Déja Vu: When Kanlaon Was Nominated for a Liebster Award!

Self learned of the nomination a month ago, but she was in the midst of returning from Ireland and then setting off for southern California and then setting off for the Squaw Valley Writers Conference.

Nevertheless, here she is now, expressing her appreciation!

Self blogs a lot while traveling.  Because she firmly believes that one of the greatest pleasures of travel is being able to share one’s experiences afterwards.  It’s like re-living the moment, only better because you know you’ve survived the whatever.

So, THANKS THANKS MUCH to the blog Unexpected Wanderlust for the nomination.  Self deeply appreciates the honor.

And here are self’s answers to the questions posed by UW:

What is the most foolish thing you’ve ever done while traveling?

Wow.  This entailed so much reflection because self has done many, many foolish things while traveling.  Two years ago, she decided to join her friends on a bike ride around one of Amsterdam’s outlying islands, even though she hadn’t ridden a bike in almost 20 years.  That day almost killed her.  What’s worse, it made her lose her temper.  And we all know that when one is traveling, losing one’s temper is almost the kiss of death.  Because one should never, ever lose one’s temper in a foreign country.  Self’s just saying.

Who is the person you’ve met while traveling that you wish you could see again?

Another hard one.  OK, this:  the two German girls who accompanied self on the bus ride from the Marco Polo airport in Venice, all the way to the vaporetto in the Rialto.  Self bumped into them again outside the Frari church in Ca’ San Toma.  We had dinner.  Self lost the little notebook where she’d written down the girls’ addresses and e-mails.  She’s pretty sure she’ll never hear from them again.  But she thinks of them pretty often.

Where are you planning on traveling next?

Southern California.

If you had to settle down in one place and never leave it again, where would it be?

Oh gosh, why are all of these questions so hard?  San Luis Obispo, California.  Cambridge, United Kingdom.  Now if self could only find a way to support herself while living in these places . . .

How would you describe the perfect travel companion?

No question:  Son.  He was great.  Always.  Even when self was dragging him through the back alleys of Boracay in a pouring rain, and visibility was just a little above zero, and the water was sloshing up to our knees, and strange unmentionable objects were floating in said water.  He did express disgust (occasionally), but he never once lost his temper.

If you could be fluent in a language other than your mother tongue, which would it be?

Cantonese so that self could bargain in the Hong Kong night markets.  Gaelic because she was just in Ireland.  Spanish because she could read all the archives pertaining to Spain’s colonization of the Philippines.

What is your best travel tip?

Always travel light.  Plan on picking up things you’ll need along the way.  And never tote around more than two books at a time.

Have you ever felt more at home in a place that is away from your actual home?  If so, where?

Yes:  Bacolod City, Negros Occidental (Dear Departed Dad’s hometown)

Where have you had the best meal of your life?

  • The home of Irene Lacson and Zia Islam in Glendale, CA:  a Villanueva reunion in December 2012
  • Tender Greens, Spectrum Centre, Irvine, CA.
  • Van’s, Belmont, CA last January, to celebrate The Man’s birthday

What is the one piece of technology that you can’t live without during your travels?

No question:  Self’s MacBook Air

She’ll list her nominations in a separate post.  Stay tuned.




Weekly WordPress Photo Challenge: Escape 5

All right, all right, dear blog readers!  Self knows she is really pushing it with all these “Escape” photos!  But of course it’s because, having just returned from a period in Venice, she has tons of pictures!  Tons!  She took 100+ photos a day!  Lucky she downloaded most of them to her laptop before her camera disappeared with her luggage (from the vaporetto stop at San Toma’ — BWAH HA HAAAA!).  And there’s only so much she can post about “Game of Thrones” and Jaime and Brienne without sounding ridiculous!

Map Next to the Vaporetto Stop in Murano

Map Next to the Vaporetto Stop in Murano

Which brings to mind the conversation she had with a professor who was on the same flight from Venice to Frankfurt.  Self was in a state.  All she had with her was her handcarry and her purse.  She kept mentally running through the contents of her suitcase.  She confided in this very composed woman, precisely because she was so composed.  Also because she was traveling with her 12-year-old daughter.

