More Nostalgia for Venice

More from the watershed trip self took with Margarita Donnelly (founder and managing editor of Calyx Press) in April/May 2013, less than two years before she succumbed to cancer. We rented a small two-bedroom apartment in Ca’ San Toma, Venice. Margarita’s adventurous spirit far exceeded self’s.


The Bridge of Sighs, April 2013: View From the Doge’s Palace


San Marco Square on a Rainy April Day


Self on the Rialto Bridge, April 2013: Margarita must have taken the picture. Even though self’s face isn’t visible, she really likes this picture for the mysterious red umbrella.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The Nostalgia of Others

Of course, nostalgia is something that affects everyone differently. We’d love to know what kinds of experiences you’ve had that stir these emotions for the past in you.

— Jeff Golenski, The Daily Post

Here are some WordPress blogs whose takes on this week’s photo challenge, NOSTALGIA, intrigued self:

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Nostalgia: The Daily Post Photo Challenge, 30 September 2016

This week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge is NOSTALGIA:

  • What kinds of experiences stir emotions for the past within you?

The Philippines, specifically Bacolod City, where her father grew up, is the locus of all of self’s nostalgia. And of course, Dearest Mum, who met self’s Dear Departed Dad when she was a young pianist in New York City, and Dear Departed Dad was in Georgetown Law School.


The Daku Balay, Burgos Street, Negros Occidental: The Philippines. Self’s grandfather built this house, at the time the tallest structure in Bacolod City. Self’s father was born in this house.


Dearest Mum, in Her Early 30s


Bacolod City, Negros Occidental: June 2012

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

That’s What He Said

He: What’s the matter? You sound really, really sad.

He, 10 years later: You’re the only one responsible for the shit you’re feeling.

Stay tuned.

Still More Edges: Harvesting Sugarcane, Negros Occidental (Home/the Philippines)


Edge of Family’s Fields: Negros Occidental, the Philippines


Path cleared for a tractor.

And one more:


Hinoba-an, Negros Occidental

Check out a few more WordPress bloggers who posted on EDGE:

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.



Reading about Brazil is a lot like reading about the Philippines. A lot.

It’s not just the income disparity (Can you believe the Philippine president called POTUS a name — a pretty potent term that you only reserve for your worst enemy! Blush blush!), it’s the chaos.

Yesterday, there was a message from Dearest Mum on self’s cell phone.

She didn’t think anything of it but today she returned Dearest Mum’s call and how self knows that this is real: the maid, someone self has never met, asked who was calling, and when self said BATCHOY (Childhood nickname. Means FATSO. Even her college professors at the Ateneo called her this. Funny, when it’s self’s birthday on Facebook, her Filipino friends greet her saying BATCHOY and then her American friends scratch their heads and say, Mind explaining who BATCHOY is? LOL), the maid said, Oh, yes! Your mother has been waiting for your call! 

Which made self all kinds of guilty.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Frame: The Daily Post Photo Challenge, 26 August 2016

Another interesting Photo Challenge from The Daily Post!

Self was inspired by fellow bloggers Cerita Riyanti and  Serendipity.

So many beautiful examples of framing.

Here are a couple of self’s:


The Huntington Gardens, Pasadena, California


Window Seat, Unit # 1, Tyrone Guthrie Centre at Annaghmakerrig, Ireland


Self received a small ceramic lamp (Shaped like a cottage, with one wall cut away, the lamp is about eight inches tall) as a present from her parents when she was about three or four. Made in Japan. Who knows why this tableaux from Little Red Riding Hood was made the subject. Decades later, self is a writer whose love of fairy tales continues unabated to this day.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.


Maybe because self is reading Swimming Studies, she starts looking up information on Land’s End and the Sutro Baths.

The magnate who developed Sutro Baths was named Sutro (Duh, but of course!).

Sutro Baths was the centerpiece of a resort bordering the Pacific. San Franciscans could get there by paying 5 cents for a trolley ride.

In a way, self understands what Sutro was aiming for, because her very own grandfather built a resort, right in the middle of sugar cane fields in Barangay Granada in Negros Occidental in the Philippines.

Self’s grandfather, like Sutro, was a populist. The most loyal patrons of Santa Fe Resort are workers. The entrance fee is still ridiculously low because self’s family understands the demographic: the patrons come from the surrounding fields, workers wanting a break. It was called Santa Fe because her grandfather loved American westerns. In addition, he had a huge crush on the American swimmer/film star Esther Williams, so there’s a statue of her in Santa Fe, in Barangay Granada.

