known. Her siblings look up to her and she never hesitates to give when needed. I can never question her love and dedication to me and my siblings. I am so happy that she got her second chance for happily-ever-after with my stepfather, Russell.

I was in Batangas to visit some of her relatives yesterday. When they asked me how I was, they remarked that all my mom's children are very successful. It goes to show that she and my dad, raised me and my siblings well.

My mom now lives a thousand miles from me and I don't get to talk or see her as much as I want. I love her so much and I can't wait to hug her again when I see her this weekend.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom. I hope one day, my son can see me the way I see you now. I love you!

Friday, May 02, 2014

Panic Mode, On!

In 13 days, we're leaving for our US Vacation. And I'm panicking already.

I have tons of relatives in the US, including my mom and sister. Naturally, like most homesick people, our luggage will be full of "pasalubong" or gifts for our family. However, I still have not made much headway to the list that they sent me. Most of the stuff that they want are food items but I cannot buy them until the week we leave and I have to do that on top of packing and doing my turnover at work. Oh well, I only get to do this twice every five years (every other year if we're lucky) so might as well suck it up.

I'm quite excited already as it will be our first trip abroad as a family. We did not bring Basti with us in our last US trip so this will be a trip to remember. Not to mention, we will be going to Disneyworld!

Speaking of Disneyworld, my brother-in-law sent me the picture on the left letting me know that our magic bands have arrived. This will be our ticket to the park, not to mention it will make a nice souvenir afterwards. Though I've been to Hongkong Disneyland, Disneyworld is literally a world apart.

The first time I went to the US more than 20 years ago, I wanted to visit Disneyland. Looks like I'll be getting that wish, 20 years later. It's funny that I'm more excited than my 5 year old son.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

In Sickness and in Health

I am always prone to tonsillitis. At least twice a year, I would be stricken by this virus that would make my throat sore, my nose run and my body succumb to fever. I would drown myself in water and oral antiseptics and drink vitamin C twice a day to combat the darn sickness. I am seriously considering to have a tonsillectomy. However, medical literature that I have perused only recommends the procedure if one suffers from throat infection for at least 7x/year. My case is not yet that acute--I hope.

So for now, I would let this virus run its course and hopefully, I'll be well enough to return to work tomorrow. This had to happen when I'm close to a deadline.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Pre-Eval Summer Outing

I created a committee at work whose sole function is to come up with employee-engagement activities. For the past 2 years, we always prepare for 2 important events -- the department Christmas Party and the department Summer Outing.

This year, the committee exceeded my expectations once again. We went to this place in Pansol, Laguna--a place famous for its hot springs--called Villa Ana. We found it by accident while scouting for a venue a few months ago. It was quite pricey which is not surprising considering it's peak season but it was worth it considering we had a headcount of 41 and we had the whole house to ourselves.

the culprit
I was glad that it was an overnight as it gave me an excuse to drink. Whenever there's an occasion to drink, I couldn't imbibe on too much alcohol as I usually drive myself home. I prepared for the drinking session with my staff by buying a bottle of my beloved Bailey's (too bad the store did not have caramel flavor) and a couple of bottles of Bacardi Gold. I also bought Coke and Sprite for chasers.

My staff also came prepared by bringing what looks like a 5 gallon bottle of lambanog (although I'm not sure if it was 5 gallons but it came in a big-ass bottle). The place also had an awesome videoke machine which made the drinking session more fun. They gave me a couple of shots and I polished off probably 1/4 of the Bailey's bottle. I later on realized how strong Bacardi can be as after drinking a glass of Bacardi with Coke, I felt woozy. And to think I only a glass. I let the rest of the staff finish the other bottle because if I continue to drink, I think I'll pass out.

I did not want to go to sleep drunk as I'm scared I might vomit in my sleep. I continued on singing and chatting it up with my colleagues until I began to feel my face again which grew numb from the drunkenness.