“Look on the bright side!” the woman said.  “Right now, I’ve just finished grading, and I have 198 students who hate me.”

Self gawked, then stammered:  “Do you really have 198 students who hate you?  Wh — why?”

The woman laughed, and told self a story about how she went to Siem Reap two years ago —  “Really?” self interrupted.  “I’ve been to Siem Reap!”

“And,” the woman continued, “there was a young girl who asked me if she could have my shoes!  That was the first time anyone ever liked my shoes that much!”

“What were they like —  your shoes?” self asked.

“Oh, they were kinda expensive sneakers, and they had glitter,” the woman said.

“But, Mom,” her daughter burst out (She had glasses, thick black-framed glasses, and she was slightly chubby — i.e., this daughter was adorable), “You had to walk back to the car barefoot!”

“And at least you still have your passport,” the woman said.

Self had to admit that was true.

“Because if you didn’t have your passport, they wouldn’t let you on the plane,” the woman continued.  “And you’d have to go to Rome.  There isn’t a U.S. consulate in Venice.”  The woman paused and then said, laughing:  “But on the other hand, you might have appreciated a little time in Rome!”

OMG!  What a conversation!  After that, self wanted to fall on her knees and kiss her U.S. passport!  She couldn’t wait to get on the plane so she could order a glass of champagne!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

NYTBR, 21 October 2012

Oh what to do, what to do?  Today self is running around completely like a chicken without a head!

First, she had to call Petco 3x to connect with a groomer (to bring The Ancient One to have her nails clipped–  The Man of course did not have the time while self was in Bacolod.  He did enough:  at least The Ancient One was still alive when self arrived home.  Still alive, and still kicking!  Still able to recognize self and wag her tail!)

Where are all the Christmas decorations self put up last year?  She swears she had boxes and boxes.  But when she hunts around in the garage, she only finds two, filled with tacky plastic poinsettias.

Never mind!  She is busily engaged with stringing the almost bare trees with fake holly and fake poinsettia.  She would have had real holly if the gardener she used, about seven years ago, hadn’t chopped down one of the gigantic holly trees in her backyard.  By accident, the woman said.  How does one cut down a full grown tree by accident?  Well, to tell you the truth, self hated that tree because it was so tall and blocked out the sun and she could never grow flowers.  When The Man came home, however, he was so beside himself he wouldn’t speak (to anyone) for months!

The remaining holly tree remained tall and proud, right in the middle of the backyard, but stopped producing red berries.  It just stayed green all year long.  Finally, self consulted an arborist who told her that hollies need to be fertilized in order to produce berries.  That is, one needs to have both a male and female, in close proximity.  Aaaach!  So the tree that got cut was the mate of the remaining holly tree, and now self is punished forevermore by never having any more holly berries.

Self is also going back and forth between a novel, the Ruth Rendell mystery she began yesterday (The Monster in the Box —  absolutely gripping so far, though self must admit she hasn’t gotten very far, maybe just 10 pages in), the reviews from the weekend edition of the Wall Street Journal, and the New York Times Book Review of 21 October 2012.  She was going to blog about the books reviewed in the Wall Street Journal, but she happened to leave the WSJ in the living room, and now she’s posting from her desk, and the New York Times Book Review is conveniently already next to her MacMini, so she might as well go ahead with that.  Luckily, there are many interesting reviews in this issue.

Now then!  Self will just go ahead and list ALL the books she’d like to read, never mind who or what review prompted the decision, OK?  Time is of the essence!  It takes self an hour just to get The Ancient One from the front door to her car!  Plus another hour for the way back!  And she still hasn’t decided what to cook for dinner!

