Where have I been these days?

I’ve been to misery, bliss, misery, and then back to happiness. But everyday is a circle, I sometimes feel like I’m just going round and round.

The last few months have been quite stressful I gotta be honest. It went by swiftly that I hardly ever noticed calendars being ripped out to reveal new pages or that my journal’s been left empty again. I was heartbroken then redeemed. I felt for a while that I must be going nowhere but perseverance and positivity prevailed and I’m back on track.

I’d like to think that in life, nothing ever comes easy. Ironically, it’s easy for me that way –  not expecting something grand would just happen without me doing anything to ‘invoke’ it. I’m not gonna go all Chinese and talk about ‘yin and yang’ or sing ‘ebony and ivory.’ I simply wanted to point out that based on the past recent significant events of my life, balance, indeed, is inevitable.

I’m a firm believer of equilibrium that sometimes when I laugh too hard (yes, almost rolling on the floor), I’m afraid that in a few minutes, I’ll be crying about something. Sounds like paranoia but its not. I just believe that the universe has the tendency to put balance when there’s an excess of something – be it something good or bad.

Now, I’m almost on my 6th month on the job and I was told that I’ve been regularized last February 1. One of the best birthday gifts (ever!) But to quote Spiderman’s Uncle Ben, ‘With great power comes great responsibility’ and this responsibility of yours truly has started pouring in like water from a bottomless pit.

Again, balance. All I have to do is hold my head high, look straight and keep going.

It’s been long since I played my guitar… for months, it was held captive in my brother’s room and I was too busy anyway to play it. But earlier tonight, I had an itch for some guitar-lovin’ Plus, I thought it’s high-time I learn how to tune it on my own (I always ask some random ‘tambay’ in our street to tune my guitar for me).

Here’s a link to the cover I made of  Amanda Seyfried’s ‘Little House’ song in ‘Dear John’

 

I am not liking it here.

Sitting idly on my bed for hours, in my room, at my parents’ house. I am not liking the familiarity it gives me.

I got back last Friday… or Saturday as it was already 2AM and it’s been barely a week and I am yearning to go back to the mountains. I miss the peace and quiet. I miss my 6:30AM breakfast. I miss the almost eerie silence of Magnetite apartment. I miss walking up that steep slope to our office while carrying this heavy weights disguised as a laptop. I miss my Benguet brew indulgence.

The only few things that I miss when I’m away is my family and my crazy bunch of friends. I don’t miss the urban chaos, especially when I’m lost  inside the corporate jungle.

I can’t help but do a little (okay, huge!) comparison of the place, the people, and of what I am when I’m home  against what I become when I am alone in that slightly unfamiliar territory. I like silence. I value moments when I can hear my own thoughts (but not too much that it makes me crazy and paranoid) as it somehow clears my head off any negativities. I am thankful for those moments when I can just stand there on the veranda, stare at the mountains and marvel at God’s magnificent creations while enjoying a cup of coffee… in my PJs.

Getting smiled at is a freebie – an everyday treat from the people in the community. I don’t know, it’s probably just me but it only takes one sincere smile and a nod from someone to make my day right. It’s like being appreciated, not necessarily wanted. But the very idea that people acknowledge your existence and that feeling of being welcomed gives me a huge kick! I’ve been to (and still sometimes experiences) situations wherein I feel so invisible and that nobody gives a shit about me. Depletes my confidence level  ’til I cross that line to apathy. I turn into a girl schmuck.

My work load is the same when I’m in Padcal but it helps that I am in a very relaxed and laid back environment, thus, my productivity level is definitely higher. Here, the remedy to stress is a diversion – focusing on another source of stress – a person (i.e. your boss or a snotty colleague ).