Self’s grandfather built an Olympic-size pool which remains a major draw to this day: It was the first, and possibly still the only, Olympic-size pool in the Philippines.

Who does that? Who has such a crush on Esther Williams that he builds an Olympic-size pool in the middle of an island. Not only in the middle of an island, in the middle of sugar cane fields.

When journalists come to write about self’s island, they never mention Santa Fe Resort. It’s such an eccentric thing, the location. The fact is, it’s nowhere near a beach. Consequently, there is no tourist traffic. There are no Chinese, Japanese, South Korean, American or Europeans. In Santa Fe Resort, you will encounter Filipinos. Just Filipinos.

It is a resort built by a man who only got a high school education. A resort for the people who live within a few kilometers, who are from that place.

Self spent every summer of her childhood there.

Sometimes she wonders if those summers were the reason she is a writer now. Because, her grandfather showed her: you can do anything, if you use your imagination.

It is a terrible thing is to have no imagination, to have your dreams stay small.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.


Moments, Florence

Self is still looking for pictures to accord with the Daily Post Photo Challenge this week, RARE.

Back in November 2015, she got a surprise invitation from her niece Irene to go on a trip to Florence.

But of course! Self has decided that she will never say NO when it comes to travel. And she’d never been to Florence.  All the pictures below are from that trip.

First, a picture taken in the Piazza Signoria. Self had spent the day at the Palazzo Vecchio, her niece had gone to the Uffizi. We met up at the square to have dinner. Self took the picture from one of the sidewalk cafés:


Piazza Signoria, Florence’s Iconic Square: November 2015

On our first morning in Florence, self and Irene were wending our way from our hotel to the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore when we passed a library. And though the library was not in any of our guidebooks, self never passed a library she didn’t wish to explore.

So here’s what was inside:


Self’s ever-curious soul led her to this library, on a street close to the Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral.

It turned out to be a library made up entirely of opera librettos. And self thought that was the most fabulous thing.


The most rare and fabulous thing.

Stay tuned.

Once Upon a Time in Manila

At the wedding of a good friend in Manila, ages and ages ago, self was seated at a table next to the table of the newlyweds, and found herself being introduced to members of the groom’s family. The younger sister of the groom was a lively, sparkling, intelligent and pretty girl, studying in either Harvard or MIT or any way one of the more prestigious schools in Boston, definitely not a nerd, and she was absolutely great. Self’s first thought was: “This girl would make an excellent date for one of my brothers. I’m going to set them up.”

After many, many back-and-forth messages, which took a huge chunk out of self’s limited time, the blind date was arranged. While this monumental event was being staged, self had a vague thought that the process was complicated. But she was valiant in her resolve to get her brother to go out with this wonderful girl. She would show how self-sacrificing she was! She would show what a benevolent older sister she was! She would never give up! Never!

After the date, self’s brother returned home in a terrible mood. Self means A REALLY REALLY TERRIBLE MOOD. He growled: I thought you said she was pretty.

She was! The only word self can think of to describe her is “spabilada.”

Self’s brother said: “She wore glasses. She was wearing a jumpsuit.”

The image of a jump-suited girl with glasses was truly horrible. Self thought she would die of embarrassment. Plus: All that work — for nothing! The whole situation was like Cinderella in reverse.

As Jamie Dornan’s character the serial killer in the police procedural “The Fall” would go: What? What? What?

Self can’t even.

Speaking of “The Fall” (Self knows: this is a terrible digression), Jamie Dornan makes such a good serial killer. His day job is working as a grief counselor, and it’s absolutely perfect because he can scope out the most vulnerable women, meet with them, and during the guise of counseling, get them to reveal things about themselves that he wouldn’t otherwise get to know. He also does this most outrageous thing, which self has never seen any other serial killer in movies or television do, and that is: when he is chastised for going to a woman’s home, he just mimics everything his superintendent says to him. For instance:

Superintendent: What do you think you are doing?

Serial K: What do you think you are doing?

Superintendent: Do you realize the seriousness?

Serial K: Do you realize the seriousness?

Superintendent: Why did you go to the client’s home?

Serial K: Why did you go to the client’s home?

Almost the whole way through, Serial Killer Jamie does this, and his boss can do nothing but stare. Self knows what the boss is thinking: Has this man gone absolutely bonkers?

Well, of course he has! Don’t just sit there! Do something!

But of course the boss does nothing. Because he is so confused.

Who wrote this screenplay? Self would like to shake her/his hand!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.


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