Okay, okay, self will concede that a bunch of the following books are from the “By the Book” interview with David Mitchell (who self has never even read:  She’ll get to Cloud Atlas in maybe 10 years —  if she’s still alive)

  • Silence, by Shusako Endo (Self read this in college, but this is a book that is certainly worth re-visiting)
  • The Makioka Sisters, by Junichiro Tanizaki (There is a fabulous film adaptation)
  • One Man’s Justice, by Akira Yoshimura
  • Grass for My Pillow, by Saiichi Maruya
  • The Doctor’s Wife, by Sawako Ariyoshi
  • all the novels of Simon Lelic
  • Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, by Haruki Murakami (which self remembers reading, and feeling lukewarm about.  She will give the book another go)
  • The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood (Another book she wants to re-visit)
  • The Road, by Cormac McCarthy (She saw the movie, with Viggo Mortensen.  Accch!  Super-dark.  But self is not afraid)
  • Purpose, a memoir by Wyclef Jean with Anthony Bozza (A memoir by Wyclef Jean???  Need one say more?  The reviewer believes in tackling this memoir as a first, he calls it “a gem.” Self, run, don’t walk, to your nearest bookstore!)
  • No Easy Day:  The Autobiography of a Navy SEAL, by Mark Owen (whose real name is Matt Bissonnette —  Self is not giving anything away here.  His real name is used in the review, as well as in reviews she’s read elsewhere, including in the Wall Street Journal)
  • Tibet Wild:  A Naturalist’s Journeys on the Roof of the World, by George Schaller (Just as self would read anything written by Wyclef Jean, she would read anything written by George Schaller.  But to dear blog readers who may not know who George Schaller is —  never mind the explanation, take self’s word for it, he is one of the last great scientist-adventurer-writers.  No dilettante he, he has spent “months almost every year” for the past 30 years in the Chang Tang Highlands of the Tibetan plateau, a place where, as reviewer Constance Casey reminds us, “Getting your boots muddy here can mean frozen toes.”)
  • Phantom, Jo Nesbo’s latest crime novel
  • Salvation of a Saint, by Keigo Higashino, in a translation by Alexander O. Smith with Elye Alexander
  • Goodbye for Now, Laurie Frankel’s second novel
  • Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Frankel’s first
  • Some Kind of Fairy Tale, by Graham Joyce
  • Self-Made Man:  One Woman’s Year Disguised as a Man, by Norah Vincent
  • Infrared, the latest novel by Nancy Huston

Gadzooks!  So many books, so little time!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Jane Kramer, The New Yorker (23 July 2012)

From Personal History:  “A Reporter at Odds”

The fact remains that, given the choice between a vacation without a notebook and a revolution with one, most of us would pass on the yellow sundress or the cargo pants and buy a flak jacket.  The advantage is that I can pack in a half hour for any work trip, as long as I have a daily supply of pens, a stack of my favorite interview pads —  six by nine, lined, spiral on top —  and a couple of clean black turtlenecks and jeans.  But how do you pack for a vacation?  Who would willingly exchange license and anonymity for the role of gawker in a sundress?

I did.  For three weeks in January, I became a tourist.  No notebooks, no Bic twelve-packs.  No interviews at all —  an exercise in self-restraint triggered by the news that years of frequent-flier miles, racked up in the pursuit of stories, were going to expire in February.  After four days spent attempting communication with the “reward specialists” at a United phone bank near Mumbai, I managed to nail two round-trip reservations for Bangkok, which was as far as my miles would take us.  That settled, the question became:  What would I do for three weeks in Southeast Asia if I wasn’t working?  What would my husband, an anthropologist between semesters with his own notebook (spiral on the left), do?

Self is so glad to know that even Jane Kramer of The New Yorker experiences frequent flier discombobulation.  And to think self had the temerity to think, while on hold after placing her nth call to United Mileage Plus:  Is this really the best possible use of my life for the next four hours?

