This Morning, Self Tries Harper’s

The good news is that your career is about to take a very exciting turn.

Self reads the above horoscope a few seconds after powering up her laptop. Really? Then, let’s have at it!

Self has spent the early morning hours looking through her humongous pile of stuff and picking out the things that interest her. At this very moment, she has in front of her a Harper’s from five years ago. Perhaps by now it is clear to loyal blog readers that self is what her husband likes to refer to as “a pack rat.” But there is a reason why she has hung on to this particular issue for so long: she is trying to see if she can eventually finish the story by Mona Simpson, the one told from the point of view of a Filipino maid.

A month or so after returning from VCCA, self found herself thinking about this story, for the first time in years. Having departed Virginia with a fund of explosive energy, self felt that this would be a propitious time to confront her demons and give Mona’s story the balanced and objective scrutiny it deserved. But, alas, after reading only a few paragraphs, self had to stop. When at a loss, self always calls her cousin in Virginia. She then hit on the brilliant idea of asking cousin if she wouldn’t mind reading a copy of the story, which self would mail to her forthwith. And cousin (who self always imagines as having so much time on her hands, as she has never had to work, not since getting married) agreed.

So, self mailed a copy of the story and waited. And, eventually, cousin did reply in an e-mail. She pronounced the story wonderful, so true to life, so correct in its depiction of Filipina maids.

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Sounds Like Heaven

This time of year, when weather turns cold, self’s thoughts instinctively turn to nearest and dearest.

It also might have something to do with the fact that self just faxed over to sister-in-law Ying a document pertaining to Dearest Mum’s Bank of America account.

She hasn’t heard from any aunts or uncles since the summer. She has no idea what her three brothers or Dearest Mum are doing for Christmas. Self knows that she and hubby will be home because of all the unexpected bills. She wonders if brothers will take their families to Boracay again, or to Palawan. Sister-in-law Ying hasn’t e-mailed in a long time, ever since she asked if self had plans of coming home in the summer of 2008, and self replied that she was still thinking about it. Whether sister-in-law’s reticence is due to pique or to the fact that she is a busy mother of two with her own catering business to run, self isn’t sure.

Here is how one of self’s brothers described a recent trip to Palawan:

In Palawan, there is a group of 5 – 7 small islands called Cagayan Cillo. Although there is a small airstrip in the largest island of the group, the only means of public transportation are large bangkas that pass by once or twice a week, depending on the weather. It is a seven-hour boat ride from Puerto Prinsesa. Even for die-hard divers, Cagayan Cillo is not a popular destination. There are no resorts. When I went there, my friend and I chartered a yacht. The total combined land area is 1,000 hectares. It is virgin, so sharks, turtles and other sea life are not afraid of divers and often curiously swim close by. You can do very deep dives, over 300 feet deep, if you are experienced and have the right equipment. But most of the interesting stuff is between 30 to 150 feet below the surface. There you see a variety of hard and soft corals: giant barrel sponges, giant fans, tubastraea, etc. Among the corals you can see moray eels, star fish, lobsters, clown fish, parrot fish, lion fish, etc. You can also see pelagics: black tip reef sharks, sometimes tiger sharks, big turtles, eagle rays, manta rays . . .

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