I can go on and on and on and not finish. Bottomline, I am happy to be going back this weekend. =)

I am starting to develop a profound hatred for typhoons. It sounds bad wrong pointless (?) I know because who the heck in his right mind would love ’em, right? Maybe innocuously apathetic students (and some working people) who have naturally equated typhoons with the capital STAY-AT-HOME-AND-TIME-TO-CHILLAX mood. With the kind of destruction they leave, most people in their balanced state of mind would readily flinch faster than you could say, “Boot up!”

Back in Manila, I was one of those selfish biatches who would pray for rain (ulan pa!!! Sige pa!!!) just because it makes me feel good and I can parade around with my sister’s disgustingly Leopard printed Wellies and stomp around the rain, armed with my transparent umbrella with really nowhere to go.

At times, the thought of people living in the streets, or under the bridges or anywhere that makes them defenseless against the wrath of nature  escapes my mind. There were times when the idea that some areas in this country are very likely to be dissolved in the map in the near future and that whenever it rains, flood rises up to their chests does not really bother me.

How true when they say that unless you are in the situation, you wouldn’t really understand. I haven’t been there exactly but I’ve matured enough to have the realization that sh*t may not happen to you but it HAPPENS to others.

Just after ‘Pedring’ ravaged Northern and other parts of Luzon early this week, in this very community that I am based at the moment, an officemate’s roofing was detached, leaving all her belongings drenched, around 39 families were displaced, and a few people were stranded on the road that leads to the camp because of heavy landslides.

I am safe and I am relatively comfortable. The only complains I have are the strong gusts of wind rattling my windows, and its fierce howling scaring the hell out of me. Oh, and the power outage which leaves me nothing else to do but stare at space until I fall asleep.

I hate typhoons especially now because two activities involving my work have already been compromised. First, the media mine tour that was scheduled last week (which would’ve give me a chance to be in Baguio again!) and TV5’s visit and shooting for their new indie-ish documentary program called ‘Journo,’ which was supposed to happen this weekend. I am excited to work but these typhoons are making it impossible.

This week, I have mapped out what I have to do to be able to get my stories. I was thinking of doing a couple of interviews, a few field works and site visits and a dozen picture-taking. But all were on standby until these typhoons leave us alone.

Pfftttt… damn you Pedring. Damn you Quiel (although your name is so cute I wanna give it to my kid).

I ticked both travel and work in the categories ‘coz it seemed both…

It’s been five days since I arrived in this peaceful little community. I remember arriving just a little after 2 in the morning, with about nine other people who also work for my company, cramped into one Grandia. One colleague is just doing field work while the others are based here. I was carrying one 30-kilos luggage and another large duffel bag, my laptop, and my camera. It looked like I am never going back.

I’ve been talking about living elsewhere outside of Manila ever since I got that call that I bagged the job as early as July but it didn’t feel real until I was already on my way – worried and excited at the same time. Excited – no questions. Worried – I will be alone… again.

The idea sunk in deeper the moment I turned the keys to unlock the apartment that was assigned to me. It is huge. Damn huge for just one person – wide living room, spacious kitchen, an-eight seater dining table, and three bedrooms. My colleague Kris kept smiling and shaking her head while I stupidly gawked at the enormity of the place. “Try mentioning  your silly ghost stories and you’ll be compelled to let me live in your place,” I warned her. Ten minutes later, I was by myself, paranoid about every single noise I hear from outside my room. “Just pray,” I tell myself. And by God’s grace, I was able to sleep (albeit with some difficulty… namamahay).

Work starts NOW.

Work here in Padcal starts at 7PM and ends at 4PM. But because we arrived really late, I was spared. Kris fetched me and we both walked to the office (which was just 5 minutes away by foot!) My globe sim is officially useless ‘coz there’s no other signal in the camp except for Smart (it being a sister company of my company). So I had to swing by the cooperative (the place to run to when you need anything) to buy a Smart sim. The rest of the day was spent getting to know the people around the office. A colleague toured me around and introduced me to everyone (I wish I was able to remember all their names!) Another one walked me home. Just when I was about to lose hope that kind and nice people still exist, I meet people like them… what a refresher! =)

Saturday is also a full working day. Work starts at 7AM and ends at 4PM just like the normal weekdays. Surprisingly, I was very productive – made some interviews and wrote a few articles, while working on some stuff for the media tour, which we’re planning to do this week.