Here’s the deal, dear blog readers:  The reason self doesn’t have to teach so much, and the reason she flies here there and everywhere, is that she has come into her inheritance.  What a loaded word.  It is true.  Your dear blog mistress hit the Stakes-of-Life jackpot and decided to see if she could balance the quiet anonymity of Redwood City, California with the rest of the world.  Now life is such a dizzying mess that she gardens with rollers in her hair.  Seriously.  This morning, she spent an hour on her knees planting celosia in between the lamb’s ears.  When she finally straightened up to brush some stray bangs off her hot, sweaty forehead, she encountered the unmistakable feel of plastic.  Lest you think that self routinely walks around with her (short, and getting ever shorter) hair in curlers, let’s just say that today was a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence.  And when she tells cousins her stories, they always respond with, “IF that’s true . . . ”

You think India and Claremont (California) and Bacolod and Scotland and Amsterdam and Paris were the extent of self’s travels for this year?  Ixnay!  There are at least three more trips on the horizon.  That means a whole mountain of adventures.  And more grumpiness from The Man.  But, c’est la vie, c’est la vie, c’est la vie . . .


We’ve already done the “push and pull” thing:  Oliver:  I’ll walk your bike for you.  Self:  No, I will.  Oliver: Let me walk your bike.  Self:  Don’t be silly, give me back my bike.

Self:  You don’t need to carry my bag.  Oliver:  I just want to help.  Self:  Well, I don’t need your help.  (Tug of war ensues.  As usual, self loses)

What about this?  K:  That’s not the way to go.  We’re lost.  Oliver:  It’s this way, we are not lost.  K:  No, we have to go that way.  I’m telling you it’s much quicker that way.  Bonnie:  OK, everyone, let’s just follow K!


Did self tell dear blog readers that she hasn’t ridden a bike in 25 years?  And that, during the bike ride, self:  1)  Hit a car that stopped suddenly right in front of self and b) fell down at a busy crossing, because there was another car on her left, and she thought that IF she and her bike made a dent in that man’s car, there would be hell to pay.  Better, self thought, to fall this way.  So she toppled in the right direction, and was none the worse for wear.  Didn’t even get her jeans scuffed.  In fact, the only thing that suffered damage was self’s dignity.

Oliver said to self afterwards:  Exercise is good for you.


And now to the ostensible reason for this post :  a 9/11 joke!  (courtesy of Bonnie)

Ever hear the one about Filipinos and 9/11?  Here are the terrorists, ready to take over the cockpit.  The pilot and the co-pilot (both Filipino) say to each other:

Terrorist 1:  After you!

Terrorist 2:  No, after you!

Terrorist 1:  No, I insist!  After you!

Terrorist 2:  Well, I also insist:  after you!

And the scene continues endlessly like that.

Self looked at Bonnie.  So, what’s the punch line? self asked.

Bonnie looked back at self:  I don’t know.

Self:  So, the plane probably crashes, right?

Bonnie:  Uh, think so.


Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Today: Again Gorgeous

Today self got her first rejection in quite a long time, from the Santa Monica Review.  It was for one of her “quiet” stories, one of those depicting a wife and her life of quiet desperation (Self thinks it’s time to retire these kinds of stories from her repertoire.  Maybe her next “wife” story should feature a woman picking up an AK-47!)

Also, Bella turned the entire living room into her toilet.  Bad dog!  In spite of the fact that self was home and is always ready and available to open the back door for Bella, whenever she looks twitchy.

It’s OK.  It was a gorgeous day, there was one bottle of Mission Street Pale Ale in the fridge, and self got to plant her third Creeping Jenny “Goldilocks” plant.  She’s filing in the shady spots of her garden.  Now, all she has to do is utter a prayer that these fledgling plants will survive her next trip (which isn’t, anyway, until 2012).

In addition, self heard from an editor who liked a story she’d just sent out, “Thing.” It’s about a dystopian future universe, where the Founding Fathers apparently cannot stand the sight of mutant pig babies.  BWAH HA HAAA!  It seems self does still have a trick or two up her sleeve and can pass for a science fiction writer if she wants to.