I tried to go to sleep at around 3AM but was unsuccessful as somebody did not want to leave the videoke machine alone. Not to mention the aircon vent was pointed at me and the place was not equipped with blankets (it had beddings and pillows but no blankets. Make sure to bring your own if you decide to go there). Probably after an hour or two of fitful sleep, I gave up and went out to join some of my staff who were still up and about. I went back to bed at around 5AM and got up at around 630AM. By then, I felt awful due to lack of sleep (I was up at 4AM the day before) and couldn't have a decent conversation with those who were up.

post-boodle fight
I felt better afterwards when I had breakfast and frolicked in the pool with the team. I stopped being conscious about my fat body as I started to enjoy the water sports. It's been awhile but I'm glad my swimming and diving skills came back to me. It somehow redeemed my hideous physique. I suddenly wished I'm buff enough to wear a bikini or at least a decent Speedo. I had to wear this swimsuit with a skirt to hide my thunder thighs and bulging stomach but is not meant for swimming due to the additional drag. At least, I was able to win the coin-retrieval race.

For lunch, we had a boodle fight which was basically putting all the food on banana leaves and spreading the rice around. It was my first boodle fight and will certainly not be my last. It was so fun especially we were eating with our hands. We had fried tilapia, inihaw na liempo, boiled vegetables (eggplant, okra, kamote tops) with bagoong and salted egg and tomatoes. It was the most delicious meal I ever had.

We rested a bit in the afternoon and I left at 3PM as I still had errands to run. I am really blessed to head a department with such fun and talented people. It somehow made my work more bearable during the difficult times.

I sung the song below during one of our drunken videoke moments. It had everyone dancing and jumping and singing along with me. It was definitely the theme of the night.

Added Postscript:

When I came to work on Monday, I learned that I did some stuff which I really can't remember doing. I think it happened during the Bacardi-induced black-out period. According to them, I rapped the Rihanna-Eminem song (which I really cannot for the life of me remember doing) and swam in the pool (good thing I was still on my bathing suit, but why did I end up in the water?). They even had to wake me up as I almost fell asleep on the side of the pool. At least I did not do anything embarrassing. One thing's for sure, that drink will not be a staple in my future drinking sprees with my staff. Even if it's cheaper than the other spirits.

Drink Tally: 2 shots of Lambanog, 1 glass of Bailey's, 1/4 glass of Bacardi gold mixed with 3/4 Coke = black-out drunk 

Sunday, April 06, 2014

The Taxed Teacher

I used to never worry about my taxes. Since I get my salary monthly, my employer deducts my income tax and files them for me with the BIR. All I have to do is to check whether the correct amount was deducted and to sign my W2s.

My tax woes started when I was officially hired as part-time teacher in the school where I am teaching. Since I am officially employed by the College (although at a part-time basis), I have to consolidate the income that I earn there with my regular income. When I did this early this year, I was shocked when I learned that I still have a tax deficit which I have to settle before the April 15 deadline.

It took some time for me to understand it and I had to confer with my Accountant friends to figure it out. Apparently, my regular job taxes me the max at 32%. Since I am only earning a pittance as a teacher, I am taxed only with the basic rate. So when I consolidated the two together, the tax rate that was applied with my regular job was also applied to my teaching rate. Ergo, the tax deficit.

Also, according to my Accountant friends, if I do not want to have a repeat of the tax deficit, I have to inform the school that the salary that I draw from teaching should also be taxed at 32% moving forward. That was devastating news as if that happens, my net pay won't even be enough to cover for my weekly transportation expenses going to school. Teaching is something that I am beginning to love and since I love this, it's beginning to love me back (I deduce this based on the high grades that I got on my teacher's evaluation).

I sent a formal letter to our dean to change my status from part-time to consultant. If that happens, I will no longer be included in the school's alpha list. Moreover, SSS will no longer be deducted (that is also my other concern. The school is deducting SSS from my wages when my regular job is already deducting the max amount. SSS owes me a refund which I can only claim if I write a letter etc etc. Not worth the hassle). And I believe only VAT will be deducted from my fees. Hopefully, my request will be granted so I can continue teaching. Otherwise, I will be forced to resign to look for a teaching position nearer my place of residence.