Living in Padcal has significantly altered my body clock.  Back in Manila, I sleep very very late – the earliest being at 11:30PM and the latest at 3AM. Consequently, I also wake up late. Here, I sleep at 10PM latest, and wake up at 5AM. I finally get about seven hours of sleep, which I so badly need. Last time my sister checked my sugar level, it was quite low; the same goes as well for my blood pressure.  So, I guess it isn’t such a bad thing that I have so little to do to pass the time that’s why I sleep.

You wouldn’t miss what time it is already here. They sound the alarm, which can be heard all throughout the community, every hour as early as 5:30AM so you wouldn’t even need your own alarm clock.

Free food and free everything

I guess the most wicked part of being based here is the fact that I don’t really have to spend a single dime every single day. I eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the guest house dining area below my apartment. They serve free (and very sumptuous) food for all the people staying at the house. Every meal is complete with meat, veggies, and dessert. They even have a coffee station where you can drown yourself in native Benguet coffee at your whim. And every time I just sit there with my laptop, finishing some articles or just plain browsing the net, while glancing at the TV once in while, Manang Mila or any of the manangs would serve me a plate of biscuits and a big bowl of warm smiles. =)

When I leave the house in the morning and return for lunch in the afternoon (I did say that the office is just a good five-minute leisurely walk away, right?), I would find it orderly and spotless clean. My bed would be made, the tissue paper replaced with a new roll, the trash bin empty, and the curtains nicely made.

Snacks in the office canteen do not cost that much either… and free food are almost everywhere. The Legal Department where I temporarily hold office at also has a mean coffee brew; I think I can finish around 2-3 cups everyday.

Errands in Baguio

Sunday was MY Baguio day. At 9:30AM, my company service picked me up (with my new-found-kuya, Kuya Ruben as my driver) and a little before 11AM, I was already at the Baguio Country Club, meeting with some folks to finalize the arrangement for the media tour. An hour after, I was eating a chicken pancake sandwich at my (used-to-be) favorite place, 50s Diner. I opted for their new branch when Kuya Ruben asked me which branch should we go, hoping that it would be a better one (I didn’t like the one that replaced the Abanao branch much). But my expectation took a nasty dive – the place looked kind’a dingy, has a very tight space, and even the servers’ uniform shirts looked like raggedy hand-me-downs. I’m not being mean but during my college days, the 50s Diner that I know is capital AWESOME – with their servers in those cute little skirts, and neat look, skating their way to your table to take and give your orders.  Even the food is not that great anymore (although they still serve big portions).  Anyway, Baguio is still awesome.

I had some errands to run and some things to buy for myself so I asked to be dropped off at SM Baguio (yes, forever SM Baguio).  First I had to buy some sample papers and sample bags for the media giveaway. Then, the rest was shopping for toiletries and some stuff I really don’t need but I feel like I should have. =) I was planning to walk along Session Road and just be smitten by Baguio’s awesomeness but I got tired and lazy and just stayed at the mall. I don’t know why I missed Starbucks all of a sudden so I bought myself a caramel frappe, sat there, and wait for Kuya Ruben.

Our next stop was Camp John Hay. I had to check and personally inquire about the Tree Top Adventure, which we plan to indulge our media visitors in for their leisure day on Friday. (Latest update: the Media tour was cancelled due to the very bad weather condition). So much has changed at Camp John Hay since the last time I saw it – way back in 1999 (that’s more than a decade ago!) I’m just thrilled there’s already an Army Navy resto, Pancake House, and a lot of store outlets inside.