What else?  Oh yes, her cousin JR in Bacolod loaded pics of his new venture, a barbecue restaurant called “Beso” (Nice name!  It means “kiss”) on Sixth Street in Bacolod.  Self really likes the lime green walls and the red tables.  Everything looks very striking, in a modern minimalist way.  Check it out, dear blog readers!

And, finally, her novel-in-progress is 191 pages long!  She just added to it late last night (apparently, because when she woke up, her desk lamp was still on, and she saw five more pages in the document total at the bottom of the screen, five more than she remembered seeing when she was last conscious of sitting at her desktop.  Hey, at least sleepwalking/writing is way better than sleepwalking/eating!)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Nice Things About Today (Third Saturday of October 2011)

The weather was again gorgeous.

The Cl. New Dawn began blooming again, a few days ago.

Self made chicken apritada, and the potatoes were fully cooked this time.  Gosh, she’s forgotten how much she enjoys cooking, even for one!

Her variegated bougainvillea started to throw out bright, magenta blooms —  first time this year!

She found a good movie she wants to see:  “Take Shelter.”  It’s showing at the Menlo Guild.  The Guild featured “Midnight in Paris” all summer, from May until just a few weeks ago, when “Midnight in Paris” moved to the Aquarius, in downtown Palo Alto.

Self took Bella to have her nails filed.  And the groomer threw in a proper ear cleaning.  And an oatmeal bath.  Of course, these additional services were not free, but —  you have no idea how gross it is to clean a beagle’s ears, dear blog readers!  Self thinks it well worth the cost to have the groomer do it!

She purchased a ticket for son, so he can come home for Thanksgiving.  The ticket was about $120 more than it would have cost on any other weekend.  But it was either that or chance him driving his ’92 Civic, which still has a hole in the radiator.  As they used to say in those Mastercard commercials :  Peace of Mind = Priceless.

Self also found time to read Rotten Tomatoes reviews of “50/50.”  She also read Readers’ Comments.  There is just no satisfying some people.  There was a reader who described Gordon-Levitt as “sleepwalking” through all his roles.  Wasn’t his performance supposed to project numbness?  The numbness of shock?  And yet, you got the sense that there was life underneath, a spark.  And it was so nice seeing the flirtation between Anna Kendrick’s character and Gordon-Levitt’s.  It’s not over-played.  Anyhoo, self really did enjoy the movie.

She has begun a new book:  Rajiv Chandrasekaran’s Imperial Life in the Emerald City.  She loves the title, it is just so sumptuously ironic.  This is a book about Americans in Iraq —  and how can there be any understanding between such disparate cultures as Iraq and the United States when, as Chandrasekaran writes: “most of the” American “staff had never worked outside the United States.  More than half, according to one estimate, had gotten their first passport in order to travel to Iraq.”

Hubby is going bird-watching in Manila.  Friends are picking him up and taking him to La Mesa Dam.  Self did wonder why hubby was so dressed.  If this were indeed a nature trek of some kind, shouldn’t one wear ratty clothes, not a polo shirt and khakis???  Whatever.  Hubby seemed thrilled, absolutely thrilled, to be going on this expedition.

There has only been one untoward happening during his stay (so far):  yesterday, a cousin called and asked hubby where he was.  Weren’t they supposed to be having dinner together?  And hubby had gone to his sister’s, and was at that moment already partaking of a delicious sinigang she had made especially for him.  Just a minor mis-communication.  She hopes hubby’s cousin did not take it personally.

Cl. New Dawn, a Slightly Closer View (The flowers were at their peak two days ago -- darn, if only self had taken the picture then!)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Memories of Stanford PALM

Here you are again, self, with the memories of your graduate studies in East Asian Studies at Stanford.

You had studied Chinese in college.  Chinese was not a language offering at the Ateneo, you had to cross-enroll in Read the rest of this entry »

Siquijor Again: Santos

A Collection of Santos in a Siquijor Church

Self’s guide asked if she wanted to see beaches.

No, she said.

He told her a funny story about how San Agustin became his town’s patron saint.