Stormy night

So here I am writing in the dark, with only this laptop and my cellphone as the only source of light. The storm is at its peak tonight – the windows are rattling and the wind is howling like mad. I hear all sorts of strange sounds like a tapping on the ceiling; a banging on the door, and some rocks falling on the roof. I can practically feel the house trembling because of the intensity of the wind. Now, this is a first time for me. As they say, I might as well indulge. =)

In that small little cage, just beyond the Baboon sanctuary at the Singapore Zoo, we chanced upon two what-seemed-to-be-like African spurred tortoises, circling each other, round and round, with their eyes fixed intently upon one another. Somewhere inside my head, someone screamed: “Turtle fight!”

These two are really gonna go for it!

Intimidation on the works

Turtle No. 1 looks fierce, ready to pounce any minute…

Turtle No. 2 looks anything but scared

And Turtle No. 1 goes in for the kill… lands a nasty bite on Turtle No. 2’s cute, adoring, and pitiful ‘face.’ No. 2’s got a wounded pride following that big adrenaline dump

Turtle No.2’s not buying it and attempts to take another ‘tongue-y’ and ‘gumsy’ bite at No.1’s still exposed nose  which it tried desperately to conceal through its shell.

And all is well. =D

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Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMJ) is too much of a hassle to remember, more so, spell. So instead, I’m giving it my very own definition (see title please). Muscle fatigue and pain, check. Facial ache localized to the area below my ear, check. Joint clicking and popping, check. That weird feeling that my jaw deviates to one side when I open my mouth, check.

It’s confirmed, I have TMJ dysfunction.

I had the hunch that there’s something wrong with my jaw during my first dentist visit (many many years ago). She asked me to open my mouth wide and  I couldn’t. Actually, I could but with a sharp pain that stroke that point just below my ear and I had that sickening feeling that I wouldn’t be able to close my mouth anymore (scary!!!).

Wearing braces (some 3 years ago) didn’t solve the problem for me but it was able to correct my underbite.

Not as worse as this! (www.321dogs.com)

I was fine for some time. My TMJ dysfunction probably hibernated and decided that it’s time for its big come out. So, two weeks ago, I woke up with a pain at my right jaw which aggravates every time I open my mouth – chew, eat, brush my teeth, talk, yawn (Omigaaawd yawn! I dreaded yawning!) In a week’s time, I mastered the art of yawning with my mouth half-closed. Now, that’s real talent. ^_*

After a hundred what ifs (what if I just let it be, what if my jaw locks and I drool and cry all over the place, what if the ligament disk between the condyle and the fossa tears and I end up dying because of the pain brought about by two of my facial bones being all cozy?!?), I made use of my good ‘ol HMO and paid my favorite diagnostic clinic – Tokyo Healthlink – a visit and find out what the eff is wrong.

The first doctor, a ENT specialist, who consulted me ruled out all other possibilities of my jaw pain. After inserting two long (about 4 inches each… not kidding!) sticks up my nose (I seriously wanted to take a photo of myself looking like a total freak-o with two sticks hanging out of my nose… ‘Hey, look I’m a walrus, a human walrus, but my fang grew out of my nose…’), she dismissed that my often clogged nose because of my allergic rhinitis may be the culprit. After checking both ears, which she praised for being “too clean,” she ruled out any ear infection. Then started the mouth open-close, open-close, open-close routine check . She almost gasped when she felt my jaw popped and I almost said ‘See?!?’

So I was referred to the orthopedic doctor and I had jaw x-ray then was asked to come back after a few days for my first ‘jaw rehab.’ The term tickled me; I imagined my jaw in a fetus position with its imaginary arms embracing itself while having waves of shiver, mouth frothing on the sides . Tsk, my imagination can kill me.

Anyway, rehab includes laser energy therapy, electrotherapy, ultrasound therapy, Auriculotherapy, and some others which I have no idea what they’re called. Now, I have to go and rehab my jaw for 2-3 times per week. I hope it gets better and will never ever have a relapse.

That's me having my dose of electrotherapy (Smile!) =D

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