The guide was 40 years old and he never lived anywhere except Siquijor.  And it didn’t seem like he wanted to live anywhere else other than Siquijor.

Self had him bring her to Mount Bandilaan.  She belatedly realized that she was wearing the wrong clothes for mountain-climbing:  skirt and flip flops.  Ha!  The guide led her up a rusted viewing platform.  There were three plain wooden crucifixes next to the platform.  Then, self realized that it was very, very quiet up there, and that there was not one single other person with her —  other than the guide, of course.  She wondered if the guide noticed that self had suddenly become rather skittish.  She kept sidling away from him until there were at least three yards of space between them, and in the meantime she kept gabbing away like an idiot.  Then self suggested we head back.  The guide had to half-carry her, most of the way down:  it had just rained, and the paths were muddy and several times self came very close to landing on her butt (Since she was wearing a bright green skirt, the brown mud-stains would have looked especially revolting, like she was some escapee from a nursing home who’d forgotten her diaper).  Self thought:  of all the cockamany ideas …  The man, however, was very respectful and didn’t make any jokes about how self was clinging to his back.

Another thing about Siquijor:  When you leave, they ask you to sign your name on a kind of census sheet.  And you have to put down your age.  Self asked:  Why is it necessary to put down your age?  And no one could tell her why.  So she wrote, next to her name:  35.  BWAH.  HA.  HA.  HAAAA!  At that, she was still one of the oldest visitors.  At least, on that day in December.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Further on Delta’s Problems with Lavatories

It is cold.  It is raining.  Self’s lips are chapped.

She has actually been busy, this morning.  And now it is half past noon.

Self has just begun Khaled Hosseini’s follow-up to The Kite Runner, A Thousand Splendid Suns.  As she reads, she encounters a barbed exchange between mother and daughter.  The male under discussion is the father of the daughter (Her mother is the man’s mistress)  An excerpt:

“What a stupid girl you are!  You think you matter to him, that you’re wanted in his house?  You think you’re a daughter to him?  That he’s going to take you in?  Let me tell you something.  A man’s heart is a wretched, wretched thing, Mariam.  It isn’t like a mother’s womb.  It won’t bleed, it won’t stretch to make room for you.  I’m the only one who loves you.  I’m all you have in this world, Mariam, and when I’m gone you’ll have nothing.  You’ll have nothing.  You are nothing!”

Then she tried guilt.

And on that edifying note, self will now call dear blog reader’s attention to the exciting events of a little over a week ago, when self’s Delta flight from Narita to San Francisco returned to Narita, two hours into the flight.

Self was wondering why the web seemed strangely quiescent over this incident.  Even her fellow passengers received the news of the return to Narita calmly, without complaint (In fact, the loudest complaints might have been those emitted by self —  no profanity, only a clutching of the head and “I don’t believe this!”)

Today, self decides to google “Delta” and “Narita emergency.”  And here is what she finds:

  • From Japan Today, 24 August 2010:  “Delta Flight Returns to Airport Due to Lavatory Failure”

A Delta Airlines aircraft returned to Kansai airport early Monday, some 10 hours after departure, as its lavatories stopped functioning twice on its way to Seattle, airport officials said.  According to them, five of the six toilets of Flight 182 stopped flushing shortly after leaving the airport around 6 p.m. Sunday, prompting it to land at Narita International Airport in Chiba Prefecture to have the problem fixed.

  • And here’s something from the National Terror Alert Response Center website, dated May 17, 2010:

A Delta Airlines Boeing 747-400 …  performing flight DL-620 from Tokyo (Narita) to Minneapolis, Minnesota with 407 people on board, was enroute about one hour into the flight, when two male passengers were observed carrying a plastic bag containing some liquid into a lavatory, raising concerns with the crew.  The captain ordered the two passengers to be detained and decided to return to Tokyo for a safe landing.  The passengers were taken into custody by Tokyo police.

Laboratory tests revealed the liquid was not dangerous at all, identifying the liquid as urine.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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